2024 Undergraduate Research Showcase

Evaluating Extraction Solvents and Methods to Analyze Bioactive Alkaloids in Commercially Available Kratom

Document Type

Student Presentation

Presentation Date


Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Owen McDougal


Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is a tropical plant that has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties in Southeast Asian cultures. Kratom has been widely adopted for use in the West in recent years due to its other desirable dose-dependent effects, such as being a stimulant in low doses, or an opioid-like sedative in high doses. Extensive kratom use induces a variety of negative side effects, despite being marketed as a safe alternative to traditional medicine. Commercially available kratom in the United States is not currently regulated, meaning that quality control evaluation of kratom products is not required. Due to the lack of quality control, it is expected that there are significant differences in bioactive alkaloid content between commercially available kratom products. To investigate this potential issue, an optimal extraction method for bioactive alkaloids in kratom powder will be determined to ensure maximum accuracy in future product analyses. Kratom’s alkaloids are sensitive to light, temperature, and pH and have been known to degrade over time, which is difficult to overcome in extraction methodology. These difficulties are the basis of the current study. Five different solvents across a range of polarity/dielectric constants have been compared to investigate which conditions result in the highest alkaloid yield by minimizing alkaloid degradation. The results of this solvent comparison have pushed the study into its next phase: method comparison. Four different physical extraction methods have been completed using the selected solvent to investigate optimal conditions further. These physical extraction methods include maceration, sonication, soxhlet, and pulsed-electric field, each to be followed by analysis via HPLC-DAD-MS. The results of this analysis will be used to determine the most effective extraction protocol that provides the highest alkaloid yield to be used in future product analyses.

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