Fake Kratom Herb, Kratom acetate,
Questions that have been
- But surely there are lots
of other kratom suppliers?
No, sadly not. Rob's supply dwindled a couple of years ago and no plants have
been available long enough to be able to provide material for even a small
percentage of the market. Basement Shaman has grown some real kratom and some
others may have the real herb in the near future. Please check the pictures
below (coming soon) to see if you have the right material. Demand to see pictures
of the material you are ordering from your retailer.
- Who is Bruno?
Bruno is the supplier at the top of all other suppliers and retailers. He
is the top of the chain. He sold kilos of the stuff for about US$300 per kilo.
- But Bruno provided seeds
that look identical to Kratom seeds?
Other Mitragyna sp seeds are easy to get. In particular M.ciliata and M.parvifolia.
These have previously been sold as Mitragyna speciosa INTENTIONALLY misidentified.
I had a battle with the wholesaler over this about 4 years ago, but know that
he has been trying to offer them as kratom seeds in the meantime. There are
some minor morphological differences in the seedpods too.
- It should not be called a
scam based only on the TLC results.
True, but there are many botanical and pharmacological features that gave
good grounds to doubt the authenticity of the herb material. These have now
been backed up by further analyses. The reluctance of the original
supplier to divulge the proper identity of the material and his reluctance
to refund all costs to his customers now makes this a scam.
- If a website is offering 'Mitragynine
acetate' then surely this is pure alkaloid supplied by a pharmceutical firm?
Not so. At least one company was offering this at prices comparable to kratom
acetate prices. The price for pharmaceutical Mitragyine is about US$200 for
10mg if you can find it.
- Have people been poisoning
themselves by consuming this material?
Unlikely. This material has been around for a few months and has been used
by quite a few people. There appears to be no indication of any obvious dangers.
Care is advisable though especially in higher doses.
- Is mitragynine unstable? Could
this account for it not being detected in the TLC?
Mitragynine is probably quite reactive and may degrade under certain conditions.
Gentle alkaloid extraction techniques will not affect mitragynine noticably
- if at all. Keeping the alkaloid in solution or as freebase will likely degrade
it quickly. Storage of the herb will eventually lead to a slow loss in potency
comparable to yohimbine (ie over many months).
- The term "kratom acetate" makes no sense.
True, it is not a correct chemical term. It is not possible to make a salt
(acetate) out of a plant. however, as wrong as it is in chemical terms, is
is quite a descriptive term for the more correct 'acetate salt of whole crude
kratom alkaloids extract'.
- What about the plants that
are being offered aroud the place? Are these fake too?
Any plants currently for sale are the real thing.These are from the 3 strains
currently available (Rob Montgomery's & co, 'bumblebee', and 'Rifat' /
Shaman Australis). So far it appears that no one has germinated the seed of
the fake kratom and as such no plants are likely to enter the market just
yet. Judging from the furry appearance of the dried herb, it is very likely
that the seedlings and plants derived from fake seed will also be furry. It
should not be difficult to tell them apart. More info will be provided here
when/if this problem arises.
The experimental results:
- more to come, incl GC/MS by Sasha
Ethnogarden Ethnobotanicals sell the extract, the plain herb and also the
seed for this unidentified species. He has been at the forefront of investigating
this species and the underlying scam as soon as I presented him with the evidence.
He has relabelled the fake kratom extract as 'Mellow Gold' thus clearly indicating
that it is not Mitragyna speciosa, but at the same time keeping it available
to those who want to experiment with it.
MJB Botanicals makes much of the kratom extract that is being sold worldwide
at the moment (through many other ethnobotanical retailers). His herbal starting
material is the same fake 'kratom' being offered on the web, all of which
is sourced from 'Bruno' in France. His extract is now also called 'Mellow
Gold'. It is quite potent and has had mostly good reports.
Kitzu was the first to take my suggestions seriously and immediately stopped
facilitating sales for this herb. Even though he facilitated many sales, he
never actually saw or sampled the product. His commission was paltry. Although
his name comes up in a lot of transaction in this matter, he was not the actual
Many retailers have reacted responsibly and have either removed or renamed
their fake kratom products. The positive response has been encouraging.
Bruno has been advertising Kratom herb to ethnobotany retailers for almost
a year. He does so by direct marketing and does not appear to maintain a website.
Many retailers and wholesalers have purchased crude herb from Bruno. As the
only other source of kratom herb had dried up before Bruno entered the market,
it is safe to assume that (virtually) all kratom on the market all around
the world is sourced from Bruno. Bruno sells his herb for between US$200 and
US$600 per kilo, which is a high price for kratom even if it is the real thing.
One of the people who distributed kratom for Bruno claims that Bruno stopped
trading in this herb once he found out about Daniel Siebert's and my own doubts
on the matter. I have not been able to confirm this. Regardless, there are
vasts stocks of the material and extracts in the marketplace at the moment.
Bruno still claims that the material is shade-dried kratom imported from Burma.
He makes no apologies and does not give refunds. He is the root of this scam.
note to retailers & wholesalers:
A list of 'bad players' will be posted with the names and URLs of any businesses
who continue to sell this fake material fraudulently as kratom or Mitragyna
speciosa. This does not mean that the extract should not be made available.
It does however mean it should be represented truthfully. I will continue
to e-mail businesses, forums and mailing lists about this matter. If you have
any questions feel free to e-mail me (link at bottom).
The tireless reseachers:
In an effort to protect this community the following people have either devoted
many hours to get to the bottom of this, or have provided key expertise, finance
or materials. Their only reward is your respect!
Daniel Siebert, Jon Hanna, Will Beifuss, Dennis McKenna, Karl Jansen, Jason
at Ethnogarden, Mark at MJB, Darklight at Wandjina Gardens, Sasha Shulgin,
the Erowid crew, and myself.
There are many other people who have thrown us little bits of information
which were essential in putting the pieces of the puzzle together. This has
been an inspiring excercise in cooperation and free knowledge sharing.
Note: 1st of May 2003.
Bruno has finally been in touch with myself and some retailers. He has made
at least one refund and has promised further refunds to all involved (please
contact Bruno directly for refunds and let us know about your experiences).
Bruno has also finally stopped selling the fake kratom on his website (as
from early april). Some corrections were made in the above text thanks to
input from Bruno. More corrections and finer details are likely to follow.
Torsten (March/April 2003, updated May 2003)
All seed is sold for botanical preservation purposes only. All parts
of this plant can be toxic and should not be ingested.