As with all things, when the popularity of kratom tea rises, the market responds; more suppliers and more vendors pop up as the world gets out, and the supply must increase to meet demand. For the most part, people are honest stewards of the products they sell. However life is complicated, the market is intensely active, and sometimes mistakes are made; a batch of kratom tea leaves, not properly dried, may be packed and sealed away, a dangerous mold festering inside unbeknownst to the kratom tea farmer or supplier. A chance storm may ruin a large crop; with bills and employees to pay, maybe a family or sick parent to provide for, a desperate supplier may throw some stems and other less-desirable parts of the kratom tree into the batch, leading to an impure and lower-quality product. There are myriad ways that a batch of kratom tea powder, produced and packed on the other side of the planet, then shipped here, can be contaminated or otherwise mishandled. This is why lab-testing kratom tea imports is key to a healthy industry, most especially third-party labs with no ties to the kratom tea industry specifically.
Currently, there are multiple sorts of tests that can be run on kratom tea powder which, in tandem, will give both the kratom tea vendor and the kratom tea consumer an accurate picture of what is contained within. First, there’s the High-Pressure Liquid Chromatography, or HPLC. This method tests the alkaloid content of a specific batch of kratom tea, by examining how the kratom tea powder reflects light in a controlled environment. Each alkaloid has its own sort of reflection, and so this is an accurate way of measuring what kind of alkaloids are present and in what percentage. In concert with this, labs also use Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GCMS) and/or Thin-Layer Chromatography, or TLC. Both methods analyze the biological or chemical makeup of the kratom tea sample, and can help validate the accuracy of an HPLC test. Not only could harmful molds and microbes be present, it could also reveal adulteration of the product; when kratom powder is harvested naturally and correctly, it should contain a higher concentration of mitragynine and lower 7-OH, as the latter alkaloid is four times more potent than the former. Higher results than this, or other unusual proportions of alkaloids, could indicate “adulteration”, ie some sort of alteration of the product. Whether they intend to make the product stronger, or weaker, this kind of manipulation can indicate the supplier is not engaging honorably and honestly, and should not be supported by the community.
These sophisticated tests are necessary to the continued survival of the kratom tea market; despite the extremely low risk to health and thin history of tangible damage to a handful of heavy kratom abusers, the FDA is always seeking to crack down and regulate the industry, and governments around the world have never seen a substance they weren’t champing at the bit to ban or tax into the ground. Because of this, it is imperative that the kratom community polices itself, to reduce chances of adverse affects, and to prove to the world that freedom works, that people can indeed be trusted to responsibly consume products the government otherwise looks sideways at. Testing these products in a third-party lab ensures the purity of the products being brought into the country – they do so transparently, with the understanding that adults with agency will make the best decisions for themselves when properly informed of the quality of the kratom tea powder they are purchasing.