The Truth About Strains
After 5 years of importing and daily kratom use, and from all the research we have gathered, both scientific and industry based, we have discerned that there is little truth or substance to the strains in the kratom industry. Here we give you an in-depth, behind the scenes look at Indonesian manufacturing practices. Furthermore, we break down the science that is currently available on strains. You won’t believe what is really going on! In order to fully understand why we sell just one super green variety of kratom, we feel it is important for our customers to understand the truth about strains. It is our hopes that by educating our customers, they will learn why it is in their best interests to source the greenest kratom they can. And that’s what Crisp is – the greenest and highest quality kratom we can possibly purvey.
The first fallacy most customers believe is that the strains are sourced from different countries. Strains such as Malay, Thai, Vietnam, and Bali suggest that the leaves are sourced from these different regions/countries. However, nearly all (99.9%+) of the world’s kratom is sourced from Indonesia, more specifically from the region of Borneo. Kratom has been illegal in Malaysia and Thailand for quite some time and we haven’t seen any valid evidence that supports kratom growing in Vietnam. And while Bali is in Indonesia where kratom is legal, it is mainly a tourist island. There is no kratom sourced from the island of Bali and no evidence that kratom even grows here. Therefore all of the Malay, Thai, Vietnam, and Bali on the US market are sourced from Borneo. Most kratom suppliers reside in the city of Pontianak, while the leaves are sourced from farms and areas along the Hulu Kapuas river. A common rebuttal we hear to the strain locations is that the farmers got the genetics from these different countries and grew them in Indonesia. Considering how widely unregulated the kratom industry is, it doesn’t make sense to trust thousands of different suppliers in a third world country are upholding some code of honor to make sure strains are authentic.
Now lets get to the science available on strains….
Scientists have studied the different leaf types. There are red vein leaves, white vein leaves, and green vein leaves. There are also horned leaves that come with all three vein colors. Thus far scientists have found no noticeable difference in the alkaloid content or the ratio of alkaloids between the different leaf types. This has been stated by Dr. Chris McCurdy, a researcher at the University of Florida, who is one of the world’s leading researchers on kratom.
Believe it or not, red vein, white vein, and green vein leaves can all grow from the same tree. There are many variables that can contribute to the health of a kratom plant (soil, sunlight, water, nutrients). Since kratom is farmed outdoors, these variables are not controlled. We believe that the variables must be controlled with indoor growing before anyone can declare that their genetics are consistent or special.
Now we will get to the Indonesian industry practices and this is where you’ll really learn what is going on with strains.
The following link, posted by a reddit user, is the single most in-depth resource we have found on industries manufacturing practices:
In the kratom industry, you’ll find red, white, and green kratom are sold as red vein, white vein, and green vein. This leads buyers to believe farmers are separating the leaves by different type. However, if you read the link above you’ll learn this is not the case. Most of the world’s kratom comes from a few large processing centers. Huge dump trucks full of kratom leaves are brought into the city where these big processors buy their leaves and turn them into powder. These sacks are not labeled, meaning the leaves are not separated by type. Each processor will use the sacks filled with various leaf types to make up all their different strains.
So every batch of kratom is actually a mixture of all different kinds of leaves, but the majority of leaves are red vein. Some have said as much as 99% of the leaves in Indonesia are red vein. Separating leaves by the different type would not only be tedious work, but considering that currently science shows the leaves had no noticeable differences, it would be pointless also. One harvest lot can be turned into dozens of strains, just by making the color of the powder different. The greenest powders become green strains, the reddest become red strains, and anything in between is white.
The red “strains” often go through different drying techniques/lengths to achieve a red colored powder. If your kratom vendor is providing you with green powder when you order red or white vein, then we believe they are doing a good job and looking out for your best interests. But most of the industry is not doing this. To prove that, compare google image results of red maeng da to green maeng da, or any strain of red vs. green. What you’ll find is that the color of the powder with red strains is most often red. It has nothing to do with the vein color, and everything to do with powder color.
Take a look at this red vein kratom leaf. Aside from the vein, notice that the leaf is green. If kratom leaves are de-stemmed and de-veined (and they are actually), tell me, why would a green leaf produce a red colored powder? Heck, even if the vein remained, would it really dominate the color that much to turn the powder red?
If you click that reddit link you’ll see fresh green leaves are placed in a bag in the sun to ferment and create red. But not every supplier has practices like this. Sometimes red kratom can be old powder that was once green and turned browned over time. Since most of the industry sun dries their leaves, red kratom can also be made from the leaves that were neglected and burnt in the sun. Most of the industry sells this brownish/red powder as “red vein” and a lot of it is low quality with lower alkaloid levels. Although not all red kratom is neglected or old, fermenting practices like you see in the link will often produce harmful bacteria. This is why we strongly believe every customer should strive for a super green kratom product. Powder color can change over time and from heat exposure. If we left a super green batch in a hot warehouse for a year, it would turn red eventually. If vendors were really separating by leaf type and giving you only red vein leaves, why would they also change the powder color?
But you might be wondering, is it possible that different drying practices can lead to different effects? It’s possible. Some in the industry have said that as the leaves dry, 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-OH) increases. However, we have never seen any science that shows this. The lab we use has told us that 7-OH is typically undetectable in pure leaf samples. We also reached out to Wonderland Labs who have been one of the industry leaders in kratom lab testing for years. They test a lot of kratom samples and confirmed that pure leaf powder typically contains minimal traces of 7-OH, and they haven’t noticed any differences between strains.
We were once a believer in the theory that the alkaloid levels change as the leaf dries. When we first got into indoor dried kratom, sometimes there were batches with slightly too much moisture that seemed to get more potent as it aged. I would frequently say that indoor dried kratom would get more potent after you open the bag. And I still believe this may be true. So we remain open minded to the theory that certain alkaloids increase during the drying process. There are 40 alkaloids in the kratom leaf so it might be another alkaloid other than 7-OH. If we ever do discover that as leaves dry certain alkaloids increase, we will update this post. As for now, it doesn’t appear there is any science that verifies this theory.
The term “strain” typically refers to genetic traits that are consistent batch to batch. In the cannabis industry, there are true strains that have consistent physical and chemical traits from birth. But in the kratom industry, you don’t even have suppliers using the same types of leaves on their strains. So how is that a strain?
Based off the current climate and science available, there is really no reason to place your trust strains or defend the sanctity of them. Like we said before, it doesn’t make sense to assume that thousands and thousands of vendors in an unregulated industry are upholding a code of honor to make sure you get authentic “Bali”, which doesn’t even exist. What you have are a bunch of people taking batches with different colored powder and slapping different labels on them. And when you go across the broad spectrum of the industry, there really is not one single consistency or truth to strains other than calling it Borneo or Indo, since pretty much all kratom can be called Borneo or Indo. Those are probably the most honest labels/strain names you will find.
Before it seems like we are ousting other vendors or putting ourselves on a pedestal, we want to admit that we have sold strains for 5 years on our BKB Herbal website and still continue to do so. When you are new to an industry, you want to cater to what customers are looking for, and you want to appear like you know what you are talking about. After a certain amount of time in the industry, we felt we were experienced and equipped enough to challenge this misconception about strains . We have dedicated ourselves and approached kratom with a pure and honest spirit, and after 5 years we feel that taking this bold step into the light will allow us to improve our quality and deliver better products to our customers. The truth shall set you free!
When you consider that Indonesian suppliers are able to sell brown kratom with the lowest manufacturing standards for the same price as bright green kratom, you realize that kratom strains really are a clever con. If we were to source red and white powder, we honestly feel that we would be sourcing inferior quality. We believe that strains have basically created demand for lower quality kratom by allowing suppliers to off their lowest quality supply, and not have as much oversight in their production.
The average kratom user will assess quality solely off of effects. This is not a good way to review as it enables low manufacturing practices. The reality is, any Indonesian can pick a potent leaf, dry it on the ground, and grind it in a dirty old machine. You want to make sure your leaves are dried in a sanitary environment, and processed with new equipment. We assess the quality of kratom off physical and tangible properties (consistency, moisture content, smell, taste, color).
Almost everything you read online about strains is written by vendors who are looking to write 300 word articles to optimize their websites for google so they can sell more kratom. The articles that kratom users base their opinions off of are not scientific, and most are adopting a general consensus view that “greens are for energy, whites are for mood, reds are for sedation”. This is how a lot of the internet works when there is not much research on a subject. One website will go to another website to base it’s information, because really they are just businesses whose priority is to get traffic for specific keyword searches, and then sell their products. Having true information is not the priority. If 10,000 people are searching for Bali kratom every month, vendors want to target those people and will fill up pages in order to do so.
We have been wholesalers for 5 years and dealt with a lot of other vendors. Most vendors will order in bulk by red, white, or green and then make up their different strains out of that. In our opinion, the smartest vendors will order just greens and then make their red and white strains from all green kratom. If your vendor supplies you with green kratom when you order red, we think they are looking out for your best interests. Every now and then, we run into a vendor who asks us for all these different strains and about how they make you feel. “Do you have red dragon?” “I need a white thats good for mood”. When we run into these vendors, we honestly roll our eyes.
The following video is from Kelly Dunn who is the owner of Urban Ice Organix. He is donating money to research at the University of Florida and doing more good for kratom than most if not all vendors. He also helped put together the Leaf of Faith documentary which many have seen on Netflix. If you haven’t seen it, please go watch it. It really is an amazing film that captivates the beauty and righteousness of kratom. They did a great job.
Kelly posted a video explaining the truth on strains. He referenced Dr. McCurdy’s research that we also posted above. So here you have an honest and transparent vendor trying to share the truth. But based on the number of dislikes and negative comments on the video, it seems clear that tons of kratom users refuse to believe the truth about strains and swear that there are differences.
We hope that we have proven beyond all reasonable doubt that kratom strains are not authentic. Comment below and let us know what you think!