Defense Date


Document Type

Directed Research Project

First Advisor

Dr. Emanuele Alves

Second Advisor

Dr. Michelle Peace

Third Advisor

Mr. Justin Poklis


Kratom is a novel psychoactive substance that has gained popularity within the past ten years. Originating from Southeast Asia, the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree contain two principal alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, that play a key role in opioid-like effects. Twenty-nine kratom products were obtained from tobacco shops in the Richmond, Virginia area, including powders, teas, capsules, extracts, and a carbonated beverage. Samples were analyzed using Direct Analysis in Real Time-Mass Spectrometry (DART-MS) for kratom alkaloids, labeled ingredients, and other possible organic compounds. Inductively Coupled Plasma-Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) was used to quantitate aluminum, arsenic, copper, iron, magnesium, nickel, and lead with yttrium as the internal standard. Mitragynine and 7- hydroxymitragynine were present in every kratom sample. Kratom tea samples were found to have up to 20 times the tolerable upper intake of manganese. Overexposure to manganese can lead to Parkinsonian symptoms including tremors, dystonia, and facial muscle spasms. Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) was used to qualitatively confirm the presence of alkaloids and differentiate diastereomers. One non-kratom product was analyzed and was found to contain phenibut, an anxiolytic and nootropic substance. Phenibut was not listed on the label of this product. This work contributes to bring attention to the absence of quality control standards on kratom manufacturers as well as proper labeling of products sold at smoke and tobacco shops, prompting a public health concern due to the association of toxic metal levels in commercial kratom products.


© The Author(s)

Is Part Of

VCU Master of Science in Forensic Science Directed Research Projects

Date of Submission