Kratom Survey: The Unique Signaling of Mitragynine

One goal of the kratom survey is exploring the role of mitragynine in kratom tea. This blog is a recap of Dr. Oliver Grundmann’s and Hamilton Morris’s discussion regarding the unique pharmacology of kratom alkaloids. When possible, citations have been provided for the topics that they discussed. If you have tried our tea, then please consider responding to Dr. Grundmann’s kratom survey.

Dr. Oliver Grundmann

Dr. Oliver Grundmann is one of the most cited kratom researchers in the world. His work regarding kratom ranges from the largest population study of kratom consumers ever conducted, all the way to detailing its neuropharmacology. He has spoken at several American Kratom Association hosted advocacy events, and continues to correct sensationalism with science.

He currently serves as the Director and faculty advisor for the online Master of Science and graduate certificate programs in Pharmaceutical Chemistry and Clinical Toxicology at the College of Pharmacy of the University of Florida.

Hamilton Morris

Hamilton Morris is a renowned science and culture journalist. He directed, wrote, and hosted three seasons of the hit television series “Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia,” and his written work has appeared in Harper’s Magazine and Vice Magazine, among others. He researches drug development and pharmacology at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia with long-time colleague Dr. Jason Wallach.

In 2017 he released his widely acclaimed documentary Kratom: The Forbidden Leaf as part of season 2 of his television series.  At the present time he has returned to the subject of kratom through his role as Scientific Advisor to Top Tree Herbs.

What We Know

Andrew Kruegel and Chris McCurdy have done some studies that seem to confirm that these indole, mitragynine-scaffold, kratom alkaloids are binding to opioid receptors in vitro and in vivo in animal studies.  Generally, they are partial agonists, which mean that they do not bind to all the receptors. They also display biased signaling pathways. Simpy, this means that when they “tickle” the receptor, what follows is different than the typical response for that receptor..

At the moment, this biased signalling seems to be the smoking gun for kratom potentially having a greater safety profile than classical opioids. 

Dr. Grundmann goes on to explain that in these in vitro studies it has been shown that mitragynine does not recruit nearly as many beta-arrestin proteins as classical opioids. Beta-arrestin protein recruitment for classical opioids is associated with respiratory depression, as well as increased potential for addiction and withdrawal. While beta-arrestin recruitment is limited, kratom alkaloids similarly activate G-protein dissociation. In short, these papers hint at the possibility of mitragynine having the desirable ache relief properties that come from opioid receptor agonism, without the negative, fatal inability to breathe.

Typical vs. Atypical

Contrarily, the typical opioids, like morphine and heroin, are full agonists. The difference, in short, between a partial and full agonists is a plateauing of effects in partial agonists. This means, effectively, that there are diminishing or nonexistent returns for increasing the amount of the partial agonist in one’s bloodstream. Therefore, with typical opioids the effects of taking more is an increase in strength. No plateau. With this comes increased recruitment of beta-arrestins, which in turn can result in a depressed ability to breathe.

All of this, cautions Dr. Grundmann, is still in the early stages of research. While the current data is promising, there is still a great deal of research which needs to be done. Luckily, the kratom survey he speaks about in the video will do a lot to move the needle forward.

Survey Info

This discussion, ultimately, is to promote Dr. Grundmann’s incredibly important population survey of kratom tea drinkers. The data from this survey will be able to further our scientific understanding of this leaf, and its consumption via the traditional preparation.

These are the crucial, final innings in the story of kratom. At the moment, it has drawn the ire of federal regulatory agencies, for controversial reason. Nobody can protect kratom by themselves. A rigorous, scientific analysis of kratom is necessary. Most important, this analysis must not fail to mention its potential for both good and bad. As a result of the politics surrounding it, scientists have a difficult time securing grants and permissions to research it.

You Can Help!

To get around this, we need a grassroots commitment to discovering the truth regarding this leaf. As such, surveys are one of our best options. The current survey that Dr. Grundmann is conducting is one of the most rigorous and controlled population surveys on kratom every conducted. For the results to have any weight, it is up to you to participate.

If we fail to collect the adequate data to make any meaningful conclusions, then the enemies of kratom will be able to continue to propagate their ill informed claims. In the grand scheme of things, we know surprisingly little about kratom.  That means that the claims made by both advocates and kratom-haters are founded on thin evidence. To collect a meaningful amount of data from this survey would allow for a more scientific discussion to be had.  Truly, all those committed to honesty above speculation will want for this survey to be widely responded to.

How To Help

If you would like to participate in this historical research project, you can purchase a discounted bag of our crushed leaf kratom tea bags. From there, it’s as simple, and pleasurable, as drinking tea!  After you’ve drunk some of the tea, simply scan the QR code on the bag and fill out the anonymous survey.  Or, you can go directly to the survey via

Share this post:
Soren Shade
Soren Shade is the Founder and CEO of Top Tree Herbs. He was the producer for Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, and continues to produce the Hamilton Morris Podcast. He writes with a holistic look at natural and synthetic pharmacology, traditions-of-use, and a love for freedom of consciousness. You can find Soren rock climbing or advocating for sensible drug reform and anti-prohibition.

Get the Better Brewing Newsletter

Catch up on the latest kratom news, recipes, and more – only 1 email a month!

Explore the Blog
Start Brewing


Get a free gift with every 4 items you order! Enter the code TEAMAS in your cart to see your gifts appear.

Some exclusions apply. Offer details.

Cozy up with the free fall recipe book

Get ready for the fall-idays with a kratom tea brewing guide + 5 festive recipes!

By submitting your email address, you’ll be signed up for Top Tree’s newsletter and email updates. Don’t worry, we promise all of our emails will be as sweet as our kratom hot chocolate recipe. You can unsubscribe at any time.


You must be 18* or older to visit the site.

By entering, you are agreeing to our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. *21 or older in OR, TN, CO, VA, FL, and WV.