The most widely studied alkaloids of the 40 identified in kratom are mitragynine (MG) and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-OH).
In recent past, a team of researchers studied speciofoline (C22H28N2O5), a kratom alkaloid present in less than 1% of alkaloids. From their research, the team found that speciofoline does not bind to mu-opioid receptors (MOR) like MG and 7-OH. They also came across an unexpected breakthrough, finding that levels of the alkaloid varied among different kratom samples by 90-fold. So drastic were the differences that the researches reclassified the samples into “high-speciofoline” and “low-speciofoline” groups. The team believes that such differentiation could draw us closer to understanding why different strains of kratom produce slightly different effects.
Initially, these researchers’ main objective was to map out the chemical composition of Kratom. They never intended to study speciofoline specifically, but such significant findings call for further research into the effects of the alkaloid.
Future studies are warranted to characterize speciofoline and determine if the ligand may induce antinociception or other activities through non-opioid receptor systems
Todd DA, Kellogg JJ, Wallace ED, Khin M, Flores-Bocanegra L, Tanna RS, McIntosh S, Raja HA, Graf TN, Hemby SE, Paine MF, Oberlies NH, Cech NB. Chemical composition and biological effects of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): In vitro studies with implications for efficacy and drug interactions. Sci Rep. 2020 Nov 5;10(1):19158. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-76119-w. PMID: 33154449; PMCID: PMC7645423
History of Speciofoline
The history of speciofoline dates back to 1963 when Smith, Kline and French (later SmithKline Beecham Corporation, now pharma giants GlaxoSmithKline) applied for a patent for the alkaloid, which was later granted in 1967. The main creditor is listed as Arnold Heyworth Beckett, a highly credited British pharmacist and expert in sports doping. (Beckett is most known for his investigations into the control of performance enhancing drugs in Olympic sport. Beckett later went on to advocate for athletes he considered unjustly accused of taking PEDs.)
The patent cites, “The new crystalline alkaloid of this invention is an orally effective analgetic and antitussive agent as shown by animal experimentation” meaning speciofoline has pain relieving and cough suppressing effects.
Due to unspecified circumstances, speciofoline was never developed as a drug, and the patent expired in 1984.