All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Elizabeth A Gardner

Advisory Committee Members

Jason G Linville

Rachelle M Shelton

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Science in Forensic Science (MSFS) College of Arts and Sciences


Legal highs are compounds that produce the same psychoactive effects as illicit compounds, but are not legally controlled under the Controlled Substances Act. While Kratom has been used for centuries by Thai laborers, it has recently been offered as a legal high by online markets and local head shops. Kratom is an indigenous plant to Southeast Asia, and the botanical name is Mitragyna speciosa. It is a mild stimulant, and the traditional use is to chew on leaves to overcome fatigue. Kratom is unique in that it is capable of producing both stimulant and sedative effects depending on the dose administered. At low doses, kratom produces effects similar to a stimulant. Users report feeling increased alertness, physical energy, talkativeness, and sociable behaviors. At high doses, kratom produces effects similar to opiates and sedatives as well as euphoric effects. The objective of this project was to develop a Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS) method to detect mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine in kratom for adoption by forensic crime labs. Seven powdered samples, one capsule, four liquid samples, and two different varieties of pills were obtained for analysis. Mitragynine has been detected in all of the samples except for the two pill samples; however, these two samples were not marketed as kratom, nor did they list mitragynine or Mitragyna speciosa as an ingredient. The 7-hydroxymitragynine has not been detected in any of the samples tested.



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