Akuamma (Picralima nitida) is a plant native to different parts of Africa, particularly in Ghana, Nigeria and Ivory Coast. The dried seeds are ground and powdered and used for various ailments. In traditional African medicine, it is used for the treatment of diarrhea and malaria. It is also used as an antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic and painkiller.
The bark of Akuamma is commonly soaked in boiling water and is taken as an effective remedy for African Trypanosomiasis – a parasitic disease transmitted by the tsetse fly and caused by the parasitic protozoan trypanosomes. It is also named ‘sleeping sickness’ as it can produce a disturbed sleep pattern. About 500,000 people in 36 countries of Africa suffer from African trypanosomiasis.
Akuamma Seeds – One of the top choices as kratom alternative
Akuamma seeds contain different types of alkaloids that possess a vast array of healing qualities. The seeds are compared to Kratom in a way since the alkaloid akuammine is structurally related to yohimbine and mitragynine. The fruit pulp is known to have hypoglycemic properties.
Akuammicine has exhibited to stimulate glucose uptake. This is the reason why the seeds are traditionally used in managing diabetes mellitus in Nigeria. A Ghanaian hospital began developing standardized 250mg capsules of powdered P. nitida seeds. It was sold under the name ‘Picap’ around the country where it became widely recognized as a natural, safe pain relieving product. This then led to numerous studies to discover the seeds’ active alkaloids.
Akuamma Seeds Alkaloids
The following are the primary alkaloids of Akuamma seeds. The alkaloids of divided into two groups – akuammine and pericine. The Akuammine group affects opioid binding receptors, particularly mu-, delta- and kappa-. The action of the pericine group is still not well established, but it is possible that it may offer many other health properties.
1. Akuammidine – Akuammidine is the seeds’ main alkaloid, which comprises 0.56% volume of dried powder. This alkaloid is structurally similar to mitragynine and yohimbine. Akuammidine influence opioid binding sites at mu-, delta- and kappa- binding sites, however, it more of a kappa agonist with some delta and less mu activity.
Akuammidine exhibit skeletal muscle relaxant, hypotensive and local analgesic activities. In fact, its local analgesic qualities are nearly three times as potent as codeine.
2. Akuammine – unlike Akuammidine, akuammine showed high affinity for mu-opioid binding sites. It has potent local analgesic activities, with an effect comparable to cocaine. In higher doses, it may cause an inhibitory effect on the peristaltic movement of the intestines. It may also cause a hypertensive impact but with weaker than yohimbine.
3. Akuammicine – showed the highest affinity to kappa opioid binding sites.
4. Pseudoakuammigine – showed both analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. In low dosage, it excites, and in high dosage, it modulates the central nervous system, skeletal muscle contraction, respiration and smooth muscle contraction. It also has anti-inflammatory, hypotensive and local analgesic activities.
5. Akuammigine – it showed little or no effect on one opioid test, but it has been found to have an anti-adrenergic effect on the heart and blood vessels, including the circulation system’s regulatory center.
6. Pericine – it has been found to bind to mu opioid receptors but may have a convulsant effect, which may cause involuntary muscle contractions.
Other alkaloids include Picraline, Picraphylline, Picraciine, Picranitine, Burnamin, and Desacetylakuammiline.
Health Benefits of Akuamma Seeds
Below are the health effects of Akuamma seeds:
Akuamma seeds are recognized for their analgesic qualities. Many Akuamma seed users reported that they use the seeds to alleviate pain caused by arthritis, lupus erythematosus, migraine, and fibromyalgia. They reported that it’s a better alternative to opiates as it does not cause any withdrawal side effects, with very minimal addiction profile.
In addition, it is natural and with very few side effects. One can take two seeds daily to fight pain. Athletes and physically active individuals can take the seeds for sore muscles. The pain relieving the effect of Akuamma seeds is immediate and is noticeable within 15 to 30 minutes. But many users claim that the effect isn’t as potent as Kratom, though it helps a lot.
Provides a relaxing, soothing effect
The seeds are known to reduce stress and anxiety by providing a relaxing, mental state and overall, soothing, calming effect. Many users reported that it helps those who counter panic attacks.
One of the widely known effects of Akuamma seed is sedation. For individuals suffering from sleep issues such as nightmares and insomnia, the seeds have a powerful sedative activity. When taken before bedtime, it provides the most peaceful sleep. Many Akuamma users reported that the calming effect could be noticed within an hour and those who can’t sleep due to stress, pain or anxiety can achieve restful sleep.
Akuamma seeds, fruit, and bark have been studied for anti-malarial action. Two alkaloids – alstonine and akuammine are significant for malarial therapy. The seeds demonstrated inhibitory activity from the resistant Plasmodium strains such as Falciparum.
Akuamma seeds are known for their potent action against certain parasites. They specifically work against Trypanosoma, a parasitic protozoan. This protozoan can cause different diseases such as African sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and Leishmaniasis. A study has proven the trypanocidal effect of Akuamma seeds.
The alkaloid Akuammicine of the seeds demonstrated anti-diabetic qualities. This alkaloid is believed to promote glucose uptake of the cells, hence reducing glucose levels in the bloodstream.
Kratom vs. Akuamma Seeds – Similarities and Differences
Both Kratom and Akuamma seeds have similar effects, working as an opiate receptor agonist. These effects include pain relieving, stress release, immune system boost, antidepressant, and energy booster. They influence on Mu, Delta and Kappa receptors sites too.
However, Akuamma seeds have a milder effect than Kratom. If we take a look at their alkaloid profile, Kratom contains over 1500 types of alkaloids, the reason why it is more potent than Akuamma seeds. On a positive note, Akuamma seeds have a long-lasting and stable effect, which is why certain people prefer it.
Both plants are robust and have equally positive effects. Besides the chemical-based differences, choosing between Kratom and Akuamma Seed is a personal thing. It is better to try both to determine which one provides better effects for you.
- Menzies, J. R.; Paterson, S. J.; Duwiejua, M; Corbett, A. D. (1998). “Opioid activity of alkaloids extracted from Picralima nitida (fam. Apocynaceae)”. European Journal of Pharmacology. 350 (1): 101–8.