Throughout tropical West Africa, a shrub-like tree can be found that is known to the locals as “Akuamma” and to the international community as vincamajordine or Picralima nitida.The seeds of this tree (found in our Akuamma collection) have been used in folk medicine for a long time in Ghana, Cameroon, Congo, Zaire, and Côte d’Ivoire.
However, now that Akuamma powder is becoming more famous worldwide, many people are wondering what Akuamma is and what the effects of Akuamma vs. kratom may be.
Learning What is Akumma: The Akuamma Tree
Similar to kratom, the Akuamma plant is an understory rainforest tree that grows in the wild and flourishes along the riverbanks. The tree grows to a similar height as kratom as well, with a maximum height of 35 meters or 100 feet (although, in reality, Akuamma, is often much shorter than this maximum).
The difference between Akuamma vs. kratom in terms of their biology is that Akuamma produces flowers and seed-filled fruit all year round—which are the main parts of the plant that are used for medicinal purposes by locals, in addition to the bark and roots. In the case of kratom, the leaves are the part of the plant that is used medicinally.
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What is the Traditional Akuamma Preparation Method?
In its native context, every part of the Akuamma tree is used for different purposes. Considering Akuamma vs. kratom, this is like using the stem and vein as well as the leaf when using kratom. Here are just a few examples of how locals prepare and use the various parts of the Picralima nitida tree:
When the Akuamma fruits are ripe, they are harvested by hand and sliced open. Harvesters extract the seeds manually and dry them in the sun to be chewed whole or ground into a powder. This is similar to the way that kratom is harvested in the wild and the leaves dried for export.
Being the part of the plant with the highest concentration of alkaloids, the dried Akuamma seeds are traditionally used as a gentle stimulant and remedy for:
FeverMalaria, vomiting, and diarrheaChronic pain
Chest and respiratory problems
When prepared as a poultice, the powdered seeds are used externally on abscesses. Thinking about Akuamma vs. kratom, both plants have a range of internal and external uses in their original contexts, and both are thought to be helpful remedies for fever and diarrhea.
Similar to the seeds, Akuamma bark is traditionally used for fever (including yellow fever), jaundice, and intestinal parasites.
In local cultures, when prepared as a decoction, the Akuamma root is taken for jaundice, fevers, pneumonia, and as a vermifuge (a substance that deals with intestinal worms).
A decoction of the leaves is traditionally taken for measles and guinea worm, with the leaf sap being used for otitis (ear infections), and as well as an external lotion for the measles.
A decoction is taken for coughs and fevers (including typhoid fever). Small amounts of the fruit and bark are sometimes chewed to stave off hunger during long treks through the bush. When thinking of Akuamma vs. kratom, this is similar to the way kratom is used by laborers in Southeast Asia.
What is Akuamma Used for Besides Medicine?
Apart from being used medicinally, the various parts of the Akuamma tree (seeds, roots, and fruit) are used by locals for other purposes as well. The seeds, roots, and fruits are used to make arrow and fish poison, while the fruit shell and yellow wood are used to make everyday items such as spoons, combs, and tools.
Akuamma vs. Kratom
While they originate from different world regions, Akuamma and kratom have become known on a global scale at around the same time and have fairly similar effects.
In general, when looking at Akuamma vs. kratom, both of these plants are said to provide natural stimulation and temporary relief from discomfort. Another similarity is that both of these plants grow in the wild and have traditionally been used by local communities for fever and diarrhea.
The main difference between Akuamma vs. kratom—as observed by users—is that kratom’s effects appear to be much stronger and longer-lasting than those of Akuamma. For these reasons, if kratom is illegal in your country or state, Akuamma could be a useful kratom alternative.
What is Akuamma’s Potential for Use in Western Medicine?
When comparing Akuamma vs. kratom, we can also look at their primary alkaloids. Both of these plants contain alkaloids that bind to opioid receptors in the brain—making them of interest to those seeking natural pain relief. Studies are continuing to come out explaining the action of these alkaloids in more detail and which preparation methods and dosages are the most effective.
The most abundant alkaloid in Akuamma is akuammine, which is thought to play a role in the plant’s pain-killing effects at both the local and general levels.
Other notable alkaloids in the plant and their effects include:
Akuammidine—local and general (skeletal) analgesic, hypotensiveAkuammicine—acts on the kappa-opioid receptorsAkuammigine—protective against the effects of adrenalinePseudo-akuammigine—supports the parasympathetic nervous system, anti-inflammatory, hypotensivePericine—binds to mu-opioid receptorsAlstonine—antipsychotic
Comparing Akuamma vs. kratom, we can see that they contain completely different alkaloids. However, the structure and behavior of those alkaloids in some cases seem to be similar.
Akuamma seeds or Picralima Nitida is an herbal medicine used in different part of Africa as a painkiller. The seeds contain various types of alkaloids which include akuammine and pericine. These alkaloids possess skeletal muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-diarrheal, antimicrobial, antipyretic, antiplasmodial and antiulcer activities.
Akuamma seeds resemble Kratom in a way because its alkaloid akuammine is related to mitragynine and yohimbine. Studies reveal that Akuamma seeds can be employed as a remedy for fever, hypertension, jaundice, dysmenorrhea, malaria and gastrointestinal disorders.
These seeds are crushed and taken in powdered form, but they have a very bitter taste so usually they are capsulated and sold under the name Picap.
The powdered form of seeds can be mixed with food too.
Alkaloids Present in Akuamma Seeds
It is the primary alkaloid found in the seeds. Structurally it is related to kratom, and it shows the greatest affinity for kappa receptors, making it kappa agonist at opioid binding sites. It has threefold action as a skeletal muscle relaxant, hypotensive action, and local analgesic action. It also has sympatholytic effects.
It is an antagonist at mu receptor. It is a sympathetic system agonist. Its effects resemble that of cocaine. It inhibits intestinal motility and shows a fall in blood pressure. However, at higher doses, it shows hypertension.
It binds strongly to the kappa opioid receptors.
It shows analgesic and anti-inflammatory actions. It acts as an indirect competitive parasympathomimetic. At small doses, it excites the Central nervous system, respiratory system, nervous system, and enhances muscle contractility; at high doses, it causes depression of all these systems.
It is an antagonist of adrenaline and shows the antiadrenergic activity of the heart, vessels and regulatory center of the circulatory system.
It binds to mu-opioid binding receptors. It shows convulsant effects. Other alkaloids include Picraline, Picraphylline, Picracine, Picranitine, Burnamin and Desacetylakuammiline.
Positive Effects of Akuamma Seeds
As a painkiller
Akuamma seeds are known for their analgesic action. According to users on Reddit and various drug forums, they have been using the seeds to alleviate pain that is caused by Lupus erythematosus, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and migraine.
According to them, that it’s a better alternative to opiates as it doesn’t cause withdrawal symptoms and has little addiction profile. Moreover, it’s a natural solution, so it has fewer side effects. Taking two seeds daily has helped a lot of patients fight pain.
In different hospitals of Ghana, the seeds are sold under the brand name ‘Picap’ as a painkiller, and studies prove that it has potential analgesic activity. Physically active people can take the seeds alone for painful, sore muscles.
The best part about Akuamma seeds is that they act very quickly. The effects are visible within 15 to 30 minutes. However, users claim that the effects are not as strong as Kratom, but it helps a lot.
One of the positive effects that are caused by Akuamma seeds includes sedation. For all those who are suffering from sleep disorders like insomnia and nightmares, akuamma seeds have proved fruitful as it has the sedative activity. Once taken before sleeping, it gives the best and most peaceful sleep. According to users, the calming effects appear within an hour, and the seeds have helped users with anxiety, pain, and stress to achieve peaceful sleep.
Produces a sense of relaxation
These seeds are known for reducing stress levels and providing an overall sense of well-being. The seeds have helped many users who face panic attacks and anxiety. When this drug is taken, it helps in relaxing the mental state and produces calmness.
Akuamma seeds are known for their anti-parasitic action. They specifically act against Trypanosoma, which is a protozoon with a single flagellum. It causes diseases like African sleeping sickness, Leishmaniasis, and Chagas diseases. According to a study ‘J Ethnopharmacol: 1989 May 25: 263-8’ Akuamma seeds have a trypanocidal effect, but its pharmacology is unknown as yet.
Picralima nitida seeds and other parts of fruit and stem bark have been investigated in vitro for antimalarial action. The seeds showed inhibitory activity against the resistant strains of Plasmodium such as Falciparum. Two alkaloids akuammine, and alstonine are important in the therapy of malaria Thus it is considered as a potential antimalarial drug.
One of the alkaloid ‘Akuammicine’ present in the seeds is demonstrated to have anti-diabetic properties. The alkaloid promotes the uptake of glucose into the cells thus reducing plasma levels of glucose, like that of insulin.
Directions for Research
While it is not yet clear exactly how each of the compounds contributes to Akuamma’s folk medicinal effects, one study shows that several alkaloids from the P. nitida plant activate mu-, delta-, and kappa-opioid receptors in the body—making this plant of special interest to those seeking temporary relief from discomfort. Akuamma plant extracts are also being studied for their potential effects on blood sugar, malaria, parasites, and pyrexia.