The Internet fuelled a globalisation of Kratom’s availability, and has also lead to some mistakes or even abuse by vendors.
Fake Kratom is said to have been widely sold in the past, notably under the name "mellow gold", which was one of the first imports of what was thought to be Mitragyna speciosa Kratom leaf, but found to be misidentified. The product was alleged to be Kratom imported from Myanmar (where Kratom is currently illegal), yet the leaves did not match common botanical descriptions of Mitragyna speciosaKratom, notably having some hairs on them.
Vendors underwent a TLC and HPLC analysis, and neither test indicated the presence of mitragynine. The TLC analysis also did not produce any visible indole spots with Ehrlich's reagent. However, the HPLC results did have two peaks, with retention times similar to yohimbine, leading researchers to speculate that it could contain Kratom related alkaloids. The dried leaf’s alkaloid content was approximately 4%, although the alkaloids remain unidentified.
It is not clearly known what plant matter was actually being sold as Kratom in
the past, but it is suspected that it is from a tree in the same family of genus,
Mitragyna. This “fake Kratom” was later tentatively re-identified as Mitragyna
parvifolia. Similarly, in Thailand itself, prohibition of Kratom has lead to the
use of another Mitragyna tree as a Kratom substitute, Mitragyna javanica
(which contains different and much weaker alkaloids)
In the light of such past incidents, vendors and customers have now become
more instructed and careful, and it appears that most Kratom on the market
nowadays is authentic.