Pharmacy Student Finds Method to Detect New Type of Psychotropics

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Gaschromatography Mass Spectrometry device. (Photo: Special)

UNAIR NEWS – In Kalimantan until the borders of Malaysia, Kratom (Mytragina speciosa) plants grows well. It is usually used by the locals as snacks served with tea and as traditional medication. But who would know that it has potential to be abused.

Livia Elsa mahasiswa program studi S-2 Ilmu Forensik, Sekolah Pascasarjana, Universitas Airlangga (Foto: Istimewa)
Livia Elsa Forensics master program student, Postgraduate school, Universitas Airlangga (Photo: Special)

It was Livia Elsa, a student of Forensics master program, Postgraduate School, Universitas Airlangga who conducted tests on Borneo’s special plant. Her test results were elaborated in her thesis called “Isolation Method Development and Identification of Mitragynine of Kratom Leaves”.

One of the reasons to conduct the research was limited researchers interested in studying the content of the compound, as the leaves of kratom are wild plants.

“A lot of researches done before in Malaysia and Thailand. Those researches showed that it was a new kind of psychotropics. I was interested because in Indonesia, not many people study that,” said Livia.

“People have often use it but they do not give any special attention as there are no laws against it. People casually use the plant, and the effect was actually bigger than any other narcotics,” she added.

To get kratom leaves, she bought them from social media. When there is attention from the government, she admitted that it was quite expensive. It was from Kalimantan Barat.

From the leaves and the powder she got, she compared the content between them. The powder form is difficult to detect. She finally found a way to detect the content of kratom.

“BNN also needs a method to detect the evidence. We can make sure findings with his method I found, that it is kratom and not other leaves like weed for example,” said Livia.

In conducting the test, the girl born in Bandung uses a device called GCMS (Gaschromatography Mass Spectrometry) in Testing Service Unit (ULP), Faculty of Pharmacy (FF) UNAIR. It was done to identify mytragynine compound in kratom.

“Shortly, I tried to find a method which can determine mitragynine compound in kratom by using GCMS and sophisticated device,” said Livia.

Professor of Faculty of Pharmacy (FF) UNAIR as well as director of ULP Prof. Dr.rer.nat. Mochammad Yuwono, MS., Apt, said that Livia’s research is interesting, as she had proven that kratom contains mitragynine. He added that it needs some laboratory test.

“(Identification) Can’t be done by public even in microscopic scale. And the research applied method or a way to detect it,” said Prof. Yuwono who is also Livia’s thesis supervisor.

Author : Defrina Sukma S.
Editor : Nuri Hermawan

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