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Kratom has been one of the recent substances touted as an all-natural alternative to pain relief drugs, but that’s only one side of the story. The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) has listed it as a drug of concern due to a significant increase in abuse of Kratom in recent years.

Clinically Reviewed by: Charee Marquez, LMFT

What Is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant that is found in Southeast Asia. It is used to treat various problems such as pain relief, stress reduction and as a relaxant. The leaves are chewed, or dried, and crushed into powder to make tea to fight tiredness. Kratom is sometimes sold in liquid form as a treatment to stop diarrhea and cramps. However, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not approved medical uses for Kratom.

Kratom can be effective in relieving pain because it contains mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine, which act on opioid receptors in the brain. However, it is a unique plant, and is not regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, so the dosage has different effects and impacts on the body. 

For instance, when consumed at a low rate, it boosts energy as a stimulant; at a higher rate, it alleviates pain, while at a very high rate, it acts as a sedative, and can induce psychotic symptoms, similar to some opioids. Due to this reason, the potential for abuse of Kratom is high, leading to the FDA ordering seizure and destruction of any products containing Kratom.

Types and Dosages

Types of Kratom:

Kratom strains are often categorized by the color of the veins in their leaves, and each color is associated with different effects. Common strains include:

  1. Red Vein Kratom:

    • Often associated with relaxation and pain relief.
    • Examples include Red Bali, Red Thai, and Red Maeng Da.
  2. Green Vein Kratom:

    • Tends to have a more balanced effect, providing energy and mild pain relief.
    • Examples include Green Malay, Green Thai, and Green Maeng Da.
  3. White Vein Kratom:

    • Often considered more stimulating and energizing.
    • Examples include White Bali, White Thai, and White Maeng Da.
  4. Maeng Da Kratom:

    • Known for its potency and may have energizing or pain-relieving effects.

Dosages of Kratom:

Dosages of kratom can vary, and the effects are influenced by factors such as individual sensitivity, tolerance, and the specific strain of kratom. It’s crucial to start with a low dose and assess individual response. Keep in mind that the following dosages are general guidelines and may not be suitable for everyone:

  1. Low Dose (1-2 grams):

    • Mild stimulant effects.
    • Increased alertness and energy.
  2. Moderate Dose (2-4 grams):

    • Balanced effects, combining stimulation and relaxation.
    • Enhanced mood and focus.
  3. High Dose (4-6 grams):

    • More sedative and analgesic effects.
    • Increased risk of adverse effects.
  4. Very High Dose (6 grams and above):

    • Sedative effects may dominate.
    • Increased risk of side effects, including nausea and dizziness.

It’s important to note that individual responses to kratom can vary, and there is a lack of standardized dosing guidelines.


Some reported uses of kratom include:

  1. Pain Relief:

    • Kratom contains alkaloids that may have analgesic (pain-relieving) properties. It has been traditionally used by some communities for managing pain.
  2. Energy and Stimulation:

    • Certain strains of kratom, especially those with white veins, are believed to have stimulant effects, providing increased energy and alertness.
  3. Relaxation and Stress Reduction:

    • Other strains, such as those with red veins, are thought to have more relaxing and sedative effects, potentially aiding in stress reduction and relaxation.
  4. Mood Enhancement:

    • Users sometimes report enhanced mood and a sense of well-being after consuming kratom.
  5. Opioid Withdrawal Support:

    • Some individuals have used kratom as a means to self-manage opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s crucial to note that using kratom for this purpose can be risky and may lead to dependence on kratom itself.
  6. Focus and Cognitive Enhancement:

    • Certain kratom strains are believed to improve focus and cognitive function.
  7. Social Interaction:

    • Some users report that kratom enhances sociability and can be used in social settings.

Onset and Duration

Onset of Effects:

  • Oral Consumption (Toss and Wash, Capsules):

    • Onset typically occurs within 15 to 30 minutes.
    • Effects may continue to develop gradually over the next 45 to 60 minutes.
  • Tea Preparation:

    • Effects may start within 15 to 45 minutes, depending on the individual and the preparation method.
  • Sublingual (Placing Kratom under the Tongue):

    • Onset can be faster, often within 5 to 15 minutes.

Duration of Effects:

  • Stimulant Effects:

    • Typically last for about 2 to 4 hours.
  • Sedative and Analgesic Effects:

    • May last for 4 to 6 hours or longer.
  • Overall Duration:

    • The overall duration of effects can vary, with some users reporting lingering mood-enhancing effects even after the primary effects have diminished.

It’s important to emphasize that these are general guidelines, and individual responses to kratom can vary. The effects may be influenced by factors such as body weight, metabolism, tolerance, and the specific strain of kratom consumed.

Legal Status

The legal status of kratom varies significantly across different countries, states, and regions. As of my last knowledge update in January 2022, here is a general overview of the legal status of kratom:

United States:

  • The legality of kratom varies by state. Some states have banned or regulated the sale and use of kratom, while others have not imposed restrictions. It’s essential to check the specific laws in the state where you reside.


  • Kratom is legal for personal use in Canada. However, it is not approved for human consumption, and the sale of kratom for consumption is prohibited. The regulations surrounding kratom can vary by province.

United Kingdom:

  • In the UK, kratom is legal for personal use, and it is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act. However, it is essential to stay informed about any potential changes in regulations.


  • The legal status of kratom in Australia varies by state. In some states, it is classified as a controlled substance, while in others, it may be legal for personal use.

European Union:

  • The legal status of kratom in EU member states can vary. Some countries have banned or regulated its sale and use, while others have not imposed restrictions.


  • In countries where kratom is indigenous, such as Thailand and Malaysia, the legal status can vary. Some regions have banned or restricted its use, while others have traditional and cultural acceptance.

It’s important to note that the legal status of kratom is subject to change.

Where is Kratom Purchased?

Here are common sources where kratom is purchased:

  1. Specialty Shops:

    • Some specialty shops, including herbal stores and smoke shops, may carry kratom products. However, the quality and reliability of products from these shops can vary.
  2. Online Vendors:

    • Many people purchase kratom online from dedicated vendors. Numerous websites offer a variety of kratom strains and products. It’s essential to research and choose reputable vendors with good reviews.
  3. Health and Wellness Stores:

    • In regions where kratom is legal, certain health and wellness stores may stock kratom products. These establishments might offer capsules, powders, or other forms of kratom.
  4. Head Shops:

    • Some head shops, which sell smoking accessories and herbal products, may carry kratom. As with specialty shops, the quality of products can vary.
  5. Ethnobotanical Shops:

    • Ethnobotanical shops, focusing on traditional and medicinal plants, may include kratom in their product offerings.

When purchasing kratom, it’s crucial to consider the following:

  • Quality Assurance: Look for vendors who provide information about the source, quality testing, and purity of their kratom products.

  • Strain Variety: Different strains of kratom can have varying effects. Reputable vendors often offer a variety of strains, such as red, green, and white veins.

  • Reviews and Reputation: Check customer reviews and the overall reputation of the vendor. Reliable vendors are transparent about their products and customer experiences.

  • Legal Status: Be aware of the legal status of kratom in your area. Regulations may vary, and kratom may be prohibited or restricted in some regions.

What is Kratom Withdrawal?

Kratom withdrawal refers to a set of symptoms that individuals may experience when they abruptly stop or reduce their regular kratom use after developing dependence. Kratom contains alkaloids that interact with opioid receptors in the brain, and regular use can lead to tolerance, physical dependence, and withdrawal symptoms. It’s important to note that kratom withdrawal can vary among individuals, and the severity and duration of symptoms may depend on factors such as the level of dependence, dosage, and individual differences. Here are some facts about kratom withdrawal:

1. Onset of Withdrawal:

  • Withdrawal symptoms typically begin within 24 hours after the last dose of kratom. The onset may vary based on the strain and dosage used.

2. Duration of Withdrawal:

  • Kratom withdrawal symptoms can last for a week or longer, with the intensity gradually decreasing over time. The duration may be influenced by factors such as individual metabolism and the extent of dependence.

3. Common Withdrawal Symptoms:

  • Withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, irritability, muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and mood swings.

4. Psychological Symptoms:

  • Kratom withdrawal can also involve psychological symptoms such as depression, cravings, and difficulty concentrating.

5. Dependence and Tolerance:

  • Regular use of kratom can lead to the development of tolerance, where higher doses are needed to achieve the same effects. Dependence can occur, leading to withdrawal symptoms if kratom use is stopped or reduced.

6. Individual Variability:

  • The severity of withdrawal symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Some may experience mild symptoms, while others may have a more challenging withdrawal experience.

7. Medical Attention:

  • While kratom withdrawal is generally not considered life-threatening, it can be uncomfortable. In severe cases or if complications arise, seeking medical attention is advisable.

8. Tapering:

  • Gradual tapering of kratom use under medical supervision may help reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. Abrupt cessation can increase the intensity of withdrawal.

Risks and Side Effects of Kratom

Many people think Kratom is safe because it is natural, but research has shown that it poses a great danger to the human body and can cause death in extreme cases. This is because it contains potent ingredients, so you need to consult an expert or a doctor before taking it.

Here are some reported short-term and long-term effects associated with kratom use:

Short-Term Side Effects:

  1. Stimulant Effects:

    • Increased energy
    • Enhanced alertness
    • Improved mood
  2. Sedative Effects:

    • Relaxation
    • Calmness
    • Pain relief
  3. Opioid-Like Effects:

    • Euphoria
    • Analgesia (pain relief)
    • Cough suppression
  4. Adverse Effects:

    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Sweating
    • Dizziness
    • Itching
    • Dry mouth
  5. Psychological Effects:

    • Altered perception
    • Increased sociability
    • Anxiety or irritability in some cases

Long-Term Side Effects:

  1. Tolerance:

    • Regular use of kratom can lead to the development of tolerance, requiring higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  2. Dependence:

    • Some individuals may develop physical dependence on kratom, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when they stop using it.
  3. Withdrawal Symptoms:

    • Withdrawal symptoms may include irritability, anxiety, muscle aches, runny nose, sweating, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, insomnia, and mood swings.
  4. Gastrointestinal Issues:

    • Long-term use has been associated with constipation and other gastrointestinal issues.
  5. Liver Effects:

    • There have been reports of hepatotoxicity (liver damage) associated with kratom use, although the causative factors are not well understood.
  6. Cognitive Effects:

    • Cognitive impairment or difficulty concentrating has been reported in some cases.
  7. Dependency and Addiction:

    • Some individuals may develop psychological dependence on kratom, leading to compulsive use despite negative consequences.

The Interaction Between Kratom and Other Substances

Kratom contains powerful ingredients, so combining it with another substance may worsen its effect. For example, consuming it with sedatives or coffee could cause respiratory problems. Research has also shown that the interaction between Kratom and other drugs can cause severe damage, so it is advisable to meet a doctor to get the appropriate dosage.

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