Have you ever heard of kratom? If you haven’t, you’re missing out on a powerful plant that has tons of mind and mood-boosting properties. And if you have, you’ve probably never heard about the nootropic benefits of kratom before.
While it’s usually not thought of as a nootropic, many users find that kratom has several nootropic properties. Improved mood, increased motivation and focus, reduced anxiety, and overall cognitive enhancement are just some of the benefits that kratom users report.
In this post, we’re gonna look at the benefits of this amazing plant, typical dosages, potential side effects, where to buy, and the controversy surrounding its legal status. First, though, let’s take an in-depth look at what kratom is.
What is kratom?
Kratom (pronounced krA-tum) is a plant that’s native to southeast Asia.1 The scientific name for this evergreen tree is mitragyna speciosa and it belongs to the same family as the coffee plant.2 It has been used all over the world for centuries by many different cultures. Most commonly, kratom is used for its mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing properties, its ability to significantly help with opioid withdrawal, as a mild stimulant, and to help with chronic pain.3
It’s only been in the past 10 years or so that kratom has become popular in the United States. Thousands and thousands of Americans use this amazing plant to manage chronic pain, treat anxiety and depression, get off dangerous prescription and illicit drugs, and for a modest but noticeable mood and energy boost.4
Kratom can be consumed in a variety of ways. Some of the more common ways it’s consumed are in capsules, as kratom tea, or in powder form. The plant has a very strong taste, one that many people find unpleasant. Because of this, the powder is rarely consumed on its on. Kratom powder is often mixed into a drink to mask the taste. Orange juice, Sunny Delight, and eggnog are among some of the most popular choices.
For most people, kratom has a mildly stimulating, mood-boosting and anxiety-reducing effect, on par with a tall, strong cup of coffee. But for others – especially those with chronic pain or problems with prescription and illegal opioids – it has been an absolute game changer. For many, kratom has been a “miracle plant.”
Kratom for chronic pain and opioid dependence
Kratom works – at least in part – by binding with some of the same receptors in the brain that prescription painkillers and our own bodies’ natural painkillers, endorphins, bind to.5 But kratom binds to them in a slightly different (yet highly significant) way than opioids do. While things like heroin, morphine, oxycodone (Percocet), hydrocodone (Vicodin), and methadone are full opioid agonists, mitragynine (one of the active alkaloids in kratom) is only a partial agonist.6
To put it simply, kratom affects the brain in ways that are similar to prescription painkillers, but it does so differently and to a much lesser degree. As a partial opioid agonist, kratom doesn’t cause the extreme euphoria, severe respiratory depression (that often results in death), or other serious side effects that prescription and illegal opioids are known for.7 It does, however, still have all the pain-relieving, mood-boosting, and anxiety-reducing effects of full agonists.
Unlike heroin and prescription painkillers, not a single death has been reported from kratom use alone.8 Prescription painkillers are responsible for thousands of deaths every year. In 2015 alone, 33,000 Americans died from opioid overdoses, the majority of them from prescription painkillers.9 That averages out to roughly 91 deaths per day. Kratom, by itself, has caused zero deaths, total.
Because of all this, kratom has helped thousands of people to get off heroin and prescription painkillers. It’s been shown to significantly reduce or eliminate withdrawal and drastically reduce cravings, but with far fewer side effects than things like methadone or buprenorphine (Suboxone).10
Kratom as a nootropic
Some people have been using kratom as a nootropic.11 At lower doses (1-3g), most users find that kratom has a stimulating effect. Higher doses work better for pain management and opioid dependence, but lower doses often increase energy, motivation, and focus, reduce anxiety, and improve mood.
Kratom has actually been used as a nootropic for centuries in southeast Asia.12 Farmers would chew on the leaves to reduce fatigue and increase productivity. Sound familiar? Those are nootropic qualities.
Fast forward to more modern times and kratom is being used all around the world for its ability to increase productivity and motivation, reduce anxiety and fatigue, and improve mood. When used only a few times a week, it is generally considered to be very safe and makes a great addition to any nootropic arsenal.
- Improved mood
- Increased Energy
- Increased motivation
- Reduced anxiety
- Reduced fatigue
- Increased productivity
- Strengthening of immune system13
- Reduce/eliminate chronic pain3
- Treat opioid dependence/reduce cravings1415
Potential kratom side effects
As you can see, kratom is a wonderful plant with tons of potential benefits. But, like anything, it also comes with some potential side effects.
The most important thing to know before using kratom is that, with prolonged daily use, tolerance and dependence may occur over time. There are numerous reports of people taking multiple doses of kratom everyday for months and having no side effects or withdrawal. However, some people experience mild withdrawal, comparable to caffeine withdrawal, when they stop taking kratom.
There is an obvious way to avoid this: don’t take kratom every day. Most people find that kratom works best when taken no more than a few times per week. This prevents your body and brain from getting used to it (tolerance), keeping it effective and eliminating the possibility of experiencing any withdrawal symptoms.
Most people who take kratom do not experience any side effects. However, some people have experienced the following side effects: nausea, upset stomach, insomnia, anxiety, dizziness, loss of appetite, constipation, and itching.3
Typical kratom dosages
As stated above, it’s a good idea to only use kratom a few times a week. Not only will this help you avoid tolerance and dependence issues, but it will ensure that kratom stays effective for you. Many people report a reduction in effectiveness with frequent use.
The exception to this is if you’re using kratom for pain management or to get off a prescription or illegal opioid. If you’re using it for one of these reasons, then kratom is usually taken 3-5 times a day, with 3-6 hours between doses. But for nootropic purposes, kratom should be taken no more than 3 or 4 times a week.
A good place to start for most people is around 2 grams of kratom powder.16 For most types of kratom, this would be a little less than 1 teaspoon.17 Many users find that this dose provides all the benefits mentioned above and never need to increase it.
Others find that they need a higher dose to notice any effects. If you don’t achieve the desired results with 2 grams, try increasing the dose by 1 gram each time until you experience the benefits you’re looking for.
Some users take incredibly high doses of kratom (10+ grams per dose), but the vast majority of people that use kratom take anywhere from 2-5 grams per dose. Like most other substances, the more you increase your dosage, the more side effects you’re likely to experience.
If you decide to try kratom, you’ll notice that it comes in different “strains” – red, white, and green strains. As a plant, each strain has slightly different effects. Generally, white strains are the most stimulating, red are the most sedating and best for pain relief, and green strains are somewhere in the middle.
In our opinion, the difference in effects from one strain to the next is barely noticeable. Many people, however, find that there is a significant difference between them. You’ll have to try a few and see for yourself.
You can clearly see that kratom is an awesome plant with a wide variety of benefits. And it has saved countless lives by providing a much safer alternative to illegal opioids and prescription painkillers. We at the Nootropics Zone absolutely love kratom and so do the thousands of Americans it’s helped. But you know who doesn’t love kratom? The pharmaceutical industry.
Drug companies hate kratom because it is taking money out of their greedy little pockets. Kratom is unquestionably safer than prescription opioids and thousands of people have used it to get off prescription painkillers. That’s money that the drugs companies aren’t getting and they’re not happy about it.
So, the drug companies did what they do best: lobbied the government (indirectly giving them a ridiculous amount of money), asking them to make kratom illegal.18 On August 31, 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced that it was gonna ban kratom, making it a schedule I substance (same as cannabis, heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine).19
We may have been fooled in the past but, to most Americans, it’s no secret that the DEA is an absolute failure and is largely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.20 They’ve become a joke – a remnant of a failed war that’s destroyed countless lives. The DEA is the same agency that insists that cannabis has no medical value whatsoever.21 It’s hard to take them seriously and it’s obvious that they’re nothing more than a puppet for big pharma, the prison industry, and other interests.
When we said that thousands of lives have been positively affected by kratom, we weren’t kidding. Within a week of the DEA’s announcement to ban kratom, a petition to keep it legal gained more than 100,000 signatures.22 They were expecting the ban to go largely unnoticed – but it didn’t. After massive public outcry, the DEA canceled their intent to ban kratom – for now.
So, as of right now, kratom is still legal in the United States. However, the drug companies are now lobbying both the DEA and the FDA, trying to get it banned. Kratom supporters aren’t taking it lying down, though. There is a massive effort underway to keep this wonderful plant legal. We’ll keep you up-to-date with any updates.
Where to buy kratom
The best place to buy kratom is from trusted online vendors. We recommend using Coastline Kratom. They have great products, amazing customer service, fast shipping, and very reasonable prices.
Kratom can be found in some vape stores, head shops, and gas stations. However, we strongly advise against buying it at any of these kinds of stores for two reasons: First, kratom sold in stores like these is always drastically overpriced. And second, some types of kratom that are sold in stores contain dangerous chemicals.23
You want to make sure that what you’re buying is just plain kratom. Some online stores sell kratom extracts that are much more powerful than the regular ground plant. These extracts, while certainly effective, come with a much higher risk of side effects. It’s strongly advised to only use plain kratom.
There are dozens of reputable kratom vendors online but, again, our personal favorite is Coastline Kratom. We’ve had nothing but positive experiences with them and so have everyone that we’ve talked to. If you decide that you’d like to try kratom, make sure to check out Coastline Kratom.
And there you have it: the nootropic benefits of kratom. As you have seen, this wondrous plant has a plethora of benefits – physical benefits, mental health benefits, and nootropic benefits. Kratom lovers from all over the world have used it to increase energy, productivity, and motivation, reduce stress, fatigue, pain, and anxiety, improve mood, and as a substitute for dangerous illegal and prescription drugs.
Unfortunately, lobbyists from the pharmaceutical industry are pushing the DEA, FDA, and other government agencies to ban kratom. They say they’re doing it in the name of public safety, but have not been able to provide any actual evidence that it’s dangerous.24
The public has finally gotten sick of the government telling them what they can and cannot put in their bodies and has been fighting back with everything they’ve got: petitions, protests, letter writing campaigns, calls and emails to senators, congressmen, and other public officials, social media campaigns, and other methods.
For now, the kratom ban has been postponed – but the fight isn’t over. The drug companies are still trying to get kratom banned and are now lobbying the FDA and CDC to accomplish what the DEA couldn’t do. If you would like to learn more about this and about what you can do to help keep kratom legal, check out the American Kratom Association.
And we’ll keep you apprised of any new developments, as well. If you haven’t already, please sign up for the Nootropics Zone newsletter to keep up with everything going on in the nootropics world. For signing up, you’ll get a free gift: The Ultimate Nootropics Quick Reference Guide. You can sign up here.
1Shellard, E.J. (1988). Ethnopharmacology of kratom and the mitragyna alkaloids. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 25:123-4.
2Taxonomy: Mitragyna speciosa korth. (2012). U.S. National Plant Germphasm System
3Prozialeck, W.C., Jivan, J.K., & Andurkar, S.V. (2012). Pharmacology of kratom: an emerging botanical agent with stimulant, analgesic and opoid-like effects. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 112: 782-99.
4Hassan, Z., Muzaimi, M., Navaratnam, V., Yusoff, N., Suhaimi, F., Vadivelu, R., Vicknasingam, B., et al. (2013). From kratom to mitragynine and its derivatives: physiological and behavioral effects related to use, abuse, and addiction. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews. 37(2):138-151.
5Adkins, JE., Boyer, EW., & McCurdy, CR. (2011). Mitragyna speciosa, a psychoactive tree from Southeast Asia with opioid activity. Current Topics in Medical Chemistry. 11(9):1165-75.
6Thongpradichote, S., Matsumoto, K., Tohda, M., Takayama, H., Aimi, N., Sakai, S., & Watanabe, H. (1998). Identification of opioid receptor subtypes in antinociceptive actions of supraspinally-administered mitragynine in mice. Life Science. 62(16):1371-8.
7Ward, J., Rosenbaum, C., Hernon, C., McCurdy, C., & Boyer, E. (2011). Herbal medicines for the management of opioid addiction: safe and effective alternatives to conventional pharmacotherapy? CNS Drugs. 25(12):999-1007.
8Warner, ML, Kaufman, NC., & Grundmann, O. (2016). The pharmacology and toxicology of kratom: from traditional herb to drug of abuse. International Journal of Legal Medicine, 1:127-138.
9Injury Prevention & Control: Opioid Overdose. (2017). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved February 22, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/epidemic/index.html
10Wei Hao & Min Zhao. (2000). A comparative clinical study of the effect of WeiniCom, a Chinese herbal compound, on alleviation of withdrawal symptoms and craving for heroin in detoxification treatment. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 32(3):277-284.
11Kratom as a nootropic. (2016). Reddit. Retrieved on February 24, 2017 from https://www.reddit.com/r/kratom/comments/38kml2/kratom_as_a_nootropic/
12Cinosi, E., Martinotti, G., Simonato, P., Singh, D., Demetrovics, Z., et al. (2015). Following “the roots” of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): the evolution of an enhancer from a traditional use to increase work and productivity in southeast Asia to a recreational psychoactive drug in western countries. Biomed Res Int. Published online November 10, 2015. Retrieved on February 24, 2017 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657101/
13Parthasarathy, S., Azizi, JB, Ramanathan, S., Ismail, S., Sasidharan, S., Said, M., & Mansor, SM. (2009). Evaluation of antioxidant and antibacterial activities of aqueous, methanolic and alkaloid extracts from Mitragyna Speciosa (Rubiaceae family) leaves. Molecules, 14(10):3964-74.
14Boyer, EW, Babu, KM, Adkins, JE, McCurdy, CR, & Halpern, JH. (2008). Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth). Addiction, 103(6):1048-50.
15Vicknasingam, B., Narayanan, S., Beng, GT., & Mansor, SM. (2010). The informal use of ketum (Mitragyna speciosa) for opioid withdrawal in the northern states of peninsular Malaysia and implications for drug substitution therapy. International Journal of Drug Policy, 21(4):283-8.
16Kratom 101: Dosages. (2016). Reddit. Retrieved February 24, 2017 from https://www.reddit.com/r/kratom/comments/5b2abd/kratom_101_dosages/
17Dosage conversion chart. (n.d.) Kratom Science. Retrieved February 24, 2017 from http://www.kratomscience.com/dosage-conversion-chart/
18Agorist, M. (2016). Big pharma’s patents on kratom alkaloids expose real reason DEA is banning this plant. Alternet. Retrieved February 24, 2017 from http://www.alternet.org/drugs/big-pharma-patents-kratom-alkaloids-real-reason-dea-banning-plant
19Drug Enforcement Administration. (2016). DEA announces intent to schedule kratom: SE Asian drug is imminent hazard to public safetly. Retrieved on February 24, 2017 from https://www.dea.gov/divisions/hq/2016/hq083016.shtml
20Levine, M. (1992). Deep cover. Rijswijk: Elmar.
21Ingraham, C. (2015). The DEA chief called medical marijuana ‘a joke.’ Now patients are calling for his resignation. The Washington Post. November 10, 2015. Retrieved February 24, 2017 from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/11/10/the-dea-chief-called-medical-marijuana-a-joke-now-patients-are-calling-for-his-resignation/
22Kroll, D. (2016). DEA withdraws kratom ban, opens formal comment period. Forbes. October 13, 2016. Retrieved on February 24, 2017 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidkroll/2016/10/13/dea-withdraws-kratom-ban-opens-formal-comment-period/#66435aed79bb
23Kronstrand, R., Roman, M., Thelander, G., & Eriksson, A. (2011). Unintentional fatal intoxications with Mitragynine and O-Desmethyltramadol from the herbal blend Krypton. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 35(4):242-247.
24Roberts, A. (2016). DEA refuses to release evidence backing kratom ban: Agency responds to request for hard data with press releases and copies of federal laws. Retrieved February 24, 2017 from https://www.muckrock.com/news/archives/2016/dec/05/dea-kratom-foia-refuse/