Kava vs. Kratom
If you are looking into herbal supplements, chances are you’ve come across both kava and kratom. Both botanicals have gained immense popularity in recent years due to their ability to provide an effect powered by plants.
However, despite some mixing them up and selling them together or alongside each other, there are significant differences between them that you should consider-- as realistically, they're night and day.
In this blog post, we’ll explore the origins of kava and kratom, as well as how they differ from each other, but if you don't have less than 3 minutes to read through:
TL;DR: Kratom is addictive-- Kava is not (so whether or not you want to hear it from us, please take a moment to research kratom and learn if it is right for you before trying it)!
What is Kava?
Kava has been used for centuries to promote feelings of relaxation, reduce stress levels, and improve sleep quality. It is derived from the roots of the Piper methysticum plant, which is native to islands in the Pacific Ocean. The roots are ground up into a fine powder or made into an extract, then consumed orally or topically.
What is Kratom?
Kratom is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree, which grows mainly in Southeast Asia. People in Thailand and Malaysia have long used it for its energizing effects and ability to reduce pain and anxiety levels.
The Kratom tree's leaves can be ingested in a variety of ways. Most commonly, they are dried and then ground to create an easily-mixable powder that can be added to water or another beverage for convenience. Alternatively, the same dry leaves may also be made into tea.
Similarly, Kava is traditionally prepared by blending the ground root powder with water, steeping it, and then straining it to brew a brown tea.
In some ways...they seem similar:
A wealth of evidence confirms that drinking Kava can improve sociability, alleviate stress and anxiety, ease pain, foster physical relaxation, and create a euphoric sensation.
On the other hand, Kratom, as a psychoactive drug, can make people more lively, vocal, and social with small doses; but with higher amounts come sedation, pain relief, and an overall ethereal experience.
So you may be thinking...they don't seem that different...but:
The primary difference between these two herbs lies in their effects on the body—kava produces calming effects while kratom has stimulating properties. As such, if you’re looking for something that won't cause dependence or withdrawal symptoms when stopped using regularly– kava is a far better option than kratom.
Kratom has alkaloids that directly interact with the same areas of our brains responsible for controlling pain response - much like traditional opiate drugs. Unfortunately, this makes taking Kratom quite similar to an opiate drug, and it can lead to addiction due to its nature as an opioid agonist.
Although there is relatively limited research on Kratom, the primary psychoactive components are believed to be alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Of these two, the latter is known for having an analgesic effect on animals when ingested orally.
Kratom is unlike kava due to its unique chemical composition, causing many people addicted to heroin to use it to quit the drug. Regrettably, this can have counterproductive results; many stories show how many heroin addicts resort to Kratom when more accessible.
In stark contrast lies Kava's pharmacology - while research into Kratom remains nascent and limited, substantial data has been collected on the chemistry and impacts of Kava.
Kava's primary active components are its kavalactones, with six of them being more critical and representing over 90% of the plant's naturally-occurring ingredients. The composition varies depending on the Kava type, identified by its chemotype.
The Kavalactones found in kava interact with the limbic system, which is closely connected to our emotions and behavior. This allows users to experience a mild euphoric feeling without posing any risk of addiction or opioid-related side effects like those of alkaloids in kratom.
The government views them very differently!
In 2014, the government chose to outlaw Kratom imports due to worries that it may be hazardous or even poisonous. Several states also prohibit its usage, such as Indiana, Tennessee, Vermont, and Wyoming. A Business Insider article describes Kratom as a lawful yet perilous substance - meaning while you may find it in your local store without any legal repercussions, this doesn't mean you should consume the herb at all times.
For the past 70 years, Kratom has been banned in Thailand, where it grows abundantly and is frequently used. The initial ban was attributed to a dip in Thai government revenue from opium sales due to Kratom's prevalence. Recently, people have pushed for decriminalizing this substance and its deletion from the list of illegal drugs; however, no progress has been made.
With more than 13,000 individuals charged for kratom-related crimes in Thailand alone (representing 5% of all drug-related offenses) and the risk of penalties, including imprisonment in Malaysia, it's no surprise that the connection between Kratom and crime is perceived to be significant.
So, while both herbs offer plant-powered effects, they differ significantly regarding their effects on the body and potential side effects associated with long-term use. Ultimately it all comes down to personal preference; whichever works best for your needs should be your go-to choice! Be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any herbal supplements so that they can advise you on what would work best for your individual situation. With that being said, we hope this blog post clarifies some questions about both Kava and Kratom so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you!