What is Kratom? [Does it Match Up to CBD?]

What is Kratom

Man has forever had a natural affinity for herbal remedies. Why? It’s quite simple, really. They are easier to access, cheaper, and come with fewer side effects in comparison to pharmaceuticals. Both CBD and Kratom are two of the natural supplements that have been getting a lot of attention in recent times. CBD probably a little more so – okay, a lot more so! So now you may be wondering what Kratom is; and how does it compare to CBD?

We have no doubt that you’ve heard of the cannabis-derived compound CBD before. It has been the talk of the town in the realm of alternative medicine for quite some time now, and has really developed a reputation for being a natural form of relief for a variety of conditions and their symptoms.

But there are other herbs aside from cannabis and hemp that have also been growing in popularity thanks to their therapeutic properties. In this article, we will take a closer look at kratom and what this supplement is all about.

Some people claim that kratom may be an effective substitute for CBD. But, could this really be true? On the surface, they may seem to have some common ground. As you start to dig a little deeper, it will become more apparent that, in reality, they are quite different.

What Exactly is Kratom?

Similar to cannabis, kratom is a tropical and evergreen natural plant that originates from the regions of Southeast Asia. It belongs to the Rubiaceae family, which also includes gardenia and coffee. But more specifically, it belongs to the Mitragyna speciosa species.

Traditionally, kratom leaves were used by Malaysian and Thai workers and natives to overcome depression and fatigue, boost energy levels, and improve mood. These effects are evident when kratom is consumed in low doses.

In higher doses, Kratom starts to act like an opioid depressant and creates euphoric effects. It’s often used to counter the effects of opioids, curb withdrawal symptoms, and overcome addictions. In fact, it’s being used by many as a substitute for opioids as it can significantly help to reduce pain.

The key active components of kratom include Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, which are two alkaloids that have been found to have potent opioid agonist properties.

Kratom comes in various vein colors – white vein, red vein, and green vein. Generally, red-vein kratom is believed to be the most potent of the three as it has both mood-lifting, pain-relieving, and sedative effects. White vein kratom offers a more energizing and uplifting effect, which is often used to improve focus. Green vein falls somewhere in between the two.

How Does Kratom Work?

How Does Kratom Work?

Kratom consists of several components, most of which react with different receptors of the neurological system. Although these chemical compounds don’t all work in the same way, they act like opioid drugs, such as morphine and codeine.

Mitragynine, which as we mentioned above is one of the 25 active alkaloids found in kratom, is the dominant indole-based opioid-receptor agonist. In other words, it offers relief from anxiety and pain by stimulating the opioid receptors of the body. Essentially, mitragynine is the component that’s responsible for most of the analgesic capabilities of kratom.

Classified as the kappa-opioid receptor agonist, mitragynine is approximately 13 times more potent than morphine and nearly as potent as codeine. Aside from mitragynine, kratom contains three other alkaloids that directly activate opioid receptors in the brain and body, including 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG).

Much like CBD, mitragynine has been found to be less effective as an isolate than when used as a whole plant. Mostly, this is because of hydroxymitragynine, which is a strong analgesic that works with the mu-opioid receptor – and not the opioid receptors like opioids.

Hydroxymitragynine isn’t only structurally different from opioids; the effects are also quite different from those of pharmaceutical opioids. Furthermore, like THC, 7-HMG is also psychoactive.

Key Differences Between Kratom and CBD

CBD originates from the cannabis plant, which is found in abundance across multiple countries in the northern hemisphere, like the Mediterranean parts of Europe and Central China. Kratom is a tropical tree that belongs to the coffee family. It’s native to Southeast Asia and can be found in countries like Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Here are the key differences between the two:

Active Ingredients

The main function of CBD is to help create balance in the body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Most CBD products are full-spectrum, which means that they contain all the compounds that are found in the cannabis plant. Some of the most prominent of these cannabinoids include; Cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), Cannabigerol (CBG), Cannabinol (CBN), Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), and, of course, Cannabidiol (CBD).

Kratom is a health-promoting compound that contains two active ingredients; mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Each of these compounds interacts with the body’s opioid receptors in a similar way to morphine and codeine.

Their Uses

CBD is well-known for its potential therapeutic properties. Studies have reported some positive results about consuming CBD to help to reduce the breakdown of anandamide – the body’s natural antidepressant. Many people use CBD to help reduce stress, support joint relief, and even aid in sleep. CBD is also being researched for its potential in the treatment of a variety of other conditions, including arthritis, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, cancer, and lots more.

Kratom is far less researched than CBD, which means that its reach is very limited. However, there seems to be increasing public interest surrounding the plant. This could eventually open the doors for more studies in the future. Some evidence suggests that it may be effective in aiding relaxation, reducing pain, and boosting the immune system.

Side Effects

CBD is considered to be very safe and non-addictive. The most common side effect experienced when consuming CBD is mild drowsiness.

The side effects of kratom are not well-studied but are thought to be significantly more serious than those of CBD. Although kratom could possibly help with opioid addiction, if taken regularly, it could actually cause addiction because of its interaction with opioid receptors. Additionally, kratom may cause itching, nausea, loss of appetite, and dry mouth. It’s important to note that the FDA has issued a health warning about the health risks associated with kratom use.


According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is no longer classified as a schedule 1 drug. This means that hemp-derived CBD products are legal under federal law.

Kratom is legal in some U.S. states. However, in 2016, the DEA revealed their intentions to classify kratom as a schedule 1 drug – grouping it with drugs like LSD, heroin, and marijuana. Over time this stance may change, as more research is done, but legally it remains in a grey area.

CBD vs. Kratom

Final Thoughts on CBD vs. Kratom

While both CBD and kratom can be considered herbal remedies in their own right, they have completely different properties. In addition, CBD is a lot more recognized and has a strong backing of scientific research and user testimonials.

Although kratom may be effective for treating some conditions, due to the limited research and a growing list of concerns, it’s likely to be restricted before it’s accepted on a wider scale. While we don’t support the legal prohibition of natural substances, users should be aware of the potentially harmful side effects that have been linked to kratom.

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