In today's bustling world, it's no wonder that people are seeking ways to stay energized. From long work shifts to demanding studies, sometimes we need an energy boost to help us get through the day.
When it comes to staying awake, caffeine is the world's drug of choice (Ágoston et al., 2018, pg982). However, in recent years, kratom — the ground leaves of the mitragyna speciosa tree — has also gained popularity as a plant-based stimulant.
In small doses, kratom can increase energy, motivation, and focus (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg6) like caffeine. But perhaps the similarities between the two plants shouldn't be very surprising. After all, kratom is in the same botanical family as the coffee plant, Rubiaceae.
Given the similarities between kratom and caffeine, some energy-seekers have been intrigued by their potential synergy. But when combined, are kratom and caffeine stronger together — or a mismatch of disastrous proportions?
Let's take a look!
When used separately in moderate quantities, kratom and caffeine possess various beneficial properties.
Caffeine has been repeatedly proven to reduce fatigue, improve alertness, and increase cognitive function. (Nehlig et al., 1992) In comparison, kratom possesses a broader range of benefits — such as stimulating, pain-relieving, and mood-boosting properties (Hassan et al., 2013, pg141) — but these effects are less well-understood.
As of this writing, researchers haven't thoroughly explored the interactions between kratom and caffeine. But nonetheless, there appear to be benefits to using both simultaneously.
Caffeine's primary mechanism of action involves adenosine, a chemical that's naturally found within the body. Normally, adenosine levels in the blood slowly increase during the day, eventually causing you to feel tired.
However, when you consume a caffeinated beverage, caffeine enters your bloodstream and prevents adenosine from doing its job, which reduces fatigue and increases alertness.
Unfortunately, while caffeine is effective, ingesting moderate-to-high amounts can also cause anxiety and restlessness. Thankfully, this is where kratom and caffeine seem to mix well. Because kratom has anxiolytic, or anxiety-reducing properties, combining kratom with caffeine could help decrease anxiety and restore focus.
On the other hand, caffeine could help reduce the fatigue that often accompanies kratom use. Because kratom has sedating properties, it can cause tiredness, especially when used in moderate-to-high doses (2.5-5g). (Hassan et al., 2013, 142)
That said, caffeine's ability to offset kratom fatigue will likely depend on which kratom strain you're using. For instance, white kratom strains are generally characterized as "energizing" and don't cause much fatigue. However, green and red kratom strains tend to be more sedating. As a result, kratom users may notice a stronger offset of fatigue when combining green and red kratom strains with caffeine.
For some, caffeine is mildly euphoric, meaning that it can increase one's mood. By stimulating the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter, caffeine can lift our spirits and make us feel happier. (Ferré, 2010)
In fact, caffeine's mood-boosting properties are so prominent that consumption is associated with decreased depression and suicide risk. (Lara, 2010)
Like caffeine, kratom also has mild mood-boosting properties. (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg793) By interacting with mu-opioid receptors in the brain, kratom can decrease pain and increase one's mood.
Researchers have also observed that kratom has a binding affinity for dopamine D1 receptors. (Stolt et al., 2014, pg13) These are the same receptors associated with caffeine's mood-boosting properties. As a result, the two substances could synergize to provide a strong, uplifting effect.
Although kratom and caffeine seem to have a promising synergy, both substances also have notable side effects. When used individually, caffeine and kratom's side effects can be relatively tolerable. However, when used together, kratom and caffeine's side effects can intensify and endanger the user in several ways.
Caffeine is a stimulant, and kratom has stimulant-like properties, especially when used in smaller quantities. As a result, taking too much of either substance can cause sweating, nausea, heart palpitations, and anxiety. But when consumed together in higher-than-tolerable amounts, the overdose symptoms of kratom and caffeine could be even more severe.
The effects of a kratom or caffeine overdose are temporary. However, we recommend exercising caution if you're using both kratom and caffeine or if you're planning to combine the two in the future.
Caffeine and one of the naturally-occurring compounds found in kratom, mitraphylline, are diuretics. (Hassan et al., 2013, pg142) This means that both substances cause the body to expel sodium and water faster than normal.
If someone fails to replenish the fluids lost to caffeine or kratom use, they can become dehydrated. When dehydrated, the body has less fluid than it needs to operate efficiently. Mild to moderate dehydration can cause dizziness, fatigue, and confusion, while severe dehydration often requires hospitalization.
New research suggests that caffeinated beverages aren't as dehydrating as previously thought due to their fluid content. (Killer et al., 2014) But kratom is often consumed without water, which increases the risk of dehydration. As a result, if you're adding kratom directly to a caffeinated beverage like coffee, you may want to ensure that you're drinking more fluids to compensate for any diuresis that will likely occur.
Both kratom and caffeine have addictive properties. If either substance is consumed regularly, a user can form a dependency and eventually experience withdrawal effects when usage is discontinued.
Using both kratom and caffeine daily for a week or more can cause a user to form dependencies on both substances. At this point, suddenly discontinuing use could lead to withdrawal effects that are more intolerable in comparison to withdrawing from either substance individually. For this reason, kratom and caffeine should only be combined in moderation.
When used occasionally, kratom and caffeine can be a powerful combination. Together, the substances can aid focus, boost mood, and stave off fatigue.
However, like all superheroic duos, this botanical blend has a dark side. Frequent and heavy use can lead to unpleasant side effects that quickly overshadow the combo's usefulness.
So, to get the most out of your kratom and caffeine, start slow, and always use discretion!
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