Alcohol is one of the most widely consumed drugs in the world. But after experiencing hangovers, some people swear that they'll never drink again.
Headaches, fatigue, and dizziness are the most common hangover symptoms. And to combat them, some people turn to folkloric remedies. For instance, you may have heard people claim that everything from lemon water to cheeseburgers can help ease a hangover.
Scientists assert that most of these at-home hangover remedies are ineffectual. But some hangover-sufferers have found success using kratom — a Southeast Asian plant — to get them through the morning after. And unlike other folkloric remedies, research suggests that there could be some merit to using kratom for hangovers.
Most hangovers are caused by inflammation, impaired sleep, and other factors, rather than dehydration or electrolyte imbalances. (Penning et al., 2010) As a result, the majority of at-home remedies are ineffective. But if your instincts tell you to take an ibuprofen, naproxen, or aspirin after a night of drinking, you might be on to something.
That's because research suggests that nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could help ease the headaches associated with hangovers. (Swift and Davidson, 1998, pg 59) In fact, one study found that tolfenamic acid, an NSAID similar to aspirin, was more effective than a placebo at reducing hangover symptoms. (Kaivola et al., 1983)
Like ibuprofen and aspirin, kratom has anti-inflammatory properties thanks to various natural compounds found in its leaves. (Mossadeq et al., 2009, pg 383) Researchers have also confirmed that "there is a possibility for M. speciosa (kratom) to be medically used as a pain killer." (Fluyau and Revadigar, 2017)
In particular, two kratom alkaloids — mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine — seem to be at the centre of kratom's anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. When consumed, both alkaloids interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing potent pain-relieving effects. (Takayama, 2004, pg 922, 925) As a result, kratom could be useful in reducing the inflammation and pain associated with hangovers.
Although kratom could help ease hangovers, using the plant while hungover isn't risk-free.
While dehydration isn't the sole cause of hangovers, being dehydrated certainly doesn't help speed up hangover recovery. Dehydration can cause headaches and irritability, thereby worsening the discomfort associated with hangovers.
Unfortunately, kratom can be dehydrating, especially when used long-term or in heavy doses. (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg 8) As a result, using kratom for your hangover could be counter-productive if you're actively dehydrated.
Thankfully, avoiding dehydration while using kratom for hangovers could be as simple as staying hydrated and keeping your kratom dose low (no more than 2.5-5g).
Consuming kratom can also cause nausea — an unpleasant symptom that's already associated with alcohol consumption. (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg 6) Therefore, it's probably best to avoid using kratom for your hangover if you're already experiencing nausea.
Thankfully, most kratom-related nausea only occurs when taking high doses (5g+). If you take less (1-5g), you're less likely to experience nausea.
That said, it's wise to assess your reaction to kratom before taking it for a hangover, especially if you've never tried it before.
Dizziness is less common than other hangover symptoms, but it can be extremely unpleasant nonetheless. If you're experiencing dizziness from a hangover, it's probably best to skip the kratom. While most users don't get dizzy from kratom use, the plant can cause dizziness at high doses (5g+). (Grundmann, 2017, pg 67)
As an organic product, there are many kratom variants, or "strains" on the market. And depending on your preferences, some kratom strains might help you feel better than others.
For instance, red kratom strains tend to be the most pain-relieving, which could make them especially beneficial for hangovers. However, red strains can also be sedating and cause tiredness. As a result, taking a red kratom strain for a hangover could cause you to feel fatigued for the rest of the day.
In contrast, white and green strains are often more energizing than red strains. For this reason, a white or green strain could help you combat the fatigue of a hangover. But white or green kratom might not offer the pain relief of a red strain.
Ultimately, hangovers are subjective, and so are the effects of kratom. You may have to experiment to determine what works best for you.
Kratom's pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties could make the plant effective at easing hangover symptoms. However, researchers haven't examined kratom's interactions with hangovers in a scientific setting. While users have reported that the plant has helped them feel better after a night of drinking, your results may vary.
Interested in learning more about kratom and the plant's properties? Check out our other kratom guides and resources!