Kratom is known for its versatile properties. Some users use it as an energizing alternative to caffeine. Others use the plant to manage pain. As a result, it can be difficult to describe what kratom does, because the plant seems to do different things for different people.
But what should new kratom users expect from kratom, and how can they get the effects they're looking for? Let's take a look!
Whether in the form of powdered leaf or extract, kratom seems to have various psychoactive effects.
But the plant's effects are far from being random. As researchers have noted, kratom's effects are "dose-dependent." At lower doses, kratom acts more like a stimulant, while higher doses produce "opioid-like effects." (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg796)
Users have also experienced varying effects from different kinds of kratom, or kratom strains. For example, white kratom strains tend to have a stimulative effect. In contrast, red kratom strains appear to be more sedating.
But kratom strains are rarely one-note. Most strains offer a blend of effects and demonstrate effectiveness in multiple categories. At Kratomaton, this led us to begin scoring kratom strains based on four major effects categories:
Sedation (relaxing, calming)
Stimulation (energizing, invigorating)
Euphoria (uplifting, mood-boosting)
Analgesia (pain-relieving, numbing)
We like to think of these effects as the "big four" effects of kratom. You may have heard or seen kratom's effects described using different terminology. But overall, we believe these four categories accurately and thoroughly encompass kratom's properties.
Read on to learn more about kratom's four effects and the science behind them!
Although kratom has stimulating properties, the plant is arguably best known for promoting relaxation.
That's because two of kratom's primary alkaloids — mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine — are agonists of μ-opioid receptors in the human body (Cinosi et al., 2015) (Matsumoto et al., 2006). Ditch the scientific jargon, and this essentially means that ingesting kratom "activates" these receptors, leading to calming and relaxing sensations.
Strangely, a minority of kratom users don't experience any sedation from kratom. For these users, all kratom is stimulating. In these cases, it's important to note that kratom can affect everyone differently.
If you're looking to relax with kratom, be sure to evaluate your dosage size. Moderate-to-high kratom doses (2.5-5g+) tend to be more sedating than lower amounts.
In the last section, we established that kratom is primarily known for being sedating. However, the plant is also known for its energizing effects — despite the obvious paradox.
Kratom's stimulating properties don't seem to rival the potency of other drugs like caffeine. Nonetheless, some kratom users swear by the plant as a "pick-me-up." (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg793) The explanation for this could lie in kratom's pain-relieving properties: reducing pain and discomfort could promote feelings of wellness and renewed energy.
That said, researchers have observed similarities between mitragynine and another alkaloid, yohimbine, which is often marketed for energy and focus. (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg795) But the truth behind kratom's energizing effects may lie in one of kratom's other 40 other alkaloids. (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg2) At present, many of these alkaloids are underresearched or poorly understood.
Overall, kratom does seem to have energizing properties. Small doses (0.5-2.5g) seem to be the "sweet spot" for energy. But at higher doses (2.5g+), kratom's energizing properties may fade.
Aside from stimulation or sedation, kratom can also increase one's mood.
Researchers have observed that kratom users feel heightened "empathy and euphoria" at low doses. (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg6) However, other researchers have concluded that kratom's euphoric effects are "less intense than those of opium and opioid drugs." (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg796)
Kratom's euphoric properties can be explained by the plant's interaction with μ-opioid receptors. (Hassan et al., 2012, pg144) Other agonists of this receptor — such as morphine — can also produce euphoria.
If you're looking to use kratom for mood elevation, you're in luck! Most of the strains we've researched seem to have euphoric properties, regardless of colour.
Kratom is often described as a "plant-based opioid" or opiate alternative. And although kratom isn't technically an opioid or opiate, the plant does help some users manage "various types of pain." (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg793)
Kratom's pain-relieving properties seem to stem from mitragynine, the plant's primary alkaloid. However, another kratom alkaloid, 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), also appears to have analgesic effects. In one animal study, 7-HMG was "13 times more potent than morphine." (Ramachandram et al., 2019, pg2)
Generally, kratom leaves contain less 7-HMG than mitragynine. But researchers believe that 7-HMG's higher bioavailability and blood-brain-barrier penetration make the alkaloid extra potent. For these reasons, 7-HMG is supposedly the "predominant mediator of analgesic effects of kratom in the body." (Prozialeck et al., 2012, pg796)
When discussing the effects of a drug like kratom, it's important to point out the good and the bad. Even in moderation, kratom consumption isn't consequence-free. Short-term kratom users can encounter several unpleasant side effects, while heavy, chronic use can lead to adverse health effects.
Short-term side effects: Nausea, constipation, sleep problems, temporary erectile dysfunction, itching, sweating (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg8)
Long-term side effects: Anorexia, dry mouth, problems in diuresis, darker skin, hair loss (Cinosi et al., 2015, pg8)
Withdrawal effects: Hostility, aggression, muscle/bone aches, spastic limbs, anorexia/weight loss, insomnia(Cinosi et al., 2015, pg8)
Each user's individual experience with kratom may vary. However, current research demonstrates that kratom has sedative, stimulative, euphoric, and pain-relieving effects.
Although much about the plant remains a mystery, hopefully, this post has brought you one step closer to understanding it.
Thanks for reading! For more articles like this, check out our kratom blog!