|February 26, 2018
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Native to the Southeast Asia, kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) is a powerful medicinal plant used by thousands throughout the world. The medicinal potentials of this plant are vast, some of the most prominent include: pain relief, opiate addiction treatment, mood lifting, energy and immune system stimulation.
There are entire forums on the use and benefits of this impressive plant, which speaks for this plant’s virtue more than we ever could.
Origins & Locale
The use of kratom goes back several thousand years, but it was first formally documented growing abundantly in Thailand by Dutch botanist Pieter Willem Korthals in the early 19th century.
While the birthplace of Mitragyna Speciosa is unknown, it has flourished abundantly in Southeast Asia and Indochina — growing naturally in regions such as:
- The Sunda isles.
Due to growing in these distinctly different areas, the plant has evolved to adapt to its environment, making kratom leaves from varied in effects and potency. We will cover these strain differences at length to give you a better understanding of the versatility and applications of this plant.
Uses of Kratom
The medicinal effects of kratom are highly flexible and diverse due to its unique alkaloid profile, which is unlike any other plant known to exist. These effects are:
- Pain relief
- Opiate withdrawal relief
- Opiate maintenance /transitional substance
- Energy Promotion
- Anxiolytic (Anti-Anxiety)
- Depression Relief
- Insomnia Relief
- Immune System Stimulation
- Nootropic (Cognition Enhancing)
- Lowers blood sugar
In addition to this large range of medicinal applications, this plant also has other positive secondary properties such as high-antioxant and vitamin content, which has made it worthwhile for general health purposes as well. Kratom is safe in almost every regard, as there have been no known deaths from this plant, except in combination with other dangerous substances.
Kratom’s pain-killing effects are very pronounced, and are much more effective than OTC substances when dealing with chronic pain. Many people have become entirely pharmaceutical free thanks to it’s pain-killing effects.
As awareness increases, expect to see this plant as a commonplace alternative to opiate medication.
Kratom can effectively reduce pain from conditions such as:
- Cluster Headaches
- Back Pain
- Minor Injuries: Burns, Scrapes, Broken Bones
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Carpal Tunne
- Torn Muscles
- Neck Pain & Soreness
- Abdominal Pain
- Chest Pain
Besides these, there are many more areas in which using kratom for pain can be effective.
Strains for Pain
The primary reason kratom is so effective for pain are it’s two primary painkilling alkaloids: Mitragynine, and 7-OH-mitragynine. Which have agonist activity at mu and delta opiod receptors, effectively dampening the body’s perception of pain. As a result, those who are looking for pain relief from kratom have had best effects with strains high in these two alkaloids.
Leaf alkaloid content can vary from plant to plant, and from strain to strain, however, there are a few strains which seem to be the most effective for pain overall. The most popular strains for this purpose are:
- Maeng Da
Preferred Vein Color
Kratom and Opiate Withdrawal/Addiction
Because of this plant’s pain-killing and mood-lifting effects, it has been used effectively to quit opiates and dampen withdrawal symptoms for both prescribed pain medication and illegal narcotics.
You can find many cases of people using kratom for opiate withdrawal and addiction to both help transition to sobriety, and to combat cravings and post acute withdrawals as a maintenance substance.
- Maeng Da (Situational)
Preferred Strain Color
Psychological Effects (Anxiety, Depression and Mood-Lifting)
The psychological effects of kratom are of a very unique nature in comparison to other plants found in nature, contain both sedating and stimulating properties; these effects can differ depending on the strain, plant and one’s own personal chemistry.
Nearly any strain can cause general mood-lifting, but the differences in strain can shift the spectrum of effects between stimulating and sedating.
According to uses, this plant may also be beneficial for the treatment of depression; however, not every strain is fit for this purpose. The more sedating strains may have some temporary effects on depression, but are lacking in effectiveness long term.
- Maeng Da
- Green Malaysian
Preferred Vein Color
Some green vein strains have been used for well-rounded depression relief, though individual brain-chemistry may come into play.
There are several ways to maximize anxiety relief through kratom — the ideal strain for anxiety relief is a borneo strain, though other sedating strains can work effectively, and can also double as a great kratom for sleep. A borneo kratom strain has a subtle, yet powerful effect of destroying anxiety and restlessness better than nearly any other strain.
Preferred Vein Color
Immune System Stimulation
Due to the immunostimulant alkaloids found in kratom:
Kratom can be extremely effective for boosting the immune system for conditions ranging from the common cold to the flu, or even more serious conditions. Because of this, many have learned to take it at the onset of a sickness to dramatically reduce its duration.
- Green Malaysian
Preferred Vein Color
Nootropic (Cognition Enhancing) Effects
Nootropic substances are a relatively new field of interest, yet it shows much promise. Interestingly, due to strain differences, it has been used as a nootropic in several different areas, such as focus and memory.
Unlike traditional medications for focus, kratom doesn’t make your focus “stick” psychologically, rather it dampens psychological background noise, promoting natural focus ability.
Because strain differences can vary, there is typically no set dose for peak cognition boosting effects — though it typically ranges from low/medium to medium.
- Green Malaysian (Focus)
- Thai (Focus/Energy)
- Maeng Da (Focus/Energy)
Preferred Vein Color
Due to different growth regions and breeding, kratom has evolved into a variety of different strains, which can be very different in effects. There are three primary effect categories one can divide strains into: stimulating, sedating and moderate.
It should be noted that every plants within a strain can vary, so in no way are these analyses set in stone, rather they based upon an average of verifiable user reports to provide a guide to the strain as a whole.
Stimulating strains are some of the most desirable strains for those with fatigue or depression, as well as for those who need to sustain energy and focus for long periods of time.
Thai kratom is well-known for its powerful energetic effects. The unique alkaloid profile of Thai kratom often provokes different reactions between different users, and may not be for everyone. However, this strain has a very dedicated following, unlike anything we have seen with other varieties of kratom.
The pain-killing effects of Thai are variable; typically, red vein thai (commonly called RVT) is the most effective in regards to analgesia, whereas white and green vein thai strains, while stimulating and a great kratom strain for depression, are lacking in this area.
Stimulation: 8 to 9.5 / 10
Pain Relief: 4 – 8 / 10
Mood: 6 – 9 / 10
Maeng Da Kratom
Maeng Da has been widely renowned as one of the most potent strains of kratom, and for good reason — it can provide both high levels of pain relief and stimulation. This strain has been ideal for those with pain who don’t want to sacrifice energy levels, as well as those who are looking for a mood-boost.
Stimulation: 7 – 8.5 / 10
Pain Relief – 7.5 – 10 / 10
Mood: 7.5 – 10 / 10
As a whole, sedating strains are lacking in the more stimulating alkaloids, primarily mitragynine, contained in the Thai/Maeng Da strains of kratom; however, they pack a very large punch as far as pain relief is concerned due to their large concentrations of 7-hydroxymitragynine. These strains have been traditionally used for chronic pain, opiate withdrawal relief and mood-lifting.
A true borneo strain, especially a red vein borneo, is one of the most unique and strongest strains of kratom you will find in nature; they are highly sedating, great for pain relief, and unparalleled for anxiety/stress relief.
Borneo strains also have a extremely low side-effect factor in comparison to other strains of its type. Once experienced, you can quickly distinguish a true borneo by its unique smell.
Stimulation: 1 – 2/10
Pain Relief: 8-10 / 10
Mood: 8 – 10 / 10
Bali kratom is one of the most economical strains due to large leaves and quick growth. Proper dosage for some Bali strains can be difficult, as they are known for their low “wobble” threshold. Though many have found one can reverse this negative by mixing it with another strain.
Stimulation: 2-4 / 10
Pain Relief: 7 – 9.5 / 10
Mood: 7 – 9.5 / 10
Indo strains are very well-rounded for pain and have less side-effects than comparable Balinese strains, and can be further sub-categorized as strains such as riau and sumfatra, even borneo is a type of indo. Many have reported delayed effects from many types of Indo kratom, which is likely due to the leaves tough cell-walls, very similar to Green Malaysian strains.
While the effects are similar to Borneo kratom strains on paper, experienced users will notice the unique differences that make this strain so unique.
Stimulation: 2-3 / 10
Pain Relief: 8 – 10 / 10
Mood: 8 – 10 / 10
Many prefer a moderate strain as their daily go-to, due to its potent, yet smooth, effects. Currently, the most popular moderate strain is Green Malaysian; however, other sub-strains, vein types and breeding can make an overall sedating or stimulating strain moderate.
Green Malaysian has long been known as one of the longest-lasting strains due to leaf cell-wall density.
Many remark on this strain’s unique nootropic effects, which, despite heavy stimulation, can increase focus and patience for quite long periods of time. Interestingly, these effects are typically only noticed in retrospect due to its smooth character of effects.
Stimulation: 4-6 / 10
Pain Relief: 6 – 8 / 10
Mood: 7 – 8.5 / 10
Vein Types: Effects & Analysis
Something unique to this plant, in comparison to many other medicinal plants, is the distinct differences of vein color; which has corresponding effects and growth conditions. While each vein color tends to have a unique set of effects that can provide clues to the effects that the strain has.
However, there are some minor exceptions, especially when dealing with strains with a less balanced alkaloid profile such as Thai, or Borneo strains which on the whole provide a kratom experience that is stimulating or sedating, respectively.
Red Vein Kratom
Red vein kratom is one of the most popular due to its natural tendency toward higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine, which leads to impressive pain-killing effects, sedation, as well as anxiety and stress relief.
Red veins also tends to be less at the mercy of individual brain chemistry; whereas white and green vein strains often effect people variably.
This is one of the reasons red vein thai (RVT) is so popular among kratom users –it combines both heavy levels of energy from it’s Thai influences, with the red vein painkilling effects — leaving the strain stimulating but very well-rounded.
Pain Relief: 3/3
White Vein Kratom
Despite the lower amount of 7-hydroxymitragynine found in white vein strains, this vein type should not be treated lightly. White vein kratom has a very strong following, and can be highly effective for conditions such as depression and lack of focus/energy.
Of all the vein types, white vein shows the most potential as a nootropic (cognition enhancing) substance. Many have found that using this vein type first thing in the morning to be a great substitute for coffee due to it’s “clean” effects on alertness and focus.
Pain Relief: 1/3
Green Vein Kratom
For those who prefer neither the sedation of red veins, or the stimulation of white veins, green vein kratom may be the best solution. Green vein strains are much more moderate in their effects than other the other vein varieties and can provide the best of both worlds, making them commonly used as a daily kratom.
Green vein strains can also provide nootropic effects, and are generally less at the whim of personal brain chemistry than white vein strains tend to be.
Pain Relief: 2/3
While typically not as well-rounded as the plain leaf in effects, kratom extracts can certainly serve a purpose for those with chronic pain or other debilitating conditions in which the plain leaf will not suffice.
There are a large variety of different types of extracts with varying effects, based upon both the method of extraction as well as the base plant material used to make them. Read below to learn about these different extract types.
Water-based kratom extracts are by far the most common variety. As the name implies, the extract is performed by: dissolving a portion of alkaloids into water, straining the powder, and evaporating the water. This process leaves a brownish, more alkaloid-concentrated version of the plain leaf behind.
Water extracts are commonly referred to with an ‘x’ (e.g. 10x, 25x), which implies how much plain leaf material was used to create the same weight of resulting extract. Sadly, these figures are nearly always incorrect due to vendor dishonesty.
- More alkaloid-concentrated than plain leaf
- Can be used in addition to plain leaf to potentiate effects
- Relatively side-effect free in comparison to resin and full-spectrum extracts
- More stimulating than the plain-leaf base material
- Ability to dissolve in water
- Typically not very effective unless taken in conjunction with plain leaf
- Not a well-rounded extract in terms of effects (less pain-killing effect and sedation)
- High price per potency
- Can increase tolerance
In comparison to water-based extractions, kratom resin extractions have a much more well-rounded profile of effects. These extracts are typically performed by extracting kratom with both a polar solvent and a non-polar solvent; a simple example of this would be water and ethanol. Like the water extract, the powder is strained and the alkaloid saturated non-polar/polar solvent is left to dry.
- Full-spectrum of effects
- Ease of use
- Easy storage
- High potency per weight
- More expensive than plain leaf
- Side-effects to potency ratio comparable to plain leaf
- Temperature sensitive (melts in minor heat)
Unlike the other forms of extracts, kratom tinctures can vary in their method of extraction and their potency; because of this, buying them from an disreputable source can leave one disappointed. On the other hand, when they are done well, they can be quite potent.
- Ease of Use
- Convenience of storage
- Typically expensive
- Variable Potency
- Rarely provide a full-spectrum of effects
- Rapid development of tolerance
Enhanced leaf has become the go-to choice of many extract users due to it’s high potency and lack of side effects. Enhanced leaf is used by taking a highly potent kratom extract, dissolving it in a solution, soaking kratom leaves/powder in this solution and letting it dry. When done correctly, this method can create a highly potent leaf.
One of the most popular enhanced leaf blends of our era is known as UEI (Ultra Enhanced Indo).
- Very potent when done well
- Lack of side-effects per potency
- Typically well-rounded
- Highly effective for pain
- Rapid development of tolerance
- Can cause some withdrawal symptoms upon abrupt cessation after prolonged use
- Relatively high price
The reason for the difference in effects from strain to strain is the variability of kratom’s alkaloids; in fact, there are over 28 identified alkaloids found within the plant with different half-lives and durations. For more information on these alkaloids, their effects, and their content (% of total alkaloid weight, one standard deviation), refer below:
- 7-hydroxymitragynine – Analgesic/painkiller (opiod receptor agonist), antidiarrheal, antitussive – 1.5 – 2.5%
- Mitragynine – Analgesic/painkiller (opiod receptor agonist), antidiarrheal, antitussive, adrenergic receptor agonist (mild stimulant), antimalarial – 40 – 75% [Lowest recorded content: 12%]
- Speciogynine – Smooth Muscle Relaxer – 6.5 – 7.2%
- Mitraphylline – Muscle relaxer, vasodilator, anti-hypertensive, anti-amnesic, immune system stimulant, anti-leukemic – less than 1%
- Epicatechin (EGC) – Antioxidant, antiviral, anti-mutagenic, anti-leukemic, anti inflammatory, anti-diabetic. Commonly found in green tea. – 1%
- 9-Hydroxycorynantheidine – Painkiller/analgesic – 1%
- Corynantheidine – Mu opiod Antagonist – less than 1%
- Isomitraphylline – Immune System Stimulant – less than 1%
- Isomitrafoline – Immune System Stimulant – less than 1%
- Isorhynchophylline – Immune System Stimulant – less than 1%
- Isopteropodine – Immune System Stimulant – less than 1%
- Ciliaphylline – Analgesic, antitussive – less than 1%
- Corynoxine A – Dopamine Mediator – less than 1%
- Corynoxine B – Dopamine Mediator – less than 1%
- Ajmalicine – Sedative (Anti-Adrenergic), increase blood flow to brain, smooth muscle relaxer – less than 1%
- Rhynchophylline – Anti-inflammatory, vasodilator, anti-hypertensive – less than 1%
- Speciociliatine – Mild opiod receptor agonist – less than 1%
- Speciophylline – Anti-leukemic – less than 1%
- Tetrahydroalstonine – Anti-adrenergic, lowers blood sugar – less than 1%
- Akuammigine – inactive – less than 1%
- Mitrafoline – inactive – less than 1%
- Mitraversine – inactive – less than 1%
- Speciofoline – inactive – less than 1%
- Stipulatine – inactive – less than 1%
Known kratom researchers such as Takayama H, Shellard EJ, Raymond-Hamet, Becket AH, Philipson JD and Lee CM, have shown that the alkaloid profiles of the plants from different regions vary heavily; especially in Thai strains, in which case mitragynine content is well above the average. Malaysian strains, on the other hand, have proportionally low levels of mitragynine, suggesting its potency is due to proportionally higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
These differences in alkaloid profile are what make each strain unique and effective in quite different ways, but there is still much research to be done until we have a complete understanding of alkaloid effects, and an alkaloid profile of each strain, region and vein color.
Dosage has been a key factor for those looking for specific effects. By dosing too low, the medicinal capabilities are nulled, while dosing too high can often lead to relatively harmless, but potentially unpleasant side-effects, such as the “wobbles” and minor nausea. To learn about kratom dosage, refer below.
Average Dosage by Grams
- Mild – 1 to 2 grams
- Moderate – 2-4.5 grams
- High – 4.5 – 8 grams
Average Dosage by Teaspoon
- Mild – .5 to .9 tsp
- Moderate – 1 to 2 tsp
- High – 2 to 3.5 tsp
It should be noted that due to varying potency between strains and plants, this estimate is in no way standardized, instead it an estimate based on historical and experiential reports. Doses at the the “high” end of the spectrum are also much more likely to cause side-effects, depending upon the strain.
For best effect, many have found that this plant should not be taken in high doses regularly, as some of the medicinal effects can diminish. However, those who use this plant to combat chronic pain may find this inevitable, as pain doesn’t operate in a convenient time-cycle.
Differences between strains is a factor that can’t be overlooked when calculating a dosage. There are a few primary strains that should be dosed relatively lower than the average, these strains are:
- Maeng Da – Potent, active at lower doses
- Bali – Side effects encountered at lower doses in comparison to other strains
- Thai – Can be overstimulating for some at higher doses
Because of this, it is a good idea to modify dosage with these strains accordingly in order to achieve best results. Some strains, such as Borneo, can be dosed relatively higher, due to their lack of side-effects. Because of this variability in strains, it is advisable to start low with any new or unknown strain.
Effects By Dosage
Something that is frequently encountered with a variety of strains is the difference in effects at differing doses. Although this varies depending upon the strain and where you buy kratom, typically, lower doses are relatively more stimulating than higher doses; while the cause of this is not well known, it likely has to do with the sedation curve of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
For anyone inexperienced with kratom, it is essential to know about the philosophy, theory and advice regarding kratom dosage.
The “Less is More” Theory
The “less is more” theory is very popular among kratom forums, and there is some evidence to back this theory. Almost every strain has an optimal dose for both medicinal and euphoric effects, and dosage above this ideal threshold can have reverse effects due to mu opiod antagonists such as corynantheidine.
Now, it’s important to note that different strains have differing levels of this alkaloid, so this statement may not apply to all strains, however, the majority of strains are affected.
The “less is more” theory, is also advisable because lower dosage also creates less tolerance to effects, which can increase the plant’s medicinal potential over time.
As plain leaf has to be digested in order to have medicinal benefit, it is considered best taken on an empty stomach, as this will ensure the effects are delivered quickly and properly.
Because eating is a necessity, it may not always be possible to use it in this manner; for this reason, many have made kratom tea to deliver effects more quickly.