Kratom vs Kava

Kratom vs Kava

December 08, 2023

estimated read time - 19 min

Is Kava the Same as Kratom

Kava and kratom are distinct plants with different origins, effects, and uses. Kava, derived from the Pacific plant Piper methysticum, offers relaxation and stress reduction without cognitive impairment. Conversely, kratom comes from the Mitragyna speciosa tree and can induce stimulating effects at lower doses and sedative effects at higher amounts.

Below we will go into various topics regarding the differences between the two herbs, the mechanisms of action, the differences in experience, how to find them, how to use them responsibly and what to expect.

THE QUICK LIST



All About Kratom

The history of kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is deeply rooted in Southeast Asian traditions, particularly in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Although originating from these asian cultures, it is actually banned for possession and use in Malaysia and Indonesia due to its potential for abuse and addictive nature.

Indigenous communities have long utilized kratom leaves for their medicinal properties. According to a study published in the "Journal of Psychoactive Drugs," kratom has been historically employed for its analgesic and stimulant effects, serving as a natural remedy for laborers and individuals facing fatigue (1).

What Are The Effects of Kratom

Kratom, yields diversive effects based on dosage but similar effects from strain to strain. Low doses often induce increased alertness and energy, akin to caffeine, while higher doses may lead to sedation and relaxation. Some users report pain relief or mood enhancement. However, kratom's effects vary among individuals, and misuse can result in adverse reactions like nausea or dizziness.

Kratom Mechanism of Delivery

Kratom's mechanism of action is attributed to its active alkaloids, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These compounds interact with opioid receptors in the brain, influencing neurotransmitter release and mitigating pain. Research, by Prozialeck et al. (2012) and Grundmann et al. (2018) discusses its dual impact on adrenergic and opioid receptors, shedding light on the nuanced mechanisms contributing to kratom's analgesic and stimulant properties. Recent studies indicate kratom may not induce severe adverse effects, like life-threatening respiratory depression often observed in opioid overdoses.

Kratom Withdrawal and Addiction

Kratom withdrawal occurs when regular users abruptly cease or reduce intake after prolonged usage. Symptoms often mimic opioid withdrawal and may include muscle aches, irritability, insomnia, and mood swings. The severity varies based on dosage and duration of use. Management strategies often involve gradual tapering or professional assistance to alleviate symptoms.

Best Kava for Kratom Withdrawal

Best Kava for Kratom Withdrawal/Recovery - Statera & Single Origin Borogoru

Although kratom may not contain the respiratory challenges as seen in opiate withdrawal, going cold turkey on kratom is no walk in the park. Kratom withdrawal and recovery can result in intense physical and emotional responses such as physical malease, emotional irritability, increased anxiety, and uncontrollable insomnia. Kava is said to help with all these categories due to how it may enhance natural GABAa receptor activity. These are the recommended blends for kratom withdrawal.

What Does a Kratom Plant Look Like?

Friends waiting for kava

A Traditional Fijian Ceremony

Mitragyna speciosa or kratom trees can grow up to 82 feet in height and its trunk may grow up to 3ft in diameter. The trunk is generally straight and slender with branching canopy. The leaves of kratom trees are characterized by their dark green and glossy appearance, featuring an ovate shape with 12 to 17 pairs of veins. These leaves can extend up to 8 inches in length and span 5 inches in width. Additionally, the kratom plant produces small, ball-shaped flowers as part of its reproductive process.

Active Compounds in Kratom

Kratom leaves contain a variety of active compounds, with alkaloids being the primary contributors to its effects. Among these alkaloids, the two main ones found in kratom are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids interact with opioid receptors in the brain, resulting in effects similar to those produced by opioids. Opioids are a class of substances or drugs commonly used for pain relief, particularly for moderate to severe pain. Opioid receptors, on the other hand, are protein receptors that play a crucial role in the body's response to pain, reward, and other physiological processes (9).

Mitragynine is the most abundant alkaloid present in kratom and interacts with opioid receptors in the brain, producing effects such as pain relief, sedation, stimulation, and mood enhancement (3). On the other hand, 7-hydroxymitragynine, although less abundant than mitragynine, is considered to be more potent and exhibits stronger analgesic effects (4).

Additionally, kratom contains several other alkaloids in smaller concentrations, including paynantheine, speciociliatine, speciogynine, and ajmalicine (raubasine)(5). While these alkaloids are present in lower quantities, they may also contribute to the analgesic properties of kratom.

Is Kratom an Opiate

No, kratom is not an opiate; it belongs to a different botanical classification. Kratom's alkaloids interact with opioid receptors, mimicing opiate's analgesic effects. But while kratom shares some characteristics with opiates, it lacks key elements contributing to the typical opiate classification. Understanding these distinctions is crucial for responsible use and informed decision-making

Various pills and supplements

Various pills and supplements

Is Kratom Legal

Kratom’s legal status varies from country to country. In certain nations like Malaysia and Thailand, where kratom originated -the supplement is grown and exported as a cash crop to places like the United States. However ironically, the personal use and possession of kratom within these countries that grow it, is currently illegal due to its potential for abuse and addiction(6).

In the United States, kratom remains legal in some areas, but other states such as Alabama, Wisconsin, Arkansas and Tennessee were said to have submitted a legislation to ban the sale and possession of kratom. Due to increasing adverse effects related to kratom and the lack of regulation and quality control. The issue of legality of kratom in the US remains controversial(7).

Does Kratom Show Up on Drug Tests

Kratom typically does not appear on standard drug tests designed to detect common substances. The alkaloids in kratom differ from those in traditional opioids. However, some specialized tests may identify kratom alkaloids. Research on kratom's detection in drug screenings is limited, emphasizing the importance of staying informed about testing methodologies. As of now, standard drug tests are unlikely to reveal the presence of kratom, but individuals should be aware of any updates or changes in testing procedures.


All About Kava

Traditional kava being served

Traditional kava being served

What is Kava

Kava refers to the plant Piper methysticum native to the Pacific Islands and the traditional beverage derived from the plant. It is a traditional beverage celebrated for its cultural and therapeutic significance. Backed by research, kava contains kavalactones that interact with GABA receptors, inducing relaxation without impairing cognitive function. Studies like "Kava: An Overview" by Singh (2015) highlight its anxiolytic and stress-relieving properties. Consumed during social and ceremonial gatherings, kava offers a unique experience, fostering a sense of community.

How Kava Works

Kava works through its active ingredients, mainly kavalactones, engaging with brain neurotransmitters. These target GABA-A receptors, bringing a calming effect and easing anxiety without affecting thinking. By boosting GABA's impact, kava induces relaxation. Its influence on dopamine and other neurotransmitters additionally uplifts mood

Kava Addiction and Withdrawal

Research has shown kava is not addictive compared to substances like alcohol or opioids. It lacks the addictive properties associated with those substances and its chemical mechanism of action doesn't create a physical dependency. Because of this, there is no reported 'kava withdrawal'. However, some individuals might develop a psychological dependence due to its calming qualities, similar to using chocolate as a coping mechanism during stress. (8)

Is Kava a Benzodiazepine

No, kava is not a benzodiazepine. It is a natural beverage derived from the roots of the Piper methysticum plant, traditionally used for its calming effects. While both kava and benzodiazepines may induce relaxation, their mechanisms of action differ. Understanding these distinctions is vital for responsible use and informed choices in seeking natural remedies for anxiety

Does Kava Show Up On a Drug Test

Kava is unlikely to show up on standard drug tests designed for common substances, as it does not contain the same compounds as illicit drugs. However, it's essential to stay informed about any updates in testing methodologies. As of now, typical drug screenings are not designed to detect kava, emphasizing its distinction from substances commonly targeted in drug tests.


Kratom and Kava

Two Friends Enjoying Kava

Two Friends Enjoying Kava

The Difference between Kratom and Kava

Kava and kratom mechanisms of action as well as traditional uses are completely different. Kava interacts with GABA receptors, inducing relaxation reduction of anxiety without affecting opioid receptors. On the other hand, kratom engages directly with opioid receptors, providing pain relief and mood enhancement. Safety considerations also differ; kratom use may lead to chemical dependence and opioid-like withdrawal symptoms, while kava is generally non-addictive. This explains why kava can be used daily for ritualistic ceremonial use as it is calming, socially oriented, but not habit forming. While kratom should be used sparingly due to its houses stimulating, opiate-like, and addictive properties.

Can You Use Kratom and Kava Together

Using kratom and kava simultaneously can have complex effects due to their distinct properties. While some individuals combine them for potential synergistic effects, it's essential to understand the contraindications. Both substances may impact neurotransmitter systems, potentially leading to intensified sedation or relaxation. Although kava is generally considered safe when used responsibly, kratom's safety profile has yet to be confirmed. The combination of the two should not be taken lightly and it is best to approach with caution.

Best Kava for Mixing With Kratom

These are the two blends our customers who use kratom regularly have recommended. When using kratom, the user tends to already get the sedated effect and they can choose make the experience stronger by simply taking more kratom. So the addition of kava is not needed for its sedative effect, but rather the mindful anti-anxiety calming effect, which is much higher in these two varietals. Our Raw Epicure and Single Origin Kelai kava's are not like your normal kava's, and have experience profiles almost entirely in the head, which is why they are great for daytime use. Please use responsibly.


Kava or Kratom

Kratom and Kava are two botanicals with uniquely different therapeutic properties. Kava, traditionally renowned for its anxiolytic effects, is a natural choice for stress and anxiety relief. In contrast, kratom offers distinct applications, with its alkaloids interacting with opioid receptors for effective pain management. Known for its stimulating properties in smaller doses, kratom can enhance energy levels and focus.

What is Kava Used For

  • Stress and Anxiety Relief: Its anxiolytic properties make it a popular choice for individuals seeking a natural remedy for calming effects (Sarris et al., 2013).
  • Social Relaxation: A mild social lubricant without the impairing effects associated with alcohol. Can be used in social gatherings and ceremonies to foster a sense of community and relaxation
  • Sleep Aid: Research suggests its potential in managing symptoms of anxiety-related insomnia.

What is Kratom Used For

  • Pain Management: Kratom's opioid-like qualities makes it potentially effective for managing pain. Some individuals use kratom as a natural alternative for chronic pain conditions.
  • Energy and Focus: In smaller doses, kratom is reported to have stimulant-like effects akin to heavy doses of caffeine, providing users with increased energy, alertness, and improved focus.

  • Opioid Withdrawal Support: Some users claim that it helps alleviate withdrawal symptoms, although more research is needed to establish its efficacy and safety in this context

How to Use Kratom Vs Kava

Using kava involves preparing a beverage from the ground up roots of the kava plant (Piper methysticum). The root is first ground and pounded. It is then mixed with water, kneaded, and strained through a cloth. The resulting liquid is consumed traditionally in coconut cups. In contrast, using kratom entails consuming the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree in either capsule or tea form. The leaves can either be dried and steeped in hot water, or ground into a fine powder and taken in pill form.

Are Kratom and Kava The Same Thing

No, outside of both botanicals being derived from plants, they have almost nothing in common. kratom and kava are distinct botanicals with different origins, effects, and applications. Kava, derived from the Pacific Islands, is traditionally consumed for relaxation and stress reduction. In contrast, kratom, from Southeast Asia, contains alkaloids interacting with opioid receptors, offering potential pain relief and stimulation.

Which is Better Kava or Kratom

Determining whether Kava or Kratom is better depends on individual preferences and intended effects. Kava is known for relaxation and stress reduction, so it is better for social gatherings or when someone is suffering from stress or anxiety. Kratom, offers stimulating and pain-relieving properties, so kratom is better for pain management or when people are feeling tired looking for sometime akin to a few cups of coffee. Both have distinct benefits, but individual reactions vary.


Conclusion

In summary, kava and kratom have gained popularity for their potential benefits in relieving stress, anxiety, and pain, but they are distinct in their origins, effects, and mechanisms of action.

Kratom, originating from Southeast Asia, has been used for centuries for its stimulating effects and pain-relieving properties. Its alkaloids, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing effects similar to opioids. However, it's important to note that kratom carries a higher risk of dependence and addiction due to its opioid-like properties.

Kava, originating from the Pacific Islands, is primarily consumed for its GABA-ergic calming and relaxing properties. The kavalactones in kava interact with various neurotransmitters in the brain involved in regulating mood, anxiety, stress, and pain. Kava is generally considered safe, with few reported risks and side effects.

While both kava and kratom claim to improve mood and well-being, it is crucial to recognize that they are two different plant species with distinct mechanisms of action. Caution should be exercised when using kratom due to its potential for dependence and addiction, whereas kava is generally regarded as safer. Consulting with a healthcare professional is recommended before using either substance.

Hopefully you enjoyed this and was able to pickup something useful. We're trying to present an unbiased opinion based off facts. Let us know if we missed anything. Mahalo!


References:
  1. Neerman MF, Frost RE, Deking J. A drug fatality involving Kratom. J Forensic Sci. 2013 Jan;58 Suppl 1:S278-9. doi: 10.1111/1556-4029.12009. Epub 2012 Oct 19. PMID: 23082895. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23082895/
  2. Prozialeck WC, Jivan JK, Andurkar SV. Pharmacology of kratom: an emerging botanical agent with stimulant, analgesic and opioid-like effects. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2012 Dec;112(12):792-9. PMID: 23212430. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23212430/
  3. Karunakaran T, Ngew KZ, Zailan AAD, Mian Jong VY, Abu Bakar MH. The Chemical and Pharmacological Properties of Mitragynine and Its Diastereomers: An Insight Review. Front Pharmacol. 2022 Feb 24;13:805986. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2022.805986. PMID: 35281925; PMCID: PMC8907881. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8907881/
  4. Kruegel AC, Uprety R, Grinnell SG, Langreck C, Pekarskaya EA, Le Rouzic V, Ansonoff M, Gassaway MM, Pintar JE, Pasternak GW, Javitch JA, Majumdar S, Sames D. 7-Hydroxymitragynine Is an Active Metabolite of Mitragynine and a Key Mediator of Its Analgesic Effects. ACS Cent Sci. 2019 Jun 26;5(6):992-1001. doi: 10.1021/acscentsci.9b00141. Epub 2019 May 29. PMID: 31263758; PMCID: PMC6598159. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6598159/
  5. Hanapi NA, Chear NJ, Azizi J, Yusof SR. Kratom Alkaloids: Interactions With Enzymes, Receptors, and Cellular Barriers. Front Pharmacol. 2021 Nov 17;12:751656. doi: 10.3389/fphar.2021.751656. PMID: 34867362; PMCID: PMC8637859. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8637859/
  6. Khalil@Halim, S., John Abdullah, S. A., & Ahmad, R. (2020). ENFORCEMENT STATUS OF THE POISON ACT 1952 AGAINST OFFENCES RELATED TO KRATOM (MITRAGYNA SPECIOSA KORTH) MISUSE IN MALAYSIA. UUM Journal of Legal Studies, 11(1), 75–93. https://e-journal.uum.edu.my/index.php/uumjls/article/view/uumjls.11.1.2020.6928
  7. Prozialeck WC. Update on the Pharmacology and Legal Status of Kratom. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 2016 Dec 1;116(12):802-809. doi: 10.7556/jaoa.2016.156. PMID: 27893147. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27893147/
  8. Singh YN. Kava: an overview. J Ethnopharmacol. 1992 Aug;37(1):13-45. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(92)90003-a. PMID: 1453702. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/1453702/
  9. Dhaliwal A, Gupta M. Physiology, Opioid Receptor. [Updated 2022 Jul 25]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK546642/
  10. Boyer EW, Babu KM, Adkins JE, McCurdy CR, Halpern JH. Self-treatment of opioid withdrawal using kratom (Mitragynia speciosa korth). Addiction. 2008 Jun;103(6):1048-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1360-0443.2008.02209.x. PMID: 18482427; PMCID: PMC3670991. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3670991/


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