Kratom Ultimate Guide: Strains, Benefits, Pharmacology and Everything You Need To Know - Dope.Fresh.Fit.

Kratom Ultimate Guide: Strains, Benefits, Pharmacology and Everything You Need To Know


Jul 22
Kratom Ultimate Guide

Kratom has been used for centuries in Southeast Asia for its healing properties. Opioid addicts use kratom to reduce cravings and withdrawals.

Kratom reduces fatigue, reduces coughing, treats muscle pain, and is an anti-diarrheal.

Kratom has anti-anxiety and antidepressant qualities. It can elevate mood, cause euphoria, and reduce inflammation.  

Some strains have mild stimulant properties, other are potent sedative.

Read on to learn more about this versatile herbal remedy.

What is Kratom?

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a deciduous tree native to Southeast Asia. It’s part of the same family of trees as the coffee plant (Rubiaceae).

Kratom is a partial opioid agonist. Opioid agonists act on opioid receptors in the body.

Kratom can help people get clean off of opioids. 

The alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine found in kratom are opioid agonists. These alkaloids help kratom reduce pain.

Kratom goes by several names:

  • Thom
  • Thang
  • Ketum
  • Krypton
  • Biak-Biak
  • Kakuam

Kratom grows naturally in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea.Kratom is widely available on online stores as dried leaves, capsules, powder, and extracts.

Kratom Health Benefits

Kratom has a wide variety of benefits thanks to the 25 active alkaloids it contains. Each strain of kratom has unique benefits.

Here's an overview of the different effects kratom can have on physical and mental health:

  • Anxiety-reduction (anxiolytic)
  • Anti-depressant
  • Mood-enhancer (euphoria)
  • Cognitive enhancer (nootropic)
  • Opiate withdrawal (addiction treatment)
  • Immune system enhancer
  • Pain-reduction (analgesic)

1. Kratom for Anxiety

Roughly two-thirds of the people who use kratom use it for mental health conditions like anxiety. Kratom is most effective at reducing social anxiety according to a qualitative analysis of kratom users. (R) 

Mitragynine is the second-most common alkaloid in kratom. In rodent studies, both low and high doses of mitragynine reduced anxiety. (R)

Best kratom strains for anxiety:

  • Indo
  • Bali
  • Borneo

 Sedating strains like Indo kratom and Borneo kratom tend to work the best at reducing anxiety. Borneo is the strain that I take to reduce anxiety.

Borneo kratom reduces anxiety and stress without making me too tired to continue my day. The same strains that reduce anxiety are the best to treat insomnia.  

Read the full article on kratom and anxiety.

2. Kratom for Depression

According to anecdotal accounts from users, some strains of kratom can alleviate depression. The more sedating strains tend to be best at relieving depression. Kratom becomes less effective at treating depression as tolerance builds. 

Best Kratom Strains for Depression:

  • Maeng Da kratom
  • Thai kratom
  • Green Malay kratom

Mitragynine, a common alkaloid in kratom, reduces depression by acting on serotonin and reducing the stress response. In animal studies, kratom has been effective at reducing depression by acting on opioid receptors in the brain. (R)

 Read the full article on kratom and depression.

3. Kratom of Mood

Euphoria ass one of kratom’s most regularly reported effects in an analysis of 120 medical journal articles of animal and human studies.  In a northern Malaysian study, 12% of 136 users reported experiencing euphoria.

Take low to moderate doses of the following strains to boost brain function:

  • Thai kratom (Focus/Energy)    
  • Green Malay (Focus)
  • Maeng Da (Focus/Energy) 

The study did not disclose which strain of kratom was used. Kratom as a Nootropic (cognitive enhancer)Some strains of kratom have been reported to improve motivation, focus, and memory.

User report feeling that it’s easier to focus on the task at hand without feeling restless. Not all strains improve focus and increase productivity.

4. Kratom for Opioid Addiction

Kratom has been used as an opiate substitute since the 1800s. Kratom may reduce symptoms of opioid withdrawal through several mechanisms in the brain.

The alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine in kratom interact with serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and opioid receptors (MOR and DOR) by blocking neuron calcium channels. (R) 

Kratom achieves many of its therapeutic effects from acting as an opioid agonist. The alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine act on the same types of receptors that modulate opioid addiction.

Many users take kratom to treat opioid dependence. They report reduced drug cravings. At high doses, kratom can have morphine-like effects.

Read the full article on kratom for opiate addiction.

5. Kratom May Strengthen the Immune System

Kratom may help strengthen the immune system. Kratom acts as a cough suppressant.

Several of the active alkaloids in kratom stimulate the immune system:

  • Mitraphylline
  • Isorhynchophylline
  • Isopteropodine
  • Isomitraphylline

Kratom strains with the highest content of these alkaloids:

  • Borneo kratom
  • Green Malay kratom

6. Kratom for Pain Reduction

Kratoms’ ability to reduce pain is one of its most frequently-reported benefits. People suffer from chronic pain, and those who don’t respond to over-the-counter medications have success with kratom.

Users report reduction in pain related to:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Arthritis
  • Headaches
  • Muscle tears
  • Muscle soreness
  • Neck pain
  • Chest pain
  • Scoliosis
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Back Pain 

The active alkaloids Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are believed to be responsible for kratom’s ability to relieve pain.

These are kratom strains can treat severe pain due to their high content of Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine:

  • Maeng Da kratom
  • Borneo kratom
  • Bali kratom
  • Indo kratom

These act on the mu and delta opioid receptors to dampen the user’s perception of pain.  Animal studies demonstrate the kratom extract reduces various forms of pain.

Read the full article on kratom for pain treatment.

7. Kratom as a Nootropic (cognitive enhancer)

Some strains of kratom have been reported to improve motivation, focus, and memory.

Take low to moderate doses of the following strains to boost brain function:

  • Thai kratom (Focus/Energy)    
  • Green Malay kratom (Focus)
  • Maeng Da kratom (Focus/Energy)

User report feeling that it’s easier to focus on the task at hand without feeling restless. Not all strains improve focus and increase productivity. 

8. Kratom for Euphoria

Can Kratom get you high? Yes, kratom produces a high similar to opiates. Kratom the most euphoric strains of kratom contain high level mitragynine.

These are the best kratom strains for euphoria:

  • White Borneo kratom
  • Green Malay Kratom
  • Maeng Da Kratom
  • Indo Kratom
  • Bali Kratom

Click here for a full article on kratom for euphoria.

9. Kratom for Energy

Certain strains of Thai kratom is used by laborers in Thailand to increase energy and reduce fatigue. 

These are the best strains for mild pain relief and increased energy:

  • Maeng Da kratom
  • White vein Borneo kratom
  • Green Malay kratom
  • White vein Thai kratom

Click here to read the full article on kratom for energy.

Kratom Vein Types

The veins of the kratom leaf indicate the alkaloid content inside. Kratom trees that grow in specific conditions produce kratom products with different qualities.

There are three main kratom vein colors (and one creation):

  • White vein kratom (stimulating)
  • Green vein kratom (balanced)
  • Red vein kratom (sedative)
  • Yellow vein kratom (stimulating hybrid)

Strains with a more balanced alkaloid profile will provide a smoother, more subtle high. Strains that contain fewer types of alkaloids will be more stimulating or sedating. 

1. White Vein Kratom

White vein kratom tends to have the lowest concentration of the opioid agonist 7-hydroxymitragynine.

Users report that this vein type is significantly more stimulating. Despite being low on 7-hydroxymitragynine, it still is effective at reducing depression and increasing focus and energy.

Go for white vein types if you’re taking kratom has a cognitive enhancer or coffee substitute.

Check out the full article on white vein kratom here.

2. Green Vein Kratom

Green vein kratom has the most balanced alkaloid content and therefore the most balanced effects. Green vein types are best for daytime use for people who find white vein types too stimulating.

You’ll be able to get things done without feeling too “speedy.” Everyone’s body chemistry is unique.

Chances are, you’ll have to experiment with different strains to find the ones that work best for you.

Read the full article on green kratom.

3. Red Vein Kratom

Red vein types are often used as a replacement for painkillers. Red vein type kratom has the most consistent effects between different users.

The effects of white vein and green vein types tend to be much more dependent on the body chemistry of the user. Red vein kratom is the most popular.

These types of strains are the most sedative. They have impressive anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) effect. Red vein type kratom is known for its pain-reduction and stress relief.

Check out the full article on red vein kratom.

4. Yellow Vein Kratom

Yellow vein types are roughly 20% more potent than red strains. It’s important to note that there are no naturally occuring yellow vein types.

The yellow color is produced during the manufacturing process as red-red vein leaves are dried. Users report the isn’t as bitter as other strains. Yellow vein kratom has been gradually gaining more popularity. 

You can find Yellow Sumatra, Yellow Bali, and Yellow Vietnam kratom. Yellow kratom benefits include a clear mind, heightened visual perception, and stomach relaxation.

Read the full article on yellow kratom.

Kratom Strains

There are six primary strains of kratom:

  • Green Malay kratom (balanced, moderate)
  • Bali kratom (sedating)
  • Borneo kratom (sedating)
  • Indo kratom (sedating)
  • Maeng Da kratom (stimulating)
  • Thai kratom (stimulating)

Moderate Kratom Strains (Green Malay)

Green Malay kratom comes from, you guessed it, Malaysia. Green Malay is the most common moderate strain. It provides a smooth high that won’t make to too tired or too amped. Green Malay is known for its unique cognitive enhancing effects.

Many users prefer it as a nootropic. Green Malay can improve attention span, increase focus, and help you study/research without the crash the comes with coffee.

Thanks to the dense cell walls of its leaves, Green Malay keeps for a long time in storage.

Read the full article on Green Malay kratom here.

Sedating Kratom Strains

These kratom strains contain higher concentrations of sedative alkaloids like 7-hydroxymitragynine, and lower amounts of stimulating alkaloids.

Sedative kratom strains are the preferred strains of people recovering from opiate addiction. They include:

  • Bali kratom
  • Borneo kratom
  • Indo kratom

Pain relief is their specialty. Many kratom users report that they prefer taking these strains in the evening or towards the end of the day.

1. Bali Kratom

It has a high concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. Bali kratom is a powerful painkiller and anxiety-reducer.

Users report euphoria and mood enhancement. Bali kratom is one of the more unpredictable strains between batches and brands.

It’s the most affordable strain to produces due to their broad leaves, but this comes with downsides. The main adverse effect of kratom is shaky eye movement known as “the wobble.”

Bali kratom has a lower threshold for when this occurs. Some users report that mixing Bali kratom with another strain can reduce its adverse effects.

Click here to read the full article on Bali Kratom.

2. Indo Kratom

Indo kratom provides substantial pain relief with a lower risk of side effects compared to Bali kratom.

The onset of action tends to be slower with Indo kratom, meaning it takes longer to take effect. 

Indo kratom has dense cell walls. It takes the body longer to metabolize Indo kratom. The effects of Indo kratom vary between users. This strain is best-suited for anxiety relief, pain reduction, and opioid addiction.

Click here to read the full article on Indo Kratom.

3. Borneo Kratom

Borneo Kratom is the king of kratom when it comes to anxiety, stress relief, and sedation.  Red-vein Borneo kratom is one of the rarest forms for kratom.

Borneo strains are known for having low side effects and being highly effective.

Users report that Borneo kratom has the best muscle-relaxant effects out of all the kratom strains.

Read the full article on Red Borneo Kratom here.

Stimulating Kratom Strains

Have a lot to get done but still want the benefits of kratom?

Maeng Da and Thai kratom are two of the most stimulating kratom strains. 

They’re known for their ability to reduce fatigue and treat depression.

1. Maeng Da Kratom

Maeng Da kratom is one of the best-selling kratom strains. It’s ideal for daytime pain reduction.

Users report that they energized for long periods of time. Most of us have stuff to do throughout the day, and can’t be zonked out on kratom. 

Maeng Da delivers pain relief without sacrificing the ability to focus and stay on point. Maeng Da kratom elevates mood to help combat depression and improve focus.

Read the full article on Maeng Da kratom.

2. Thai Kratom

Thai kratom has a unique alkaloid profile that provides energizing effects. Body chemistry seems to have a more significant role in how each person reacts to Thai kratom.

Many users find it to be too stimulating. Red vein Thai kratom has powerful analgesic (pain-relieving) effects similar to white willow bark. Thai kratom isn’t quite as potent when it comes to treating depression compared to the other strains.

Read the full article on Red Thai Kratom.

Kratom Alkaloids

The alkaloid profiles of strains from different regions can vary dramatically. There are over 25 different alkaloids in any given strain of kratom.

The ratio of these alkaloids determines whether the kratom is sedating, stimulating, or has pain-relieving effects. Malaysian strains tend to have low levels of mitragynine but high levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine.

Thai strains have the most variation in alkaloid profiles between plants and have above average mitragynine content. 

Most Important Alkaloids

The two most influential and most common alkaloids:

  • Mitragynine – Opioid receptor agonist/adrenergic receptor agonist: Pain-reliever, cough suppressant, antimalarial, mild stimulant, antidiarrheal
  • 7-hydroxymitragynine – Opioid receptor agonist: Pain-reliever, cough suppressant, antidiarrheal, antitussive 

Minor Alkaloids (1% or less)

  • Epicatechin (EGC) – Anti-inflammatory, improves insulin-sensitivity, antioxidant, neuroprotective; Found in high amounts in green tea
  • 9-Hydroxycorynantheidine: Pain-relieverCorynantheidine – Opioid antagonist
  • Ciliaphylline – Pain-reliever, cough suppressant
  • Ajmalicine – smooth muscle relaxant, sedative, increase blood flow to the brain
  • Rhynchophylline – lowers high blood pressure, anti-inflammatory, vasodilator
  • Speciogynine – smooth muscle relaxer
  • Mitraphylline – Reduces blood pressure, improves memory, strengthens the immune system, lowers blood pressure
  • Speciociliatine – Mild opioid receptor agonist
  • Tetrahydroalstonine – Reduces stress, improves insulin sensitivityIsomitraphylline: Strengthens immune system
  • Isomitrafoline – Strengthens immune systemIsorhynchophylline – Strengthens immune system
  • Isopteropodine – Strengthens immune system
  • Corynoxine A – Dopamine mediator
  • Corynoxine B – Dopamine mediator

How Kratom Works (Mechanism of Action)

Kratom contains over 25 active compounds. The most active are 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine.

7-hydroxymitragynine is 10-times more potent than morphine in pure extract form.

Mitragynine is one of the most abundant alkaloid in kratom. It acts on opioid receptors, serotonergic receptors, and adrenergic receptors. It’s believed that mitragynine’s activity on these receptors is what reduces pain and improves mental health. Mitragynine is thought to be the what helps with opioid addiction and pain relief. (R)

The active alkaloids in kratom act on dopamine receptors and opioid receptors to produce euphoria, improve mood, and reduce pain and anxiety.

Kratom Dosage

Always take the minimum effective dose of kratom. The same rule applies to any substance, especially when you’re taking it for the first time. Start with only one gram of kratom othe first time you take a new strain. 

Recommended Doses

Dried Leaves

  • Mild dose: 1 to 4 grams
  • Moderate dose: 4 to 7 gramsHigh dose: 7 to 20 grams

Raw Leaves

  • Low to moderate dose of kratom: 1-5 grams
  • Moderate-high dose of kratom: 5-15 grams (R)

Gradually increase until you experience the desired effects. It’s important to note that the effects of doses vary greatly between strains. Each person responds differently to a specific dose due to how their body metabolizes the drug.

Differences between some of the major strains:

  • Bali kratom - side effects begin at lower doses compared to other strains
  • Thai kratom  - overstimulating at high doses
  • Maeng Da kratom - effective at lower doses Starting with the lowest possible dose will reduce the risk of side effects, including the notorious kratom "wobbles."

Kratom Methods of Administration

How most users take kratom:

  • Swallowing it straight (leaf, powder, capsule, extract)
  • Brewing it as a tea
  • Taking it with food 

Read the full article on how to take kratom here.

1. Taking Kratom Straight

One of the most common ways that people take kratom is by mouth, either as a powder or by swallowing crushed leaves. Most of the time, this is how I take my kratom. If it’s crushed leaf, I toss it in my mouth and wash it down with water mixed with orange juice.

For kratom in powder form, I stir it in the water/OJ and down it. Then I chase it with a swig of straight OJ. Sometimes I pack my powder into capsules at home.

You can buy empty capsules online and pack your own by hand. It takes a little more time to prepare, but you avoid the bitter taste.  

Kratom capsules are more expensive per gram because you’re paying the company to package them. I prefer to hold the product in my hand so I can see the quality, then pack it into capsules myself.

2. Kratom with Food

Some users report that food can inhibit the absorption of kratom. Others like to make kratom milkshakes or take it with a small amount of food.

Kratom has a bitter taste. You might prefer at least washing their kratom down with a little orange juice and a few bites of food. I like to take kratom with a snack of almond butter and frozen raspberries.

3. Kratom Tea

Kratom tea is one of the more popular methods. The onset is faster, but the likelihood of side effects is higher. I recommend starting off taking kratom orally before brewing it as a tea. Only start experimenting with kratom tea once you have an idea for how your body responds to the strain.

How to Make Kratom Tea:

  • Add 3 to 4 cups of water
  • Add desired kratom dose (start with one teaspoon the first time you try it)Simmer for 20 minutes
  • Strain and let cool
  • Add alternative sweeteners to taste
  • Try adding a chai tea mixture!

Brew time, temperature, and kratom dose all affect the potency of the kratom you ultimately drink. If you brew the tea for too long, the dose may be too concentrated or may begin to deteriorate and lose its potency. Too short of a brew time will result in a lower dose.

Is Kratom Legal?

Kratom is legal in the United States, although some states, counties, and cities have local laws that prohibit its use.

The following areas have banned kratom:

  • Wisconsin: the alkaloids in kratom are categorized Schedule 1 controlled substances and are illegal.
  • Tennessee: kratom is banned in the state of Tennessee
  • Indiana: banned
  • Illinois: legal everywhere except Jerseyville for anyone over the age of 18
  • Florida: legal except for Sarasota County
  • California: legal except in San Diego due to local ordinance
  • Arkansas: illegal as of 2016
  • Alabama: illegal as of 2016

The FDA issued a warning in 2017 about the risks of associated with taking kratom recreationally. 

Kratom Side Effects

Most substances have side effects. Kratom is no exception.

The most common side effect of kratom is the “WOBBLES.” The wobbles are characterized by:

  • Shaky, “wobbly” vision
  • Difficult to focus eyes
  • Dizziness

Other kratom side effects may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, constipation, and sleep disturbances.

The risk of side effects varies by strain:

  • Borneo kratom – Low
  • Thai kratom – Moderate/Low
  • Indo kratom – Moderate
  • Maeng Da kratom – Moderate
  • Bali kratom– High

The risk of getting the wobbles is higher when you take kratom as a tea and when you take kratom in high doses. Extracts are more likely to produce side effects than raw leaves.

Tips for Avoiding Kratom Side Effects

  1. Avoid taking stimulating strains of kratom too close to bedtime.
  2. If you have a sensitive stomach, avoid concentrated kratom extracts and teas.
  3. Stick to raw leaves and take kratom with a little bit of food and glutamine supplements.
  4. Take low doses.
  5. Over time, kratom may cause the body to secrete excess stomach acid. Drink lemon water to alkalize your body chemistry and reduce acidity.

How To Avoid Building Up A Tolerance

When you build up a tolerance, kratom can become less effective. Whenever you take substance regularly, your body will develop some level of tolerance.

Here’s how to reduce developing a tolerance to kratom to maintain the drug’s effectiveness:

  • Exercise
  • Take magnesium (helps with energy synthesis and bio-absorption)
  • Rotate through different kratom strains
  • Take plenty off days off from taking kratom

What the Kratom Plant Looks Like

Kratom trees can grow up to 50 feet tall. Most grow to about 30 feet high and 15 feet wide.

They have bulbous flowering heads when they bloom. The flowers are yellow, and the leaves are evergreen with a dark, glossy finish. 

The leaves have an ovular shape with a point at the end.

Where Kratom Grows

Kratom trees prefer tropical climates. The kratom tree grows naturally throughout Southeast Asia. 

Kratom-rich areas:

  • Thailand
  • Borneo
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Papua New Guinea

Kratom is most widespread in the central and south regions of Thailand.

Where to Buy Kratom

Kratom is easy to buy online and is legal in all but a few states. It requires no medical prescription.

As a treatment for opioid addiction, kratom is significantly less expensive than other opioid replacement treatments like buprenorphine and methadone.