As CBD has ascended into immense popularity over the last few years, a somewhat similar natural substance has flown largely under the radar. While kratom, a Southeast Asian herb sold widely online and in smoke shops, has a dedicated following, the massive appeal of CBD has largely overshadowed the potential benefits of this plant-based medicine.
Now, however, people are starting to use CBD and kratom together, and there’s some evidence that combining these two natural substances might be beneficial. Learn what kratom is, what it does, and whether it’s a good idea to use kratom and CBD at the same time.
What is kratom?
Mitragyna speciosa, commonly known as kratom, is an evergreen tree that’s similar to the coffee plant. Native to Thailand, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia, kratom has been used as a medicinal substance for at least 200 years.
The kratom plant bears wide, green leaves that are rich in a substance called mitragynine. This unique compound is essentially indistinguishable from opioids derived from the poppy plant, so kratom is considered to be a natural opioid.
History of kratom use in the USA
Kratom originally became popular in the United States around 2014 in parallel with the rise of CBD. By 2016, kratom had become so popular at truck stops and smoke shops that the DEA temporarily considered classifying kratom as a Schedule I drug.
In 2017, however, the DEA abruptly changed course, and this federal agency has not taken any action regarding kratom so far. At the same time, federal agencies remain concerned about the potential detrimental effects of kratom, and the following states have banned kratom altogether:
- Rhode Island
What are the benefits of kratom?
Scientists believe that kratom may offer a few distinct benefits. While mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the two primary active components of kratom, have opioid effects, this substance also provides an energy boost, and it may help with opioid addiction.
Kratom has been used for at least 150 years as a stimulant. Originally, day laborers chewed kratom leaves to gain energy, and kratom is now generally used in powdered form. Scientists aren’t entirely sure how kratom exerts its stimulating properties.
As one of the only sources of naturally occurring opioid alkaloids, kratom appears to have potent analgesic effects. Pain relief is one of the most-cited purposes of kratom use, though this substance’s stimulating properties make it unfit for individuals seeking sedation.
Kratom has been widely popularized as a treatment for opioid withdrawals and other effects of opioid addiction. As the United States remains in the grip of an opioid dependence pandemic, consumers are increasingly receptive to natural substances that may help them stop using prescription opioids.
Over the years, kratom has also been used as an antispasmodic, muscle-relaxant, and anti-diarrhea treatment. These uses have not been backed up with scientific research so far.
Is kratom dangerous?
Health officials are skeptical regarding the safety of kratom. The Mayo Clinic goes so far as to declare kratom “unsafe and ineffective,” and the FDA has received “concerning reports about the safety of kratom.”
Research shows that individuals suffering from opioid and stimulant addiction often use kratom as a cessation aid. However, the risk of simply replacing their existing dependence with kratom dependence is high. The CDC has linked kratom to more than 150 overdose deaths, and kratom use has resulted in around 1,800 reports to poison control centers throughout the United States.
As is the case with opioids, discontinuing kratom use can lead to withdrawals. Kratom also has the following known side effects:
- Liver damage
- Muscle pain
- Difficulty breathing
In most cases, adverse effects of kratom are noted in the context of extended use or ingestion of high doses. It is unclear what dose of kratom can be considered safe. Additionally, the lack of regulatory oversight of the kratom industry allows contaminated products to enter the consumer market, and some of the noted adverse effects of kratom may be caused by contaminants, not the natural constituents of the Mitragyna speciosa plant.
CBD vs. kratom
While CBD and kratom are often compared favorably, these two substances are quite different. Here are some of the primary differences between kratom and CBD:
While extensive research has been conducted into the potential pain-relieving properties of CBD, this cannabinoid does not bear any resemblance to opioids. Additionally, CBD does not have any stimulant properties even though it has been researched for its potential anti-addiction benefits.
Despite exhaustive research, CBD has not been established to have any significant side effects, and this non-intoxicating cannabinoid is not habit-forming. Kratom, on the other hand, has a long list of side effects ranging from the mild to the severe, and health officials are concerned about the dangers of kratom dependence.
Do CBD and kratom work well together?
Its potential side effects aside, kratom appears to have a variety of properties that may make this substance complimentary with CBD. Some CBD users do not like the intensely relaxing or even sedative effects of this cannabinoid, which might be countered by the stimulating effects of kratom.
CBD users who are using this cannabinoid for pain relief may also find enhanced relief by using kratom at the same time. While unproven, it’s theoretically possible that CBD might mitigate some of the habit-forming properties of kratom.
Drug interaction should be a concern when using kratom and CBD together since both of these substances rely on the liver’s CYP3A4 enzymes for metabolism. Kratom inhibits these enzymes, which could decrease the effectiveness of CBD. Of greater concern is the inhibitory effect that CBD also exerts at the CYP3A4 enzymes, which could increase the toxicity of kratom if CBD and kratom are used together.
Best ways to use CBD and kratom together
While it’s technically possible to smoke the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa plant, this ingestion method is not recommended. Most kratom users ingest this substance in capsule form, or they disperse kratom powder throughout water or another liquid. Snorting kratom powder is not recommended.
To experience the effects of kratom and CBD to the greatest extent, you might want to try inhaling CBD and ingesting kratom in a liquid. Using CBD in the form of a CBD flower pre-roll or vape cartridge will allow this cannabinoid to rapidly travel to your central nervous system, and if you swish your kratom-infused liquid around in your mouth, the active compounds in this substance will absorb into your bloodstream with greater bioavailability.
Stay responsible by keeping the potential downsides of kratom in mind. Consult with your doctor if you’re unsure whether using CBD and kratom at the same time is a good idea.
Should you use CBD and kratom together?
While CBD and kratom rose to popularity at the same time, these two natural substances have significant differences. Public perception of CBD has improved over time, and this cannabinoid has gradually made its way out of the black market and into the mainstream. In the case of kratom, however, professional analysis has only become more skeptical over time, and health officials remain on the brink of outright outlawing this stimulant-opioid.
CBD and kratom have some areas of overlap, and they might accentuate each other’s beneficial qualities. After extensive consideration, however, we can’t recommend that you use CBD and kratom together. The potential drawbacks of kratom need to be more fully understood before this substance can be placed in the same category as CBD.