So, what is kratom?
If you are a sufferer of chronic pain, anxiety, or addiction to opiates, you may have heard of Kratom through mention on various Facebook groups and message boards, or even in the news. Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) is a tree native to Southeast Asia and a member of the coffee family that has been used by generations of people as a natural pain reliever, anxiety reducer and mood lifter. Kratom is also used successfully to help with opiate withdrawal. When we talk about taking kratom, we are specifically talking about the leaves of the plant. These leaves are harvested and dried, and sold as either cut leaf (similar to an herbal tea) or as a ground powder. No matter what form you purchase it in, or how you consume it, kratom is often referred to as “tea” because of how it is traditionally served in its native countries.
Side Note: Since this is a beginners guide, I am keeping the information here as basic as possible to get you started. There is a lot more information I could be sharing, but we will keep it as simple as humanly possible so as to not overwhelm anyone. This guide was originally a private message I wrote up for an 86 year old new kratom consumer who found much of the online information posted too confusing. She loved my watered down version, and begged me to share it with others. 4 years later, here we are.
The first thing you should know about Kratom is that vein color is important. Kratom leaves grow in 3 vein colors: red, white and green. Each vein color provides a different effect.
Red is one of the most popular veins. Red vein has higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is the pain-killing, sedation, and anxiety alleviating alkaloid. This is also a great vein for people coming off of opiates and dealing with withdrawal issues.
Unlike the other two vein colors, red seems to be the best tolerated by users, while white and green effects vary widely among users. Because red is often a sedating vein, you will often hear users say “red for bed”. This does not mean that red will make you sleepy, however it is best to try red when you do not need to drive or operate heavy machinery before you know how it effects you.
Also known as “white for flight”, white vein is used for energy and as an anti-depressant. It can also help with mental clarity and focus. White vein is not tolerated by everyone, sometimes causing a “jittery” feeling similar to coffee, especially if used with coffee. While white vein does offer pain relief, it has the lowest levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine, the pain relieving alkaloid.
There is a reason green vein is known as the “in between” vein. People who don’t want the sedating effects of red veins, or the stimulating effects of white veins, might find that a green vein is the best option for them. Green vein strains are more moderate in their effects than other the other veins and can be a great compromise. Green vein is a great afternoon vein to get over the 3 o’clock slump without over-stimulating for evening.
Now that you understand what the “color” refers to when speaking about kratom, it’s time to lean the next piece of the puzzle.
The simplest way to describe kratom strains is by saying that the kratom strain can be the location where it is farmed, where it is used, or the type of leaf it is. Examples of some popular strains include:
Malaysian (or Malay)
Indonesian (or Indo)
Maeng Da (aka “Pimps grade” or the best of the best)
Kratom is often sold by vein and strain, so you will typically see “Red Bali” or “White Vietnam” listed. It is typically understood that Red Bali would refer to a red vein kratom leaf from Bali.
Effects of different strains:
One thing new consumers often ask is what each of the different strains does, or what their effects are. There are several guides on the internet detailing this information. Personally, I don’t like them! My reason is that my experience with a certain strain will likely be completely different from yours, as kratom tends to effect everyone differently. I have wasted a lot of money buying strains based on what these cute lists have to say about each strain. In most cased, my personal experience has been nothing like what was promised on the list. My best recommendation is to buy a sample pack of several of the more popular strains/veins and see what YOU prefer.
How is kratom sold?
Kratom is most commonly sold in powder form. You can buy it by the gram or the ounce or even by the pound. Common amounts you will see are:
10 grams: approx. 4.5 teaspoons (this is a common sample size)
30 grams: approx. 14 teaspoons (this is what you get in a typical sample pack).
120 grams: approx. 4 ounces
250 grams: approx. 8 ounces
Kratom is also sold by the 1/2 pound (8 ounces), pound (16 ounces), 1/2 kilo and kilo.
Ok, all this information is great, but where do I start?
The most important thing to know about kratom is that it is a very individualized experience. There is trial and error involved because what works for me might not work for you. Most users, when asked for advice, can really only give generalized information for that reason. With that being said, there are a few things that should help first time users.
- Stick with one vein at a time to start. Most vendors sell sample packs, and those sample packs usually contain a 2-3 day supply of their most popular strains, one of each vein color. Sample packs are perfect because it gives you the opportunity to try all three veins for a reasonable cost. I have seen sample packs as cheap at $10. A search of popular vendors will quickly introduce you to the terms “pure leaf” and ”blends”. Pure leaf is exactly that, the pure leaf. It’s a single vein and strain. That is what you want to start with.Blends are when a vendor takes different veins or strains and combines them into a signature “blend” that they usually give a unique name to, and it will often become something they are known for. Blends are wonderful, but when you are brand new to kratom, you need to know how each vein effects you. Most people find that a white vein is energizing, but a few people find it incredibly sedating. Taking a vein color by itself helps you to know how your body best reacts to each vein; which vein gives you the best pain relief, which vein makes you jittery , or which vein gives you the best mood lifting. Once you know this basic information, you can then start mixing vein colors to get the desired results, or buy pre-made blends from your favorite vendor.
- With kratom, less is more.Let me repeat that….less is more. Just because you have been on, for example, Oxycontin for years and have a high pain medication tolerance, does not mean you will need to take high doses of kratom. Often people find that when they take too much Kratom it opens them up to greater side effects. Because each persons dose is different, starting out small and gradually working your way to where you begin to feel “better” will yield the best results. While some consumers need very high doses, there have been plenty of people who have beat long time heroin or opiate addictions, or found complete pain relief, on just a teaspoon dose. Remember, you can always add more kratom if you didn’t take enough, but you cannot take away kratom if you take too much.
- Join a good support group. There are many good Facebook groups and forums that can provide information and support to a new Kratom user, and taking advantage of other people’s experiences can be so helpful. On Facebook you will find that some groups are vendor supported, meaning that they were created by a vendor of Kratom and hope to earn your business. There are some great vendor groups, and they offer very good information. You will know quickly which groups are vendor supported, and which are not. There are many wonderful vendors out there who have great product, great prices host fun contests for free Kratom and have fantastic sales. If you have a question about a vendor, feel free to ask on the Facebook groups as anyone will gladly give you a recommendation.
There are several groups that are not vendor supported. We highly recommend the American Kratom Association (AKA) that exists for the sole purpose of protecting our rights to use Kratom and promoting the safe use of this wonderful plant. The AKA runs off donations and because of its efforts Kratom has remained legal in many areas. Work to protect Kratom is ongoing and your support is critical. The AKA also sponsors a support group call The Kratom Consumer Advocacy and Support Group.
So, I just got my Kratom. Now what?
There are several ways to take Kratom that are popular and often talked about. They include
- Capsules.You can encapsulate Kratom in vegetable capsules. Empty capsules can be purchased online from Amazon, eBay, and through many vendors.
- Toss and Wash.It is called toss and wash because you toss the Kratom in your mouth and wash it down with a liquid of your choice. This is a popular method, but care must be taken to not aspirate powder as you are swallowing.
- Mixing. Mix Kratom with a liquid or soft food. Popular choices are orange juice, iced tea, water, applesauce, ice cream, pudding. Kratom can even be added to a morning smoothie.
- Parachuting.Parachuting is where you take a small amount of Kratom and put it in a piece of one-ply toilet paper or tissue and swallow it like a pill. Another method is to put kratom in a piece of fruit roll up or rice paper.
- Tea.Many users make a tea out of their Kratom. To make a tea,
- add water to a cup or tea pot (1/4 to 3/4 of a cup)
- Add your Kratom dose
- Simmer for 15 – 45 minutes
- Optional: strain powder
If you are kind of lazy like I am, you can also add Kratom to ready-made, commercial teas for taste. Just open the tea bag, add your Kratom dose and steep per the package instructions. It works like a charm but without the mess and fuss.
According to the Kratom Bible-A Complete Guide To Kratom, which is a wonderful and extensive source of Kratom information,
Average Dosage by Teaspoon*
- Mild – .5 to .9 tsp
- Moderate – 1 to 2 tsp
- High – 2 to 3.5 tsp
Average Dosage by Grams
- Mild – 1 to 2 grams
- Moderate – 2-4.5 grams
- High – 4.5 – 8 grams
*A good starting dose is 1/2 a teaspoon (tsp). Wait 30-40 minutes and if the desired effects aren’t reached, take 1/2 teaspoon (tsp) more. You can continue this protocol up to 2 teaspoons (tsp). At this point, stop and wait a few hours, then begin again. Some people need larger doses, and that is OK. Youi slowly increase your amount until you begin to get the effects you are looking for. Remember….if you get a good result from 1 teaspoon, stop there! Kratom does not work “better” if you add more than you need. You will either get sick from taking too much, or you will waste kratom by taking more than your body will effectively use.
It should be noted that due to varying potency between strains and plants, this estimate is in no way standardized, instead it’s an estimate based on historical and experiential reports. Doses at the “high” end of the spectrum are also much more likely to cause side-effects, depending upon the strain, and is not recommended for a new user of Kratom. Remember, less is more.
A gentle reminder….
Issues with Kratom are unlikely with responsible use. By issues, I mean addiction. I am NOT talking about a physical dependence, which is completely normal when consuming something every day for long periods of time. You can experience physical dependence to anything. People can experience physical dependence to foods, supplements, and medications. It is nothing to be ashamed about, and it does NOT mean you are addicted to something.
People who consume large quantities of kratom daily (above the specified guidelines stated above) or use extracts and resins (highly concentrated forms of Kratom) can find themselves experiencing withdrawal if stopping Kratom abruptly. Also, if you take more kratom than you need (like dosing more and more frequently or upping your dose constantly), you will experience some withdrawal. I also believe, from speaking to literally thousands of people, that people who consume kratom to help with withdrawal from other substances, seem to have a more difficult time abruptly stopping kratom. Withdrawal symptoms may include diarrhea, muscle aches, irritability, muscle spasm, and runny nose.
Long term consumers do best to taper their kratom doses gradually over several days or weeks, similar to how someone might taper coffee, cigarettes, or many medications.
Mixing Kratom with other medications may cause interactions. Please do not take Kratom with other medications if at all possible. If taking Kratom with prescription medications, please keep a buffer of 2 hours between medications.
Again, it should be noted that the statements in this blog have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
Information regarding the use of Kratom in Eastern medicine and by its native people is provided for education purposes only, it is not intended as medical advice.