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.
And the most prominent of these include: pain relief, mood lifting, energy and immune system stimulation.
Below, we’ll go through everything from strains, and effects to the alkaloids that make kratom so effective.
…Here we go.
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:
As a result of adapting to these different climates and regions, this plant has evolved and diverged into a variety of strains and vein types, each of which vary in both in effects and potency.
It is these differences that have made kratom such an incredibly versatile plant.
Further on, we will cover these strain differences at length to give you a strong understanding of the varied uses, effects, and potential applications of this unique plant.
Kratom is used for:
Other known qualities of kratom include:
In addition to this large range of medicinal applications, this plant also has many other positive properties such as high-antioxidant (EGC) and vitamin and mineral content, which has made it an item of interest for general health purposes as well.
Kratom’s pain-killing effects are very pronounced, and are much more effective than OTC substances when dealing with chronic pain.
It is these potent pain-killing effects that have allowed many to become entirely pharmaceutical free (an inspiringly common event within the kratom community).
As public awareness increases and fear-mongering and outright disinformation dissipate, you can expect to see this plant as a common alternative to riskier treatments.
Kratom can effectively reduce pain from conditions such as:
Because kratom’s pain relieving effects occur largely within the brain, it is able to effectively dampen any almost any pain signal.
For this reason, taking kratom for pain tends to be far more versatile and powerful for pain relief, as it can mitigate pain at the perceptual “root”.
The primary reason kratom is so effective for pain are it’s two primary painkilling alkaloids: Mitragynine, and 7-OH-mitragynine .
Both have agonist activity brain receptors responsible for dampening the body’s perception of pain at the source.
As a result, those who are looking for pain relief from kratom will get the best effects by using strains high in these two alkaloids.
The most effective kratom strains for pain include: Red Indo, Red Bali, Red Borneo, and Red Maeng Da. Green vein strains are also some fo the best for pain, but their pain relieving effects can be less reliable than Red Vein alternatives.
Best Strains for Pain
Preferred Vein Color
For this purpose, red veined strains tend to be the most reliable for pain relieving effects, although a good green vein can be just as effective.
It should be noted, that because green veins tend to be more strongly influenced by the effects of the given strain.
So one should stick to the characteristically pain relieving varieties mentioned above, such as Indo, Bali or Borneo if using green vein strains.
The psychological effects of kratom are of a very unique quality in comparison to other plants found in nature, as the plant contains both sedating and stimulating properties.
And nearly any quality strain can cause general mood-lifting, but the differences in strain can shift the spectrum of effects between stimulating and sedating, which can largely change the qualities of the experience.
In order to maximize anxiety relief with kratom, you will likely be best suited to a strong and sedating strain such as an Borneo or Indo.
But other sedating strains can often work effectively.
In our experience, borneo kratom strains have generally been the most effective for relieving stress and restlessness without causing a level of tiredness or brain fog that some varieties of strains like Bali can sometimes cause at high dosages.
For those with insomnia in conjunction with anxiety, they can also double as a great kratom strain for sleep.
The best kratom strains for anxiety and stress are all red vein strains, particularly: Red Bali, Red Borneo and Red Indo. The reason these strains are rated among the best kratom for anxiety and stress is due to their high levels of 7-OHM and other sedative alkaloids. These alkaloids provide these strains relaxing character.
Strains for Anxiety and Stress Relief
Preferred Vein Color
Due to the immunostimulant alkaloids found in kratom:
From preliminary evidence, it appears kratom can be effective for boosting the immune system.
And this can be effective for conditions ranging from the common cold to the flu, although more research will be required to be certain. .
Because of this, some users have started to take it at the onset of a sickness in an attempt to reduce its duration (as well as negate some of its symptoms).
Preferred Vein Color
Because the research in this regard is lacking, the strain choices above are only defined by the limited regions that were studied.
So many other varieties of kratom may have similar immunostimulant properties as well.
Nootropic substances are a relatively new field of interest which shows much promise.
Interestingly, some have reported good results by using kratom as a nootropic in areas such as focus and motivation.
Unlike traditional medications for focus (e.g. ADHD medication), the subjective experience of kratom for many is that it doesn’t make your focus “stick” psychologically.
Instead, many have noted it seems to dampen psychological background noise resulting from stress, anxiety or excessive excitement/restlessness, promoting natural focus ability.
In this way it tends to lend itself to a more natural feeling quality of focus.
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.
Best Strains for Nootropic Effects
Preferred Vein Color
If you choose to try a green vein strain, we would suggest a more stimulating variety, such as those mentioned above, at a low dosage, as large doses can sometimes be counterproductive.
Due to different growth regions and breeding, kratom has evolved into a variety of different strains which can have very different effects.
There are roughly three primary effect categories one can divide strains into: stimulating, sedating and moderate.
It should be noted that every plant within a strain can vary, so in no way are these analyses set in stone.
Rather we have taken a more psuedo-statistical approach, based upon large amounts of individual user experience reports to provide a guide to the general strain characteristics.
Stimulating strains are some of the most desirable strains for those with fatigue or lethargy, 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.
It’s important to note that the pain-killing effects of Thai can vary.
Typically, red vein thai (commonly called RVT) is the most effective in regards to analgesia, whereas white and green vein thai strains, while stimulating, are often lacking in this area.
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 is ideal for those with pain who don’t want to sacrifice energy levels, as well as those who are looking for a mood-boost.
Maeng Da Effects
As a whole, sedating strains are lacking in the more stimulating alkaloids contained in the Thai/Maeng Da strains of kratom.
Yet, they can pack a very large punch as far as pain relief is concerned due to their large concentrations of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
And so these strains have been traditionally used for chronic pain and mood-lifting.
A high-quality borneo strain, especially a red vein borneo, is one of the most unique and you will find in nature.
They are highly sedating, great for pain relief, and unparalleled for anxiety/stress relief.
Borneo strains also tend to have a low side-effect factor in comparison to other strains with similar characteristics.
You can often distinguish a borneo by its relaxing and “clean” feeling quality although a few varieties of Indo have been known to have this quality as well.
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 fairly low “wobble” threshold. Though many have found one can minimize this negative by mixing it with another strain.
Although borneo as well is a variety of Indo, it has some unique characteristics.
Many have reported delayed effects from many types of Indo kratom, which is likely due to the leaves tough cell-walls, similar to Green Malaysian strains.
While the effects are similar to Borneo kratom strains on paper, regular users may notice some of the subtle but very notable differences experience.
Many prefer a moderate strain as their daily go-to, due to its potent, yet smooth, effects.
And of these, one of the most common moderate strains is Green Malaysian.
When using moderate strains, it is good to remember that the interplay between strains, vein types, breeding and growing conditions can make a characteristically sedating or stimulating strain moderate.
Green Malaysian has long been known as one of the longest-lasting strains due to leaf cell-wall density.
Some have experienced nootropic effects from this strain.
Particularly, increased mental endurance, providing focus for long periods of time.
Interestingly, due to the quality of these effects, they may only noticed in retrospect due to the strain’s characteristically smooth and natural feeling effects.
Green Malaysian Effects
Something unique to this plant, in comparison to many other medicinal plants, is the distinct differences of vein color which result from breeding and growth conditions.
These different vein colors often correspond to very reliable differences in effects and can provide strong clues as to what to expect from a given strain.
However, there are some minor exceptions, especially when dealing with strains with a less balanced alkaloid profile such as Thai, or Borneo/Indo strains which on the whole provide a more polarized kratom experience (being more stimulating or sedating, respectively).
Red vein kratom is one of the most popular due to its natural tendency toward higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
This 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 strong energy from it’s Thai influences, with the red vein’s painkilling effects — leaving the strain stimulating but very well-rounded.
Red Vein Kratom Effects
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 many have found it very effective for conditions such as lack of focus/energy.
Of all the vein types, white vein shows the most potential as a nootropic (cognition enhancing) substance.
As such, many have found that using this vein type first thing in the morning to be a great substitute for coffee due to its strong effects on alertness and focus.
White Vein Kratom Effects
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 (on average) much more moderate in their effects than other the other vein varieties.
And for that reason, they can provide the best of both worlds, making them great choice for regular daily usage.
However, green veins tend to be much more easily influenced by individual strain differences, making them the most variable vein type in regard to effects.
Green Vein Kratom Effects
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.
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.
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.
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).
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 :
Respected 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.
Many suspect that Thai strains, contain more mitragynine than average.
And Malaysian strains, have proportionally lower levels of mitragynine, suggesting its potency may be due to relatively higher levels of 7-hydroxymitragynine.
These differences in alkaloid profile are what make each strain unique and effective in quite different ways.
Yet there is still much research to be done until we have a complete understanding of the varied effects of different leaf alkaloid profiles.
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.
Average Dosage by Grams
Average Dosage by Teaspoon
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:
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.
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 the diminishing returns of stimulating alkaloids in comparison to 7-hydroxymitragynine.
For anyone inexperienced with kratom, it is essential to know about the philosophy, theory and advice regarding kratom dosage in order to get the ideal effects.
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 paradoxical effects.
Now, it’s important to note that different strains have differing levels of this alkaloid, so if this common experiences is a result of this alkaloid, it this statement may not apply to all strains — however, the majority of strains seem to be affected.
The “less is more” theory, is also advisable because lower dosage also creates less tolerance to effects, which can help maintain the plant’s medicinal potential over time.
As plain leaf has to be digested in order to have medicinal benefit, many have found it to be best taken on an empty stomach, as this will ensure the effects are delivered quickly and reliably.
In addition to taking kratom on an empty stomach, many have found that some foods seem to not only delay the effects of kratom, but nullify them almost entirely.
Because eating is a necessity, it may not always be possible to use it in this manner; for this reason, many have turned to kratom tea to deliver effects more quickly and reliably.
Throughout the thousands of years kratom has been used, preparation methods have remained relatively the same; however, as western society has interacted with this plant, there have been some unique additions — recipes and methods to fit our unique needs.
The quid is the original method of kratom use for Southeast Asian cultures, especially Thailand.
The quid method of use involves taking fresh kratom leaves (a rare commodity in the western world), removing the stems and veins in one quick motion, bundling the kratom and chewing it while holding the saliva and chewed leaf material in their mouth.
The quid works through mostly sublingual methods, however, the swallowed portion also has a considerable effect.
One of the most common kratom preparation methods, if it could be called preparation at all, is the toss ‘n’ wash.
This method is typically done by:
This is another very common preparation method, both in the west and east. Learning how to make kratom tea is fairly simple:
Tea is considered effective by many because of the quick onset of effects; however, by straining out the powder, one may lose the full alkaloid spectrum of the plain leaf, reducing some medicinal potentials.
Because some are more sensitive to the bitter taste of kratom tea, many tea recipes have been developed. One of the most effective we have seen for masking the taste of kratom is to mix it with a flavoring, or mixture.
One of the most effective kratom recipes we have found is what we have heard called “Speciosa Chai”. This method is very simple and is composed of a few simple steps:
There are a variety of different chai mixtures one can experiment with; however, the Tazo Organic Chai Black Tea mix is the favorite we have seen at an associated kava bar in our area.
Something that we have seen to be surprisingly effective at masking the taste are pump flavorings– especially the fruit-based flavorings. You can find these pump flavorings at local coffee shops or online for a very reasonable cost.
Another common method that has been more recently for those who don’t want to toss ‘n’ wash or make tea, is to mix kratom. Some of the most common mixers we have heard are:
Mixing kratom with these has the added benefit of allowing it to be taken while minimizing the taste, however, with some of these it may take longer to digest.
Another creative method we have heard is to kratom with peanut butter to form little peanut butter balls to swallow. Nearly any decent tasting drink/mixture can be effective.
Additionally, tools such as blender bottles, commonly used for protein shakes, have been suggested for this process.
A common form of kratom preparation is by capping the kratom powder rather than taking it whole, mixed or in tea form. Kratom capsules have the benefit of being easy to use.
Buying capsules can be extremely expensive in comparison to powder, and kratom capsules (especially the variety sold by less reputable companies at shady stores and gas stations) that have had a big part in giving kratom a bad name.
Also, when buying these capsules you don’t really know what you’re getting, as it isn’t an approved dietary supplement
…and this could lead to dangers for both the user, and kratom’s legality.
Because of this, anyone who wants to keep kratom legal should avoid buying kratom capsules.
There are a large variety of capsule tools, such as “The Capsule Machine” and “Cap m Quick”, which can make capsules in bulk (and save you a tremendous amount of money over time in the process).
Kratom tolerance is the number one impediment when looking to ensure peak medicinal effects. Besides taking this plant less frequently, there are some tricks one can use to keep tolerance low.
Many have found strain rotation is a great way to keep the medicinal effects of kratom fresh.
When using a specific strain for a long period, you can develop a tolerance to its specific alkaloid profile; however, by switching strains regularly, the alkaloid levels many not remain stable enough to develop a complete tolerance to the effects.
By using these methods, one can ensure that the alkaloid profiles are as varied as possible on consecutive days or periods, which can keep tolerance at bay for a longer period of time.
Note: Stem and vein kratom is often used as a substitute to further reduce tolerance, as its alkaloid profile is typically very different than the plain leaf.
However, although using this technique to it’s fullest requires 3-5+ different strains, this method of tolerance reduction can still be somewhat beneficial with 2 or 3 varieties.
There are a variety of other ways to supplement tolerance reduction, including:
Magnesium supplementation is a great way to keep kratom tolerance low due to its NMDA antagonist effects, which helps regulate how the brain and body react to frequent exposure to these compounds .
Exercise is a very effective yet under rated method of reducing tolerance. Exercise’s reduction of tolerance is cumulative, meaning the more you exercise, and the more in shape you are, the less tolerance is developed, which potentiates the medicinal effects of kratom.
The “Wobbles” is a term that was coined within kratom communities to describe the most prominent side effect of kratom, especially Bali strains.
The wobbles are defined by the difficulty to refocus the eyes at a specific point without strain and annoyance; this effect can lead to headaches and nausea.
While the wobbles are not much more than an annoyance, driving or operating other heavy machinery while experiencing the wobbles is dangerous, and should never be attempted.
The easiest way to avoid the wobbles is to keep dosage below the side effect threshold. This threshold can vary between strains and plants. Typically, doses under 5 grams will generally prevent the wobbles, although there are some exceptions
Strains by Wobble Factor
Note: It is much more rare to experience the wobbles with strained kratom tea; leading many to believe that it is an effect that may be caused by one of the fat-soluble alkaloids.
While there is not much information available on combating the wobbles, there are a few things that can help in the process.