Kava vs Kratom | What’s Good For What?
So you’re out enjoying yourself at your favorite Kava bar with your friends and suddenly someone starts talking about Kratom, but you don’t know what that is. No worries!
Kava is most commonly a chilled beverage or tea made from the crushed up root of the Kava Kava plant. Kratom is frequently mixed with other liquids or smoothies and comes from the crushed-up leaves of the Kratom tree. Kava is often used to relax, while Kratom is used as both a stimulant and a sedative (pain relief).
Kratom commonly found in Kava bars, but it’s good to know the differences before you decide to try it out, because there are some important differences. Let’s check them out.
Kratom – The Energizing & Pain Relieving Leaves
Kratom comes from the Kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa), which is found in Southeast Asia. The tree is in the same family as coffee and shares some characteristics with coffee. For example, in small doses or with white-vein Kratom, it is a stimulant in much the same way as coffee. However, in larger doses or with red-vein Kratom, it has an effect similar to an opioid and can be used for pain relief.
Kava — The Root of Relaxation
Kava is made from the root of the Kava Kava plant (Piper methysticum) native to the Pacific Islands region. The Kava Kava plant has some relation to the pepper family. People like to drink Kava for its calming, euphoric effect.
Kava also helps with anxiety, eases migraines and muscle tension, and increases people’s sociability. That’s what makes Kava bars so fun!
Similarities between Kava & Kratom
Kava and Kratom are similar in that they both come from ground-up plants, Kratom from the leaves and Kava from the root. People love the natural aspect of these supplements.
Once in powder form, they can both be made into a tea and that’s most typical for Kava. For Kratom, tea is one way but there are actually a number of methods of ingestion.
Mixing with a smoothie, juice, or food is common. Experienced Kratom users will do the old toss and wash, tossing the powder into their throat and washing it down with water.
You can also get both Kava and Kratom in pill form, which is nice for people who want the supplemental effects without the ritual or the taste.
Depending on the dose, Kava and Kratom can also have similar effects. The sensation each produces is somewhat different, but at a low dosage Kratom mimics the relaxed, social euphoria that Kava is known for.
Finally, Kava and Kratom can be found throughout most Kava bars across the US, giving you a perfect atmosphere and opportunity to try them both. Click here to find a Kava Bar near you.
Although both supplements are considered natural nootropics, their differences outweigh their similarities. Kratom is illegal in many countries and is known to be addicting. Kava is widely regarded as safe and healthy.
Is Kratom Dangerous?
Saying Kratom is dangerous could be an exaggeration, but it certainly has a number of negative side effects. Not the least of which is that Kratom is known to be addictive.
Kava interacts with the body through dopamine receptors. The primary components of Kava that cause the effects people drink it for are called kavalactones. Kavalactones interact with your limbic system through the dopamine receptors to give you that euphoric feeling.
Kratom on the other hand contains alkaloids that interact with your opioid receptors, influencing your serotonin levels through the same neural pathways as opiates. Because of this, they can have a similar addictive quality as common opiates.
The science behind Kratom is still in its infancy, and many things remain unclear. However, it is possible to overdose on Kratom, especially when mixed with other sedatives such as alcohol or barbiturates.
It should be noted that Kratom is still considered a safer alternative to both prescription opiates, such as Oxycontin, and illegal opiates, like heroin. According to the Scientific American, out of the 27,000 opiate deaths included in a study, less than one percent of them were Kratom-related.
An overdose on Kava is comparatively rare. Scientists consider it to be healthy and safe. Although technically one could overdose, there aren’t any reports of this happening. You would more likely overdose from alcohol than Kava, as far as we can tell. But moderation in all things.
Legality Of Kava and Kratom
Both Kava and Kratom are legal in the United States, but Kava is on much sturdier ground than Kratom. It’s unclear that Kratom will remain legal here for very long.
In the early 2000s, Kava was made illegal in many countries around the world after a study was released that seemed to indicate that drinking Kava led to liver damage.
This has since been debunked. It was discovered that the liver damage was caused by other medications being taken by the study’s subjects. Most of the countries that criminalized it because of the false information have since decriminalized it, though not all.
Kratom on the other hand is illegal in six US states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Many cities have also banned Kratom, and other states have placed restrictions on its use.
Globally, Kratom was illegal in some countries including Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar, which happen to be the countries Kratom is native to. However, in 2021, Thailand passed the updated Narcotics Act (No. 8) B.E. 2564 (2021), which removed kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) from the list of prohibited substances, eliminated kratom-related offenses on the basis that its consumption is part of traditional Thai cultural norms, and allowed possession and consumption.
A Word About Kratom’s Benefits
Now, before we come across as Kratom haters, it should be noted that Kratom does seem to have beneficial use for people who are already addicted to more dangerous opiates. By switching to a safer alternative, they can be safer while trying to be healthier.
An outright ban on Kratom would make this more difficult and could result in dependence on more widely available but deadlier drugs. Health and safety for everyone requires intelligent decision-making on the part of our policy-makers.
That being said, people should be aware of what it is they are ingesting before they ingest it, and the confusion between Kava and Kratom could come back to bite the Kava community later on.
Final Thoughts on Kava vs Kratom
Kava is a healthy and safe alternative to alcohol that eases anxiety, promotes social activity, and relaxes muscles. There is no hangover, and you don’t lose motor control like you do with alcohol.
Kratom is similar to opiates and, although a safer alternative to these dangerous substances, should be treated with care and respect. Addiction is a serious ordeal, and addictive substances should not be handled lightly.