Mitragyna speciosa, more commonly known as kratom, is a tree native to several Southeast Asian countries. Traditionally, the leaves of the kratom plant are chopped and dried, chewed raw, or brewed in tea to help combat feelings of fatigue and restlessness, while also being able to increase energy and alertness. Due to the variety of benefits and effects, some users have experienced success using kratom to offset symptoms of depression and anxiety, though kratom has not been approved for any medical applications by the FDA.
Active compounds referred to as alkaloids may play a role in how kratom works on some consumers. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the two most abundant alkaloids in kratom, are believed to activate certain brain receptors. Even though this phenomenon isn’t fully understood, these receptors, when paired with the different alkaloids, may play a role in mediating some of the symptoms listed below.
Common signs of anxiety include:
Common signs of depression include:
There are more than 20 active compounds that have been isolated from kratom and all require further scrutiny and research to determine what potential benefits they may offer.
Despite the lack of regulatory approval, some kratom users do report positive experiences with kratom; the exact nature of these experiences and their replicability is still the subject of ongoing research.
Albert Garcia-Romeu, Ph.D., instructor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, enrolled 2,798 people to complete an online survey on their use of kratom. 91% reported taking kratom to alleviate pain on average a couple of times a day for back, shoulder, and knee pain, 67% for anxiety, and 65% for depression.
However, because the relationship between kratom’s active components and potential applications is still being explored, we have yet to verify whether kratom actually has the ability to help safely and reliably treat anxiety and depression symptoms.
While the efficacy of kratom is still being studied, research tends to focus on mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, and measuring their potential therapeutic benefits and how they interact with the brain. While no kratom is currently cultivated for medical use, it is grown and harvested in order to highlight varying concentrations and proportions of these naturally occurring alkaloids.
These strains of kratom are named according to the color of the leaf and stem, as well as for the region in which they were grown. Different strains are associated with different strengths, also called kratom “speeds,” as well as effects. In general, green vein kratom has green colored stems and veins and can help boost energy. Red vein kratom is a “slow leaf” that can be used to help promote feelings of relaxation and reduce restlessness. Finally, white vein kratom is known to boost concentration and help promote focus.
Native to Southern Thailand, Green Maeng Da kratom may be more stimulating than its Red and White Maeng Da counterparts. Because of its many uses, including its ability to promote calming sensations, this strain of kratom is popular among consumers.
Believed to have originated in Malaysia, Green Malay kratom is intended to help those who have difficulties relaxing their mind. Green Malay kratom may also increase day-to-day productivity while helping users stay mentally well-balanced.
Native to Indonesia, Indo kratom may help individuals who need a more mild stimulant to help reduce any feelings of unease. Green, red, and white Indo may all have the ability to help promote relaxation as well as relieve any feelings of discomfort.
A part of the Bali kratom family, Red Bali Kratom is a popular strain harvested in Bali, Indonesia that can aid the body in relaxation, relieve physical discomfort, and settle uneasy feelings. Red Bali is most common in powder and capsule form.
Similar to Red Bali, Red Borneo kratom can be used to help relieve physical discomfort, reduce feelings of restlessness, and reduce uneasy feelings. Red Borneo can be consumed in capsules or powdered.
The Red Maeng Da kratom is a mild agent used to promote relaxation. Believed to have originated in Thailand, Red Maeng Da kratom is more potent than its green and white leafed siblings and may have longer-lasting effects.
Any strain of kratom can also be purchased in a variety of forms, depending on consumer preference and the desired manner of consumption, including:
The recommended dosage amount for each of the above strains can vary depending on user factors such as weight, height, tolerance, metabolism, and consumption method. However, general dosage guidelines based on traditional kratom use and preliminary research include:
Beginners or those who are just experimenting with kratom should start with slow strains and take low doses, adjusting as they gain familiarity with the herb. Why you are using kratom will help to determine how often it should be consumed. For instance (and depending on the dosage), some individuals may choose to consume kratom three to six hours prior to going to bed to help them wind down. However, it is important to note that this wait-time will vary based on what strain of kratom was consumed and how your body reacts to it.
Finally, it is important to speak with a physician or medical professional before trying any new supplement, to understand the risks and potential benefits for your situation, as well as to determine how much kratom is suitable for your body and needs.