Many natural botanicals exist, but there are some that get more attention than others.
Recently, two have gained quite a bit of traction in the United States. Those botanical products are Kanna and Kratom.
Kratom doesn’t need much introduction. For the past decade, its popularity has grown to include people from all walks of life. The meditation, weightlifting, and health-and-wellness industries rave about it. Plus, it’s received a lot of press, too. Some were more flattering than others, but more articles were written about it, nonetheless.
Kanna is newer to the botanical scene, but its plant properties are meaningful to our health, too.
Both supplements have similar functions. Each one assists you in achieving a manageable mood. However, they react with our bodies by different mechanisms.
So today, we’re going to break down each plant. You can use those comparisons to determine which supplement works best for your lifestyle.
What is Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum)?
In the botanical industry, Kanna is a newcomer. Some may have heard it called by its Latin name: Sceletium tortuosum. It hasn’t gotten much publicity. Interestingly enough, we’re starting to see that change.
It boosts serotonin levels in our bodies, which creates an uplifting experience for the user. That function is the result of the plant’s alkaloids reacting with neurotransmitters in our brains.
The two most notable alkaloids in Kanna are Mesembrine and Mesembrenone. In the Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry (ABC) journal, a team of researchers produced a study on those alkaloids.
“Mesembrine and mesembrenone are the main alkaloids of Sceletium tortuosum, a plant species that was used for sedation and analgesia by the KhoiSan, previously known as Hottentots, a tribe in South Africa. After fermentation, the obtained preparation called “Kanna” or “Kougoed” was used by chewing, smoking, or sniffing.”
As a member of the Aizoaceae family, Kanna currently belongs to the Sceletium genus. Its species was once under Mesembryanthemum.
In the fleshy portion of its leaves, we find active compounds. Local tribespeople would chew the plant for folk remedies. The stems and roots of the plant were also used.
What Are the Benefits of Kanna?
People want to eliminate daily worry and discomfort from their lives. So, they’ve begun seeking out natural products found in Mother Nature to help them. Kanna works wonders for those individuals. It has many benefits for mental well-being.
The special properties of Kanna occur from its reaction to the amygdala—a structure of cells in the middle of the brain that processes emotional responses like fear. Kanna compounds attenuate fearful reactions. Reducing your unnecessary fears allows the reduction of uneasiness.
Kanna inhibits an enzyme in our brains called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). And PDE4 is responsible for a chemical reaction that breaks down cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP). We find those intracellular second messengers in eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells. Those messengers are linked to integral pathways and connections that affect cognitive functions.
This property of Kanna is less understood than others. There aren’t many studies covering the subject. But theoretically, Kanna alkaloids have agonist actions on mu- and kappa-opioid receptors. Besides that, they also react with our endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS helps regulate discomfort.
The alkaloids Mesembrine and Mesembrenone inhibit serotonin reuptake in the brain. That keeps your level of serotonin higher. Those neurotransmitters are one of four chemical structures that promote happiness. Serotonin helps regulate emotional satisfaction. So your access to more serotonin wards of unhappiness.
How Do You Use Kanna?
Kanna is used for well-being recreational purposes by consumers. There are plenty of ways to consume the supplement.
- Chewing Kanna: This is the traditional method indigenous tribes used whenever they took Kanna. However, you need the whole plant material to accomplish it. But you can sometimes find the entire dried Kanna plant of the market. If you chew it, spit out the plant material when you’re finished.
- Kanna Tea: This method is most used here in the States. Mix Kanna powder with boiling water to make a hot beverage.
- A regular serving size of Kanna is between 1-2 grams.
- Kanna Capsules: Some companies manufacture gelcaps filled with Kanna. You pop a couple of capsules in your mouth and swallow them like a pill.
- Concentrations can differ, check the label first.
- Kanna Extracts: Extracts of Kanna have a higher concentration of Kanna alkaloids. Use it sparingly. Too much Kanna can cause side effects.
- Serving size can vary with product potency. Stick to lower servings.
- Smoking Kanna: The quickest way to feel the effects of Kanna is to smoke it. Also, you can mix the powder with cannabis. Kanna also reacts to cannabinoid receptors. Their combination has a synergistic effect.
What Is Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa)?
The other plant we’re discussing—Kratom—needs less introduction. Mitragyna speciosa has become somewhat of a household name in the botanical community. However, there are still some people who have never heard of it. We’ll provide you with a bit of back information about kratom as well.
Kratom products come from the dried leaves of the Kratom tree, which is a tropical evergreen found in Southeast Asian countries. It’s a member of the Rubiaceae family. That family of plants includes coffee. The alkaloids in Kratom and coffee behave similarly: they boost your energy.
Most Kratom comes from Indonesia. It dominates the global industry. But recently, Thailand decriminalized Kratom production within its borders. More competition is around the corner.
There are several strains of Kratom. Each one generates different effects. That happens because alkaloid compositions vary across products. For the most part, they get classified under vein colors.
- Green-Veined Kratom
- White-Veined Kratom
- Red-Veined Kratom
- Yellow-Veined Kratom
Other factors play a role in each strain, such as regional origins. The area of cultivation affects the growth process of plants. Those characteristics materialize in the plant’s compound structures.
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What Are the Benefits of Kratom?
The benefits of Kratom are more complex. Its main alkaloids have an affinity to mu-opioid receptors. So, the discomfort-relieving properties of Kratom are dominant. Besides that, the effects of the supplement can shift with serving sizes. Small amounts are stimulating, but larger servings produce more relief. The strain of Kratom also contributes to its effects. All varieties have a unique chemical composition conducive to alleviating specific complications.
When choosing a Kratom product, consider your needs first. Once you understand what you want to accomplish from taking Kratom, it becomes easy to pick a strain that works.
As a rule, you can distinguish between the products by the speed of the Kratom. Kratom speeds are categorizations that group Kratom varieties by their effects. The speeds go across a spectrum from more energizing to more relaxing.
Speed Classifications of Kratom:
Kratom strains classified as fast produce more energy and motivation. These strains help you accomplish your goals throughout the day.
On the spectrum, moderate strains fall between fast and slow varieties. And as such, these products create well-balanced effects. These strains provide mental focus and elevate your disposition.
Kratom strains that fall in the slow leaf class give more relief from physical discomfort. They’re also great for relaxing and getting a great night’s rest.
How Do You Use Kratom?
There are various methods to take Kratom, but all of them depend on the product type. We should cover those Kratom products for you to understand their uses.
- Kratom Powder: The most common kratom product is Kratom powder. Here are a few ways to ingest it.
- Kratom Tea: You can mix the powder with boiling water to create a tea. Be forewarned. It has an extremely bitter taste.
- Toss and Wash: This method gets past the bitter flavor rather quickly. You toss a spoonful of Kratom in your mouth and wash it down with a chaser.
- Add to Food or Beverages: People also mix the powder in foods and drinks to mask the taste.
- Kratom Capsules: If the taste is unbearable, take Kratom capsules. These gelcaps keep you from tasting it. You swallow them like a pill.
- Kratom Extracts: Kratom extracts contain high Kratom alkaloid concentrations, so you don’t need a heavy serving.
- Smoking Kratom: The effects happen instantaneously. The lungs carry the compounds directly into your bloodstream. However, out of all methods of Kratom consumption, this is the least advisable. Smoking damages your lungs and causes serious health complications. Be safe. Don’t smoke.
Are Kanna and Kratom Safe to Use?
Historically speaking, Kanna and Kratom have an extensive history of being used as folk medicines in their native regions. Local inhabitants used the plants for a multitude of reasons. Still, that fact doesn’t scientifically answer our question.
Instead, we must look toward clinical research. Unfortunately, we only have limited data at our disposal. None of the studies have examined the long-term effects of using either substance.
However, we do have some research on the short-term use of both plants. And according to that data, they’re relatively safe to use for human consumption for short periods.
Even so, practice precaution whenever trying an herbal supplement for the first time. Herbal substances can become toxic whenever mixed. Sometimes, adverse effects can occur in rare instances. Please consult a physician before use.
Kanna vs. Kratom Similarities
There are plenty of similarities between both plants. Some of their effects are almost identical.
Here are some of the same benefits both supplements can generate for the user.
- Produces Extra Energy
- Provides Discomfort Relief
- Elevates Your Mood
- Tackles Depression
- Note, we would like to point out that there are no FDA-approved uses for either plant. Any medicinal claims come predominantly from anecdotal evidence. Scientific research has slowly provided evidence to support those arguments.
Kanna vs. Kratom Differences
Now, there are several differences between the two herbal supplements, too. That topic is a bit more complicated than the effects they produce. So, to begin, we shall break down the biological distinctions of both plants.
Botanical Structure of the Kanna Plant
The South African species known as Kanna is considered a succulent plant, which closely resembles an aloe vera plant. Its leaves consist of a short but thickened flesh that harnesses moisture in a gel-like substance. Inside that fluid are active compounds. And many of them have therapeutic uses.
Botanical Structure of the Kratom Plant
The Southeast Asian plant called Kratom is an evergreen tree. They can grow to be tens of meters tall. The tree produces yellow flowers that turn into bitter, fruit-like capsules as they mature. However, Kratom farmers cultivate the trees for their leaves. Farmers sell its foliage to make Kratom products. Kratom leaves contain active alkaloids.
The Alkaloid Composition of Kanna
Researchers have discovered a long list of alkaloids found in Kanna. The four major alkaloids are Mesembrine, Mesembrenone, Mesembrenol, and Mesembranol. Most of its compounds fall under either the Mesembrine or Joubertiamine family of alkaloids. However, a couple of the compounds fall under another variant as well.
The Alkaloid Composition of Kratom
On the other side of the proverbial coin, Kratom has over 40 active alkaloids that work together to produce various effects in the consumer. Its two primary compounds, Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine, are the most active in our bodies. But Paynantheine, Speciogynine, and Mitraphylline are valuable compounds, too.
Can You Mix Kanna and Kratom?
Online, several sites/articles state mixing Kanna and Kratom produces a phenomenal delightful feeling. Some even list Kanna as a Kratom potentiator since both elevate your mood. However, before you run into the kitchen to fix yourself a concoction of both supplements, we should delve into scientific research to determine if that’s safe.
Science indicates combining both supplements is not recommended. For starters, one of the primary effects of Kanna is to boost serotonin levels in your brain by inhibiting reuptake. And Kratom molecules have an affinity for binding to serotonin receptors, transmitting signals from the neurotransmitter. Both herbal products create an abundance of serotonin activity in our brains. Too much can cause serotonin syndrome. A mild case of that syndrome can produce a fever, diarrhea, or even seizures, but a severe case can lead to death if left untreated. That’s not a risk worth taking.
Furthermore, mixing the two compounds would interfere with the discomfort-relieving properties of Kratom. Kanna inhibits serotonin reuptake. And selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) can diminish the discomfort relief of Kratom alkaloids. SSRIs decrease the effectiveness of prodrugs that react to opioid receptors. Mitragynine is considered a prodrug. It metabolizes inside our livers to produce 7-Hydroxymitragynine, a more potent discomfort reliever.
Are Kanna and Kratom Legal?
In the US, Kanna is legal in all states except Louisiana. That state made Kanna illegal back in 2005 when legislators passed the Louisiana State Act 159. The law outlawed the sale, possession, and cultivation of 40 different plants the government claimed were hallucinogenic. Now, the bill doesn’t outright list Kanna by name. However, it does place the Mesembryanthemum genus of plants on the list. That includes the Mesembryanthemum tortuosum plant, more commonly referred to as Kanna. As such, that makes Kanna illegal. People inside Louisiana state lines should stay away from it.
The legal status of Kratom gets more convoluted. For starters, Kratom is a lawful substance on the federal level. You don’t have to worry about the Feds. However, six states have made kratom illegal in the past decade. So it’s banned in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. Besides those states, six more have municipalities that have outlawed the plant. And that makes it more confusing. Let me explain. California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Mississippi, and New Hampshire classify kratom as legal. But some counties, cities, and townships inside them don’t. So contact your local government in those states for an up-to-date account of Kratom laws.
What to Look For When Buying Kanna or Kratom
With all-natural supplements, you must be careful before purchasing. The manufacturers are responsible for ensuring the ingredients are accurate. There are no government agencies that oversee those operations. A shady company can easily alter its formula to include cheaper plant materials that are non-active as fillers. Likewise, a questionable supplement business can mislabel products, selling fake supplements to unsuspecting consumers.
Luckily for customers, there are a few things you can look for to determine if a supplement sold is a legitimate thing. We’ll go over three revealing methods for you to discover that information right now.
Lab Testing Results
Laboratory analyses for natural botanicals have become an integral part of the industry. Companies send samples of their products to an independent third-party lab to make sure the product is genuine. Tests also determine if any contaminants reside in the product. We see these tests performed routinely in the Kratom and CBD industries. You can find those results on a company’s website most of the time. If you cannot find it listed on the site, contact the business directly for those results.
Any company that refuses to provide you with that data should not be trusted. However, it’s more challenging to find companies that test for lesser-known plant supplements like Kanna – but it’s not impossible. Search around to find them.
Another way to get accurate depictions of herbal products is to look through the online product reviews. Reading the reviews gives you a more educated understanding of that company’s supplements. Lots of companies have their customer reviews listed directly on their sites. So, that’s probably the quickest way to begin your search.
However, I wouldn’t stop there. Some customer reviews on a company’s website can be misleading. Preferred customers get offered incentives to supply a raving review even if the product is subpar. Besides that, untrustworthy companies might fake reviews for their products. So it completely defeats the purpose.
Instead, seek out reviews from other sources like social media groups or communities. You still must wade through the mire. If you make real connections with community members, those people can guide you with genuine recommendations.
Good Manufacturing Practices
Now, most people disregard this method altogether. You see, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for mandating that companies abide by Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) in the food and supplement industry. Those guidelines are part of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). So some might believe it’s a moot point. However, that’s not the case with Kratom products.
The FDA refuses to perform its regulatory duties with Kratom. The agency claims the plant is not a legal drug or dietary supplement. It also refuses to acknowledge it as a food product. Those arguments disregard the fact that Kratom is considered a legal substance by Congress.
Instead of the FDA doing its job, Kratom companies must govern themselves. Some Kratom businesses skirt their GMP responsibilities entirely. That places the burden on the consumer to contact Kratom vendors directly and ask them what their current GMP methods entail. Besides that, customers must take their word at face value. And that’s a counterintuitive strategy.
However, another way exists to determine if a Kratom company performs GMP procedures without relying solely on their word. You can simply check the American Kratom Association website.
American Kratom Association Approved Vendors
The American Kratom Association (AKA) is a Kratom consumer advocacy group that functions as a non-profit organization. Its operations are funded entirely by consumers like yourself, which is why the AKA works to protect your rights to keep Kratom legal. But its efforts are also spent on making sure consumers have pure Kratom products at their disposal.
So, the AKA created its GMP Standards Program.
The American Kratom Association has a list of AKA GMP Qualified kratom vendors right on its site. For a business to get listed, it must complete an annual third-party audit of its facilities to prove it remains GMP compliant.
That takes the guesswork and burden out of your hands and gives you peace of mind.
Always check that site before making any Kratom product purchase.