Kratom (Also known as Mitragnya Speciosa), generally refers to a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. Kratom leaves are harvested and used as a botanical supplement. In Southeast Asia, it’s used for energy and productivity. Kratom is also used extensively in the religious traditions of its homeland. In the West, kratom is brewed into tea, added to protein shakes, food, or taken orally by tincture or capsule.
As with other botanicals, it’s possible to smoke kratom, however, this carries numerous health risks and may reduce the desired effects of using kratom. Kratom enthusiasts often provide an array of alternative ways to enjoy kratom without smoking it. However, it’s important to understand why smoking kratom is both a health hazard, and a waste of good kratom.
Effects of Kratom
Although kratom has a long history of use in regions where it grows natively, we currently don’t have a lot of research into its full range of effects or potential uses. However, many kratom users report experiences and specific outcomes from using kratom which are consistent with the anecdotal evidence coming out of kratom’s homeland. These reputed benefits of kratom include:
- Temporarily relieve physical discomfort
- Support sleep
- Improve focus and productivity
- Uplift the mood
- Increase feelings of energy
- Promote relaxation and calm uneasy feelings
Consumers that smoke Mitragyna speciosa leaves have noted side effects that may include:
- Bodily irritation
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Dry Mouth
- Psychoactive effects
How Smoking Kratom Reduces Efficacy
Research into the active compounds in kratom is ongoing, but there are some concerns among kratom users about whether extreme heat can break down the alkaloids responsible for kratom’s beneficial effects. For perspective, a popular kratom preparation involves making tea. Water boils at 212°F (100°C). By contrast, the temperature of a lit conventional cigarette can be close to 1652°F (900°C). Smoking kratom exposes the leaf to such extreme temperatures which can easily damage the active alkaloid compounds found in kratom.
While the tea preparation has a long history as a delivery mechanism for kratom, the temperatures involved are not half as hot as smoking kratom, and carry a significantly lower risk of damaging the product or eliminating its active compounds.
Some confusion may come from the fact that one of the common places where kratom is available for purchase are smoke and head shops. Unfortunately, this association is misleading. However, due to kratom’s lack of regulation, this association has led to the idea that smoking is a viable way to enjoy kratom. This is part of the reason why the best place to buy kratom is not from a smoke shop, but from a reputable dealer that specializes in kratom and has the industry and product knowledge to offer advice on the best strains and methods for usage.
If that isn’t reason enough to forgo smoking kratom, then it’s also worth considering the health hazards of smoking, in general.
Dangers of Smoking Kratom
Lung tissue is thin, full of capillaries, and highly permeable. They have to be for you to be able to breathe. This makes inhalation one of the fastest delivery methods for an ingestible product like an herb; however, this is also what makes lungs so vulnerable to damage. Because lungs are so good at absorbing what you inhale, smoking can allow many other chemicals — including carcinogens generated through burning carbon-based matter, like leaves. When inhaling smoke through the lungs, any chemicals or compounds present easily seep into the bloodstream via the lung tissue, and quickly travel to the brain.
Though there are not enough studies or evidence specifically pointing to the bodily dangers of smoking kratom, smoke is dangerous to lung health and may cause other health effects such as:
- Increased risk of coronary heart disease
- Increased risk of stroke
- Early signs of cardiovascular disease
- Damage to blood vessels
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced blood flow to skin and legs
- Increased risk of lung disease
- Triggers to asthma
- Increased risk of cancer
- Increased risk of COPD
- Impacts on teeth and gums
Better Ways To Take Kratom
There are potential health risks when smoking kratom, and so fully enjoy the benefits of kratom without the additional risks from inhaling smoke you may choose to try the following methods:
- Incorporate kratom powder into food or drinks. Kratom powder can be added to foods or protein shakes.
- Taking kratom capsules. This is probably one of the easiest and most discreet ways of taking kratom
- The “Toss’n’Wash” method. This method is simple to do and may help the user to feel the desired benefits more quickly
- Brewing kratom tea. Many who drink kratom tea add other types of tea, botanicals, or sweeteners to alleviate the bitter taste of kratom. Kratom can also be added to coffee for an extra energy boost
- Chewing Kratom leaves. Ingesting dried or fresh kratom leaves is a traditional method of consumption
- Gum or tablets. Some kratom sellers offer gum or tablets that make taking kratom simple and discreet
- Using kratom tinctures or extracts. Kratom tinctures and extracts are higher in potency and are taken directly from a dropper bottle or added to food and drink
The truth is, there are more effective ways to enjoy kratom. Smoking any substance introduces carcinogens into your bloodstream, damage your lungs, and causing serious and long lasting health issues.