Kratom, or Mitragnya speciosa, generally refers to a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the kratom tree are often harvested and used as a botanical, which is also referred to as kratom. In Southeast Asia, it is commonly used as a supplement to help increase feelings of energy and productivity or used in religious functions. In the West, kratom is often brewed into tea, added to protein shakes or other food items, taken orally by tincture or capsule.
As with other herbal leaves, it is technically possible to smoke kratom; however, as with any kind of smoking, this carries numerous health risks, and may reduce the desired effects of using kratom in the first place. Enthusiasts and retailers alike will often provide an array of alternative ways to prepare or enjoy kratom without smoking, which are detailed below. But first, it is important to understand why smoking kratom is both a health hazard, and potentially a waste of good kratom.
Although kratom has a long history of use in regions where it grows natively, there is not yet a mature body 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 traditional uses. The reputed benefits of kratom include:
However, consumers that smoke Mitragyna speciosa leaves have noted side effects that may include:
Research into the active compounds in kratom is ongoing, but there is some concern 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 it could easily damage or eliminate any active compounds before they can be ingested.
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 is smoke shops and head shops. Unfortunately, this association is misleading; it may seem counterintuitive for a place dedicated to smoking to be selling a product that should not be smoked, but due to kratom’s relative novelty to the market, and its 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 advise you on the best strains and methods for usage.
If that isn’t reason enough to forgo smoking kratom, then it is also worth considering the health hazards of smoking.
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 smoke is inhaled through the lungs, any chemicals or compounds present easily seep into the bloodstream via the lung tissue, and quickly travel to the brain.
While smoking kratom is feasibly possible, there are potential risks involved with this particular method of consumption. To fully enjoy the benefits of kratom without the additional risks from inhaling smoke you may choose to try the following methods:
While some users may be tempted to try smoking kratom, this is uncommon in traditional usage, and there are many safer, effective ways to enjoy kratom. Smoking any substance can introduce carcinogens into your bloodstream, damage your lungs, and cause potentially serious and lasting health effects.