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Blog | CBD | Science

Kratom VS CBD: Effects, Risks and More

Dr Abraham Benavides


Dr Abraham Benavides

Medical Doctor

Everyone has heard about CBD, but have you heard of Kratom?

Toted as a herbal remedy for treating various ailments, Kratom is now making waves in the nutraceutical industry. 

The American Kratom Association estimates that over fifteen million Americans use Kratom every day. And its popularity is expected to rise as more people learn about this unique plant species.

Explore this newly emerging drug with us to determine if Kratom or the well-studied CBD is right for you.

kratom leaves

What is Kratom?

Indigenous to Thailand and Southeast Asia, Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a plant known for its stimulant and opioid-like analgesic effects

Acting on the body’s opioid receptors, It has been popular for centuries in Southeast Asia (like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Papua New Guinea).

Used as a remedy due to its ability to relieve fatigue, manage pain, reduce PTSD symptoms and opiate withdrawal. 

Its leaves are often chewed for their stimulant properties, and it has a history of being used as an opioid substitute by natives to the area. It is also sometimes made into tea, smoked, or ingested in capsules.

The use of Kratom has increased in the United States as consumers seek alternatives in an effort to block pain completely at an affordable cost compared to mainstream opioids.

Its popularity is expected to continue to grow as mainstream media brings the Kratom tree plant to the forefront as an alternative to other common drugs. 

Currently, kratom is sold throughout the US and Europe through smoke shops and the internet. 

hemp plantation

However, it is illegal in some countries and is banned in multiple states due to the fact it isn’t FDA regulated and can be dangerous when used in high doses like any compound which acts on the body’s opioid receptors. 

In addition, the plant has some unpleasant side effects and can potentially interact with other medications. 

Long-term use can lead to physical addiction and opiate withdrawal symptoms if use is not tapered off slowly. 

Dosing can be challenging, as a small dose will act as a stimulant. At the same time, a large quantity can yield potential sedative and euphoric benefits. 

A large dose can even lead to something called the “kratom wobble,” where a user essentially overdoses, causing dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. There can be serious and potentially fatal side effects if taken in excess.

Below, we will dive into peer reviewed studies, discussing its usage, adverse side effects, pharmacology, and the safety of using this compound in comparison with CBD.

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CBD and Kratom Comparison 

CBD VS Kratom Effects

CBD is the non-psychoactive portion of the hemp plant that has become a staple in alternative medicines. This hemp-derived compound can create an internal balance in the body.

In research settings, CBD oil has shown positive indications to reduce anxiety, provide anti-convulsant effects, support relief of chronic pain and inflammation without the experience of mind-altering effects like you would get using regular high THC cannabis. 

Nonetheless, while many people believe that CBD oil is almost a cure-all, used for anything kind of product, it’s still very early in terms of research science. 

In addition, due to its lack of regulation, the problem of inferior products on the market represents a continued and growing problem. 

On the other hand, Kratom is a popular remedy from Southeast Asia. 

Like CBD oil, It is naturally derived from a plant and is often used for pain management, energy, depression, and anxiety management. 

Also, it shows promise as a tool for pain reduction and anxiety management.

But does the good outweigh the bad when it comes to Kratom VS CBD?

Overall, CBD oil is considered the safer alternative because it has fewer and non-serious adverse side effects, and doesn’t lead to any form of intoxication when used in Isolation.

CBD VS Kratom Pharmacology

More than 20 active compounds have been isolated from Kratom, some of which have pharmacologic effects. 

Working through opioid receptors, Kratom’s active compounds are called Alkaloids, with mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine being the 2 primary contributors of its effects.

As a partial opioid receptor agonist, it has potential to support people suffering from opiate withdrawal symptoms.

In research based on animals, it was found that mitragynine creates opiate and analgesic effects at central nervous system receptors, activating nerve and serotonin pathways in the human spinal cord. Along with the potential to trigger dopamine release. 

Due to its involvement in binding to the central nervous system, Kratom also has anti-inflammatory effects.

While in comparison, 7-hydroxy mitragynine,  has analgesic and antinociceptive effects and is more potent than mitragynine or morphine. 

This compound, too, produces opioid-like effects. And if taken for more than five days, it creates a physical dependence, including opioid-like withdrawal symptoms. 

On the other hand, CBD is one of more than eighty biologically active chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant. 

While Kratom acts on opioid receptors, CBD works through your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). 

They know that CBD doesn’t bind to the CB1 or CB2 receptors unlike THC and believe it prevents endocannabinoids from breaking down, causing a more profound effect on your body.

Due to this, many scientists believe that CBD should be further explored for epilepsy and other neuropsychiatric disorders. These disorders include anxiety, schizophrenia, and addiction. 

But how safe are Kratom and CBD for human use?

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CBD VS Kratom Safety Profile

There has been a growing concern over Kratom’s effects and the safety of its use due to an increase in hospital visits and deaths in several countries that have been associated with Kratom plant extracts. 

Recently, there has been a rise in adverse reactions in people using Kratom and its by-products, largely as a home remedy to treat chronic pain. 

With the national poison center registering over 1,800 calls related to the use of Kratom across a 6 year period. 

These reactions seem to occur due to Kratom’s stimulant and opioid effects, causing anxiety, irritability, and aggression. For opioid-like issues, these are sedation, nausea, constipation, and itching.  

Long-term use leads to hyperpigmentation of the cheeks, tremors, anorexic tendencies, drastic weight loss, seizures, and psychosis. These adverse effects tend to occur when users ingest more than 15 grams of Kratom leaves. 

The safety profile of Kratom is largely determined by the fact its actions impact the opioid pain receptors, and overdosing has the potential to lead to death. 

On the other hand, CBD has been shown to be safe in doses upto 1500mg, far beyond anything a user would consume as a dose. 

Therefore, Kratom use comes with a higher set of risks and is generally not considered as safe as other drugs like CBD.To date, there are no recorded deaths due to CBD and its products.

And while the probability of death by kratom is considered 1,000 times less likely than by the use of opioids, it’s still occurred before and is considered a potential risk of use.

Related Read: Delta 8 VS Kratom

CBD VS Kratom Side Effects

When Kratom causes adverse side effects, these can be very uncomfortable and servere. It can cause: 

  • Intrahepatic cholestasis (liver damage/condition)
  • Aggression
  • Hostility
  • Psychosis
  • Polyuria
  • Chills
  • Dry mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Jerky movements
  • Seizures
  • Arrhythmia
  • Impaired memory function
  • Comas
  • Death

On the flipside, the most common side effects of CBD oils included tiredness/fatigue, diarrhea, appetite, and weight changes. 

These are relatively minor issues when compared to the list of possible side effects from the use of Kratom. 

But through a review of 132 studies, they found that CBD does not induce:

  • Catalepsy (rigid seizures)
  • Higher heart rates
  • Altered body temperature
  • Impaired psychological functions
  • Impaired psychomotor function
  • Gastrointestinal transit issues
  • Altered food intake
  • Central nervous system side effects 

The side effects that have been reported for CBD have been found in animals and have yet to be studied in humans. 

These side effects are alteration to cell viability, reduced fertilization capacity, risk of immunosuppression, and inhibiting action of drug metabolism.

However, compared to Kratom, CBD is the clear winner when it comes to the lowest risk profile between CBD and Kratom.

kratom cbd

Kratom VS CBD Legality

At time of publishing, Kratom is illegal to buy, sell, possess, or use in Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wisconsin. 

It is legal in all other states but may be regulated depending on your precise location. Always do your own due diligence before purchasing.  

In contrast, CBD is legal in almost all 50 states, though the laws can vary from state to state too. 

The legalization of CBD occurred after the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and allowed it to be grown on American soil. 

From that point, CBD and other cannabinoids that have less than 0.3% THC have become legal to consume. 

So, if you are looking for a place to try Kratom and CBD, know that with CBD, you are more likely to find it legal in your state. 

Nonetheless, you can find both Kratom and CBD sold in head shops, online stores, and health stores.

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CBD VS Kratom Products

There are so many CBD products out there that it will boggle your mind.

When searching for CBD, you will find that they have either isolates, full-spectrum, or broad-spectrum products. Each of these has different properties. 

Full-spectrum includes all the other cannabinoids found in hemp and contains 0.3% THC. Broad-spectrum has all the cannabinoids as full-spectrum, but without any THC, while isolates are only CBD. 

Keep these differences in mind when exploring your product options. Also, be sure that your CBD comes from a seller that uses third-party lab testing and non-GMOs. 

Most CBD products fit into six categories: supplements, edibles, body care, smoking, drinks, and pet products.

It is easy to find an online store and have it delivered right to your door. Most companies take email transfers, credit, debit visas, Paypal, Bitcoin, and Sezzle payment plans.

When it comes to Kratom, they have fewer options. But you can find Kratom from a GMP Qualified Vendor, (such as Super Speciosa) which means their products have gone through a third-party auditor before placing them up for sale.

If you purchase from a company, look for products that contain only pure kratom leaf that has not been altered. 

Make sure that the product is, in fact, in its pure form from the Mitragyna speciosa tree. 

There are three main types of Kratom strains: green, red, and white veined strains. The Kratom vein colors refer to how the leaves are dried after harvesting, and the red vein is typically the strongest and is the mature type of leaf. Then there is the green vein and white vein. 

The Kratom strains are also classified by the location the plant was initially discovered. 

These varieties include Maeng Da, Bali/Indo, Green Malay, Thai, and Borneo. These places are not where the Kratom product actually comes from, but it is where that particular strain was once found.

As of now, all Kratom in the US originates from Indonesia, as many countries have banned the export of the plant.

As for Kratom products, Kratom powder is one of the easiest ways to use Kratom. It is affordable, easy to store, and can be mixed into drinks, food, or turned into tea. People also make their own capsules. 

Or, if you would like the capsules, tablets, or tea bags created for you, you can also purchase these products from most retailers.

cbd hemp

CBD VS Kratom Cost

You can purchase 20 grams of Kratom powder for $19, which is just under a dollar a gram at $0.95/g. 

For 1 gram of CBD isolate powder, it costs approx $25+. Therefore, it is much cheaper to buy Kratom than it is to buy CBD. 

When it comes to capsules, Kratom costs $16 for 60 vegan capsules, with each capsule containing roughly 600 mg of Kratom. Each pill costs $0.27.

A Full-Spectrum capsule containing 30 mg of CBD costs approximately $1.92. To purchase a bottle of 60 pills costs $115, which is outlandish when you think about it. 

But, when comparing CBD and Kratom it’s clear that Kratom is still very early in terms of popularity in the West, so prices are not incredibly high compared to CBD oils.

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CBD VS Kratom Benefits

CBD VS Kratom For Pain Relief

In a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, twenty-six males around the age of 24 went through pain testing to determine if Kratom affected their pain tolerance. 

They used an ice bath, and the men put their hands in the bath. The time was recorded between the pain onset and the time they took before removing their hands. 

Before the test, the reported mean was 11.2 seconds before removing the hand. 

But after one hour of consuming Kratom, the subjects left their hands in the bath for 24.9 seconds. 

Their pain tolerance almost doubled through the use of Kratom to alleviate pain and discomfort, but it didn’t block pain completely.

As for anecdotal evidence, many Reddit users swear to its benefits for pain caused by herniated discs, torn rotator cuffs, sciatic nerve pain, fibromyalgia pain, nerve damage, and more, allowing them to stop taking prescription painkillers. 

Keep in mind that this is only coming from consumers. But many claimed that they have been pain-free for years, and it has allowed them to go back to work after severe injuries.

However, many talked about physical dependence on the drug and recommended tolerance breaks to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Also, many said to drink lots of water due to constipation.

Though most sellers cannot claim how Kratom helps with pain, people who regularly use it say it has been a lifesaver.

At the same time, there have been CBD formulations used in clinical research for their ability to reduce chronic pain.

It has been found for conditions such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injuries, brachial plexus injury, and limb amputation that CBD treatment significantly reduced chronic pain.

CBD VS Kratom For Sleep

In a 2019 study, cannabidiol was used to determine if it helped with anxiety and sleep. 

Over three months, participants saw an increase in restful sleep in 66.7% of subjects. This has suggested the ability of CBD for improved sleep. 

Anecdotally, people rave about how CBD changed their lives, allowing them to achieve deeper sleep. But there are also a large group of people that claim it did nothing for them. 

If we fall back on the sleep study, there was definite evidence of improved sleep scores. However, limitations include the facts that there was no placebo or control group, and it was open-label. 

This means the subjects knew they were taking CBD and that may have influenced the results. But, if you want to take a shot at trying it, know that there is some science-backed research for its use.

When it comes to Kratom, there is little peer-reviewed research on if Kratom can help with sleep. Though it does have a sedative effect, there is little evidence that this directly improves a user’s overall sleep. 

As noted earlier, the use of Kratom affects opioid receptors which is often associated with pain relief. But, the intoxication of high doses of Kratom has the potential to lead to grogginess and thus sleep. 

Overall, there is more evidence of the use of CBD before Kratom to improve sleep.

leaf front back

CBD VS Kratom For Anxiety & Depression

A review of evidence around the effects of CBD, shows promising results, which may lead to large-scale studies to explore CBD as a new drug for the treatment of these disorders. 

While a systematic review discussed how indole alkaloids found in Kratom demonstrate pharmacological activity. 

Finding that the compounds in the plant trigger dopamine release, and interact with serotonin, and norepinephrine receptors. 

As Mitragyna speciosa contains these alkaloids that affect serotonin and dopamine signaling pathways, it shows promise that Kratom may be a potential treatment for depressive and psychotic disorders.

According to anecdotal evidence, Kratom seems to help people with a wide range of psychiatric disorders. Including with people who have bipolar II, atypical depression, or dissociative disorders.

With users claiming that Kratom is a quick fix for when severe anxiety and depressive moods occur. 

Instead of using it daily, many say that to avoid the addictive potential, you should only use it when bad episodes occur in a dose ranging from 3.5-5 grams of Kratom. 

However, this has not been fully explored by science and is just the advice of present users. 

Always be sure to consult your doctor for any health-related concerns and contact them in case of any medical or psychiatric emergency.

CBD VS Kratom For Focus & Concentration

For the moment there isn’t any clinical research or studies that specifically discuss the use of CBD for focus and concentration.

However, anecdotal evidence in forums state that most people found it didn’t affect their focus or concentration. Some people claim that it may help in low doses of 15-20 mg.

When it comes to the use of Kratom for focus and concentration, there is also no scientific evidence that the plant can offer positive assistance in these areas. 

Nonetheless, when looking through forums, there was a flood of people claiming that roughly five grams of Kratom will help you focus and concentrate and increase overall productivity. 

Of course, this is all anecdotal evidence since there is no data or scientific literature to support these claims.

bud from hemp

CBD VS Kratom For Immune System Support

In animal testing using mice, it was found that Kratom supports healing and immunity when it comes to tissue repair and vascular permeability. Although, there are no human trials to back up this claim.

Anecdotally, many people claim that they have not been sick since they began using Kratom. But whether this is true or not, and that it can be attributed solely due to Kratom has not been proven.

On the other hand, many peer-reviewed studies support the notion that CBD is immune suppressive and directly suppresses the activation of immune cell types like apoptosis and regulatory cells that control immune cell targets.

This means that CBD has scientific and anecdotal evidence that it is beneficial for immune system support.

CBD and Kratom Combined

There are little to no studies or data on the combination of CBD and Kratom in the scientific community. Though, they are both said to have benefits alone, as previously mentioned in this article. 

According to forums and consumer reviews, you will find relief from everything like anxiety to sciatic pain relief if mixing Kratom with CBD. 

But, they say that it is hard to dose correctly, and if you overdo it with CBD or Kratom, you may have unpleasant experiences. 

Therefore, we recommend that you do not attempt to take these two products together until further evidence of their mutual biochemical benefits can be established. Always talk to your physician before trying CBD or kratom.

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Wrapping Up CBD VS Kratom

It is an exciting time in the cannabinoid and drug industry as more research is being performed on naturally occurring remedies for a variety of health problems.

CBD is a prevalent compound with many potential benefits and has more science behind its usage.

Kratom is also growing in popularity due to its potential ability to treat acute and chronic pain in an action similar to currently available prescription pain medications.

However, it can be dangerous to consume, and there are few guidelines available from reputable scientifically-backed sources as to proper dosing and use.

If buying Kratom, always seek a vendor who meets the American Kratom Association standards, producing under GMP standards and only selling lab tested products. 

Nonetheless, remember that both CBD and Kratom carry their own risks and you should always consult your local healthcare professional for advice or any emergencies.