Welcome to Kratom 101, a series of posts for kratom beginners from Reddit Wiki-
This is a collaborative effort by people who have learned from experience and from each other. Thank you to everyone who helped and continues to help update and improve. There is a lot of good information here and can be a lot to take in. We know you have questions. We can help with that!
1. Strains Explained
You will see many different “strains” of kratom. None of them are actual strains that could be identified by a botanist. There are two actual known strains of kratom – Bumblebee and Rifat (named for the botanist Claude Rifat) – but none of the “strain” names kratom is sold under refer to one of those actual strains. Going forward we will use “strain” to refer to the different varieties offered by vendors.
Color and Region
Names of strains will usually be a color then a region (e.g. Red Bali, Green Malaysian, White Sumatra).
Generally speaking, red veins are calming and work better for pain and sedation. Green veins are a little more stimulating than red and they tend be longer acting. White veins are good for energy boost and mood elevation, and typically are the most stimulating. All Maeng Da’s (even red) usually have a more energetic component.
The name following the color is said to refer to the region where the leaf was harvested. There has always been debate as to the truthfulness of this and while it may have been more true in the past, these days it’s arguably mostly an advertising/marketing device. While the ever-growing variety of specific “strains” is not necessarily useful for comparisons from vendor to vendor, the different color characteristics (red=slow, white=energizing, green=in between) will generally remain consistent across the board.
Here is a good realistic explanation of Strain Differences
Does the Drying Process Really Make a Difference?
Here are some more good discussions about strain differences (or lack thereof)
What if I told you that 99% of all the kratom that we get is made with red vein leaves? Or, that scientists have analyzed actual red, green and white vein leaves and found little difference in chemical composition or alkaloid ratios?
Kratom Strain And Color Education: The More You Know!
Okay..Strain Differences. Internet Has Been Minimally Helpful, Redditors, Help Me Out Here.
These aren’t hard and fast rules. To complicate things, everyone’s body chemistry is different. And then on top of all that, the difference between colors can be subtle at times.
At the end of the day, there are basically three kinds of kratom – good, excellent, and meh – and the only way to find what works best for you is to pick a starting point and try some. The best advice for a beginner would be to order a bunch of samples – at least try a red, try a green, and try a white. Experiment to see what you like, what helps your issues, and what works best with your body chemistry. Keep a journal of dosages and effects to help you fine tune your experience.
If you are having trouble deciding, some good starting points are the classics like Bali’s, Hulu’s, Malay’s, and Indo’s of whatever color best matches what you are looking for. Red Bali tends to be the sleepiest of all strains. Green Malaysian is popular.
Burn and Aroma
Don’t worry, nothing is on fire and kratom is not smoked. Kratom, while currently legal, is not approved by the FDA so it cannot be sold for human consumption. Lingo is sometimes used to describe taking kratom, including “burn” (ingestion) and “aroma” (effects).
These terms are somewhat outdated. Most people speak plainly now, but you will see references to “burning” and “aroma” in older posts and amongst long time users. These are not literal terms, please do not waste your kratom by trying to smoke it.
Differences in Strains
Here’s probably more than you ever wanted to know. 😉
None of them are actual strains that could be identified by a botanist. There are two actual known strains of kratom, but none of the strain names kratom is sold under refer to one of those strains.
Some names such as Hulu Kapuas, Ketapang and Jongkong correspond to regions of Borneo/Kalimantan. They likely indicate the region the kratom was harvested from. Some kratom is also harvested in Sumatra. There are some strain names that correspond with regions of Sumatra as well. It would make sense that there could be variations in alkaloid levels because of different growing conditions such as soil and weather conditions. However, there are no studies or analysis that I’m aware of that shows a consistent alkaloid profile within those strains, or that they differ significantly from other strains.
Other than Sumatra, the rest of kratom strains are harvested from the Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo, which is also called Kalimantan. So, most kratom could be called Borneo, Kali or Indo. From suppliers I’ve talked to, and some vendors with close relations to Indonesia, there is nothing that defines those terms.
Also, Bali, Thai, Malay, Vietnam etc. are made with leaves harvested from Borneo or Sumatra. They are likely blends, but every supplier has their own recipe. Some Malay could be leaves harvested in the Indonesian portion of Borneo/Kalimantan near the border with the Malaysian portion.
Maeng Da may have originally indicated horned leaves, but now likely Just indicates a batch the suppliers feel is their best, or could mean nothing.
Super may mean leaves from older trees. Older trees are said to ha have more potent leaves, but again, there is no study or analysis showing this to be the case. It’s also likely to be used to differentiate two strains with the same name. For instance, “We have Green Malay from supplier 1 and supplier 2. That doesn’t sound sexy. How about Green Malay and Super Green Malay? Yeah, much better!”
Elephant is said to be the larger leaves. Again, this may or may not make a difference.
Bentuangie indicates kratom that is fermented. One way is to put the wet leaves in plastic bags and seal them allowing microorganisms to break down the leaves. Who knows what this actually does. Bentuangie seems to be more hit or miss with different users than other strains.
Gold and yellow have been said to be red (gold) and green or white (yellow) vein leaves that have been dried in the sun.
There has been some indication that the differences between strains, and possibly even what is sold as different vein colors, is in the drying and processing, ie. drying outdoors vs indoors, in light or in darkness, etc. Again, I’m unaware of any study that shows what difference these processes make.
There was one study that indicated that under the right conditions exposure to sunlight could convert a very small percentage of mitragynine to 7-OHM. However, recent papers on kratom have questioned whether 7-OHM actually plays a role in kratom’s effects. Kratom contains just trace amounts of 7-OHM, and some doesn’t contain any. The amounts are so low that to study 7-OHM they have to synthesize it, because they can’t get enough from extracting it from kratom. One paper from last fall indicated that the amount of 7-OHM in an 8g dose of kratom was a fraction of the threshold dose for analgesia (the smallest dose where some effect on pain was measured). Every other opioid agonist that we know of, begins to produce analgesia at lower doses than it products psychoactive effects.
This isn’t all bad though, because recent studies are showing that 7-OHM is very potent and while it doesn’t appear to produce respiratory depression, it does appear to have a similar potential for addiction as morphine. In contrast, unadulterated kratom leaf, with it’s trace levels of 7-OHM, shows very little potential for addiction, similar to mitragynine.
Vein color does seem to make a difference, but there is even questions about that. One study from Thailand indicates that there are red vein and white vein leaves, and that the white have a stronger effect. Some Indonesian suppliers have indicated that there are red and green vein leaves, and that green are by far the most abundant. Some trees only get green vein leaves, and some also get red vein leaves. White may be a lighter variation of green, and there are plenty of pictures showing red, green and whitish veined leave growing on the same tree. Some claim red are the oldest and white the youngest, but there are also plenty of pictures showing leaves budding out with red veins. The ratio of different vein colors on the tree seems to depend on soil, sunlight and other growing conditions.
We do know that all kratom contains mitragynine, and it makes up around 66% of the alkaloid content. One study found a big difference in mitragynine percentages between kratom from Thailand and Malaysia. However, that doesn’t mean much since our kratom isn’t coming from either of those places. Dr. McCurdy, one of the leading researchers on kratom, has said that he and colleagues of his in Malaysia, have analyzed different strains and vein colors and found very little difference in the alkaloid profiles, or alkaloid ratios.
On top of all of that, the same batch of kratom can vary from one person to another, and even day by day to the same person. I’ve had discussions about a specific batch where one person found it too stimulating, one too sedating, and I guess I was Goldilocks, because what I liked about it was that it wasn’t too stimulating or too sedating. There have been many reports of batches of kratom that did next to nothing when first tried, but seemed amazing when tried again in a month or so, or that were amazing at first, but then seemed to be average later on. The same batch can have varying effect from day to day. It’s a plant, and plants vary a lot. Each batch is made up of different leaves and likely leaves from different trees, mostly harvested from wild trees in the forest, or trees left when the forest was cleared for other crops. There are some plantations, but that doesn’t account for the bulk of kratom.
It’s a fickle plant and that’s part of it’s charm.
2. Dosages and Managing Tolerance
A scale is highly recommended for accurate dosing. This cannot be stressed enough. Amazon has scales for ~$10.They are incredibly cheap (in the $10 range on Amazon).
If you do not have a scale, one level, unpacked, measuring TEAspoon is approximately 2.5 grams. Use an actual measuring spoon, not a rando spoon from your silverware drawer.
The recommended beginner dose is 1-2 grams. If you tend to be sensitive to things, start low. It’s a fine line between a pleasant experience and one that can make your stomach very, very angry with you. You do not want to cross it. Dose size does not seem to be affected by body size as much as other substances.
We highly recommend keeping a journal of strains, amounts, effects, notes, thoughts to help you fine tune things. You are most likely going to be trying different things and it’s hard to keep it all straight. The more details you record, the easier it will be to figure out what does and does not work for you.
Finding a Proper Dosage
Kratom can have a slow onset, especially when you aren’t sure what to expect. Wait 30-45 minutes to. If you want, add 0.5-1.0 grams and then wait an additional 30-45 minutes to reassess and add another 0.5-1.0 grams if need be. If after two re-doses you are not happy with results, try again on a different day beginning with 3 grams and follow the same procedure until you find what works best for you.
Remember: Start small, go slow, and listen to your body! You can always add more, but you can’t go back and take less. Too much Kratom is not a good thing, and will result in nausea and the dreaded wobbles.
If you get up to around 8 grams and you still don’t feel anything then it might not be the right strain for you, right now. Or you might have to adjust your expectations. Many people report that a strain that “didn’t work” the first time ended up have positive effects when revisited at a later time.
Less Is More
There is a saying in the Kratom community, Less Is More and sometimes, even less is even more-er. There is a ceiling effect so more does not necessarily intensify effects – you will reach a point of diminishing returns. Positive desired results will be better obtained from a minimal dose.
Battling (Partial) Agonists & Antagonists And Less Is More (Or More Is Less)
Onset and Duration
It can take 20, sometimes even up to 60, minutes to begin to feel the effects from kratom, especially when you are not sure what to expect. Effects last from between 3 to 6 hours depending on strain and varying by person. Capsules can take even longer.
Is it Working Yet?
Kratom can be subtle so it is hard to predict exactly what to expect, especially when starting out. Finding what works can take some time, patience, and trial and error but once you figure it out you will see what people here are talking about. Many times people starting out think that it is not working at first. Some of that is about managing expectations. Don’t expect to be able to duplicate effects from classic opioids at any dose.
If You’re New To Kratom, As I Am, Don’t Give Up Too Soon
How Long Until You Found Your Right Strain?
Please Help, I Don’t Understand What I’m Doing Wrong…
Ohs Noes – Nausea and The Wobbles
The wobbles is a phenomenon that occurs from a large dose of Kratom or from a strain with a high concentration of a disagreeable alkaloid. As described in this post “…my eyeballs are jiggling around in my sockets. I can’t focus on anything in particular unless it right up to my face.” Too large a dose can also result in nausea.
If you’ve taken too much Kratom, try eating something light (go for carbs, nothing fatty). Lie down if you can. Ginger (especially Chimes Ginger Chews) can help with the nausea. If it becomes overwhelming, you may have to vomit. You’ll feel significantly better once you do. We’ve all been there. It will pass. Next time, take less!
A cautionary tale of a misjudged dose. Your stomach will thank or punish you, so choose your doses wisely!
Additional Side Effects
The most common side effects associated with kratom are nausea, headache, and constipation.
Drink Much Water! Then drink some more. The most common causes of nausea and headache is too large a dose and/or not enough water.
A vast majority of negative side effects are actually the result of dehydration, and can be resolved by drinking more water. It is very important to stay hydrated. Healthy hydration is 8 X 8 oz. (64 oz.) of water per day. You can do it!
Magnesium citrate can help with constipation. Other reported side effects are itchiness and the hiccups.
Read: Tolerance: A Guide for Newer Kratomites. There is no biological free lunch. It’s easier to keep tolerance from building than to wait until it has become a problem.
Be mindful of managing tolerance
Use the absolute minimum necessary dose to help your condition. If at all possible, do not dose daily. Accept that it is a plant so there will be variance – the mood lift is fickle and sometimes effects will be underwhelming.
Resist the urge to raise your dose. If you find your current dose is truly not working for you, consider a tolerance break instead. Don’t escalate doses to chase a feeling. Take regular breaks as your condition allows. You can use stem & vein to help taper. Look into supplements to support overall health and keep dosage size minimal. Avoid extracts and tinctures.
Things like magnesium and cat’s claw have been said to help. Agmatine seems to be the superstar when it comes to tolerance (another agmatine post, and an agmatine primer). Note: Do your homework and check your interactions! Be sure to research side effects and interactions with other herbs and medications you are taking.
Extracts, tinctures, resins, and enhanced blends are concentrated and can raise tolerance since it is very difficult to dose accurately. They have some effects that are different from plain leaf kratom. It is important to be extremely confident in knowing your optimal dosages with a variety of strains of regular kratom before trying extracts.
Dependence & Addiction
Understand that there is a difference between dependency and addiction. Dependence is physical. Addiction is psychological & behavioral.
Dependence is an inevitable, temporary, physiological condition resulting from prolonged use of pretty much any substance where cessation without tapering will cause withdrawal symptoms. There are substances which have quite disruptive withdrawals but little risk of addiction (prednisone, many antidepressants, beta blockers, even PPI’s). Dependence is not in and of itself a bad thing and withdrawal symptoms alone are not indicative of addiction. You can be dependent but not addicted.
Addiction is a set of destructive thought patterns and behaviors, a compulsion to continue those behaviors despite escalating negative consequences. In certain predisposed individuals, dependency can lead to addiction but not every dependent individual will develop an addiction. You can be addicted without being dependent. You don’t even need a substance to have an addiction (gambling, shopping, sex).
Kratom is vastly safer than classic opiates/opioids but that is not to say that it is without risk or side effects. You CAN’T take it willy nilly with zero consequence. As with most any substance, regular prolonged use – especially large, frequent doses – will eventually lead to physical dependence. If you do experience discomfort upon cessation, tapering, rather than stopping cold turkey, can help mitigate withdrawal symptoms. Also as with any substance, for predisposed individuals there is the potential for addiction.
Be very honest with yourself about what you are doing with kratom. Only you can know where your use falls, whether you are using or abusing, whether the benefits outweigh the risks/negatives for you, and it is up to you to decide what is best for you. Kratom is a tool but it is only one tool and should not be your only tool.
Maintain your overall health with exercise and a healthy diet.
Work on other ways of addressing any problems or issues you may be dealing with. Some suggestions are to look into things like therapy, CBT, DBT, meditation, new hobbies.
Kratom withdrawal is real and differs in severity person to person upon cessation of kratom. Risks increase as doses increase in amount, frequency, and duration. Some people report mild symptoms, some people have terrible withdrawals, and most fall somewhere in the middle. People have reported things like increased anxiety, irritability, depression, RLS, general restlessness, body aches, flu-like symptoms. A personal account with some advice for quitting kratom as well as this kratom withdrawal guide explain things in more detail.
You are strongly encouraged to do additional research to educate yourself and address any concerns you might have.
3. How To Take Kratom
Toss and Wash (T&W)
Refers to “tossing” kratom powder into the mouth and then “washing” it down with a beverage. Care must be taken to prevent inhaling the powder. Beware the Cinnamon Kratom Challenge.
There are multiple methods to the t&w. The powder can go on the tongue or under the tongue before washing it down. There is a water sandwich variation. Also a toss & swish.
An alternate way to t&w is to mix kratom with a liquid first, drink it as a shot, and follow with a chaser. Warning: Do not use soda to t&w. The carbonation is almost always a no-go.
Pros: Quick. Faster onset. Cons: The taste, dear Lord, the taste. Stomach issues.
Masking the Taste
The lengths we go in order to mask the bitter taste of kratom. Juice, particularly orange and grapefruit, but also pineapple, lime, prune, cranberry, and lemonade are effective. Many report great success with chocolate milk. Even pickled ginger has been mentioned (which gets bonus points as a nausea aid).
Capsules eliminate the taste issue and some swear they are the only way to go. Unfortunately, premade capsules are very expensive. The most cost effective way is to make your own. A handy capsule making guide with pictures will show the way.
The most commonly used DIY machines are The Capsule Machine, the Cap M Quik, and the EZ Cap Filler. Watch a step by step video for Cap M Quik instructions.
Amazon now has some good 100 per capsule filling machines for under $25.
Note: 00 caps hold approximately .5-.6 grams. 000 caps are much larger (also more difficult to swallow) and hold approximately 1 gram.
Pros: No taste. Convenient on the go. Discreet. Cons: Time consuming. Slow onset. May need to consume large number of caps depending on dose size.
oblate discs are a thin sheet made of tapioca that you can use to “paracute” kratom (people usually use terlet paper to parachute). They fit approx 3 grams each. The oblate pouches fit more but are a bit more expensive. You can easily find oblate discs on Amazon usually for around $7/200 sheets.
Don’t overfill the oblate disc/bags. Some people fit 3g+ but don’t try that to begin with. Once you fill and seal it, put it on a spoon, give it a quick dunk into a cup of water so it doesn’t stick to your mouth/throat, then send it down the hatch and follow with a 8-12 ounces of water or beverage of choice.
As with t&w, there are many different preferences and recipes
Here are a few popular methods:
The Quicker Tea Method, Common Tea Making MISTAKES, & Lots Of Info Related To Tea
Tea made with crushed leaf
Tea made with powder
Some filter out the powder before drinking, others consume it with the tea to ensure no waste. Crushed leaf is an option.
More tea tips, and a recipe for a coffee-tea hybrid.
Lemon (or other acidic additives) will help with extracting the alkaloids. Sweeteners, milk, and spices help make a less bitter tea. A time saving tip is to premake a large batch and freeze individual portions for later. A reduction or water concentrate can be made from tea.
Pros: Fastest onset. Happier tummies. Ritualistic. Cons: Taste. Time consuming.
Mixing with Drink or Food
Juice, smoothies, applesauce, yogurt, pudding, ice cream, canned peaches, protein shakes, peanut butter, Nutella, coffee…
Warning: The combination of coffee/caffeine and kratom can cause jitters and anxiety in some people. Start with 1/2 to 1 cup to test the waters. Decaf is always an option.
Note: Kratom will mix much easier in a hot liquid than a cold one.
Cooking with Kratom
A few recipes for kratom edibles, usually sweet to offset the bitterness.
Honey Nuggets aka Honey Turds
PSA: All Potentiators And Extracts Raise Tolerance Exactly Equivalent To Their Effectiveness.
Acidic beverages such as white grapefruit juice and orange juice are the most commonly used potentiaters. Other popular ones are coffee and magnesium.
More in-depth guides on potentiating kratom can be found here and here.
Freezing an individual dose assists in breaking down the cell walls because science thus enhancing effects.
Make sure to drink lots of water. Kratom is dehydrating. This is very important. Dehydration causes more unpleasant side effects, especially headaches, than the kratom itself.
You will feel the effects of kratom more quickly on an empty stomach (2-3 hours after eating). However, if you are prone to nausea, eating a little something before or with your kratom can help reduce or eliminate queasiness.
Experiment to see whether eating or not eating before dosing works better for you. Either way, a light snack is recommended 30 minutes after consumption.
4. Buying and Storing Kratom
– Easy Peasy Summer Breezy
Kratom is extremely shelf stable
Sunlight does not degrade kratom but it does affect it. Aside from potential color changes, sunlight oxidizes kratom in effect making it stronger through the magic of science.
Temperature doesn’t seem to matter.
Moisture, however, is the enemy. Beware, condensation can lead to mold. Keep your kratom in a dry place – sealed well enough to keep the kratom in and stray things out.
We hope you found this informative and helpful. Thank you, from the AOV Family!
***The information contained in this post is not a recommendation or for medical claims-We provide NO medical claims this is simply from information gathered from kratom users. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and kratom is NOT intended to diagnose, treat cure or in ANY way help any disease, ailment, condition or otherwise. Please consult a medical professional before trying kratom***