Best kratom for pain relief

People interested in kratom are often looking for the best kratom strain for an opiate high experience. This is not negative drug-seeking behavior. They are looking for a replacement for an opiate with dangerous side effects, to something that affects the same receptors with fewer side effects and which is not dangerous to purchase or ingest.  Many have been inspired by the documentary A Leaf of Faith seen on Netflix. This is where getting the best kratom strain and the best kratom dosage really matters. Those who have used kratom successfully and who know how to make kratom tea will tell you, kratom lives up to the hype, so get excited. Countless people have used kratom to relieve chronic pain or to get rid of a drug habit from opioids like heroin to alcohol and methamphetamine. Will kratom show up in a drug test?  Usually, the answer is no. However, some places like methadone and pain clinics will test for kratom and penalize you for using this life-saving herb because it is associated with the use of other opioids though it is legal in most states and generally safe to ingest at traditional doses in traditional quantities.

Figure 1.

What is Kratom Exactly?

Kratom is an herbal plant classified as mitragyna speciosa. It grows in the tropics in Southeast Asia. It is an evergreen bush, part of the coffee family.

It grows in the following countries and has been in use for thousands of years, with use documented in the early 1800s:

  • Thailand
  • Indonesia
  • Malaysia
  • Myanmar
  • Papua New Guinea

Kratom is known for having chemicals that mimic opioids but with fewer side effects and lesser addiction. It also has some stimulant-like properties like its coffee relative. It is most often used for a mild mood boost, to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms, or to treat chronic pain. Frequent side effects include constipation and nausea. Kratom is the most widely used drug/herb in Thailand.

The way kratom is used traditionally is by chewing of the kratom leaves. This is done to relieve muscle pain, anxiety, fatigue, and apathy. It can be used as a sexual stimulant. It is effective as a cough suppressant and to treat diarrhea. In its native land, it is used topically as an anesthetic as well as to treat intestinal worms. Very often fresh kratom leaves are chewed by laborers to increase energy and stave off boredom, similar to how cocaine leaves are used. Kratom tea has a bitter taste and may be used with a sweetener. The powder can be mixed with grapefruit juice to attenuate the bitter taste.

Use of kratom for withdrawal from opium was reported as early as 1836.

Effects and side effects

At low doses (up to 4 grams or one teaspoon of fine powder), you get mostly stimulant effects. Pupils may contract. There may be blushing in lighter skinned persons, anxiety in the rare individual and naive users may experience some nausea, itchiness, and lessened appetite. The stimulant effects are generally sought by workers who need to stay active and alert.

At medium doses (4 to 8 grams), more opiate-like effects can dominate. You can get a good deal of pain relief, an increase in a positive mood and effect, a release of inhibitions, and an increase in the experience of ease and flow at work. These often accompany acute pain relief as is similarly the case with traditional opioids. Kratom overdose symptoms and side effects can include constipation, nausea, vomiting, cotton mouth, sweatiness, and low blood pressure. Kratom causes far less if any respiratory depression.

Using high doses continually, 15 grams and above may be well-tolerated by some individuals but can cause side effects in others. It can be associated with a host of health problems, though there are scant studies and no serious side effects are associated with traditional kratom tea drinking. Kratom abuse can be associated with shaking, weight loss, psychosis, agitation, and kidney or liver damage. These effects seem to be rarely reported by usual users of even higher doses but they are a possibility, especially in intentional overdose or when combined with polysubstance abuse. Serious complications of using kratom alone are rare.

After stopping long-term use of the medium to high doses, there can be a withdrawal syndrome associated with kratom use. Starting about 24 hours after last use, there can be typical opioid-like withdrawal symptoms, but of relatively mild intensity compared to withdrawal from actual opioids.  This can include flu-like symptoms, emotional lability, yawning, goosebumps, hyperalgesia, tearing, and nightmares. These may peek over two days then diminish.

Between the years of 2010 and 2015, the United States Poison Control Centers received 660 reports of kratom exposure. These are voluntary organizations that run a hotline for poison control at 1-800-222-1222.   People who have been exposed to substances and need advice can call anywhere in the United States and get advice about what to do. Kratom exposure was reported as causing minor medical signs. These symptoms were reported to go away quickly and result in no lasting medical disability.

Health Benefits of Kratom

Traditional Medicine Benefits

Kratom is a part of the traditional medicine of southeast Asia. It has been used for the following purposes:

  • Fights fatigue
  • Fights apathy during monotonous work
  • Fights pain
  • Helps fight diarrhea
  • Improves mood

Anecdotal reports suggest people are using kratom for the following issues:

  1. Musculoskeletal pain
  2. Pains traditionally treated with a mild opiate
  3. Fibromyalgia pain
  4. Multiple Sclerosis pain
  5. Back pain
  6. Depression
  7. Anxiety
  8. Mood disorders
  9. Sciatica
  10. Shingles pain
  11. Cough and cold
  12. Diarrhea
  13. Opiate withdrawal
  14. Other conditions of pain, cough, or intestinal motility

Different Types of Kratom Strains

Strain color Effect
Green Strong, all-around uses, sedation
Red Pain Relief
White Energy, mood boost

There are different types or strains of kratom which have differing effects. To be on the safe side, one can start using with likely the most powerful strain, Green Maeng Da, at a small dose.

Figure 2.

Maeng Da

Maeng Da is the strongest strain of kratom and is thought to have started in Thailand, the traditional home of kratom. Green Maeng Da is the first go to for beginning users and heavyweights alike. It is the foundation strain for kratom users.

Green Maeng Da is a fine choice for use in treating opioid withdrawal.

Maeng Da comes in white, green, and red colors.


Indo kratom comes from Indonesia, one of the few other places where kratom grows natively. Indo kratom is known for causing less stimulation than other strains. Many kratom users don’t want any stimulation. They also don’t like how Maeng Da can switch from being stimulating at low doses, to sedating at high doses. They want a kratom with a smoother effect for pain relief and mild relaxation without becoming heavy or sleepy.

Indo forms come in white, green, and red flavors.

Green Malay

Green Malay is possibly the most famous strain behind Green Maeng Da. Green Malay comes from Malaysia. It has a more sedative effect than Green Maeng Da. It can also provide inspiration, pain relief, flow, and energy.


Thailand has a great genetic diversity in the forms of kratom. White, green, and red strains of Thai kratom are sold online from multiple vendors. Green strains are considered strong, red strains are to address symptoms of pain, and white strains are said to provide a mild euphoria or mood boost.

Red Vein, or Bali Kratom

This is another form of kratom from Indonesia. Red Vein or Bali kratom is used primarily for pain relief. It is often compared to prescription opioids in feel and effect.


Borneo kratom comes from Borneo. Borneo is a large tropical island on an archipelago in Southeast Asia. It’s known for its beautiful tropical forests and biodiversity.


Malaysian strains come from Malaysia. These strains are defined also by colors. Reds have a balanced pain relief effect. White give a balanced mood boost to fight against fatigue and depression. Greens provide a euphoria at low doses and sedation at higher doses.

What can a first-time user expect?

Unlike with illicit drugs, a first time user can expect no clear or debilitating high from using kratom. Kratom rather takes away the pain, low mood, and fatigue more than providing something extraneous. You won’t feel much wired or high, but if you had pains, aches, or low mood, you will feel them slip away within 20 minutes to an hour. The difference is noticeable even for those without significant depression or pain.

How to Use Kratom Powder

Kratom powder is the dried powder made from the kratom leaf. How to make kratom extract aka kratom tea using this powder is simple.

First, the mature leaf of each strain is harvested. Then, they are sorted so that just the healthiest leaves are used. The leaves are then washed clean. Next, they are set aside for drying until they are hard and crisp. The leaves are ground into a fine powder and may be put through a mesh to ensure a uniform grain. Most kratom comes in the form of the ground, powdered leaf. Beginning kratom users should use regular non-concentrated leaf powder so that they get used to the effects and taste of kratom and can tell a good product from bad. Extracts and pills containing kratom can have unfamiliar or even undeclared ingredients which may not have the excellent safety profile of natural, mildly processed kratom leaf. Chewed kratom leaf, like the powder, is not known to have many negative side effects. Kratom powder can cause constipation, mild side-effects, and mild withdrawal. The safety and side effects of resin concentrates or combination products are unknown and some of these products may contain illegal narcotics in rare cases. In any case, to be on the safe side, get the regular, ground powder, or if you prefer, the dried or fresh leaves (you can sometimes get fresh leaves at a kratom bar in a large city).

Avoid pre-made extracts and combination products in general.

Figure 3.

Is Kratom Safe to Take Every day?

Kratom has been used traditionally in South East Asia for hundreds or even thousands of years. This suggests that it may be safe to take every day if used under the same parameters as it has been used traditionally. Traditionally, it is used as a chew or tea.

Users in the United States currently most often use it in the form of a tea made directly from the powdered kratom leaf. Although most teas are strained, Americans generally do not strain their kratom powder. This may be because the powder would become fairly expensive to use at effective levels if you also threw out the strained plant material. The plant material is safe to take and effective, so it’s more cost-efficient to keep it.

A low dose of kratom is expected to have mildly stimulating effects. 1 gram is a good starting dose to test one’s tolerance. Kratom can be fairly hydrophobic or difficult to mix with water; therefore, you might first try mixing it in warm water because it dissolves much better in warm water. Take about 4 ounces of warm water and add 1 gram of kratom or ¼ to 1/2 teaspoon. The highest dose you want to take at one time is somewhere around 3 teaspoons which can be as much as 10 grams. Generally, people take about one teaspoon for chronic pain or to lighten opioid withdrawal symptoms. Dosage no sooner than 2 hours apart. If your dose again sooner, you may get no positive effects while increasing the chances of constipation and nausea.


The effects of kratom can be summed up in 3 words, energy, anxiolysis, and analgesia. This means it gives you energy, reduces anxiety, and reduces pain. Sometimes ‘euphoria’ is used to describe the feeling; however, this is misleading. There is very little ‘high’ from using kratom. In fact, the ‘high’ can be described as less than that of coffee, as caffeine can make some persons very jumpy and wired while kratom generally does not have any similar effect. Rather, instead, it makes you feel lighter. As if you were several pounds lighter in weight and in attitude. You may find yourself smiling more often and engaging in more light-hearted banter. You may find yourself more active physically due to being less inhibited by pain signals. Effects last 2 to 5 hours.

In the Brain

Kratom has effects on endorphin aka opioid receptors in the brain. It contains several alkaloids of which mitragynine and 7-hydroxy-mitragynine are thought to be the most active. These are both mu opioid receptor agonists, though sometimes described as partial agonists. Unlike traditional opioids and full agonists, kratom does not appear to cause any significant respiratory depression, which is the cause of death in heroin overdose fatalities. Reducing pain and anxiety increases exploratory behavior and leads to an antidepressant and anti-anxiety effect.


Kratom is a relatively safe herb which has been in use for hundreds of years. Introduction to the American market has been a turbulent process but many users have found great benefit in this plant. It can improve mood and reduce pain.

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