Last Updated: February 28, 2023

Kratom is an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia whose leaves contain chemicals with partial opioid effects. Although kratom leaves have been used traditionally for hundreds of years, research on its safety and efficacy is limited. Anecdotally, kratom is used for pain, opioid use disorder, anxiety, and other conditions. Kratom may lead to dependence and withdrawal and can cause serious adverse effects in high doses.


Kratom is most often used for

What is kratom?

Kratom is an evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia (Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, etc.), with dose-dependent sedating and stimulant effects. It is typically consumed as tea or powder. Although kratom leaves have been used traditionally for hundreds of years, research on its safety and efficacy is limited.[2]

What are kratom’s main benefits?

Kratom is used for pain, opioid use disorder, anxiety, and other conditions. However, these uses have not been studied in clinical trials. Reportedly, at lower doses, kratom produces stimulant effects (increased alertness and energy), whereas at higher doses, kratom produces sedative and pain-relieving effects. The exact doses at which kratom causes these effects is not well researched.[3]

What are kratom’s main drawbacks

Nausea and constipation may occur after kratom ingestion, especially if taken in higher amounts and/or more frequently.[4] High doses of kratom might also trigger rare serious adverse events such as hallucinations, tremor, seizure, coma, and respiratory depression. The active alkaloid in kratom (mitragynine) has been found in a number of postmortem analyses, in addition to other substances (e.g., fentanyl, heroin, benzodiazepines). Because of the presence of these other substances, it is unknown whether and how kratom contributed to the cause of death. Finally, chronic kratom use can lead to dependence and precipitate an opioid-like withdrawal, including symptoms of agitation, nausea, and vomiting.[5]

How does kratom work?

Kratom contains over 40 different alkaloids, of which the main active alkaloids include mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, and the latter is the more potent form. These alkaloids act as partial agonists of the mu-opioid and delta-opioid receptors and are thought to be responsible for kratom’s pain relieving and sedating effects. These effects have been shown to be reversed with an opioid antagonist in animal models and in some clinical case studies where respiratory depression was the main symptom.[6] Mitragynine has also been shown to interact with adrenergic, serotonergic and dopamine receptors, but the exact impact in humans is not yet known.[3] [5]

What else is Kratom known as?
Note that Kratom is also known as:
  • Thang
  • Kakuam
  • Thom
  • Ketum
  • Biak
  • Mambog
  • ithang
  • thom (Thailand)
  • ithang (Thailand)
  • bai krathom (Thailand)
  • gratom (Thailand)
  • kakaum (Thailand)
  • kadamba (Indonesia)
  • purik (Indonesia)
  • keton (Indonesia)
  • ketum (Malaysia)
  • biak-biak (Malaysia)
  • sepat (Malaysia)
  • kutum (Malaysia)
  • mambog (Philippines)
  • lugug (Philippines)
  • polapupot (Philippines)
Kratom should not be confused with:
  • kratom acetate
  • mitragynine acetate
  • Krypton
  • other species of the Mitragyna genus
Dosage information

Because kratom has been studied in very few clinical trials, most of the information about how it is used comes from surveys and traditional use. Traditionally, kratom leaves are chewed and can also be boiled to make tea. In Western countries, kratom is usually available as a powder to be mixed with liquids and also in capsule form.[1]

In a survey of 129 regular kratom users in the U.S., most consumed kratom daily, and most consumed 1-3 grams of kratom per dose. Some users consumed 4–6 grams per dose (33%). Of the 129 regular users, 37% consumed kratom as a beverage, 43.6% ingested raw kratom powder, and 18.9% took kratom capsules.[1]

Don't miss out on the latest research

  1. ^Smith KE, Rogers JM, Dunn KE, Grundmann O, McCurdy CR, Schriefer D, Epstein DHSearching for a Signal: Self-Reported Kratom Dose-Effect Relationships Among a Sample of US Adults With Regular Kratom Use Histories.Front Pharmacol.(2022)
  2. ^Jentsch MJ, Pippin MMKratomStatPearls.(2022-08)
  3. ^Ahmad I, Prabowo WC, Arifuddin M, Fadraersada J, Indriyanti N, Herman H, Purwoko RY, Nainu F, Rahmadi A, Paramita S, Kuncoro H, Mita N, Narsa AC, Prasetya F, Ibrahim A, Rijai L, Alam G, Mun'im A, Dej-Adisai SSpecies as Pharmacological Agents: From Abuse to Promising Pharmaceutical Products.Life (Basel).(2022-Jan-27)
  4. ^Grundmann OPatterns of Kratom use and health impact in the US-Results from an online survey.Drug Alcohol Depend.(2017-Jul-01)
  5. ^WHO Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations. Forty-fourth report
  6. ^Overbeek DL, Abraham J, Munzer BWKratom (Mitragynine) Ingestion Requiring Naloxone Reversal.Clin Pract Cases Emerg Med.(2019-Feb)
  7. ^KratomLiverTox: Clinical and Research Information on Drug-Induced Liver Injury.(2012-04)
  8. ^Ahmad J, Odin JA, Hayashi PH, Fontana RJ, Conjeevaram H, Avula B, Khan IA, Barnhart H, Vuppalanchi R, Navarro VJ,Liver injury associated with kratom, a popular opioid-like product: Experience from the U.S. drug induced liver injury network and a review of the literature.Drug Alcohol Depend.(2021-Jan-01)
  9. ^Charoenratana S, et alAttitudes towards Kratom use, decriminalization and the development of a community-based Kratom control mechanism in Southern Thailand.Int. J. Drug Policy.(2021-9)
  10. ^Khalil S, et alEnforcement status of the poison act 1952 against offenses related to kratom (Mitragyna speciosa korth) misuse in Malaysia.UUM Journal of Legal Studies.(2020-10)
  11. ^Grundmann O, Hendrickson RG, Greenberg MIKratom: History, pharmacology, current user trends, adverse health effects and potential benefits.Dis Mon.(2022-Jun-19)
  12. ^Prozialeck W, Fowler A, Edwards JPublic Health Implications and Possible Sources of Lead (Pb) as a Contaminant of Poorly Regulated Kratom Products in the United States.Toxics.(2022-Jul-19)
  13. ^Lydecker AG, Sharma A, McCurdy CR, Avery BA, Babu KM, Boyer EWSuspected Adulteration of Commercial Kratom Products with 7-Hydroxymitragynine.J Med Toxicol.(2016-Dec)
  14. ^Prozialeck WC, Edwards JR, Lamar PC, Plotkin BJ, Sigar IM, Grundmann O, Veltri CAEvaluation of the Mitragynine Content, Levels of Toxic Metals and the Presence of Microbes in Kratom Products Purchased in the Western Suburbs of Chicago.Int J Environ Res Public Health.(2020-Jul-30)
  15. ^Ng JY, Ans M, Marwaha AAssessing the quality of information provided on websites selling Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) to consumers in Canada.Subst Abuse Treat Prev Policy.(2021-Mar-19)
  16. ^Vicknasingam B, Narayanan S, Beng GT, Mansor SMThe informal use of ketum (Mitragyna speciosa) for opioid withdrawal in the northern states of peninsular Malaysia and implications for drug substitution therapy.Int J Drug Policy.(2010-Jul)
  17. ^Singh D, Narayanan S, Müller CP, Swogger MT, Rahim AA, Leong Bin Abdullah MFI, Vicknasingam BKSeverity of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa Korth.) Psychological Withdrawal Symptoms.J Psychoactive Drugs.(2018)
  18. ^Singh D, Müller CP, Vicknasingam BKKratom (Mitragyna speciosa) dependence, withdrawal symptoms and craving in regular users.Drug Alcohol Depend.(2014-Jun-01)
  19. ^Wilson LL, Harris HM, Eans SO, Brice-Tutt AC, Cirino TJ, Stacy HM, Simons CA, León F, Sharma A, Boyer EW, Avery BA, McLaughlin JP, McCurdy CRLyophilized Kratom Tea as a Therapeutic Option for Opioid Dependence.Drug Alcohol Depend.(2020-Nov-01)
  20. ^Rosenbaum CD, Carreiro SP, Babu KMHere today, gone tomorrow…and back again? A review of herbal marijuana alternatives (K2, Spice), synthetic cathinones (bath salts), kratom, Salvia divinorum, methoxetamine, and piperazines.J Med Toxicol.(2012-Mar)
  21. ^Limcharoen T, Pouyfung P, Ngamdokmai N, Prasopthum A, Ahmad AR, Wisdawati W, Prugsakij W, Warinhomhoun SInhibition of α-Glucosidase and Pancreatic Lipase Properties of (Korth.) Havil. (Kratom) Leaves.Nutrients.(2022-Sep-21)
  22. ^Prevete E, Kuypers KPC, Theunissen EL, Corazza O, Bersani G, Ramaekers JGA systematic review of (pre)clinical studies on the therapeutic potential and safety profile of kratom in humans.Hum Psychopharmacol.(2022-Jan)
  23. ^Vicknasingam B, Chooi WT, Rahim AA, Ramachandram D, Singh D, Ramanathan S, Yusof NSM, Zainal H, Murugaiyah V, Gueorguieva R, Mansor SM, Chawarski MCKratom and Pain Tolerance: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Study.Yale J Biol Med.(2020-Jun)