As any experienced kratom user will tell you, proper dosage is the key to getting the most out of these leaves that Southeast Asians have been using for over a thousand years as a cure for a variety of ailments including chronic pain. Early users had only to pluck leaves from a kratom tree and chew, but we don’t recommend it (the taste is quite unsavory) and also since it’s unlikely that you’ll start growing kratom trees in your backyard, use this guide to learn more about dosage and other useful tips.
In case this is your first time reading about kratom, it is a tree native to Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Bali, Borneo, etc.) and its leaves have been used as an herbal drug for the longest time by peoples from these regions. One of its uses in folk medicine is as a stimulant (at low doses), as a sedative (at relatively high doses), as a pain killer, recreational drug, treatment for stomach problems, and variety of conditions.
A good dose will deliver positive effects for your body and mind, whether you’re using it to treat a specific problem or to boost production of endorphins in the body. Here are some of the most immediate benefits:
- Warm, pleasant feelings throughout your body
- Reduced blood pressure
- Anxiety relief
- High energy
- Increased sex drive
- Euphoric feeling
How is Kratom taken?
In its native region, kratom leaves are chewed fresh (after removing the stringy, central vein) or dried and ground to form a powder, which can then be taken with water or food. In powder form it’s much easier to swallow because you can mix it with other liquids such as fruit juice or chocolate milk – it’s also a good way to mask the natural taste.
Powdered kratom can also be used to form a paste that can then be swallowed with water. Dried leaves are sometimes used to make tea, and although it takes a while to get used to the taste, some people prefer this method. In some instances, kratom has been smoked for its medicinal properties. The main challenge with this method is the fact that it takes a considerable amount of dried leaves to create a powerful dose, which means you’d have to smoke a whole bunch of leaves for the same effect.
It is possible to prepare a resin-like substance by evaporating the water from kratom tea. The remaining extract can then be used to create small pellets that can then be swallowed with water or dissolved in hot water and consumed as tea. Alternatively, the extract can be stored and used sparingly by combining with black tea or other herbal teas.
Capsules are perhaps the most well-known method of consuming kratom today. It has its benefits, simplicity being the main appeal.
Basic Kratom Terms
The naming systems for kratom vary from one region to another; however there are a few common defining terms that you may come across when purchasing different versions of this product. Remember the dosage you need will most likely be determined by the grade you purchase. Here are the main types of kratom strains:
- Super strain: It comes from the larger kratom leaves which have a higher number of alkaloids. It’s also a bit pricier compared to other strains.
- Premium strain: the products under this strain are made using a rather complex sifting process that is meant to weed out most of the stems and other debris that have no major alkaloid content. Premium products are therefore said to only contain potent leaf surfaces.
- Extract: It is made by boiling kratom powder to form a thick resin, which is then crushed to form a highly concentrated extract.
- Ultra: When kratom extract is blended with traditional kratom powder, it forms a strain commonly known as ‘enhanced’ or the ‘ultra-enhanced’ variety.
How do I measure kratom dosage?
The best way to do this is with a scale. A typical kratom dose is only a few grams; so ideally you need a scale that will easily measure down to a single gram with an accuracy of at least 1/10th of a gram. You can get a reliable low-cost digital scale at vendors online or at local stores.
Bear in mind that measuring kratom by volume is a bit challenging because the actual amount contained in any given volume varies based on how fine the material is. Therefore, one teaspoon of finely-ground kratom is bound to weigh more than one teaspoon of coarsely ground leaves. With this knowledge, let’s lay out some groundwork for you:
Typically, 1 level teaspoon of regular commercially available kratom powder weighs about 2 grams. Since 3 teaspoons make 1 tablespoon, we can conclude that 1 level tablespoon of finely ground kratom leaves will weigh an average of 6 or 7 grams. That is a moderate dose of average potency (and potentially a high dose for high-potency kratom). So how much kratom should I take?
These are the effects associated with different doses of kratom:
- Mild: The effects are similar to that of stimulants
- Moderate: The effects range from stimulant-like to sedative or euphoric
- Strong: The effects are clearly euphoric-analgesic, and too powerful for sensitive people
- Very strong: The effects are too strong for most people
- 3-5 grams: mild
- 4-10 grams: moderate
- 8-15 grams: strong
- 12-25 grams: very strong
- 2-4 grams: mild
- 3-7 grams: moderate
- 6-10 grams: strong
- 8-16 grams: very strong
- 1-2 grams: mild
- 2-4 grams: moderate
- 3-6 grams: strong
- 5-8 grams: very strong
What are the effects of kratom?
Kratom is rather unusual in its effects in that a low dosage will likely (but not always) result in a stimulating effect, while high doses are almost always sedating. This happens because the active ingredients (alkaloids) give the user both stimulating and sedative effects. The question of which of these predominates usually depends on the amount of dose taken and individual differences. But most people report that kratom has the same effect as opiate drugs: which makes sense from a pharmacological standpoint because of the presence of alkaloids that also act as opiate receptor agonists.
It’s important to state that even though kratom appears to have the same mechanism of action as conventional opiate pain medication, it is not nearly as addictive. As a matter of fact, some people use it to overcome opiate addiction.
The stimulant effect: At this dosage, physical energy is increased and the mind is more alert. Sexual energy may also be evident, and one may have more energy to do chores. There is also an elevation of mood, a tendency to be more talkative, friendly and sociable, and a desire to be useful. This stimulant effect is somewhat different from traditional CNS stimulants (caffeine, amphetamines, etc.). Kratom is more of a mental stimulant than a physical stimulant.
The sedative-euphoric effect: This dosage will make the user more sensitive to physical as well as emotional pain, while giving them a general feeling of calm and bliss (you may also experience a pleasant dreamy reverie). Itching is common, as well as increased perspiration. Pupils may dilate and you may feel nauseated, but if this happens it is recommended that you lie down and try to relax. In this state it’s likely that you will find a deeper appreciation of art and music (lie down in a warm, semi-darkened room with your eyes closed and listen to your favorite music). In this same state it is possible to experience ‘waking-dreaming’ where part of your mind is in dreamland while the other is still awake.
Caution: The general response or sensitivity to kratom is easy to determine based on existing studies, however it should be noted that people vary in sensitivity. The dosages mentioned here are only estimates and should not be regarded as absolute. Start with a low dose when experimenting with each new strain of kratom – this will give your body the space to adjust and you can monitor the subtle effects without any danger of a major reaction. As you gradually increase the dosage, you will find that you finally obtain the desired level of effects without any nausea or other effects associated with high dosage.
If you take kratom and fail to see any immediate effects, don’t take another dose just yet. Factors such as a recent heavy meal can delay the effects so give your body time to absorb the active ingredients. Another common cause of delayed effects is swallowing capsules. It takes a while for stomach acid to dissolve gelatin or the vegetable cellulose capsules. If you consume a low-moderate dose of kratom and fail to see any noticeable effect after several hours, you can then increase your dose by 0.5 grams.
There haven’t been any recorded cases of overdose from the use of kratom. If you consume too much, your body will simply expel it. But try to stick to the recommended dose to avoid side effects such as nausea, sleeplessness, lack of focus, loss of appetite, runny nose, etc. If you do suffer any of these effects, drink plenty of water and stop using kratom for a while. The symptoms should go away relatively quickly.
What is the duration of kratom effects?
Effects usually last 5 or 6 hours. If taken on an empty stomach, the effects will be noticeable within 30 minutes after ingestion. If taken after a meal, it may take 1-2 hours for the effects to kick in. When swallowed in capsules, give yourself time for the capsule to dissolve in the stomach.
Are there any risks to wrong kratom dosage?
In itself, kratom does not pose any real danger to the user, however when mixed with other drugs it is possible to experience a reaction. One of the most common risks is falling asleep while engaged in other activities. It is never a good idea to use kratom while driving, or while operating potentially dangerous equipment. Even if kratom causes you to feel stimulated, it is still a bad idea to drive because sleep may come on you without warning. Power tools should be avoided when under the influence of kratom.
Is kratom effective at managing pain?
Yes it is. Kratom is a powerful pain medication. As a matter of fact, aside from opium, kratom is probably the most trusted herbal analgesic today. A large number of people use it to alleviate pain and aches, and to help manage long-term painful conditions such as arthritis.
Is it possible to develop tolerance to kratom?
Yes. As is the case with any drug, you can develop tolerance from using it every day – in which case you will need to take larger doses to get the same effect. To avoid this you can resort to only taking it twice a week. Bear in mind that kratom has active opioid receptor agonists as the active ingredients, which makes it very likely that a cross-tolerance may appear with other opioid drugs. So if you have a tolerance to any opioid drug it means you probably need a higher dose of kratom to get any effect. The good news is tolerance is only temporary. Normal sensitivity resumes within a few weeks of abstinence.
Different Uses of Kratom
The medicinal effects are broad and diverse due to the uniqueness of kratom’s alkaloid profile. The main effects are:
- Pain relief
- Energy promotion
- Insomnia relief
- Immune system stimulation
- Mood lifting
- Depression relief
- Opiate withdrawal relief
- Opiate maintenance
- Cognition enhancing
- Lowers blood sugar
Apart from this wide range of medicinal applications, kratom also has other positive effects such as high anti-oxidant properties and high vitamin content.
To find a dose that works for you, you need the following:
- Start by selecting a specific strain that you believe fulfills your requirements; for instance a white strain may be more effective for nootropic assistance. On the other hand, red veins leaves are more effective at pain relief.
- Search for kratom vendors that sell this particular strain in capsule form
- Do your research online and find out if there are any other tips on usage for your particular strain of kratom
Ideally you want something that saves time and is efficient. This is why capsules are most popular. They come in standard dosage from the manufacturer and there are many different sizes of capsules, each with its own potency. When you have a specific reason for taking kratom, you will know which size of capsule works best for you.
What are safe usage guidelines?
While kratom doesn’t present any real danger to users, it is wise to err on the side of caution: which is why we don’t recommend that anyone use it more than 2-3 times a week. This is to make sure there’s only enough of it in your blood to be useful without making it a habit. In essence, you should reserve kratom as a special but occasional treat, and not use it every day for its powerful effects. This way, you will avoid building a tolerance or habituation and therefore get even more pleasure from it.