Things to consider
Kratom is a tropical tree native to South Asia. Kratom leaves or extract from its leaves have been used in alternative medicine for chronic pain and other conditions.
Many people also use kratom to self-treat symptoms of depression or anxiety.
Although some evidence suggests that certain strains of kratom can help alleviate these symptoms, more research is needed.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved kratom for the treatment of depression or anxiety.
Kratom is considered a dietary supplement, so it isn’t regulated by the FDA.
If you’re thinking about using kratom to treat depression or anxiety symptoms, exercise caution.
Read on to find out more about the purported benefits and potential risks.
How does it work for depression and anxiety?
Kratom isn’t technically an opioid, but its effects are similar to those of opioids, such as morphine or codeine.
The active ingredient in kratom is called mitragynine. Mitragynine binds to opioid receptors in the brain, relieving pain.
This action might be behind the antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects reported by some kratom users.
There’s currently very little research on kratom’s effects on mood.
One 2017 review confirmed that among some users, kratom enhances mood and relieves anxiety.
The researchers also highlighted that kratom can have sedative effects. Researchers have yet to examine whether side effects such as sedation can interfere with its purported benefits.
Other purported benefits
In addition to depression and anxiety, kratom is said to treat the following conditions:
- muscle aches
- high blood pressure
- opioid addiction and withdrawal
- post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
According to a 2017 reviewTrusted Source, other studies report that kratom also has anti-inflammatory, immunity-enhancing, and appetite-suppressing effects.
More research is needed to confirm these benefits.
What is kratom exactly?
Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a tree found in parts of Southeast Asia, including Thailand and Malaysia.
Kratom’s active ingredient, mitragynine, is found in its leaves.
At lower doses, mitragynine has energizing effects. At higher doses, it has sedative effects.
In parts of Southeast Asia, people have been using kratom for centuries. Other names for kratom include:
Kratom is illegal in many countries around the world, including Australia, Thailand, and Denmark.
Although it’s legal in the United States, there have been efforts to restrict access to and regulate the substance.
How is it used, and is it safe to ingest?
Kratom can be ingested in a variety of forms, including:
In some cases, kratom leaves are eaten fresh or dried, or boiled and consumed as a tea.
Dried leaves can also be ground up into a powder and ingested.
Kratom can be smoked or vaporized, though this is less common.
The method of ingestion may influence kratom’s effects. However, there’s currently no research identifying which method is preferable in treating depression and anxiety.
Are there different types or strains?
Different types of kratom are called strains. Most kratom strains take their names from their places of origin.
As with marijuana strains, different kratom strains have slightly different effects.
There’s currently no research into the effects of different strains of kratom. The following descriptions are based only on anecdotal reports.
It’s also worth noting that the effects of a particular strain might vary from one supplier to another.
Maeng da refers to several different types of purportedly strong and long-lasting kratom.
Maeng da originated in Thailand, but Indonesian and Malaysian maeng da strains are also available. Maeng da can be green, red, or white in color.
It’s said to act as a stimulant, increasing energy while also inducing feelings of well-being and reducing pain. Some people report feeling talkative after taking maeng da.
Indo kratom comes from Indonesia. It can be green, red, or white in color.
Indo kratom is considered to be less stimulating than other strains, though some types may have mild energizing effects.
In general, Indo strains are known for increasing relaxation, relieving pain, and promoting feelings of well-being. They are thought to help with anxiety.
Bali kratom originates in Indonesia. It’s reddish in color and believed to provide effective pain relief.
Users say it’s the most “opioid-like” of all the kratom strains. It may help relieve pain-related conditions, such as depression or chronic pain.
Green Malay kratom comes from Malaysia. It’s dark green in color.
At low doses, it’s said to provide energy and focus along with pain relief. At high doses, it may have more of a sedative effect.
It’s said to help with anxiety.
Thai kratom comes from Thailand. Red, green, and white vein Thai kratom is available, and the effects may vary according to color.
Green and white vein strains are said to provide stimulation and create a euphoric “high.”
Red vein Thai kratom is said to provide pain relief.
Borneo kratom comes from Borneo. It comes in red, green, and white vein varieties.
Compared to other strains, Borneo kratom is considered to have a more sedating effect. It may be used to treat anxiety and stress.
Malaysian strains, including green, red, and white vein kratom varieties, are said to provide a balance between stimulating and sedative effects.
Users report mood lifts, pain relief, and increased energy and focus.
Are dosage guidelines available?
Little is known about kratom dosage guidelines for depression and anxiety.
Generally speaking, the recommended dose depends on your age, sex, and health status. Other factors, such as the method of ingestion and the strain, can also influence kratom’s effects.
For example, kratom extract is considered to be significantly more potent than kratom powder.
In a 2018 study based on a survey of 8,049 people who use kratom, most people reported that a dose of up to 5 grams of powder taken up to 3 times per day was adequate to experience effects.