Kava vs kratom, which one is better? Both of these medicinal plants offer health and recreational benefits, but they are not the same thing. So what is the difference between kava and kratom? Read more to find out!
Kava Vs Kratom | A Comprehensive Comparison
What Exactly Is Kava Root?
Kava root, sometimes referred to as Kava-Kava, grows in the Pacific, specifically in the islands of the South Pacific, such as Polynesia and Fiji. Once harvested, the root is used to produce a drink known for its sedative and pain-relieving qualities. For decades, the natives of these South Pacific islands have used the kava root in religious celebrations such as the formal yaqona in Fiji.
Medicinally, kava root produces a calming effect that might be beneficial in pain management, muscular strain, and convulsion, even though it’s a mild stimulant similar to the drug Valium.
What Exactly Is Kratom?
Like kava, Mitragyna speciosa, commonly called kratom, is also a plant, but it grows in Indonesia and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is an evergreen tree reaching up to 82 feet high in height. Also like kava, kratom is known for its soothing benefits. It has been used as part of traditional medicine in Asia for centuries.
The leaves are the key components instead of the root. They can be chewed raw or used for extracts. Kratom is popular as a recreational drug, as well. In areas like Thailand, it is served to party guests as a mood enhancer and used in religious ceremonies. Medicinally, it is taken as a pain reliever and used to treat coughs and digestive issues.
Kava vs Kratom: Which One Is Better?
Now, let’s compare kava and kratom. What’s important to keep in mind is kava root and kratom leaves are different in many ways. These are two unique plants each with potential benefits, but understanding how they are different allows users to decide which one will suit their needs better.
What Are the Similarities Between Kava and Kratom?
For one thing, they are both plants. Kratom is an evergreen tree, a part of the coffee family. Kava, on the other hand, is a member of the pepper family. With kratom, users tend to chew the leaves, but it makes a nice drink as well. Kava root is also made into a drink that helps one feel relaxed. Both of these plants are used as a substitute for recreational alcohol at parties, religious ceremonies, and festivals.
Both kava and kratom are used to help reduce anxiety, calm the body and decrease the feeling of stress, reduce anxiety, lower down inhibitions to promote social interaction, and in some cases, makes you sleepy. The dosage of the plants depends on your purpose for using them.
What Are the Differences Between Kava and Kratom?
While both plants can be used for medical and recreational purposes, the way they interact with the body is very different. Kratom, on one hand, has alkaloids like mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine that work with the system to control pain. In this way, kratom is like morphine, even though it is not an opiate. Some alkaloids are even 10 times stronger than morphine.
In kava, it is the kavalactones affecting the body system by interacting with the limbic system — a critical part of the brain that controls mood and emotions. These kavalactones tap the GABA receptors in the brain, which makes the user feel happy.
Kava can also be used to sedate a person, but it’s generally safe since the person can retain a high-level of mental clarity even when given the plant. The herb is also, sometimes, used as a natural treatment for urinary tract infection, uterus inflammation, and venereal diseases. There is, however, limited research to support the benefits of kava for the said conditions.
Different Action Potential
Kratom relieves pain by targeting the opioid receptors and by stimulating other key receptors in the brain. Kava works differently, it stimulates the dopamine receptors instead. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter responsible for certain behaviors, specifically those that make you feel good. In this way, you can say kratom works directly on the part of the body that makes one feel pain, while kava is more about emotion and feeling good.
Kava can be used to reduce anxiety, get better sleep, improve the mood, relax the muscles after a workout, as well as relieve pain. This is a great companion for chill night outs or parties to lessen social anxiety. Too much dosage, however, can be too sedating. In some cases, consuming it in large amounts can be harmful to the liver.
While kratom also helps alleviate stress, anxiety, and pain, it also increases libido and aids in concentration. It is imperative to use it in moderation as too much can cause dependence, insomnia, or even intolerance.
One of the distinct difference between kratom and kava is with regards to their legality. The use of kratom is controversial in many parts of the world because it works similar to opioids like morphine. Kava is considered to be safe in most regions and even popular in the U.S.
Kava vs Kratom Taste
In terms of taste, kratom is much stronger and more on the bitter side. Aside from this, it also has a distinct smell which can be difficult to get used to. It is definitely something you take for the various benefits and effects rather than its taste. Because of this, it is important to use the leaves in a way that will mask its bitter taste. Kratom users often add their leaves to sweet drinks or rich foods to get their fix.
Kava, on the other hand, is much milder in taste. It is a bit earthy but not nearly as bitter as kratom. Due to this, people tend to favor kava due to how easy it is to consume.
Should You Take Kava and Kratom Together?
While the two herbs seem similar with regards to their effect on the user, it is not advisable to take them together. Both plants can already have unwanted effects if taken on high doses, this can get worse when taken together.
Both kratom and kava are herbs with promise. For most people, it takes a little trial and error to find out what works best for their needs. Great care and caution must be taken when combining them, though. Together, they make a very powerful stimulant.
Which one works for you? We can probably wait for a study on kava and kratom mix. Let us know in the comments section below.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in January 2018 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.
Disclaimer: As with any natural remedy, please use discretion on the amount and frequency as it can have adverse effects. You can find our full disclaimer here.