Kratom tea is an infused therapeutic beverage that is taken for natural pain relief, to reduce stress and anxiety, and even to combat opioid withdrawal. The drink is made from the kratom (mitragyna speciosa) plant, and comes in a variety of offerings, which are either sedating or stimulating. This article is the only introduction you’ll need to kratom tea, and focuses on:
- How to harness the sedative and stimulating effects of kratom
- How to make the tea
- Whether tea is more effective than capsules
- The ‘toss and wash’ method
- Kratom tea’s legal status
Let’s begin by discussing the science behind kratom, this alternative medicine currently making waves in America and throughout the West.
What is kratom?
Kratom is a plant that grows in Southeast Asian countries – primarily Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia – where it has been used for hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years. From the coffee family, kratom is often taken as a chronic pain reliever and stimulant combined. Some strains are more relaxing than others, and are better for evening use and to promote sleep.
The benefits of kratom come mainly from the plant’s alkaloids. There are a collection of alkaloids in kratom extracts, but the effects are centered around two: mitragynine, and its hydroxylated version 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG). Both compounds are mu-opioid receptor agonists, the interaction by which opium and synthetic opioid drugs deliver their analgesic effects. However, the bonds between kratom alkaloids are not as strong, making the plant decidedly less addictive than these drugs.
Kratom tea effects
Tea effects vary depending on whether the powder or leaves are from red, green or white vein strains. Effects tend to be long-lasting when the extract is brewed. This is ideal for tackling overnight pain, or if in need of a stimulant to last several hours. Some types of kratom are also enjoyed for recreational purposes, with the plant providing a euphoria-like effect. Others benefit more from its subtle mood-enhancing qualities, using kratom as an antidepressant.
Potential side effects
Kratom is not without its risks, although these vary from user to user. Those who consume large quantities may be subjected to withdrawal symptoms, although nowhere near as intense as from opioid painkillers. Kratom may also cause dry mouth, nausea, constipation, hallucinations and delusions. Very large doses have been linked to liver damage and seizures. Although how much of this comes from kratom use only is very unclear, due to the absence of research.
But it is important to be aware of concerns, which have been raised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). It also highlights why buying top quality kratom from reputable vendors is so essential, as is the case for any unregulated, and burgeoning industry.
How to make kratom tea
The tea brewing process can be as complex as you want to make it. There are traditionalists who prefer tea recipes that involve the leaves. Others rather just use a powder – either by adding it themselves or by using a tea bag. Kratom is notorious for being quite bitter. With a tea, it’s possible to neutralize the taste by adding lemon juice, ginger extract or any other extract with a punchy and tasty flavor.
With kratom leaves: Take as many leaves of the kratom as you require and let them steep in boiling water for between 15 to 20 minutes. Once you’re happy, strain the water into a cup, and you’ll have a delicious tea to enjoy. For anyone who drinks kratom, it’s worth trying this method, if only once.
With kratom powder: If leaves are the old-school approach, then think of using kratom powder as like making instant coffee. Just scoop the desired amount into a cup of boiling water, and stir it until all the clumps are worked out of the mix. Leave for a few minutes until the brew reaches a drinkable temperature.
With tea bags: These are self-explanatory. If making tea this way, it’s absolutely no different to making a regular cup of tea. Just dunk the tea bag in for a few minutes, before removing and drinking. Tea bags are perfect for kratom users with on-the-go lifestyles who don’t have time to measure out scoops of powder or boil up tea leaves. With a boiling cup of water, you can make a kratom tea with tea bags wherever you are.
What kratom tea is best for me?
When choosing a kratom tea, the first thing to decide is the vein of kratom you want. From there, you can start to get more specific with the strains. Generally, red vein kratom is sedating, white vein kratom is energizing, and green vein kratom offers a blend of both. But this isn’t an exact blueprint, as the effects are dose-dependent – white strains can sometimes be sedating, and red strains are stimulating on occasions.
White vein kratom is what manual labor workers in Asia have taken for years to help them get by, free from fatigue in brutal working conditions. These strains are more akin to coffee than any other kratom plants, although the effects are considerably more powerful. But it’s why White Thai kratom among others are taken for concentration, mood, and better stamina.
A white tea brew is an ideal replacement to coffee in the mornings and early afternoons, if in need of a pick-me-up. Be wary about consuming white strains too late in the day, as the heightened energy levels may make it harder to sleep, a la caffeine. Other top white teas to try include White Sumatra, White Indo and White Borneo.
This is the perfect kratom tea for when you’re in severe pain, and need opiate-like, sedative effects, sans the intoxication. Regular and high doses of red strains reliably offer these properties, with Red Bali particularly potent and sedating. Such powerful effects also come from Red Borneo kratom and Red Indo. An intriguing strain is Red Maeng Da, which is relaxing in high quantities, but stimulating in smaller doses. Perhaps try Red Maeng Da in lieu of white vein strains if the latter aren’t effective enough at suppressing your pain.
As red vein strains are super sedating, it’s recommended to take them toward the end of the day, when you have a chance to chill out. You probably won’t want to be busy completing mundane tasks after a red tea. But get everything done beforehand, and you’ll likely have an even better experience, with the positive effects of kratom amplified.
Green strains are more balanced, and a suitable introduction to kratom for anyone interested, but not convinced by its effects. These strains typically have cognitive benefits, without the intense stimulant rush of white veins. Green Malay kratom is good for pain relief, but is not an overly strong sedative either. Green Horn and others are good all-day strains, and a green kratom tea will meet all your kratom needs whether it’s morning, noon or night.
The ‘toss and wash’ approach
The ‘toss and wash’ method is in reference to taking kratom powder. It’s a quicker way to get kratom into your system than tea, which is beneficial if you require instant effects to suppress acute symptoms. ‘Toss and wash’ is unique to kratom and takes a little getting used to, not least because the plant has a really bitter taste. With ‘toss and wash’, it’s possible to mix other strains together and take them at the same time.
How do you do it? Simply measure out a dose of kratom, and put it into your mouth with a big sip of water. Swill the kratom powder around for a short while until satisfied, before swallowing. Many people get put off ‘toss and wash’ because of the taste and the difficulties getting used to taking kratom in this way. It may never be your number one choice, but it’s worth becoming acquainted with it in case you’re unable to make a tea, but have kratom powder to hand.
Kratom tea vs capsules
Kratom tea is the classic way of ingesting kratom. The alkaloids are essentially fast-tracked into the bloodstream, bringing the drug’s effects more rapidly than with capsules. This is helpful for relieving pain and boosting energy. Tea is also a cheaper option than capsules. The flavor is not for everyone though, and it does make some feel nauseous.
In contrast, kratom capsules are not bitter, and the dosage will always be exactly the same. If only taking a set quantity of kratom is important to you, capsules are better and will give more peace of mind than tea. However, kratom capsules are usually large, and a few are sometimes needed for a single dose. Those who struggle to take big capsules may not like this method.
Where to buy kratom tea
Tea is available from all good vendors, and most sellers will have a massive selection for you to pick from. The best tea is lab-tested to confirm that the product is high quality, has as much kratom as stated, and doesn’t consist of harmful byproducts that could pose short or long-term side effects. Tea is for sale both online and in-store. As the industry grows in the United States, more kratom products are coming to market.
Kratom’s legal status
As of September 2019, kratom is a legal drug in the United States. Attempts by the DEA to make kratom a Schedule 1 drug failed in 2016 followed by a groundswell of grassroots support for the plant. There are no current plans to federally ban kratom, although that doesn’t mean the government or US Congress won’t try again in the future.
However, six states have prohibited kratom citing safety concerns. These are Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin. The City of San Diego has also banned kratom, as have other counties across the country. Unfortunately, many of these rulings have misrepresented kratom, labelling it a synthetic and “designer drug.” Check the kratom laws in your area to find out if you can legally purchase products.
Kratom is making a big, positive difference to the lives of millions of Americans. This natural drug is helping to reduce chronic pain and dependency on pharmaceutical, synthetic opioids which have caused the opioid epidemic. Kratom is also an exciting alternative supplement for insomnia, depression, anxiety and stress. Want to start using kratom? What better way than going for the traditional, tea-brewing method, which is efficient and effective.