CBD vs. Kratom: Which One is REALLY Better?
In today’s world of cannabis acceptance and frequent use, it is common to hear CBD recommended to help treat a myriad of different conditions, especially pain relief.
However, despite CBD’s inherent effectiveness, there does exist a variety of other options that can be equally as effective and also equally as natural. One such alternative is Mitragyna Speciosa, better known as Kratom, which is a tropical evergreen in the coffee family originating from Southeast Asia. Recently, kratom has begun showing up in the western world, used both medicinally and as a recreational drug similar to opioids.
So, which is better between CBD and kratom? Let’s weigh up the differences between these two different substances and figure out which one is the most effective.
So, What Actually is CBD?
For starters, let’s examine what CBD actually is. Though CBD has become something incredibly commonplace, both as a medicine and as a regular nutritional supplement, it is still important to actually understand exactly what it is. CBD, properly known as cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid from the cannabis plant. It exists in nature at about 1/10th the ratio of THC within the cannabis plant, but it acts very differently when compared to THC.
When imbibed, it latches on to the endocannabinoid system and triggers the CB1 and CB2 receptors, encouraging their useful benefits and aiding in the body’s healing mechanisms. This happens differently than what happens with THC, which attaches itself to those same receptors, only overstimulating them and causing the psychoactive high that is so famous with marijuana.
CBD, however, doesn’t cause any kind of high, allowing you to experience its healing effects without the irritation of the accompanying high. CBD’s medicinal benefits are governed principally by its dosage; when taken in small amounts, it is able to help treat a myriad of irritating conditions, such as inflammation or even neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease. However, when taken in high doses, it is able to help combat mental disorders such as anxiety or depression.
The multi-purpose nature of CBD has led to it being used for a variety of different conditions all over the world, causing it to be slowly accepted into the medicinal world. Both the USA and the UK, two countries rather infamous for their inability to recognize the usefulness of drugs in general, have recently legalized CBD as medicine for use with specific conditions, bringing CBD further into the public consciousness as legitimate medicine, rather than a simple, supposedly illicit, substance.
Kratom, however, is rather different.
What is Kratom?
While CBD is an extracted chemical compound from the cannabis plant, kratom is actually the name of the entire plant and is ingested primarily through the leaves. Kratom actually developed almost alongside the cannabis plant, growing primarily in Southeast Asia where it is used frequently. Traditionally, Kratom leaves would be offered to guests as a welcome gift. This was done because of its stimulating effects, known to both increase energy and sexual desire, as well as abate pain.
The active ingredients that make up the Kratom leaf are Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine. These are alkaloid compounds which are remarkably similar to the compounds found in opium-based drugs, such as morphine and heroin. In this way, kratom is often compared to an opioid due to its similar effects and similar chemical composition. However, as is common in the scientific world, the chemical differences between opioids and kratom are distinct enough not to group them together. This is part of the reason why kratom is still in a somewhat dubious legal position compared to opium-based narcotics.
Kratom is actually quite similar to cannabis in some ways, as there are distinct strains that create different effects, similar to how cannabis is divided into Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and a hybrid category. Maeng Da, or White Vein Kratom, is known as being especially energy-inducing, commonly taken as a drug to help encourage focus and personal drive. Red Vein Kratom, however, is known for its more sedative and narcotic effects and far more similar to Morphine in its effects. The final strain type, Green, is often considered a hybrid variety.
When taken, kratom interacts with the body in quite a similar way to opioids. However, it triggers the body’s receptors in a more gradual, less intense way – similar in a fashion to CBD. Some people consider kratom to be a sort of CBD equivalent when compared to heroin, offering some of the same medicinal effects but without as many of the inherent side effects.
To examine which one is really better, let’s take a look at methods of ingestion.
CBD vs. Kratom – How Do You Take Them?
Kratom is surprisingly easy to take, though the method differs depending on what effects you are looking for. A conventional method of taking the energy-inducing type of kratom, Maeng Da, is to simply chew the leaves. These are chewed, similar to cacao leaves, and provide a continuous high as you chew them, as the relevant compounds are released into your mouth slowly when you break down the cellulose walls through chewing. Another conventional method that works for all the three varieties is to make a tea from the leaves, allowing you to drink a beneficial, if somewhat bitter, tea to gain its effects.
CBD, on the other hand, has a multitude of different methods of imbibing. Perhaps the most common method is through CBD oil, which is extracted CBD suspended within inert oil to make it easier to take orally. You can also buy CBD edibles, or merely smoke a CBD-rich variety of marijuana to get its effects. There are also suppositories available for CBD, but… let’s stick to the more popular oral methods. In this regard, CBD is a lot easier to actually get into your body, simply due to the sheer variety of different methods. Though chewing a kratom leaf is exceptionally simple, it is not exactly easy to have to carry around several decaying leaves from a tree that only grows in Southeast Asia. Additionally, it is not covert, requiring a pretty conspicuous action of removing a big leaf from your pocket and then chewing it over several minutes.
The main reason why CBD has so many more methods of consumption is due to its popularity; when there are thousands of people using it, companies are eventually going to come up with more comfortable and more convenient methods of using it. So, while kratom might eventually receive more comfortable and varied ways to imbibe it, CBD is entirely the winner in this category.
However, what happens when you begin to consider side effects.
What Are the Side Effects of CBD and Kratom?
Whenever you consider taking any kind of new drug, it is always important to consider what type of side effects you can suffer as a result of using it. With CBD, the initial concern is that you will get the risk of psychosis that marijuana is sometimes feared to cause, as well as the psychoactive high. In actual fact, CBD is actually an excellent way to combat psychosis, as discovered by Crippa et al. in their critical review in the Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Design. Additionally, as previously mentioned, CBD does not cause any psychoactive high.
So, what are CBD’s side effects? Not really a lot to worry about. There is a slight chance of diarrhea at the start of using it, but this only affects a small subsection of people. Additionally, it can cause lower blood pressure, but this is more an unintended effect as this is simply part of what CBD does. The lower blood pressure is not really enough to concern yourself with unless you already suffer from chronically low blood pressure. However, kratom’s side effects are far more significant. A seminal study only recently conducted by Dimy Flutyau and Neelambika Revadigfar for Frontiers in Psychiatry evaluated the effects, risks, and side effects of kratom, focusing on the adverse effects that it can cause.
Kratom use has been associated with increased psychosis, as well as the development of seizures, respiratory failure, and even death. Most of this is a result of continuous use, so you won’t be at significant risk unless you use it frequently, but these symptoms are somewhat similar to the drug it is often compared to – heroin. Additionally, you can expect a considerable risk of addiction, as well as constipation and even some liver toxicity. All of these symptoms on their own would be bad enough, but when combined, they create a drug that is particularly dangerous.
Though kratom is far less risky than using actual opioids, there is significant evidence to support the fact that this drug is far, far more dangerous for you than CBD.
Final Thoughts on CBD vs Kratom?
Despite all the practical and medicinal benefits of kratom, especially concerning its ability to help combat issues of both localized and chronic pain, the side effects and associated risks just don’t seem worth it. One of the worst problems associated with kratom use is that it can cause withdrawal symptoms that are incredibly similar to those suffered by heroin addicts, meaning that even if you use kratom for a short while, you can find yourself suffering from Withdrawal Syndrome long after stopping its use.
Additionally, the Food and Drug Administration officially ruled in a statement in 2018 that there is significant potential for kratom to have the potential for abuse. What’s more, they also ruled that there was no evidence to suggest that the use of kratom was in any way safe or effective as a treatment option for any condition.
It is rare for the FDA to give such a harsh ruling, especially when there so many users of a substance around the world, but the evidence rather speaks for itself. One important thing to note is that, of the 44 deaths in the USA between 2011 and 2017 from kratom, only one single case involved no other drugs. This means that the primary risk potential for kratom is when it is mixed with other drugs, notably cocaine and heroin. However, even with that reduced element of risk associated with using kratom on its own, when it comes to picking between CBD and kratom, CBD will win every time. Though both have medicinal uses, CBD doesn’t seem to pose the same high level of risk for your health.