Kratom versus CBD: What’s the Difference?

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Are you torn between using kratom or CBD?

Maybe you heard of either of these, but you’re not quite sure what they are. You aren’t alone!

These are two herbal supplements that are taking the wellness market by storm. They both have unique health benefits that are worth exploring.

CBD and kratom are often used to aid with common conditions like anxiety and for pain management.

Although these herbal remedies are similar, they work in different ways and have different side effects.

In this article, we’ll cover the basics of both supplements, common uses, side effects, and how kratom and cannabis/CBD compare.

What is Kratom?

If you’ve ever seen or heard of kratom, you may be wondering why it’s so popular.

It’s commonly found over-the-counter at headshops. If you’ve ever been to a cannabis or alternative lifestyle trade show, you’ll find countless exhibitors pushing kratom as well.

Kratom is a fantastic, emerging alternative to opioid drugs and prescription pain pills. It’s relatively new to the western world, but starting to gain traction. It’s a unique herbal supplement prized for its potential  therapeutic benefits.

Kratom is made from the ground up leaves of a common species of evergreen tree found in Southeast Asia. This species is known Mitragyna speciosa. Natives have been using the leaves of this tree for  thousands of years because of its range of medicinal qualities.

Kratom – Super Speciosa

Available at Super Speciosa
Each batch is lab-tested for safety and purity. Super Speciosa products are high in active ingredient Mitragynine. Enjoy same-day shipping.

Kratom Extract Tincture

Available at Super Speciosa
High potency, fast-acting sublingual kratom extract tincture. Each dose delivers about 30mg of Mitragynine in delicious watermelon flavor. Feel the effects within minutes.

Common uses of Kratom

Kratom is most commonly used for improving mood, pain relief, enhancing concentration, and increasing energy. Although, it can also be enjoyed recreationally as well.

In ancient times, the kratom leaves were either brewed in tea, chewed, or ground up to cook in various meals and used as a dietary supplement. But in more recent times, the common way to consume kratom has become oral ingestion by swallowing ground up leaves as pill capsules.

The American Kratom Association (AKA), a consumer advocacy group, estimates that 10-16 million people in the U.S. regularly use kratom by either eating its ground leaves in food or brewing them in tea. 

In Asia, where use has long been widespread, people use it in small doses as an energy and mood booster, similar to coffee use in the West. They use larger amounts for pain, or recreationally like beer and wine.

Source: Hopkins Medicine

Apparently, kratom can also be smoked, although smoking kratom is not recommended and is very uncommon.

Users report that the effects of kratom can feel similar to that of opioid prescription meds such as morphine, codeine, or vicodin (hydrocodone). It is also commonly used to treat opioid addiction and withdrawal.

How Kratom works 

As mentioned, Kratom can be consumed in a number of ways.

There’s plenty of online distributors that offer kratom in different varieties or strains and sold in many different forms such as loose powders, capsules, and teas.

Common strains you’ll find online include names like Maeng Da and Bali. They also come in different color varieties such as red bali and white or green maeng da.

The most common and convenient way to consume kratom is by ingesting the ground up leaf.

Super Speciosa is just one of few premium kratom vendors that’s GMP qualified by the American Kratom Association. They offer some of the best quality Kratom on the market. All of their kratom products are lab tested for purity, quality, and consistency. Super Speciosa also offers a high potency Kratom extract tincture.

Kratom – Super Speciosa

Available at Super Speciosa
Each batch is lab-tested for safety and purity. Super Speciosa products are high in active ingredient Mitragynine. Enjoy same-day shipping.

Kratom Extract Tincture

Available at Super Speciosa
High potency, fast-acting sublingual kratom extract tincture. Each dose delivers about 30mg of Mitragynine in delicious watermelon flavor. Feel the effects within minutes.

While kratom and cannabis can have similar effects, the two supplements work quite differently from each other, and carry their own benefits and risks.

Unlike cannabis, which has to be heated to become active (through a process called decarboxylation), kratom does not. Simply ingesting raw kratom leaves can take effect in minutes.

The active ingredient in kratom is an alkaloid called mitragynine. This alkaloid has an effect on the opioid receptor system which promotes a sense of calm, relief from pain, and a boost to your well-being.

The two main chemicals, mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, have strong activity at the main opioid receptor, the “mu” receptor, which is the same one stimulated by heroin and oxycodone.


Kratom leaves contain many chemical compounds (known as bioactive alkaloids) that influence the body… Mitragynine is found in kratom leaves and breaks down into 7-hydroxymitragynine in the body when digested.22, 27 Both activate mu-opioid receptors (specific molecular structures on the surface of nerve cells), but the resulting effects only partially compare to those of opioids like heroin or oxycodone.28

Source: National Institutes of Health

Kratom also has a bi-phasic nature meaning that a low dose can induce a different effect than a high dose.

What is CBD

CBD is one of the many cannabinoids in cannabis and hemp plants. It is the most popularly marketed cannabis molecule after THC.

Many users turn to CBD, not only because of its therapeutic potential, but because it works without getting you high.

Because CBD does not contain THC (the molecule in cannabis that gets you stoned), it is legal across the U.S. and is widely considered safe for long-term use. There is virtually no negative side effects and you can not overdose on CBD.

As with kratom, CBD comes in many forms. However, being that CBD is more popular in the U.S. and has been widely studied, the cannabis market is booming with CBD products in various forms, including tinctures, CBD pills, CBD gummies, vapes, and much more.

Aside from the form of CBD product, you can also get it in different ratios with other compounds. These can be products such as CBD isolates (pure CBD by itself), full-spectrum CBD, and broad-spectrum CBD (meaning it is combined with other cannabis compounds).

Common uses of CBD

For many, CBD serves as a cheap and effective alternative to prescription drugs, especially when dealing with issues like chronic pain and anxiety.

In some cases, CBD has also been reported to work well in treating more serious health-related issues such as seizures and certain types of cancer.

Some users argue that CBD by itself is not that effective however.

Many would agree that CBD works best with the “entourage effect” which is when you combine CBD with THC and other compounds that are naturally present in cannabis.

Meanwhile, others still believe that CBD is effective by itself – results will vary.

How CBD works 

Just like with kratom, CBD can be smoked, though this is less common.

Many prefer to vaporize CBD, ingest CBD, or use topical rub-ons to treat muscle aches and joint pain.

Sunday Scaries CBD
Sunday Scaries CBD

CBD works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system which can help to alleviate chronic pain and help with other issues.

While it can produce mildly similar effects to kratom, CBD is an entirely different plant molecule and affects different systems of the body.

Users rarely ever report feeling any type of euphoria or high effect from consuming CBD.

How CBD compares to Kratom 

These two natural remedies can impact your well-being significantly.

CBD tends to work well for various types of pain such as inflammation-related pain, neuropathic and chronic pain.

On the other hand, Kratom is becoming more frequently used for chronic pain and acute pains associated with withdrawal from opiates. It is also used as an alternative to prescription medications and for those battling addiction.

Both of these remedies play a critical role in managing pain and anxiety. A large number of users report that either of these supplements are effective at inducing a sense of calm or relaxing state.

Kratom is more notably used for treating substance abuse and withdrawal. Because kratom interacts with opioid receptors, it can be effective in alleviating the desire to reach for pain pills and may even provide a comparable sensation as it does give off a more pronounced “high effect” than CBD.

Because CBD more well-known and has been more researched, it is widely accepted to be much safer than kratom. Although, evidence on the safety of kratom is inconclusive as there are no long-term studies on it.

However, some studies indicate that Kratom may be safer than pharmaceutical and prescription opioids:

Some research suggests that mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine may not cause some of the more serious adverse effects associated with opioid use—such as respiratory depression (trouble breathing)—that can occur during a life-threatening opioid overdose.29 Scientists also have observed that mitragynine may bind to adrenergic receptors, serotonin receptors and dopamine receptors, which may be responsible for some of the arousing effects some people who use kratom report experiencing.1, 30, 31

Source: National Institutes of Health

CBD is widely considered safe with long-term use without any risk of addiction or long-term side effects.

Conversely, some suggest that kratom should only be used in the short-term as there is potential for abuse with regular kratom users.

While there are differences in the conditions that both of these supplements are used to treat, there are many overlaps as well.

Here’s a quick comparison of common uses for CBD versus kratom:


  • chronic pain
  • joint pain
  • muscle pain
  • anxiety
  • sleep
  • relaxation


  • pain
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • opioid withdraw
  • substance abuse
  • relaxation
  • boost energy

Why you should try Kratom or CBD?

If you want to take a break from prescription medications or they’re not working well, you might consider turning to natural supplements.

Both kratom and CBD are relatively safer as there is less chance of causing a drug dependence.

However, before you walk down this path, you should check with your medical doctor and do your own research.

CBD tends to have a slightly longer list of applications that are backed by evidence on their efficacy and safety. It’s primarily useful in dealing with sleep disorders, inflammation, anxiety, and pain. 

CBD is also making an impressive entrance and gaining popularity in the sports and fitness community. If you’re an athlete or recovering from injury, CBD has proven helpful in pain management and speeding up the recovery process.

There are also reports that CBD may help to treat various severe illnesses like cardiovascular illnesses, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and diabetes. Again, check with a medical professional on this as these conditions are more serious and can be life-threatening.

Kratom might be worth trying if you’re looking for pain relief, managing depression, and reducing anxiety.

Many users report that kratom has also helped  opiate addiction. In some cases, kratom can be used to effectively reduce dependence on strong opioids which can be highly addictive. If you have an addictive personality, kratom may be a great option to ween off other drugs.

I have been using kratom to treat my chronic pain for years and have had no issues at all. I like the way it helps my pain and it doesn’t have any side effects like the opiates I was on in the past

David Dockery,

You can also use Kratom for any other withdrawal issues like nausea, sleeplessness, and vomiting. It’ll enable you to come down while balancing mood swings. 

Side effects of Kratom and CBD

Due to its biphasic nature, kratom tends to make users feel more energized at lower doses. At higher dose, users tend to feel more sedated and spacey. It is common to experience a sort of “high effect” or sense of euphoria when using kratom.

In rare cases, some users report that kratom causes dry mouth, chills, dizziness, and high blood pressure and irregular heart beat. It is not advisable to use kratom if you have a known heart condition.

CBD, on the hand, has far fewer known side effects. It barely affects cognitive ability, nor makes you feel drowsy. Its effects can make you feel relaxed to the point of tiredness, but you won’t necessarily feel a downer effect or a sense of euphoria that is typically induced with opiates.

It is important to monitor your dosages as effects may vary depending on many factors such as your weight, age, gender, tolerance, and of course, the quality of product.

If shopping for kratom or CBD, be sure to only buy from reputable brands that have lab-tested products to ensure quality and consistency.

While there are suggested serving sizes, there’s hardly any specific dosage as effects vary widely from person-to-person.

Additional Kratom Info

Only Buy Lab-Tested Kratom

Getting lab-tested Kratom is important. Since Kratom is unregulated, every company that offers it has a different process and quality control standards.

A common issue with kratom sold online is that each batch can very significantly in the contents of active ingredients.

According to Kratom manufacturer Super Speciosa, there can be significant difference between two batches of the same kratom:

“…unadulterated natural kratom leaf, Mitragynine (the main active ingredient) can range from 0.5% to 1.5%. To illustrate the variance, two grams of kratom from one batch may have 10 milligrams of Mitragynine, whereas two grams from a different batch may have 30 milligrams – a 3x difference!”


Effects Between Types of Kratom Strains & Varieties

The effects of Kratom will vary from person-to-person.

Here’s a couple important factors that are known to effect one’s experience with kratom:

  • serving size
  • tolerance
  • unique brain chemistry

Every batch of kratom unique. Different varieties/strains may contain varying amounts of the alkaloids which affect an individual’s experience.

Due to kratom’s biphasic nature, a low serving size may produce an energizing effect, while a higher serving size may induce a completely different effect that is noticeably more sedative.

In general, green strains are considered more energizing, white strains help more with focus, and reds are more for relaxation.

Maeng Da Kratom products will generally test higher in mitragynine (the most active alkaloid in kratom) than other varieties.

Variety colorEffect
White strainIncreased focus
Green strainIncreased energy
Red strainIncreased relaxation; more sedative
Kratom effects by variety color

How Kratom is Graded and Purity Levels

The Super Speciosa brand offers several Kratom varieties. Each type represents distinct batches of kratom. The batches are graded by mitragynine content and color, and then “named” based on these two factors.

For example, the Super Speciosa signature product is the kratom powder that tests highest for mitragynine. This product will always test at 1.4% or greater.

Kratom Maeng Da products, regardless of color, will always test higher than 1.0%. Kratom Bali and Thai varieties will usually test above 1.0% but may be as low as 0.5%.

Kratom – Super Speciosa

Available at Super Speciosa
Each batch is lab-tested for safety and purity. Super Speciosa products are high in active ingredient Mitragynine. Enjoy same-day shipping.

Kratom Extract Tincture

Available at Super Speciosa
High potency, fast-acting sublingual kratom extract tincture. Each dose delivers about 30mg of Mitragynine in delicious watermelon flavor. Feel the effects within minutes.

Common Kratom Questions (FAQ)

Is Kratom legal?

Kratom is legal to buy and consume in most areas of the United States. However, kratom is illegal in a few U.S. states and specific counties.

States where Kratom is currently considered illegal: Alabama, Indiana, Vermont, Wisconsin, Arkansas, and Rhode Island.

Check with your local law enforcement for the latest updates. You can also check Super Speciosa’s shipping policy for more details on kratom legality.

What does a kratom high feel like?

The high you may experience from kratom has been described as similar to what you might feel from opioid drugs and prescription pain-killer medications such as morphine, codeine, or vicodin.

Due to legal liabilities, companies that sell or manufacture kratom will typically avoid describing the effects of kratom in this way.

Can you smoke kratom?

While it is possible to smoke the kratom leaf, it is not advisable. Kratom is often consumed in a digestible form such as mixed in teas or ingested by swallowing kratom capsules.

What are some kratom alternatives?

Kratom is most often referred to as an alternative to opioid drugs and prescription pain killer medications. However, some people find similar benefits to kratom using cannabis and hemp products that either contain THC, CBD, or a mixture of both THC and CBD. Check out these legal THC and Kratom alternatives here.

What’s the best kratom for energy?

Typically, white and green or lighter colored strains/varieties of kratom are associated with more uplifting, stimulating, and energizing effects.

However, due to kratom’s bi-phasic nature, low doses of kratom are said to have an upper effect (energizing) while producing a downer effect (sedative) at higher doses, regardless of strain or variety.

What’s the best way to take kratom?

Kratom is best consumed by swallowing kratom capsules. Some brands recommend 2-4 capsules per serving, but this well vary based on the quality and purity of the kratom – specifically the alkaloid or Mitragynine content. Ideally, each serving should have around 1.5% of mitragynine per gram.

Is kratom a stimulant?

Low doses of kratom can be compared to a stimulating buzz of a cup of coffee. Kratom is often used at low doses for its energy-boosting effect and has a mild stimulant effect. It’s often used as a nootropic to enhance focus and productivity.
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Jesse is the founder at Cannabis Vape Reviews. Having worked in the cannabis industry for several years, he helped manage one of the leading tech-based cannabis delivery services in Los Angeles and is a vaporizer enthusiast.

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