Kratom comes from a Southeast Asian plant that is used to boost energy and reduce pain. It is commonly found as a powder or tablet, though some people have been able to buy the leaves.
Kratom is sold legally online, in stores that sell vitamins and supplements, or in tea shops.
This is probably why so many people are still unaware that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has debated classifying the substance as an opioid.
The FDA also recognized that many kratom users begin taking it so they can ease the discomfort of withdrawal from other substances or as an alternative to opioids.
Even though kratom can be used on its own, some people potentiate it. This means they find things to combine it with so that its effects are stronger or last longer.
Most information you can find online about kratom potentiation comes from blogs, websites dedicated to supplements, or online forums. Keep in mind that this information comes from personal experiences and not scientific data. People have used the following to potentiate kratom:
Used for its ability to improve focus, some people report potentiating kratom with coffee. Per ScienceDirect, coffee also contains beneficial polyphenols and antioxidants. Some people advise kratom users stay hydrated when using this method so that one does not become jittery or anxious.
The Guardian mentions that watercress is rich in vitamins A and K. It may also be able to ward off cancer. Watercress is often used to make kratom doses last a little longer.
The University of Illinois at Chicago says chamomile is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and relaxing properties. Some reports advise using it with kratom to boost its calming effects.
This mineral is present in the body and known for assisting with more than 300 processes in the body, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). It is said that using magnesium with kratom helps people avoid tolerance.
Most people associate turmeric with curry, but it is also known for being an anti-inflammatory substance. BBC says research is still being conducted on its properties, but turmeric may have benefits similar to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Combining this spice with kratom is intended to make kratom’s effects last longer.
Per the National Institutes of Health, Valerian is commonly promoted in the United States as a way to relax and decrease symptoms of insomnia. Users have reported an increased sedative effect after mixing valerian root with kratom.
This herb is known to fight conditions caused by inflammation, such as rheumatoid arthritis, gastritis, and even acne. It is associated with side effects like nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, and headaches. Reported effects of mixing kratom with cat’s claw include a stronger impact from kratom. Those who are on blood thinners are warned not to mix kratom with cat’s claw.
The most common way to take kratom is to dissolve the powder into a tea or soak kratom leaves in hot water.
This supplement is often found online and marketed as a way to ease symptoms of depression, as mentioned by Men’s Health. Classified a “smart drug,” phenibut is said to boost feelings of relaxation and happiness when it is mixed with kratom. One adverse side effect could include nausea, though taking only small doses of phenibut could avert this side effect.
Commonly used to treat epilepsy, gabapentin can also decrease pain, as stated by West Suffolk NHS. Dizziness, fatigue, and sleepiness are only some associated side effects of this medication. Mixing it with kratom reportedly increases relaxation in a pleasurable manner.
This antidepressant is currently approved for prescription use in Europe, Latin America, and Asia, as reported by CNN. It can also be purchased online. Not much is known about its expected results but mixing it with kratom can cause users to tolerate both substances much faster,
As with any substance, potentiating kratom — mixing it with other substances — comes with risks. In some instances, these risks can be mitigated by drinking enough water, as is the case with coffee and kratom. Drinking kratom with only hot water is probably the safest way to take the drug.
Some items used to strengthen kratom’s potency can also have unwanted effects. As reported by the website The Conversation, kratom is unregulated. The ingredients included in the powder are not always known, and they can be changed at any time. Someone who uses kratom frequently could end up accidentally using a powder with different components even if they purchase their kratom from the same provider every time.
Kratom products that are sold online are grown to be stronger than in their natural form. This increases the likelihood of adverse side effects when kratom is mixed with other substances.
The most concerning combinations include kratom and gabapentin or tianeptine. NHS says gabapentin interferes with nerves to decrease pain, and this can be dangerous when it is combined with the relaxing effects of kratom.
Those who are prescribed gabapentin are usually warned not to mix it with alcohol or to operate machinery when taking the drug.
Users should also report any herbs or supplements they take while on this medication. NHS reports that users of gabapentin cannot suddenly stop taking it and must taper their use under medical supervision.
Tianeptine is an even more dangerous way to potentiate kratom. CNN disclosed that this antidepressant had been associated with several poisoning cases. It is reportedly fatal for some people, and it may be just as addictive as other opioids.
Currently, tianeptine is sometimes sold as a “smart drug” or nootropic. The FDA has not approved its use in the United States.
Medical examiner Dr. Stephen Cohle of Kent County, Michigan, warned that his region had experienced five deaths linked to kratom as of December 2017, according to Wood TV. The same news report links kratom with 47 deaths nationwide.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) says many of these cases involved mixing kratom with other substances of abuse.
Though the numbers are small, kratom was a contributing factor to these fatalities. One death in Kent County was specifically attributed to “acute mitragynine (kratom) toxicity.”
Kratom can be used as an alternative to opioids. However, kratom is as easy to abuse as the substances it is meant to replace. Repetitive use can quickly lead to addictive behaviors.
If kratom use is causing problems in life, such as health issues, poor performance at work or school, or relationship struggles, it’s a sign that help is needed. If you can’t lessen or stop your use of kratom on your own, it means addiction is likely present.
Because of its opiate-like effects, kratom can result in a withdrawal syndrome when use is stopped. It might include uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, muscular pain, insomnia, aggression, or nausea. Medical detox can help to ease the symptoms of withdrawal, making it more likely that you’ll get through the withdrawal period safely and successfully.
Several users have reported addiction to kratom. All of the aforementioned symptoms are signs that treatment is necessary.
Though kratom is still a relatively new substance of abuse, it’s not uncommon for people to seek help for its abuse. Currently, behavioral therapy has been reported as an effective treatment to address this form of substance abuse.
(November 2017) The dangers and potential of ‘natural’ opioid kratom. The Conversation from https://theconversation.com/the-dangers-and-potential-of-natural-opioid-kratom-87581
(November 2015) Following “the Roots” of Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa): The Evolution of an Enhancer from a Traditional Use to Increase Work and Productivity in Southeast Asia to a Recreational Psychoactive Drug in Western Countries. BioMed Research International. from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4657101/
(February 2018) Statement from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., on the agency’s scientific evidence on the presence of opioid compounds in kratom, underscoring its potential for abuse. Food and Drug Administration from https://www.fda.gov/newsevents/newsroom/pressannouncements/ucm595622.htm
(March 2017) I Was 'Wrong' About Kratom And Here's Why. American Council on Science and Health from https://www.acsh.org/news/2017/03/21/i-was-wrong-about-kratom-and-heres-why-11022
(May 2018) Kratom: unsafe and ineffective. Mayo Clinic from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/kratom/art-20402171
(August 2018) New Kratom Death Reports Still Leave More Questions Than Answers. Huffington Post from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/kratom-death-overdose-reports_us_5b6c8ce7e4b0530743c82c60
(February 2018) FDA Declares Kratom an Opioid. We’re Here to Explain What It Does. The Scientist from https://www.the-scientist.com/news-analysis/fda-declares-kratom-an-opioid-were-here-to-explain-what-it-does-30306
(April 2018) Kratom Potentiation Guide: How to Potentiate Kratom with Supplements, Herbs, Minerals and Fruit? Nootrodelic from https://nootrodelic.com/kratom-potentiators/
(October 2018) Kratom Potentiators: How to Enhance Kratom Effects. Speciosa Guide from https://speciosaguide.com/kratom-potentiators-how-to-enhance-kratom-effects/
How to Potentiate Your Kratom Powder. Kat’s Botanicals from https://katsbotanicals.com/kats-kratom-guidebook/potentiate-kratom-powder/
(May 2015) Functional properties of coffee and coffee by-products. ScienceDirect from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0963996911003449
(January 2014) Why watercress is good for you. The Guardian from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/20/why-watercress-is-good-for-you-potatoes-with-smoked-trout-recipe
Chamomile (Matricaria Recutita). Heritage Garden at the University of Illinois at Chicago from http://heritagegarden.uic.edu/german-chamomile-matricaria-recutita/
(September 2018) Magnesium Fact Sheet For Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Magnesium-HealthProfessional/
(August 2017) The health benefits of turmeric. BBC Good Food from https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-turmeric
(March 2013) Valerian — Fact Sheet For Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Valerian-HealthProfessional/
(December 2018) The Uses and Benefits of Cat’s Claw. Verywell Health from https://www.verywellhealth.com/cats-claw-what-you-should-know-about-this-herb-89431
(December 2017) What Is Phenibut? Inside the Controversial "Happy Drug" That's Making Waves on the Internet. Men’s Health from https://www.menshealth.com/health/a19545413/what-is-phenibut/
(August 2018) Gabapentin and its use in pain management. West Suffolk NHS from https://www.wsh.nhs.uk/CMS-Documents/Patient-leaflets/PainService/5312-1Gabapentinanditsuseinpainmanagement.pdf
(August 2018) The unapproved antidepressant that’s poisoning people. CNN from https://edition.cnn.com/2018/08/03/health/tianeptine-antidepressant-poison-control-cdc-study/index.html
(August 2018) The life-and-death fight over pain reliever kratom. Wood TV from https://www.woodtv.com/news/target-8/life-and-death-fight-over-pain-reliever-kratom/1343112294
(September 2018) What is kratom? National Institute on Drug Abuse from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/kratom