Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a popular herbal supplement in Southeast Asia. It was little-known in the West until fairly recently, but over the last few years has become popular for a variety of purposes including boosting energy and productivity, social enhancement, anxiety, and yes, pain management.
A distant relative of the coffee plant, kratom is an evergreen tree that can grow up to 25 meters tall. It comes in a bewildering variety of strains, differentiated by color as well as country of origin, and on top of that the effects are dose-dependent.
In this article we’ll explain how kratom relieves pain, which strains are most effective for pain relief, and how high to dose kratom for pain management. For a comprehensive look at the variety of effects of kratom, check out our kratom strains chart.
How Kratom Relieves Pain
Kratom contains a bewildering variety of alkaloids, but the two that are believed to be responsible for most of its effects–including most of its analgesic effects–are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitraginine.
Of the two, 7-hydroxymitraginine is a far more powerful analgesic, but is also more sedating. In fact it’s reported to be more powerful than morphine–though as you’ll see it’s only present in small amounts.
This also means kratom is addictive, but far less so than opioids. In fact, some people use kratom to wean themselves off of opioids.
The various kratom alkaloids bind to the mu, kappa and delta opioid receptors, adrenergic receptors, and serotonin receptors. Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitraginine each bind to all three opioid receptors.
Additionally, mitragynine binds to adrenergic receptors, while 7-hydroxymitraginine binds to serotonin receptors. In other words, mitraginine has a mix of stimulant and sedative effects, while 7-hydroxymitraginine is closer to being a pure sedative.
Kratom products contain approximately 2% mitragynine and either none or between 0.01% and 0.02% 7-hydroxymitragynine. Additionally, 7-hydroxymitraginine is a metabolite of mitraginine.
As such, the ratio between the two seems to vary a lot less than you might think, given the wide variety of effects kratom has. That’s partly because the difference between using kratom for energy vs. kratom for relaxation comes down largely to dosage, but it’s also likely that the other alkaloids–which have been less studied–play important roles. Of course, it could also be that the study didn’t look at a wide enough variety of kratom strains.
The Best Kratom Strains For Pain Relief
Different strains have different alkaloid mixes. In general, red kratoms are more sedating and analgesic, and have more 7-hydroxymitraginine compared to green or white strains. And in general, the more sedating kratoms are more analgesic.
According to one popular user-written kratom guide, Bali, Indonesian and Borneo strains tend to be the most analgesic. Interestingly, maeng da kratom is reported to be good for pain too– despite generally being the most high-energy strain.
This guide does not cite scentific– and in fact studies mostly haven’t gotten into the specifics of which strains have more of which alkaloids yet– but it does reflect the consensus of user opinions that we’ve seen.
In short: use Balinese kratom strains for pain if you’re just relaxing at home, and Borneo or Indo if you want to relieve pain while having some energy. Use maeng da kratom for pain if you really want to be active. And regardless, favor red-veined kratoms.
Kratom Dosage For Pain – The Best Maeng Da Kratom Dosage For Pain, And More
The optimal kratom dose for pain depends on how much pain you have–more kratom equals more pain relief, but also more sedation. Independent of strain, lower doses of kratom are more energizing, and higher doses are more sedating and analgesic.
Most users report somewhere around 3 to 5 grams to be the threshold where more kratom starts to be more sedating, with 6 to 10 grams being about the maximum dose before nausea sets in.
The best maeng da kratom dosage for pain, for instance, is likely to be in the 3 to 4 grams range, assuming you’re trying to compromise between energy and pain relief.
You can get more mileage out of kratom by combining it with NSAIDs such as aspirin, naproxen sodium or ibuprofen. Since kratom alkaloids have a half-life of about 4 hours, you’d want to re-dose every 3 to 4 hours, at half of the original dosage–same as you would do with aspirin or ibuprofen.
Kratom Reviews For Pain: The Best Kratom Strains For Pain
Note: The following five options are arranged roughly from lowest to highest energy level. That is, from most sedative to most stimulating.
Best Red Bali Kratom For Pain
Kats Botanicals is our go-to source for kratom thanks to their timely service, reasonable prices, and most importantly the transparency around kratom strains and sourcing.
Red Bali is as low-energy and analgesic as kratom gets. This powder is perfect for evening use, when you’re winding down and want to be pain-free while you sleep. If you want to be active though, you’ll want to combine it with caffeine and/or limit your dosage.
Interestingly, this strain is wild-grown, which is extremely rare. That means you can be sure it’s natural and pesticide-free, though it’s not clear what if anything that means for the alkaloid profile.
Best Red Borneo Kratom For Pain
Not quite as sedative as Bali kratom, Borneo kratom is ideal for when you want to relax, but not completely zone out. Combined with a low dose of caffeine, it can be good for productivity or social anxiety.
Best Red Malay Kratom For Pain
This dark red Malay is only ever so slightly more stimulating than the red Borneo. It’s also ideal for productivity tasks requiring calm focus, or for lower-energy social situations.
Best Yellow Sunda Kratom For Pain
A significant step up from the Borneo and Malay kratoms, yellow Sunda is moderately-high energy. That makes it ideal for somewhat more high-energy social or work situations, and pretty good for hikes or gym days. It can also be used in the same situations as the Borneo or Malay options, on days when you’re more tired than normal.
Best Red Maeng Da Kratom For Pain
Maeng Da is about as high-energy as kratom gets, although red maeng da is slightly less so than green, gold or white maeng da. This is the strain to use when you need to be pain-free while hitting the gym, going on a hike, or dancing the night away at a club.
It’s surprisingly analgesic for a “fast” kratom strain, but if you want that energy you’ll have to limit the dosage, which will limit the pain relief benefits. As such, you may want to combine this with a NSAID.
Note: Kratom legality varies by U.S. state and by country. Read up on where Kratom is legal before purchasing. All the information in this article is for entertainment purposes only. Consult with a physician before taking kratom.
Editor’s note: we are regularly updating this review. If you see any problems, weird interpretations of the data, or just want to say hi, please reach out to email@example.com.