Kratom vs. Kava

Kratom and kava are two popular botanical supplements. Learn all about the similarities and differences between the two plants here in our comparison guide.

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    Kratom is not approved or regulated by the FDA. This article contains data about kratom for informational purposes only. None of the information contained herein should be considered medical advice. Kratom is not intended for use in diagnosing a disease, or for treating, curing, or preventing diseases or other health conditions. Anyone considering the use of kratom should speak with their physician to answer any questions before doing so.

    What is Kava?

    When searching the internet for kratom products, you may come across kava products. The same thing can also be said in reverse. Many times, you will find people comparing the two to one another, or even using the plants interchangeably. The truth is that, while they have some similarities, they are very different from one another. Learn all about those differences in this article, where we will compare kratom vs. kava.

    Kava is a plant that people use for its effects. It has long been used in traditional cultures and applications, and modern use is beginning to be seen as well. Kava's scientific name is Piper methysticum, meaning intoxicating pepper.1

    Kratom and Kava

    Where Does Kava Come From?

    Kava is a crop found in the Pacific Islands. It is found naturally in Hawaii, Vanuatu, Melanesia, and Palau, as well as in other areas.

    How is Kava Used?

    People use kava for its sedating effects. In traditional applications, kava is prepared by chewing, grinding, or pounding the roots of the plant. In modern applications, kava has been studied for its active ingredient, kavalactones, for some medical uses. However, no conclusive results have been found nor have any actions been taken.1

    Kava's Effects

    Kava produces a range of effects when consumed, which are what people seek from the plant. The list of general effects provided by the plant is listed below.

    For Anxiety

    Studies surrounding kava have been conducted by Cochrane, a nonprofit organization in the UK. They have concluded that kava is more likely to be effective for treating anxiety than a placebo is.

    For Insomnia

    Kava has also been an effective method of helping individuals with insomnia. It promotes a deep sleep that doesn't interrupt the restful REM sleep that people need to feel well-rested. This information comes from a study conducted by the University of Michigan's School of Medicine.

    Why Do People Take Kava?

    People take kava for its sedating and euphoric effects. It can cause relaxation and can boost the moods of the individuals who are taking it. These symptoms are the most desirable effects of casual kava consumption.

    Is Kava Addictive?

    Kava can be addictive similar to the way coffee or chocolate is addictive. The effects it produces are desirable. As such, individuals can find themselves taking kava more often than they should, and developing a tolerance. This tolerance can lead to addictive behaviors surrounding the plant.

    What is Kratom?

    Kratom is another plant that people use for its various effects. It is related to the coffee family of flora, and it can provide energy, focus, relaxation, and euphoric feelings when taken.

    Where Kratom Comes From

    Kratom is native to Southeast Asia. It goes by a variety of names, depending on the region of each country. The kratom plant, or Mitragyna speciosa, can be found in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Papua New Guinea.

    How is Kratom Used?

    Kratom is consumed in several ways. It can be found in beverages, powders, and capsules, and people may use it for its positive effects on their mood, energy levels, or focus levels.

    There are kava bars in many major metropolitan areas, too, where some kava-infused beverages or kava teas can be purchased. In traditional methods, kratom leaves are chewed directly rather than being turned into tea or extracts.2

    Kratom's Effects

    Kratom can produce several different effects. It can be used in low doses for energy and focus, while larger doses lean more towards sedative feelings.

    Why Do People Use Kratom?

    People use kratom for many reasons. It can help increase energy levels when someone is feeling sluggish. It can also affect mood, helping to brighten a person's day. The majority of people use kratom for these mood-altering effects. However, it can also be used to increase comfort.

    The Benefits of Kratom

    Kratom can provide a plethora of different benefits. The ones that most people are looking to achieve are listed below:2

    • Mental Clarity and Focus: People who consume kratom report that it helps clear the mind. It also helps with focus.
    • Higher Energy Levels: Kratom can increase your energy when consumed, much like coffee does.
    • Mood Improvement: Euphoria and relaxation are just two of the great mood-improving side effects provided by kratom.
    • Discomfort Alleviation: Kratom can help alleviate some discomfort that people experience, like general aches.

    Comparing Kratom and Kava

    Kratom and kava provide similar effects when consumed. However, there are several differences between the two plants as well.  

    How Kratom is Like Kava

    Kratom and kava are similar in several ways. First, they are often prepared in similar ways. They can be turned into beverages, powders, or capsules. They are consumed to achieve the desired effects. They are also both plants, meaning that they are naturally occurring.

    Both kratom and kava also provide similar effects on one's mood. Kratom and kava both promote relaxation and comfort. As such, people like to take them to chill out and wind down.

    How Kratom and Kava Are Different

    Kratom and kava have some major differences, but the most important one revolves around dosages. Finding the right dosage of kratom is far easier than it is with kava. Kratom dosage can be fine-tuned to the person using it, and as such, it makes kratom far more appealing to individuals. Kava tends to be finicky, making it challenging for a person to achieve the desired effects that they would like to see.

    Additionally, kratom is better tasting than kava. In Tongan or Marquesan, two languages from the area kava is native to, kava translates directly to 'bitter.'

    Which One is Right For You?

    In nearly all cases, the choice comes down to user preference. However, if you are looking for the right botanical that is easiest to use, your best bet is kratom. Kratom is easier to find the right dosage for. It also allows for various methods of consumption and tends to taste better than kava does. Overall, kratom is the better option for most people.


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