Kratom and marijuana
Rich in the alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, kratom is best known for its opiate-like effects. Kratom, like cannabis, can be used to treat pain the natural way — without the risk of dependency, overdose, or other malicious side-effects that come with pharmaceutical opioids. Many people even use kratom to control opioid withdrawals, and the plant has become known as nature’s other painkiller. Consumption of the plant evolved from its traditional use for increasing productivity to its current recreational use in Western Culture. Consuming kratom isn’t risk-free, though, but it’s certainly less risky compared to prescription painkillers.
And while most would agree that kratom is safer than opioids, there’s contention about if users should mix it with pot. Some swear that kratom enhances the effects of cannabis, while others claim that kratom and cannabis compete for effects, and are best enjoyed separately. Since cannabis and kratom bind to different receptors in the brain — cannainoid receptors and opioid receptors — consuming each plant will trigger very different biochemical processes and effects. Should people combine their consumption of these organic plants? Or is the supposed synergy a bunch of BS that you’re better off avoiding?
Embrace KFC (Kratom, Food, Then Cannabis)
To start, the order of operations will influence your experience mixing the plants. According to online forums, the trick for combining kratom and cannabis involves some KFC (kratom, food, then cannabis). So first consume the kratom, then eat some food, and finally consume your weed. This will prevent users from feeling lightheaded or overwhelmed.
The same considerations should be observed when mixing cannabis with alcohol. “Beer before grass, you’re on your ass; grass before beer you’re in the clear,” people say. Similar logic applies to cannabis and kratom, though let’s be clear: mixing alcohol and marijuana involves greater risks, and we cannot recommend that particular combo.
Chase a beginner’s dose of kratom — which is subjective, but can be somewhere around one to two grams of kratom powder — with food, and you’re less likely to experience the substances competing with one another or magnifying one another.
Myths and Bad Consumption Practices
Interestingly, kratom users report that the plant can actually nullify the paranoia and anxiety that occurs when people consume too much THC. Others say this is not the case, and it’s better to consume a CBD-rich cannabis strain to help mitigate anxiety.
And while some people say smoking kratom is heresy and wastes the plant’s active ingredients, others say it’s a winning delivery method. I personally find the taste of kratom to be pleasant when smoked, but I don’t deny that the effects were less noticeable when consumed this way.
Kratom strains like red vein Bali are ideal for pain, although some prefer Borneo or Indo kratom strains. In theory, embracing two different pain management systems at once could more effective treat ailments, but there’s limited-to-no research supporting this claim with regards to cannabis and kratom.
Enjoy It While You Can
Kratom could soon be subject to federal rescheduling, though its future remains unclear. In August 2016, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its intent to classify kratom, alongside heroin and cannabis, as a Schedule I narcotic — a classification only given to substances with “no medical value.” There was blowback, however, and the DEA withdrew its plans.
Kratom and cannabis are two of nature’s finest organic medicines and intoxicants. But should they be enjoyed together, or will mixing them lead to bad news?
Kratom and marijuana
Kratom, a plant native to Asian countries, was recently introduced to the United States and is growing in popularity. Although not approved by the FDA for substance use disorder treatment, this study suggests that about one-quarter of addiction treatment patients have used kratom, and the majority of them are using it to self-treat opioid use disorder symptoms.
WHAT PROBLEM DOES THIS STUDY ADDRESS?
Individuals in Asian countries have used the k ratom plant for medical and recreational purposes for centuries. Often taken orally, k ratom can produce stimulant-like effects or pain-relieving and anti-anxiety effects depending on the strain of the plant and the dose that is taken. Kratom has been associated with a variety of benefits (e.g., pain relief, mood enhancement, increased energy) . This is because two compounds in kratom leaves ( mitragynine and 7-α- hydroxymitragynine ) interact with opioid receptors in the brain, producing sedation, pleasure, and decreased pain, especially when users consume large amounts. P otential side effects include dry mouth, fatigue, and seizure . R andomized controlled trials have not yet been conducted and kratom’s effects on the brain and behavior appear to be unlike those of more common drugs like marijuana, opioids, and stimulants. Kratom’s availability has recently increased in non-Asian countries like the U.S. , and reports suggest that individuals may be using Kratom to substitute drug use, ease withdrawal, and alleviate physiological drug dependence, including opioid dependence. However, it is unclear how common kratom use is for these purposes, as kratom may have the potential to induce dependence-like symptoms (withdrawal and craving). The current study aimed to address this gap by examining the prevalence of , and motivations for , kratom use among individuals receiving substance use disorder treatment.
HOW WAS THIS STUDY CONDUCTED?
The authors administered a 49-item questionnaire to 500 substance use disorder patients (58% male; average age of 35 years) attending one of five 12-step-based, residential therapeutic community programs. Participants were asked about demographics, health information, lifetime and past-year substance use, focusing specifically on kratom use. The authors sought to characterize lifetime and past-year kratom use prevalence, motivations for kratom use, and its perceived benefits/side-effects. They also compared individuals with a history of kratom use to those without a history of kratom use on demographics, treatment and emergency department service use, and substance use histories.
Figure 1. Depicts the kratom leaf and its appearance when ground into a fine powder for ingestion.
WHAT DID THIS STUDY FIND?
Kratom use prevalence.
- 21% of patients reported lifetime kratom use and 10% reported kratom use in the past year.
Demographics and service use.
- Compared to those who had not used kratom, individuals with lifetime kratom use :
- Were younger and more educated.
- Were younger ( average age = 32 vs. 36 years), and more likely to have an associate ’s or bachelor ’s degree (24% vs. 12%).
- Had higher rates of homelessness and more extensive treatment and emergency service use histories .
- Were more likely to have experienced past-year homelessness (10% vs. 4%) , to report previous receipt of addiction treatment (83% vs. 64%) and past-year emergency room utilization for drug-related (61% vs. 38%), mental health-related (41% vs. 19%), and physical health-related (68% vs. 52%) reasons.
- R eport ed a greater number of previous substance use interventions (4 vs. 3) and a greater number of months spent in other treatment programs (1.8 vs. 1.2 months) in the past year.
- Had more extensive incarceration histories .
- Were less likely to be on probation/parol e at the time of the survey (69% vs. 83%) but had been incarcerated a greater number of times (7 vs. 5) .
- Had similar rates of chronic pain, disability, medical insurance, employment, and race.
- Were younger and more educated.
Substance use histories.
- Individuals who had used kratom had more extensive substance use histories than those who had not used kratom. Almost all substances were more prominently used in the kratom group across the lifetime (except alcohol and marijuana) and in the past year (except alcohol and barbiturates).
- None of the participants reported kratom as a drug of choice. Among individuals who had a lifetime history of kratom use and no history of kratom use, opioids and amphetamines were the most commonly reported drugs of choice. Notably , compared to those with no history of kratom use, individuals with a history of kratom use were more likely to report heroin (50% of individuals with kratom use history vs. 30% of individuals with no kratom use history ) and Suboxone (5% of individuals with kratom use history vs. 3% of individuals with no kratom use history ) as a drug of choice.
Kratom use motivations and perceived benefits.
- Common reasons for using kratom included 1) using to reduce or stop opioid use ( 6 0 % ), 2) using to cut back or get off of opioids (69%), and 3) using it as an opioid substitute (64%) .
- 33% said they would try kratom again and 31% thought kratom was a helpful drug. 27% said kratom had fewer unpleasant side effects than opioids and
WHAT ARE THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE STUDY FINDINGS?
This study suggests that about one-quarter of this treatment-seeking population has used kratom (10% had past year use). Its use as an opioid substitute was rather common, with just under 70% reporting kratom use to help cut back or quit opioid use. Furthermore, less than 10% reported negative mental or physical side effects from kratom. Given that kratom does not appear to be a drug of choice and that the majority of patients didn’t prefer its ‘high’ over that of opioids, kratom may have treatment potential for helping individuals alleviate opioid use disorder symptoms. However, kratom has not been studied in randomized controlled trials to-date, so its benefits and risks are not yet fully understood. Although kratom may have the potential to help relieve pain, improve mood, induce relaxation, and enhance socialization and energy, it has also been associated with various side effects , which are likely dependent on dose, strain, and duration of kratom use. These might be some of the reasons why less than one-third of those exposed to the drug in this sample thought it was helpful. Other mild side effects include constipation, dehydration, dry mouth, fatigue/lethargy, increased body temperature, nausea, and weight loss. More serious side effects, such as seizure, coma, overactive thyroid, and liver damage have also been reported. Kratom is a legal substance in most U.S. states, but strain and dose are largely unregulated and there is some concern that kratom products may be “laced” with other compounds (i.e. , adulterated) that can lead to serious adverse effects. There were 44 deaths in 2017 related to kratom use, most of which were likely due to adulterated products. At present there is no reliable evidence for the use of kratom in treating opioid use disorder. Some studies have found that its use may have the potential to result in a physiological dependence on kratom. However, findings are mixed with some individuals reporting low craving and others reporting difficulty refraining from kratom use. Controlled trials are needed to gain a better understanding of whether this plant can help patients or if the cost outweighs the benefits. Nonetheless, kratom use appears to exist in treatment-seeking populations, in large part for self-treatment purposes. The outcomes of this study suggest that kratom use may be more prevalent in individuals who have used a wider variety of substances, exhibit more extensive substance use histories, and greater use of addiction treatment and emergency department services. Creating awareness of kratom, the populations that use it, and the reasons behind it might ultimately help inform policy and addiction treatment. Given our limited knowledge of the risks associated with kratom use, individuals may benefit from discussing kratom with their health care providers. Still, this study provides important preliminary insight to kratom use prevalence and motivations for taking it among treatment seekers. Additional research will help us identify whether or not its use as a medication substitute is justified.
- The authors did not assess current ongoing kratom use or the chronicity, dose, and frequency of kratom use. Although not part of a standard toxicology screen, k ratom drug tests are available to detect recent kratom use but were not administered in this study. Therefore, it is unclear how often kratom is taken, the dose it is taken at, and for how long individuals use it, or if kratom use is common in patients during treatment. Additional research is needed to characterize these factors and their associated benefits and side-effects.
- Participants were not excluded for comorbid mental/physical health conditions and had a wide variety of preferred/used substance s . Therefore, it is unclear whether kratom use would be more prevalent in populations with specific disorder characteristics, such as primary opioid use disorder patients.
- Th ese data w ere collected via self – report and were not confirmed using patient medical records. Furthermore, the study assessed a residential treatment population and it is not clear if kratom use prevalence and motivations for use found in this study would translate to the broader substance use disorder population.
This study examined the use of kratom by individuals in substance use recovery, as well as the potential harms and benefits, and the need for more research.