Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) derives from a species of tropical evergreen tree related to the coffee family. These trees are native to Southeast Asia. They grow like wildfire amid a backdrop of tropical beachfront, dense jungles, and biodiverse landscapes. Kratom trees also grow dark, veiny leaves that are dried and crushed into kratom powder, brewed into tea, and more.
However, not all ingestion methods should be treated equally. For example, what do we know about smoking kratom? Answer: smoking kratom can be harmful to your overall health, carrying a variety of potential long-term side effects that impact your lungs, nervous system, and beyond.
Smoking kratom can also reduce the desired effects of your kratom products. For many users, that’s deal-breaker enough. According to a John Hopkins Medicine survey, “91% [of participants] reported taking kratom to alleviate pain…67% for anxiety and 65% for depression.” Smoking kratom may compromise the desired effects of kratom, reducing the effectiveness of your overall kratom regimen.
Smoking Kratom Is Bad For You
The human lungs are not biologically designed for smoke inhalation, especially smoke from plant matter. This includes both raw kratom leaves and dried kratom products such as kratom powder.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Smoking can cause lung disease by damaging your airways and the small air sacs (alveoli) found in your lungs.” Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, known as COPD, is one of the most common lung diseases associated with smoking. Symptoms of COPD include:
- Persistent cough
- Shortness of breath
- Tightness in chest
- A weakened immune system
- Inability to perform physical activity
Smokers are 12 to 13 times more likely to die from COPD than non-smokers. But smoking kratom can also be dangerous for other reasons besides COPD or chronic lung diseases.
The Short & Long-Term Side Effects of Smoking Kratom
Kratom, when smoked, has the ability to introduce your body to detrimental side effects. The most commonly reported short-term side effects of smoking kratom include:
- Throat and lung irritation
- Muscle aches
- Loss of appetite
- Dry mouth
While kratom has been enjoyed by Southeast Asian populations for thousands of years, to this day smoking kratom is relatively rare. No formal studies have examined the specifics of kratom smoking specifically. However, we can use data from other smoking-related studies to predict potential long-term side effects of smoking kratom.
According to the CDC, smokers are at higher risk of:
- Coronary heart disease
- Lung cancer
- Cardiovascular disease
- Damaged blood vessels
- COPD (including emphysema and bronchitis)
- Asthma attacks
- Rapid heart rate
- High blood pressure
- Blood clotting
- Poor circulation
It is also noted on the CDC’s website that smoking does not just increase your risk of lung cancer. In fact, smoking may lead to cancer almost anywhere on the body. Notably:
As kratom receives more national attention and popularity, we should expect to see more clinical trials and opportunities for scientific investigation. Until then, we suggest that users avoid smoking kratom altogether.
Smoking Kratom Can Reduce Efficacy
Side effects aside, smoking kratom may also reduce the effectiveness—known as efficacy—of kratom products. It all has to do with kratom’s distinct alkaloids, organic compounds unique to the kratom plant. The two most prominent alkaloids, mitragynine (MG) and 7-hydroxymitragynine (MG-OH) are largely responsible for the effects of kratom you may experience after ingestion.
According to research conducted by the Journal of Analytical Toxicology, “Based upon previously published studies and anecdotal reports, it was hypothesized that MG and its alkaloids degrade in a pH- and temperature-dependent manner.” The key term here is degrade, or leading to a less-potent dose of kratom overall.
Researchers Stephanie Basiliere and Sarah Kerrigan proceed to prove this theory, analyzing both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine in a five-pH, five-temperature controlled study. “As expected, both temperature and pH-dependent effects were observed” in both of kratom’s primary alkaloids.
Kratom & Temperature: The Results
When analyzing mitragynine, researchers witnessed 100% degradation of MG molecules within six hours at 80°C, or 176°F. Keep in mind, the average lit cigarette burns at about 482°C, or 900°F. While no studies have formally examined the impact of these temperatures on Mitragyna speciosa plant material, we hypothesize a complete degradation of MG and OH-MG at a similar, lit temperature.
In contrast, mitragynine was completely stable for two weeks in refrigerated temperatures. This shows kratom’s primary alkaloid to be extremely temperature-dependent, favoring low or room temperatures over high temperatures.
Likewise, 7-hydroxymitragynine showed similar results. According to researchers, “MG-OH was unstable at all…temperatures of 60°C [140°F] or above.” And just like regular MG, “no losses were observed for MG-OH at ambient or refrigerated temperatures.
This data shows that both MG-OH and MG molecules degrade in temperatures of 140°F to 176°F, respectively. In terms of kratom products, degradation leads to a weaker, less effective dose. In fact, according to the Journal of Analytical Toxicology‘s research, heating kratom above these temperatures (via science, smoking, and more) may completely eliminate kratom’s primary alkaloids. In turn, this would eliminate 100% of kratom’s potential benefits while maintaining all the adverse effects.
Finding the Right Way to Take Kratom
There are a variety of ways to safely and effectively ingest kratom, but it depends on the type of kratom product you prefer. Kratom comes in many formulations. At Kratom Spot, we offer laboratory-tested kratom products to fit all needs:
- Kratom Powder
- Infused Capsules
- Potent Extracts
- Kratom Shots
- Loose Leaf Kratom
Kratom powder is one of the most popular products on the market, highly desirable for its versatility. There are also three strain colors to be aware of when shopping for kratom powder, known as the “Big 3” kratom colors:
- Red Vein: relaxing, ideal for nighttime use
- White Vein: energizing, perfect for sunrise dosage
- Green Vein: a hybrid of both red vein and white vein kratom
You should also keep the strain color in mind when dosing kratom. If mixing kratom with your nightly chamomile tea, for example, you’ll want to bring out the best effects of both kratom and chamomile, a natural calming agent. As you likely guessed, red vein kratom is preferable under these circumstances.
On the other end of the equation, if you opt for a focus boost, white vein kratom taken using the toss-and-wash method may best suit your needs. If you fall into this category of kratom user, red vein products may have the opposite intended effect.
And for green vein kratom users, we recommend whichever ingestion method best fits you and your kratom regimen. Because green vein products offer the hybrid effects of both red and white veins, it’s important to determine the proper ingestion method for yourself.
Toss-and-Wash Method: Classic Kratom Ingestion
The toss-and-wash method is one of the most popular ways to take kratom. It’s simple, quick, and requires very little preparation. To perform the toss-and-wash method, simply:
- Pour a large glass of water or orange juice
- Place the desired amount of kratom in your mouth, directly atop the tongue
- NOTE: you will experience a slightly bitter taste, but do NOT breath in or swallow
- Take a large gulp of water, allowing enough time for the kratom powder to sufficiently mix with the water
- Repeat steps 4-5 until all of the kratom powder has completely rinsed from your mouth
We recommend the toss-and-wash method of kratom ingestion to anyone wishing for a hassle-free kratom experience. Unlike smoking kratom, this method does not introduce kratom’s alkaloids to excessive temperatures. It also allows more MG and MG-OH molecules to be absorbed by the body, leading to a more effective kratom experience.
Kratom & Drinks: Tried & True
Another great way to take kratom that isn’t smoking: BEVERAGES! Kratom powder can be easily infused into a variety of beverages. Mitragyna speciosa naturally possesses an earthy, bitter taste. However, utilizing this method of kratom ingestion may help overcome the bitter taste of kratom.
To add kratom to your favorite beverages, first determine which drinks you want to use. Bitter flavors pair best with salty-sweet flavors, fatty foods, and even other bitter tastes. Some examples of excellent kratom-drink combinations:
- Orange juice
- Grapefruit juice
- Coffee (temperature permitting)
- Tea (temperature permitting)
- Chocolate milkshakes
As we often say, experimentation is key. Don’t be afraid to try out new food and drink combinations. The kratom-drink method is perfect for those who want an easy ingestion method without the bitter taste (or coughing hazard) of the toss-and-wash method. Plus, unlike smoking kratom, drinking kratom retains the plant’s natural alkaloids.
Opt For Easy-Ingestion Kratom Products
Many kratom users prefer the individualization that comes with kratom powder. You can use the botanical substance to form a variety of creative and effective kratom regimens. But if you’re looking for the simplest kratom ingestion out there, opt for ready-to-use products.
Kratom capsules contain only pure, high-quality kratom powder. At Kratom Spot, our capsules are 100% vegan, made from non-animal gelatin. We dose every capsule to precisely 0.7g of kratom. In addition, kratom capsules are as easy as taking vitamins—just pop and swallow. No bitter taste, no powder in your mouth. Just good, clean kratom.
Kratom shots, on the other hand, enhance the flavor, all while preserving the integrity of mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine molecules. Both Orange Cream and Chocolate Mint Kratom Shots remove the bitter taste of kratom entirely, opting for dessert-worthy confections of flavor. Kratom Spot also offers a variety of pre-dosed kratom drink mixes. Just add water!
Kratom loose leaf allows for a more traditional approach. In Southeast Asia, humans have brewed ceremonial kratom tea for generations. They celebrate the Mitragyna speciosa tree, a symbol of health and longevity. Kratom loose leaf opts for a tea-focused kratom regimen inherent to the traditional style. Just make sure to watch the water temperature! REMEMBER: kratom’s primary alkaloids begin to break down at temperatures around 60°C (140°F).
Why Try Smoking Kratom in the First Place?
Kratom raises many questions. Plus, kratom science lacks data, clinical trials—things we need to better understand the mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine alkaloids. Because many questions are left unanswered, misinformation can mislead some kratom users. Smoking kratom has been suggested on various online message boards, but we have yet to see any evidence in favor of this practice. Until scientific studies catch up to the enthusiasm of kratom users everywhere, we should, unfortunately, expect to see some misinformation (like the possibility of smoking kratom) arise from time to time.
Don’t Smoke Kratom
With the efficacy of familiar kratom products, why opt for the unknown? Smoking kratom has various short and long-term side effects that only detriment your health, the opposite of what a kratom regimen intends to do.
On top of the dangers of smoking kratom, the act itself reduces the potency of kratom’s primary alkaloids, responsible for the benefits of the plant you know and love. Mitragynine reached 100% degradation at a temperature of 80°C (176°F) while 7-hydroxymitragynine degraded 100% at 60°C (140°F). Compare this to the average temperature of a lit cigarette—482°C, or about 900°F—and you’ve got yourself a wasted dose of smoked kratom.
Overall, smoking kratom poses a lot more problems than solutions. We advise all kratom users to conduct independent research prior to trying new ingestion methods. In addition, we suggest you read materials from the American Kratom Association (AKA), the primary advocate for a safe kratom industry moving forward. Kratom Spot is GMP-certified by the AKA, the stamp of utmost responsibility and accountability for companies of our kind. In addition, if you would like to learn more from other kratom users, we suggest you check out the popular r/kratom subreddit.