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Kratom tea has undergone a surge of use in the United States as an herbal option to alleviate numerous common ailments and opioid withdrawal symptoms. However, it’s not regulated in this country, with medical and scientific research underway to examine many claims associated with kratom tea.

Here we’ll discuss what kratom is as well as the side effects and risks of using it in tea form.

What Is Kratom Tea?

Kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree found in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and Thailand. The kratom leaves create stimulant and sedative effects when consumed but can cause psychotic symptoms and dependence in users.[1] It’s taken for chronic pain, energy and alertness, depression and anxiety relief, and opioid withdrawal symptoms.

It’s mostly used through oral ingestion of a capsule, extract, or tablet, but the leaves may also be brewed as tea or chewed directly. Though it’s related to the coffee plant, kratom use has a high risk of addiction, abuse, and dependence.

Kratom tea may have a different name depending on its country of location:

  • Malaysia: biak-biak, ketum
  • Philippines: Mambog
  • Thailand: Ithang, krathom, kakuam, thom

There are currently seven known strains, or types, of kratom: Bali/red vein, Borneo, Green Malay, Indo, Malaysian, Maeng da, and Thai. Each kratom tea strain has different use effects; the effects may also vary from one supplier to another.

More than 40 active compounds in kratom tea affect the same opioid receptors in the brain as morphine to relieve pain.[2] Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine are the main psychoactive compounds or alkaloids; the level of mitragynine depends on what part of Southeast Asia the leaves came from. Thai kratom leaves have the most mitragynine of all strains, making up 66% of all alkaloids.[9]

Though it has a long use history in Southeast Asia to treat cough, diarrhea, fever, hypertension, and other ailments, kratom tea use in the U.S. has increased significantly in recent years.[3] It’s not controlled by the Controlled Substances Act but has been listed as a Drug and Chemical of Concern by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

In the U.S., up to an estimated 16 million people take kratom in the form of capsules, extracts, or powders. It’s considered a dietary supplement in the U.S. which isn’t subject to Food and Drug Administration regulation.

What are the kratom tea benefits and risks?

Purported Uses For Kratom Tea

As thousands of people across the U.S. die every year due to opioids, researchers continue to work post haste to find treatment options. Because it naturally mimics opioid-like effects, some researchers have proposed using kratom tea to alleviate withdrawal symptoms.

A controlled animal study found lyophilized kratom tea (LKT), a true form of kratom, offered substantial pain relief, decreased opioid withdrawal symptoms, and minimal respiratory depression. The key was in the pure form, as kratom products, such as kratom tea, found in the U.S. are developed from altered levels of psychoactive alkaloids.

However, further medical and scientific study into possible uses for kratom tea is ongoing.

Is Kratom Tea Legal In The U.S.?

Kratom tea is not legal for medical use. Currently, there aren’t any Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved uses for kratom tea as the agency and health care professionals evaluate available scientific and medical information about kratom.

Side Effects of Kratom Tea

When consumed in low doses, kratom tea is noted for increased alertness, physical energy, and talkativeness. Higher doses have a sedative effect.

But, during a six-year period, poison control centers across the U.S. received 1,800 reports of kratom use, such as kratom tea, including reported deaths.[4] The side effects kratom users experience are physiological — affecting the body — and psychological — affecting the brain and nervous system. They include:

  • Breathing suppression
  • Chills
  • Constipation and urination changes
  • Depression and delusion
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Hallucinations and delusion
  • Liver damage
  • Muscle pain
  • Seizures and coma
  • Weight loss from loss of appetite

Kratom tea can cause abnormal brain function when taken with prescription medications, such as confusion, loss of ability to communicate, and severe headaches.

Benefits of Kratom Tea

Although kratom tea has mostly been studied in animals and needs more research for safe human consumption, potential benefits include:

  • Antidepressant: One study found mice had lower corticosterone levels, a hormone associated with depression.
  • Mood enhancement: Research determined kratom teanuse alleviated morphine withdrawal symptoms.
  • Pain relief: The three strains of kratom were found to be effective chronic pain relievers.

Risks Of Drinking Kratom Tea

Drinking kratom tea comes with a host of risks, even though the side effects are mostly dose-dependent. Most kratom products found or used in the U.S. are between two and six grams per dose. They rarely exceed eight grams which is the common dosage trigger for the following risks:

  • Agitation
  • Cardiac or respiratory arrest
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Hallucinations
  • Respiratory depression
  • Seizure
  • Tachycardia
  • Vomiting
  • Withdrawal

Low doses have been found to cause opioid-like effects, such as increased urination, itching, loss of appetite, and nausea. Moderate to high doses can induce constipation, dizziness, dry mouth, hypotension, and sweating.

Kratom Tea Interactions

Interactions between kratom tea and other drugs, medications, and substances aren’t fully understood at this time. Yet, many kratom users also use other drugs and/or prescription medications, as suggested by various studies.

Polysubstance use, or using a combination of drugs, may cause serious to life-threatening medical issues through interactions and side effects. Because so little is understood about kratom interactions, general use is discouraged.

What interacts with Kratom?

The Dangers of Using Kratom Tea to Treat Anxiety or Opiate Withdrawal

The use of kratom tea and kratom products is often framed as an herbal supplement that can help with opioid withdrawal and withdrawal symptoms. However, a growing body of medical evidence points to considerable toxicity issues.[5] A 2019 study found 2,312 people in the U.S. reported kratom had made themselves or someone they knew ill. This was on the heels of a 2018 notice from the FDA, which cited 44 deaths linked to kratom tea use or kratom products laced with other substances.[6]

FDA modeling found the active compounds in kratom likely have opioid properties that would exacerbate opiate withdrawal. The same model pointed toward negative impacts on cardiovascular and neurologic function; these impacts are tied to seizures, respiratory depression, and other serious side effects already noted in the drug’s use.

Also, forms of kratom, including kratom tea, available in the U.S. and through online retailers are wholly unregulated. This means you or a loved one have no idea if it is pure, the actual dosage, and/or what extra substances were added to it.

So what does this all mean for you or a loved one looking to treat anxiety or opiate withdrawal? Kratom tea is likely to cause more harm than help compared to medically approved and controlled treatment options.

Frequently Asked Questions About Kratom Tea

Is Kratom Tea Banned?

It depends on the country. The U.S. lists it as a drug of concern, but Australia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Thailand control kratom under each country’s narcotic law. Several European Union countries, including Denmark and Sweden, control mitragyna speciosa, mitragynine, and/or 7-hydroxymitragynine.

What Does Kratom Look Like?

Raw, unaltered leaves from mitragyna speciosa have an oval shape and are dark green in color. Veins on the leaves are greenish-white or red, with red vein leaves known as supposedly more potent.

Does Kratom Tea Have Withdrawal Symptoms?

With regular use, yes. Typical kratom tea withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, craving, lethargy, muscle pain, nausea, runny nose, sleep disturbances, and tremors. The symptoms generally subside within a week.

How Long Do the Effects of Kratom Tea Last?

When ingesting less than an ounce of the dried leaves, kratom tea users begin to feel the effects within 10 minutes. They last an hour to an hour and a half. When taken in larger, more sedating doses, the calmness and dreamlike state may last up to six hours.

How Long Does Kratom Tea Stay In Your System?

  • Blood: Usually 24 hours but several days for frequency kratom users
  • Hair: Up to 90 days
  • Saliva: Not applicable as saliva tests for kratom is currently unavailable
  • Urine: 7 to 9 days

Best Alternatives For Kratom Tea?

The best alternatives to kratom tea are ones recommended by your doctor or healthcare provider.

Does the Tea Get You High?

When consumed in high doses, yes. Users usually experience an opioid-like high such as a lack of pain and a sense of euphoria.

How Is Kratom Tea Prepared?

Leaves from the kratom tree are placed in boiling water and allowed to steep, similar to other forms of tea. Lemon juice is frequently added to kratom tea during brewing to encourage alkaloid extraction from the leaves. The kratom tea itself has been reported to have a bitter taste; users may add honey or sugar to mask the taste.

Discover Safe Opioid Withdrawal Treatment At The Region’s Premier Treatment Center

Opioid treatment is often sought as thousands of people suffer from substance use disorder every day. New Waters Recovery focuses on you or a loved one at an individual wellness level. Our inpatient and outpatient treatment options are comprehensive and supportive. Contact us today to begin your journey toward wellness.


[1]DEA. (n.d.). Kratom. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17 [2]U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). FDA and Kratom. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17 [3]Swogger, M. T., Smith, K. E., Garcia-Romeu, A., Grundmann, O., Veltri, C. A., Henningfield, J. E., & Busch, L. Y. National Library of Medicine. (2022, March 2). Understanding Kratom use: A guide for healthcare providers.  Retrieved from on 2023, January 17 [4]Mayo Clinic. (2022, June 3). Kratom: Unsafe and ineffective. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17 [5]Eggleston, W., Stoppacher, R., Suen, K., Marraffa, J. M., & Nelson, L. S. ACCP Journals (2019, May 16). Kratom use and toxicities in the united states. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17 [6]U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2018, February 6). 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. Retrieved from on 2023, January 17

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