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Kratom Vs Kava
  • Kratom 101

Kratom Vs Kava

Published 5th Apr 2023

By Valerie Orta

Estimated Read Time: 15 min

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By Valerie Orta on April 05, 2023

Kratom and kava are a tree and a plant with exciting properties that can help you feel and function better. However, there are night-and-day differences between them that you should consider. Here we explore how kratom and kava compare so you can decide which is right for you.

Key takeaways:

  • You can buy Kratom from the leaves of an evergreen tree from Southeast Asia and is used for its energizing and stimulating benefits.
  • Kava is derived from a plant native to the Pacific Islands, and it enhances relaxation and supports better sleep.
  • Both kratom and kava can help naturally relieve stress and improve your mood.
  • Kratom and kava are federally legal in the United States for personal use.

You've heard of them: kratom and kava. These two natural botanicals have generated worthy buzz for their exciting elevating properties.

If you consider yourself a natural health fan, you must be having the time of your life. Today there are more herbal solutions for helping you function, feel, and sleep better that are readily available than ever before.

But let's be real. Sometimes it can be hard to distinguish between all that's out there. To most, kratom and kava are similar. But that's far from the truth.

There are more differences between kratom and kava than similarities. If you're struggling to figure out which of the two you should add to your natural health routine, this comparison guide should provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision.

What is Kratom?

Kratom is an evergreen tree in Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand. Natives have used the kratom plant for ages, mainly for its energizing and stimulating properties. It can also calm the mind, reduce stress, and enhance productivity.

Traditionally, kratom was also used for its natural relief properties. People who used it claimed that help their bodies feel physically better overall. But with time, consumers have realized that there are more benefits that kratom can offer. As a result, the available forms of kratom have also evolved. You can now find kratom powder, shotskratom capsules, and kratom gummies.

Origins and Uses of Kratom

Kratom dates back to the nineteenth century. Natives chewed the leaves of the plant to exercise their numerous health benefits, including natural relief and stimulation. Kratom leaves were also thought to aid in supporting better digestive health.

This reputation of kratom and its potential health benefits and ability to calm and relax the mind catapulted it to global fame. Only recently has it become more widely available globally, and today kratom is readily available to buy online and in local shops.

How to Enjoy Kratom

Historically, kratom was consumed by simply chewing on the plant's leaves. There are many ways to take kratom today, and new options pop up regularly.

The most versatile method is to buy kratom powder which you can use to make tea or mix in your food. However, you need a high-quality powder from a reputable manufacturer without additives or fillers.

There are also kratom tinctures. These are liquid concentrates containing high concentrations of kratom. You can take them under the tongue for potent and fast-acting effects or add them to your food or drinks.

Alternatively, you can try more innovative kratom products like kratom gummies. These are more tasteful, convenient bites you can take any time or anywhere. In addition, they don't have the same level of bitter taste as a powder or kratom tinctures, making them a more appealing option if you're new to kratom or simply would pretty a better tasting option.

Regardless of the type of product you choose, kratom can be highly potent and deliver strong effects, so it's best to start with a smaller serving and gradually work your way up as necessary over time.

What is Kava?

Kava is derived from the roots of the kava plant. Its botanical name is Piper Methysticum. It also goes by the name Kava-kava and is native to Fiji, Indonesia, and other Pacific Islands. The kava plant belongs to the pepper family, and natives used it to make tea and various juice beverages. Today, restaurants and kava bars combine it with coconut mild and water to create social or recreational drinks.

In the United States, kava comes as a tea or other beverage. It is also added to baked goods. Most people who turn to kava are dealing with high-stress situations and are looking to take advantage of its relaxing properties.

Origins and Uses of Kava

Kava is a profound part of the Pacific region's culture. It has various purposes, but its relaxing and soothing properties are the most popular. Some communities also have ceremonial purposes for the plant.

Like kratom, kava has come into the limelight courtesy of its potential health benefits. Studies investigating these benefits are still ongoing, and there's much more to learn, but traditionally, the plant has been used for various reasons, including unwinding and promoting a better mood. Most commonly, Kava is used to overcome stress and sleep struggles.

How to Enjoy Kava

Kava has been around for ages. Over the years, people have devised different ways to extract and enjoy its benefits.

The first method is grinding the roots with a mortar and pestle. It is an old-school method that still features heavily in the Pacific region. The ground kava can then make into tea and juices or mix it with food.

Other methods of enjoying kava include chewing or moistening it so that the root and bark are easier to grind.

More modern methods of enjoying kava include kava tea bags to make herbal teas. Kava aficionados recommend taking it on an empty stomach. If you've taken a big meal, the food can diminish the experience.

Just like kratom, you should take time to find the best quality kava. If you're not buying kava tea bags, you might have better chances of purchasing loose kava root.

Similarities Between Kratom and Kava

So, what do kratom and kava have in common? The similarities between kratom and kava are limited. Besides the fact that they are both plant-based substances and can have some similar effects, there isn't much else that is comparable between them.

It's worth noting that people use both for multiple reasons. For example, both kratom and kava can be used because you're trying to feel better or you're trying to function better.

Differences Between Kratom and Kava

Kratom and kava are different in nearly every aspect. After reading through all their differences, you will wonder how on earth you needed clarification in the first place!

Herb part used

The parts of the kratom and kava that are consumed differ wildly. In the case of kratom, the tree's leaves, stem, and veins can be used. Leaves are the most common, but the specific part will vary depending on the type of kratom you select.

With Kava, the plant's root has all the good stuff. No other part of the plant is used when extracting kava.


The two have very different backgrounds. Kava is from the Western Pacific region, while kratom is from Southeast Asia.

Also, both have culturally different but significant uses that have fueled their consumption. For example, kava has a long history of being used in ceremonial practices but is also tapped for relaxing and stress relief. In contrast, kratom has also been used for religious ceremonies, but individuals rely on kratom for its wellness benefits like energy and stimulation.

Chemical components

Both kratom and kava have extensive naturally occurring chemical compounds. However, the active compounds in each of them are different. In kava, the active ingredients are called kavalactones. Six major kavalactones form 90% of the active constituents extracted from the kava plant's roots.

Kratom has fewer active compounds. Its active ingredients are called alkaloids, and it has only two of them: mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. These compounds are responsible for all the effects that kratom is known for.

Regarding research, kratom and its compounds are far less researched in all aspects. On the other hand, Kava has a more robust research base.


Kava and kratom are both legal at the U.S. federal level. However, kava is considered a personal-use supplement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), while the agency has yet to recognize the uses of kratom. Also, states nationwide can and have slightly different laws on the books. While kava is largely legal across the entire United States, some states have opted to restrict the use of kratom. While it’s rare that kratom shows up on drug tests, your local laws are something to keep an eye on.

Preparation and consumption

Both kratom and kava are primarily consumed by mouth. For kava, the roots are infused with water and enjoyed as a hot beverage. It can also be processed into a powder, readily dissolved in water, and consumed. Some individuals also prefer to chew the kava plant's roots raw for maximum potency.

Kratom tends to have more preparation and consumption options. With its recent rise in popularity, the methods of taking kratom could increase drastically. The most basic form of consumption is chewing the kratom leaves raw. You can also find kratom in a highly concentrated liquid extract or powder that you can use to make tea or mix with juices and food.

More advanced methods of taking kratom are also available. The most common and preferred one is kratom gummies. These are gummies infused with kratom. They are easy to consume and come in a wide selection of flavors to suit your preference.


Kava and kratom come in different types or strains. It is one of the factors you should consider when buying kava or kratom products. Each strain is thought to have unique properties and benefits.

Types of kava

There are three different types of kava, each with its unique combination of kavalactones which, together with other factors, influence its effects and overall potency. Although the kinds of kava may vary wildly, they are categorized into three broad types:


Heady kavas have higher concentrations of certain kavalactones like Kavain and Yangonin. These produce more heady or cerebral uplifting and mood-enhancing effects. Heady kavas are perfect for daytime social gatherings and promote a gentle sense of well-being. Most consider heady kavas when looking to relieve stress and increase creativity. This type also helps to encourage conversations and camaraderie. Popular types of heady kavas include Kelai and palarasul.


The second type of kava is heavy. It gets its name from the higher concentration of heavier kavalactones it offers, like dihydrokavain, methysticin, and dihydromethysticin. Heavy kavas are known to have more sedating properties and produce more intense effects. Something is known as the "body melting" effect around the kava circles.

Kava consumers associate this type of kava with more profound relaxation and calming effects. However, its effects are longer-lasting than those of heady kavas, and it doesn't taste enjoyable. Because of its effects, this kava is best consumed at night.

The most common type of heavy kava is the Borogoru, but there are other alternatives that you can look into depending on your preference and intended effects.


The balanced kavas category features options that balance the two types of effects. This is the most versatile and popular type of kava. Depending on how much you take, they're great for social events during the day and at night. They provide a nice balance for new and seasoned kava fans. They have full-spectrum kava effects, which are a hit among experienced kava consumers.

Popular options here include Melo Melo, Pacific Elixir, and Quick Shell. These are great options if you need clarification on the type of kava experience you want.

Types of kratom

Kratom may also come in different strains. There are two ways you can classify the types of kratom:

The most common and preferred method is the color of the vein because different types of kratom have different vein colors. Types of kratom by vein color include:

Red kratom

This is the most popular strain of kratom. It is described as calming, relaxing, and stress-relieving. Therefore, consumers who have trouble sleeping prefer it. In addition, this kratom strain reportedly has natural relief properties and can relieve muscle tension.

The specific effects of red kratom vary depending on your chosen red kratom strain—a standard option to consider is Borneo red kratom, known for its soothing effects.

White kratom

White kratom has white veins in the middle of the leaf. This type of kratom is usually described as energizing and effective for enhancing mood. White kratom also improves alertness, focus, and mental sharpness. Some white kratom consumers also say they feel they concentrate and have better motivation and endurance after taking white kratom.

White kratom is also thought to counteract feeling tired and drowsy. For some, it's the ultimate alternative to caffeine because it doesn't have the jitters. White Sumatra and Malay are some options when looking into white vein kratom.

Green vein kratom

This type of kratom is the middle ground between white and red kratom strains. It is a mild energy amplifier that helps consumers gain strength, alertness, and focus. Green kratom also helps with natural relief without causing drowsiness. Green Maeng Da and Green Malay are the most common types of green vein kratom available.

Sometimes, green kratom is mixed with red or white vein kratom to diversify the effects. This helps keep the other types of kratom in check. Greek kratom is often used to manage stress; some consumers take it to feel uplifted. They say it makes them more comfortable and relaxed at gatherings.

Onset of Effects

The time it takes to start feeling the effects of both compounds is also different. Although numerous factors determine how soon you start feeling the effects, on average, you start feeling the kratom sooner than you begin feeling the kava effects.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes for kratom to get absorbed into the system and for you to experience the effects. How long kratom lasts will depend on various factors, including on how much you take.

For kava, it can take roughly 20 minutes to start feeling the effects, and most kava will last at least four hours. This is if both compounds are taken by mouth, and all the other factors are constant.

Side effects

Most people tolerate kratom and kava relatively well, with almost no serious incidences. However, there have been some reported effects with both of them, particularly among new consumers. The reported side effects are quite different but are both temporary and mild.

In kratom, the most common side effects are an increased heartbeat and flatulence, while in kava, dizziness, drowsiness, and enlarged pupils are the most commonly reported side effects.

You can prevent side effects for both compounds by ensuring you don't take the compounds while taking other types of medication and starting with a low serving to give your body enough time to get used to the active ingredients. You should also speak with your doctor before beginning a kratom or kava routine.

Safety profile

Kava has a long history in its country of origin without any changes. It has a strong safety profile but is less intense than kratom.

A few people have reported some side effects after taking kratom. Although the reported side effects were mostly not severe and temporary, it's always recommended to proceed with caution when taking kratom because of its potent effects.

How Kratom and Kava Interact with the Body

Kava and kratom rely on different internal mechanisms to produce their bodily effects. Although the results might intertwine in some ways, the compounds rely on different systems.


Kava might be better suited for stress relieving benefits and mood enhancement. However, it can produce an uptick in imaginative qualities and creativity.

Kava relies on the GABA-receptors, which can produce a calming effect. Other substances depend on the same mechanism to have their impact.


Kratom is effective for stimulation, increased productivity, and overall natural relief. Some people feel it also promotes a sense of calm and body relaxation.

Kratom elicits its effects by influencing the body's opioid receptors. However, it's important to note that kratom is not an opioid.

Kava Vs. Kratom – Which is Better?

Now that you know the similarities and differences between kratom and kava, the remaining question is, which of the two should you take?

The truth is that these are different herbal solutions with varying effects. While kratom has superior potency and offers a broader range of benefits, kava may still have a role, especially if you want something to keep you mellow.

Kava might be a great option if you're looking for something to mellow you out at the end of the day or to get you out of your shell during a social gathering.

Kratom could be your go-to if you'd instead like to feel a sense of stimulation and enhanced outlook during the day. It's also likely better suited for natural relief.

Should You Take Kratom and Kava Together

Whereas some consumers might have tried taking both together, people can respond differently, and there's no saying what the experience is. Therefore, it is essential to exercise caution and, at best, avoid mixing kratom and kava together unless directed by your physician.

Many natural health enthusiasts utilize kava and kratom at different times of their daily or weekly routines but usually not simultaneously.

We also highly recommend starting with a small serving and only ingesting oral kava and kratom products by mouth. The effects kick in gradually and are less likely to overwhelm you.

The Takeaway

Kratom and kava enjoy some fantastic publicity at the moment. However, there is so much to learn about both and many unanswered questions that enthusiasts and fans are dying to discover.

However, these are very different herbal solutions with different active ingredients and ways of interacting with the body. However, depending on your mood and the results and effects you want, they both can have a place in your wellness routine.