Kava and kratom

Kava vs Kratom: Benefits & Differences

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At Kratora, our passion and primary focus is kratom — it was our very first ethnobotanical and we’ve gone above and beyond to bring our customers an extensive selection of kratom products since we first opened for business in 2013. However, we know that kratom isn’t legal in every state (or county) and that some people ask us about other options. In this post, we’ll cover the main differences between kava and kratom.


Kava and Kratom: The Basics

If you’re thinking that kava and kratom are strange bedfellows, you’d be right! In fact, these two plants are not related and don’t share any bioactive compounds. Kava (Piper Methysticum) is a perennial shrub in the pepper family that grows on the islands of the Western Pacific — most notably the islands of Vanuatu, Fiji, and Tonga. The roots of the shrub are harvested, cleaned, pounded, and mixed with water to be drunk at ceremonies or socially to relax. The popularity of kava in the Western Pacific has spread to the USA where more than 100 kava bars are now in business — mostly located in the states of Florida, California, and New York.

Comparing kratom vs. kava, kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) is a tall evergreen tree in the coffee family that grows in the jungles of Southeast Asia. It was traditionally used as a tea in Thailand and Malaysia to increase laborers’ stamina on the job. In the West (Europe and the United States), kratom has received opposition from authorities because of concerns regarding abuse potential. However, in 2016, thousands of U.S. citizens spoke out in favor of kratom and managed to overturn an attempt to schedule the herb at a federal level.


Chemical Differences between Kava and Kratom

Remember that we mentioned that kava and kratom have different bioactive compounds? In kava, they’re called kavalactones, and in kratom, they’re called alkaloids. So far, 18 different kavalactones have been identified, with six of these making up 90% of the plant’s total kavalactones content. Kratom can contain over 40 different alkaloids. However, the most well-known and influential alkaloids in the mix are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine.


Kratom vs. Kava: The Science

When it comes to scientific research about kava and kratom, kava is strides ahead of kratom. While standardized kava extracts have already reached the stage of clinical trials, kratom is still at the point of being explored through computer models and animal trials with mice and rats. What researchers have been able to discover so far is that kava acts on the nervous system through the GABA and glutaminergic pathways. It also appears to work on other pathways throughout the body — associated variously with feel-good hormones and the sleep-wake cycle. Kava’s activity as a GABA receptor agonist is thought to explain kava’s physically and mentally relaxing effects and its dopamine-elevating action is linked with euphoria. Kava extracts have been shown to be effective for easing nervousness, stress, and worry-related sleep difficulties, and the plant is currently under investigation for further potential benefits. [1]

Studies on kratom, on the other hand, show it having effects on the systems in the body responsible for rewards and easing discomfort, and other important pathways. For this reason, kratom is being researched primarily as a solution for day-to-day discomfort, with its mood-boosting effects remaining mostly anecdotal. A new law in Thailand allowing medical research on kratom will hopefully accelerate research efforts and bring the herb closer to clinical trials.

Legal Differences between Kava and Kratom


Kratom vs. kava legality gavel


If you’re shopping for kava and kratom in person, you would notice that kava is much easier to come by than kratom. Enjoying basically a free pass by authorities around the country, kava is available in kava bars, health food stores, pharmacies, and even supermarkets. 

Kratom is much more restricted by law and also in practice. The herb is currently outlawed in six states and several counties, regulated in four states, and unregulated in the remaining states. In the states where kratom is legal, it can mostly be found in specialty stores like smoke shops and head shops. However, due to adulteration concerns, most kava and kratom enthusiasts prefer to buy their herbs online.


Shop Kratom at Kratora

At Kratora, we are proud to sell traditional, all-natural kratom sourced from ethical, family-owned businesses in their places of origin. All our products are organically-grown and lab-tested for purity and biological safety. Our ethnobotanicals are also covered by our 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you don’t love your purchase, we’ll give you your money back! Buy kratom online and discover which herb is right for you.

Please note that the US FDA has not approved kratom to be sold for human consumption, sold for external use only. The statements in this article have not been evaluated by the FDA. None of the products sold on our website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.

Want to learn more about kratom quality and value? Start here:
Why Buying Cheap Kratom Can Be Dangerous

Author Bio


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Colleen is a part owner of Kratora along with her brother David. Kratora was founded in 2013 by David with Colleen joining the team later in 2017. The siblings were born and raised in the Bay Area and spent most of their professional years working in Silicon Valley. Their interest in botanicals began in the early 2000s as they cared for a sick family member and quickly grew into the passion that formed Kratora.

Colleen and the team at Kratora are dedicated to providing the best quality botanicals on the market along with the best customer service. They believe their loyal customers are what makes Kratora so special! Over their many years in business it has always brought them joy to work with their customers and see how botanicals are changing lives for the better.

Kratora’s vision is to help their customers live a better life by consistently providing the highest quality, safest, and purest botanicals on the market. Colleen and her team specialize in regular kratom, kratom extracts, liquid kratom, even kratom gummies — plus a lot of kratom alternative products. Kratora is always looking to expand their product line while remaining true to their high standards.

Colleen believes in transparency between the Kratora team and the expert farmers in South Asia which is why they follow Fair Trade policies. Without these farmers, Kratora would not have any products to sell. As part of Colleen’s commitment in providing the highest quality botanicals, Kratora invests highly into third-party lab testing for all of the products they sell.

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