Kratom is now a widely-used alternative to opioid drugs, largely because of its less addictive nature. Furthermore, kratom is legal and less harmful than certain other recreational drugs – although products must always be taken responsibly, especially by inexperienced users.
People enjoy kratom in several ways. Some brew infused teas with powder or kratom leaves. Others may prefer taking kratom powder directly via the ‘toss and wash’ method. And it can also be taken in capsules or in a paste. This versatility goes some way to explaining kratom’s popularity!
But here’s the question on many people’s lips: can you smoke kratom? In this guide, we’ll explain why smoking kratom is a bad idea, and look at the benefits of other forms of kratom consumption.
Is it possible to smoke kratom?
Smoking is the most common way to consume two of the world’s most famous plants – tobacco and cannabis. But what about kratom? It may surprise you that despite the fact kratom burns very easily, smoking it is just about unheard of in the West. Trawl through the internet and you’ll struggle to find any anecdotes or reports of people smoking kratom.
It seems that smoking kratom is slightly more prevalent in Southeast Asia, where the plant originates, and is obviously available in much larger quantities. However, smoking kratom hasn’t caught on, as it appears that the beneficial alkaloids are quickly burned off, robbing the leaves of their therapeutic effects.
Due to the low bioavailability of smoking, you would need to consume kratom in much greater quantities for any meaningful effect – although it’s impossible to say exactly how much. But this makes smoking a very inefficient form of kratom consumption, and could also bring about an unpredictable experience. The same applies whether you smoke kratom powder or leaves. There may be subtle differences in the effects, but you’ll still be taking much more than normal.
Potential benefits of smoking kratom
While smoking kratom is both inefficient and expensive, this method may still offer advantages for a small percentage of users. For example, those hooked on tobacco cigarettes looking for an alternative substance to smoke may enjoy the less addictive kratom. Again, it’s still extremely important to be sensible and to monitor consumption, as kratom still has some addictive properties.
Kratom has a pleasant, relaxing effect and some strains are associated with a euphoric experience. Alkaloids such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine act upon receptors in the opioid system. Indeed, for those addicted to prescription opioids, kratom alkaloids are weaker substitutes to the compounds in these drugs – hence why kratom may reduce opioid dependence.
Different kratom strains are linked to different effects. Broadly, white-colored strains deliver a physical and mental energy boost, while red-vein strains provide analgesic, anxiolytic and physically sedating effects. Some find kratom an effective mood-booster. Some strains could ease depression, and may even operate as a natural aphrodisiac to enhance sexual performance.
Reasons to avoid smoking kratom
We’ve already covered how smoking kratom is more expensive than other methods because the alkaloids lose their therapeutic effectiveness when burned. Moreover, buying cheaper products to make up for the extra cost could bring additional health risks. Powder in particular could be mixed with other ingredients that are dangerous to smoke in high quantities. Kratom products are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so there is an absence of quality control.
In addition, if you smoke kratom, you’ll need to store much more of the product. This could be problematic if you need to keep your kratom usage discreet for whatever reason. In contrast, kratom powder and capsules allow for lowkey consumption. Furthermore, smoking kratom could generate a pungent aroma, arousing the suspicion of others.
Not to mention, if you’re smoking kratom, you’ll need to keep lots of other equipment to hand, such as lighters and rolling papers, or perhaps a pipe. This makes smoking kratom more of a hassle than taking it via other methods. And in some situations – such as in the office – it would make using kratom pretty much impossible.
Research on the effects of smoking kratom is limited. However, the data currently available indicates that smoking may increase the health risks associated with kratom use. This makes sense given what we know about the harmful effects of smoking. Consuming kratom in this way exposes the lungs to high levels of tar, and may lead to respiratory issues. Given the multitude of kratom products on the market, there’s no obvious advantage to smoking kratom.
Smoking kratom: what users think
There is a growing kratom community online, with users taking to social media sites like Reddit and dedicated forums to express their views on products. The overwhelming consensus among users is that smoking kratom is a no-no. Some users reported trying it and not getting much of an effect, while others have avoided smoking completely.
The inefficiency of smoking kratom is perhaps the most commonly stated reason for not doing so. However, several users have pointed out the respiratory risks and the high tar content. There were even reports that smoking kratom caused short-term side effects, including headaches. However, it’s possible this isn’t due to the kratom itself, but by other factors.
While there may be some people who derive benefit from smoking kratom, it’s clear they are in the minority. Considering the health risks, the inefficiency and the inconvenience, it’s hard to make a case for smoking this herbal drug. There are so many awesome ways to enjoy kratom that provide a pleasurable experience. In a nutshell, the question is not, “Can you smoke kratom?”, but, “Why would you want to smoke kratom?”
How to take kratom
Simply chewing kratom leaves was the original – and for some still the best – method for getting the alkaloids into the body. However, for a meaningful effect, you’ll have to chew a lot of these unrefined leaves, and cope with the intense bitter taste. This explains why users have sought other ways of taking kratom over the years. And nowadays, you’ll find a variety of products, including kratom tea, powder, capsules, and paste.
Traditionally, kratom tea is brewed with leaves. However, these are difficult to source in the Western world, so many use powder instead. Making kratom tea with powder is comparable to making instant coffee – just stir the powder into hot water and add sweetener.
Meanwhile, kratom capsules are ideal for neutralizing kratom’s strong flavor, and ensuring accurate intake and consistent effects. Whether you buy ready-made capsules or make your own with a machine, you’ll always know down to the milligram just how much kratom you’re taking. Capsules and tablets also provide more discretion than other products. As we’ve said, you can’t smoke kratom in the office, but you could take a capsule!
You could even take the powder directly, with the help of a slug of water. Known as the “toss and wash” method, this involves consuming the powder directly, while swilling or “washing” it down with water. This is a convenient approach that promotes fast-acting effects, although it does leave you exposed to kratom’s bitter flavor.
Conclusion: should you smoke kratom?
Smoking kratom is just a bad idea. Even if it is possible, the health risks are increased, and you have to pay more in the process, whether you’re smoking powder or leaves.
There are so many downsides, and you could only really make a case for smoking kratom to stop other smoking addictions. However, with the advent of vaping and other alternatives to stop smoking, there’s not really an argument for a tobacco smoker becoming a kratom smoker. Any kind of smoking still exposes the lungs to tar and creates the risk of future respiratory problems.
Whether you take kratom for therapeutic or recreational reasons, you’re much better off drinking tea or swallowing capsules than smoking it!