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An Introduction to Kratom, Kratom Tea, Its types, Effects and Risks

Chamomile tea and leaves on a wooden table in a drug detox center.

Promoted and marketed as a natural herbal supplement, Kratom contains some powerful psychoactive chemical compounds known scientifically as bioactive alkaloids. Kratom is a substance produced as an extract using the leaves of Mitragyna speciosa tree indigenous to Southeast Asia.

Advocates tout kratom as having numerous physical and psychological benefits, including increased energy, pain relief, mood enhancement, and opioid addiction diminishment. Observed outcomes of kratom use are concerning, however, and variations in dosage are known to result in stimulation and sedation effects, as well as psychotic reactions and dependence.

Is Kratom Tea (Thang Tea) Safe?

Overall, kratom is not yet fully understood and is a source of apprehension to the medical community and to drug enforcement authorities (Mayo Clinic, Department of Justice/DEA). The goal of this guide is to explain some of the basic facts about kratom to impart greater understanding to those concerned about friends or loved ones who may be over-engaging in its use. If you or a loved one is potentially struggling with a Kratom addiction, please contact the experts at Prosperity Haven Ohio as soon as possible. Our high-quality, tailored care and comfortable homelike rehabilitation center will deliver the therapy, support and tools they need to beat addiction for good.

 In This Article

What is Kratom: How Kratom (Biak) is made and used, and what it feels like

Kratom is usually taken orally and is available in many forms. It can be brewed as kratom tea; mixed into juices or other beverages to create kratom drinks; swallowed as a kratom pill, kratom capsule, kratom powder form; or chewed as fresh or dried kratom leaves. Dried leaves can also be crushed and smoked, but oral consumption is the more common practice (Department of Justice/Drug Enforcement Administration).  A simple and popular means of ingestion currently practiced is referred to as “toss and wash” whereby the user consumes a spoonful of kratom powder followed by large gulps of water for especially fast results. Powdered kratom is also available packed into capsule form or swallowed in amounts comparable to what would be mixed into beverages (Nanotech Project).

            As is true for many herbal supplements purported to be natural and healthful, kratom in tea form is growing in popularity. Kratom tea has a long history in Southeast Asia and has been gaining a notable following in the U.S. as well in recent years. In tea form, kratom’s effects vary greatly depending on dosage. In the lower ranges, kratom tea is a stimulant, leading to increased energy, alertness, and socialization. In contrast, using higher amounts creates a sedative effect and is purported to provide pain relief benefits, while very high intake can cause unconsciousness. Because kratom is unregulated, neither dosage information nor exact ingredients are typically stated on the labels of teas or other kratom products, introducing obvious risks for consumers.

What are the Appearances, Types and Names of Kratom?

Wade Paul, an author for, reports that more than 50 different strains of kratom are known to exist. Paul further explains that strains are typically classified according to the color of the veins in the trees’ leaves as red vein, green vein, or white vein, making these different strains straightforward to identify.

Red vein kratom is abundant, fast-acting, and best used as a sleep aid and pain reliever. Green vein kratom, Paul notes, is “considered more balanced than the other strain types” because it provides effects that fall midway between stimulating and relaxing. In contrast to red vein kratom, white vein kratom is a strong stimulant, often substituted for coffee and claimed to promote concentration while instilling euphoric feelings of mental clarity and positivity.

Prevalent alternative and street used names for Kratom include:

Thang,  Kakuam,  Thom,  Ketum,  Maeng Da,  Kakum,  Green Malay,  Red Sumatra,  Mambog,  Kedemba,  Ithang,  Biak-Biak, Biak.

What Are the Signs of Kratom or Kratom Tea Abuse?

Kratom abuse and dependence can be very insidious because Kratom is legal, marketed as a healthful herbal supplement, and attractive for being genuinely able to produce an array of desired effects. It is openly used “at music festivals and in other recreational settings. People who use kratom for relaxation report that because it is plant-based, it is natural and safe” (Mayo Clinic) – a typically simplified but somewhat naïve perspective.

Abuse of kratom may usually be identified when a number of behaviors that are atypical for the user are observed. Low doses tend to cause sudden bursts of energy, physicality, alertness, and talkativeness while higher doses usually have euphoric, sedating, narcotic-like effects. Abuse and dependency symptoms are similar to those typical of narcotics dependence, with users often becoming withdrawn from family and friends and apathetic toward formerly enjoyed events and activities. Their time is increasingly spent obtaining and using kratom, often in the company of other users, as they abandon other relationships and previous interests. Increasing tolerance results in correspondingly higher doses needed to achieve the desired effects (Healthline). For more on Kratom addiction see the article on kratom & kava addiction.

Is Kratom (Katom) and Kratom Tea addictive? Difficulty of Kratom Withdrawal

Withdrawal from kratom is characterized by symptoms similar to those resulting from narcotics cessation and can manifest in varying degrees of severity, depending on level of addiction. Withdrawal symptoms include restlessness, excessive sweating, tremors, aches and pains, aggression and hostility, sleeplessness, convulsive movements, nausea, fatigue, and hallucinations. Furthermore, heavy use results in physiological changes that make it difficult and even dangerous for users to stop without professional supervision.

Family, friends, and loved ones may be eager to consider conducting their own care, but should understand that doing so is inadvisable. As experts explain, medically supervised detox from kratom dependence is highly recommended for reasons of both physical and emotional comfort as well as safety. Family or friends trying to assist a user through withdrawal should understand the risks and seek professional guidance and oversight. Subsequent to the initial detox and withdrawal process, the recovering user will need to determine a forward looking treatment plan, to pursue the best path to stay in recovery long term. 

Getting Help with Kratom misuse

If you or someone you know may be struggling with unwanted Kratom misuse, they may be stuck in a cycle of addiction, which can be almost impossible to break out of alone. Addiction usually causes one to obsess over the substance they have developed a dependency on, and to seek it out and use it at all costs, even when it may be detrimental to them or their relationships. Additionally, most addictions stem from an underlying emotional or mental cause which may need to be addressed professionally and carefully in a thorough and deep manner.

If someone you care about is exhibiting signs of social or emotional deterioration, as well as other behaviors that may hint at a substance misuse or addiction, you might want to help them research the best available options for caring for and recovering from addiction. Someone stuck in a cycle of addiction may need longer term inpatient care, or a lower level of care, depending on their situation and circumstances. This evaluation is best done by a trained and certified addiction treatment specialist or a doctor.  Quality addiction rehabilitation facilities provide access to proper evaluation of treatment needs, along with full applicable health screenings.

Along with finding the suitable care options, you may want to turn to an addiction care provider to assist you in finding a way to encourage and convince the one struggling with addiction to go ahead and commit themselves to treatment. This intervention is usually successful only when approached with sincere respect and compassion.