How is Kratom Different From CBD?
It seemed like CBD went from relative obscurity to a household term almost overnight. Suddenly people that never would have considered using cannabis (the plant that CBD is derived from) were using CBD to treat a host of maladies.
Kratom, by comparison, is still relatively unknown outside of a devoted but growing group of enthusiasts. Like CBD, it’s used to treat a range of conditions. So how are the two substances different? This article will explore both their similarities and their distinctions.
For One, They’re From Entirely Different Species
Kratom is a powdered leaf product derived from the tropical tree Mitragyna speciosa. Leaves from the plant are harvested, dried, and ground to produce the final product. Mitragyna speciosa is an evergreen species found primarily in Southeast Asia.
CBD is a chemical compound extracted from the Cannabis sativa plant, better known to most people as cannabis or marijuana. However, because of marijuana’s tenuous legal status, at least in the U.S., most CBD is derived from hemp, a type of cannabis with very low levels of THC. THC is the compound responsible for marijuana’s psychoactive properties.
Only One is Psychoactive
You’d be forgiven for assuming that CBD is psychoactive, given its derivation, but it isn’t. Even full-spectrum CBD, which contains small amounts of THC, has no psychoactive properties. Its lack of a “high” is the reason why CBD is legal almost everywhere, while marijuana and THC are still restricted.
Kratom, on the other hand, is celebrated for its psychoactive effects. They are, in fact, an essential part of the plant’s therapeutic value. Users experience a buoyant euphoria that energizes conversation and clarifies focus, a boon for those that suffer from depression and social anxiety. At higher doses, users get more of the plant’s pain-relieving and sedative effects. In both cases, users will notice the mind-altering effects present in the experience.
Kratom is a Whole Plant Product While CBD Isn’t
As we mentioned earlier, kratom is produced by drying the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree and then grinding them into a fine powder. The resulting product is placed into capsules for oral ingestion.
Because it’s the whole plant, you get every chemical compound present in the leaves, along with the fibrous leaf material. There are no solvents or other additives needed to extract kratom’s alkaloids because you’re eating the entire leaf.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a single chemical compound found in the hemp plant. It’s extracted through a chemical process that removes the active compounds while discarding the plant material. It’s also ingested, but because it’s an extract, it can be found in liquid form or added to gummy candies.
Kratom’s Harvest Time Makes a Difference
Because CBD is produced through extraction, the hemp plant is destroyed in the process. It doesn’t matter when the hemp is harvested. The CBD that’s produced will be the same.
Some differences in the extraction process lead to different forms of CBD, but the effects of the CBD itself don’t change. We’ll get into those various forms in a moment.
With kratom, the time it’s harvested makes a big difference in the final product. Leaves can be harvested multiple times throughout the tree’s life cycle. As the plant matures, the leaves change colors, and the alkaloid mixture shifts. There are several different kratom varieties, namely white vein, green vein, and red vein.
The different vein colors of Kratom have different effects because the leaves’ chemical composition changes as the tree matures. The plant’s vein color is often where Kratom strains get their name. For example, Super Green Malaysian Kratom features a green veined leaf.
There are two alkaloids in kratom responsible for the lion’s share of the plant’s effects. Mitragynine is the most abundant of the two, and it’s responsible for kratom’s analgesic and sedative properties. 7-hydroxymitragynine is the second most common alkaloid. It causes the plant’s mind-expanding, stimulant effects.
White vein kratom is harvested while the leaves are still very young. At this point, 7-hydroxymitragynine is more prevalent than mitragynine, creating a more stimulating effect, like a bright cup of coffee.
Green vein kratom is harvested further along in the tree’s life cycle once budding has ceased. These leaves are bright green, hence the name. The mix of the two alkaloids is well balanced at this development stage, leading to a happy, euphoric experience that mixes a boost of energy with mild pain relief.
Red vein is harvested from the most mature plants. At this point, the plant’s alkaloid composition is reversed from white vein. Mitragynine now dominates the experience, with 7-hydroxymitragynine playing a supporting role. Users interested in a more traditional “high” that promotes deep relaxation and pain relief should focus on red vein varieties.
Types of CBD
There are two types of CBD for sale — full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. Both are extractions. The difference is that full-spectrum includes all of the different compounds present in the hemp plant, including flavonoids, terpenes, and of course, THC. CBD isolate is further refined so that only pure CBD remains. It’s important to note that no CBD products have THC in quantities high enough for a psychoactive effect.
Comparing the two types to kratom, full-spectrum CBD is the closest match. That’s because kratom also contains all of the chemical compounds from its parent plant. The only difference is that full-spectrum CBD is an extract, while kratom is the whole leaf.
Most CBD users prefer full-spectrum products because the variety of compounds present along with the CBD can amplify and add to CBD’s benefits. This is known as the entourage effect.
CBD isolate is pure CBD. There can be no entourage effect because there aren’t any other compounds present. But if users are worried about the minor THC content found in full-spectrum, they can favor isolate.
There’s Some Overlap in the Conditions Both Treat
Both kratom and CBD are used to treat depression and social anxiety. They both offer pain relief as well.
CBD is being studied as a possible treatment for other conditions such as cancer, heart disease, epilepsy, and diabetes. Kratom has shown promise as an adjunct treatment for opiate addiction, an immunostimulant, a muscle relaxant, and an antihypertensive.
More research is needed with both substances, and they’ll likely reveal additional therapeutic properties over time.
Both kratom and CBD are exciting products, and both have their place in the pantheon of therapeutic botanicals.
You can learn more about Kratom here.