Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), an herb from Southeast Asia, has become very popular very quickly. Because of this, kratom users are still figuring out the most effective (and pleasant) ways to experience healing benefits from the leaves, extract, and powder of the kratom tree, a tropical tree of the coffee family.
While drinking kratom tea or consuming extracts, supplements, or kratom powder are the prevailing approaches to achieve its benefits— like mental clarity, mild stimulation, relaxation, etc.— some say you can smoke some kratom products to achieve the same. They may also claim it’s very effective, though not everyone agrees, especially scientific experts.
Can you smoke kratom powder or dried leaf? Read on to learn the safety, risks, and alternatives to smoking kratom, why some seem to love it— and why many say it’s not worth the risk or the costs.
Is it technically possible to smoke kratom?
Yes, it is technically possible to smoke the herb kratom. Besides tobacco or other commonly “smokeable” plants or herbs, many plants can be beneficially experienced through smoking instead of just drinking tea, such as mullein, mugwort, etc.
While smoking is not as uncommon as some may think for herbal remedies, smoking was not a common traditional way to use kratom leaf or powder. While kratom was sometimes smoked in its native regions in Southeast Asia, people did not do so commonly. There is a long history of kratom use for health and well-being, but in different ways.
You can smoke kratom powder or leaves in a pipe, roll it into a cigarette with papers, or use it in other popular smoking paraphernalia like bongs, vaporizers, or glassware. Mixing kratom with other substances and herbs is possible; some claim different strains have different effects.
Is smoking kratom safe?
When it comes to smoking, there can be possible health complications involved with kratom. Plant-based or man-made smoking has naturally high tar content, increases lung disease risk, irritates mucous membranes, and more. Smoking kratom increases your risk of upper respiratory disease and cancer.
As such, one cannot say that smoking kratom is ever safe. It’s also not shown to be any better, more effective, or “intense” than consuming it in other ways, though it may shorten the time until you feel the effects kratom can have. Over time, however, people have shown a simple preference for drinking kratom as a beverage over other methods, according to research.
On the note of kratom and safety, there have not yet been any long-term studies on the daily or regular consumption of kratom, even when eaten or as a tea.
Possible risks and issues with smoking Kratom
Besides baseline safety and whether smoking kratom is possible, there are some more practical concerns regarding whether you can smoke it.
While some users may claim that smoking kratom is the better choice (and a wonderful ritual), not everyone will agree. The facts and research on kratom also show that smoking is not a superior choice.
If you choose to smoke the kratom herb over tea or other methods, it simply comes down to personal preference and not science. The following issues and risks are something to consider when determining if you can smoke kratom or not:
The therapeutic effects of kratom may be diminished.
You may feel some of the effects of the active ingredients of kratom much faster if you smoke it rather than drink or eat it. However, the desired effects of smoking kratom are quick to diminish.
Smoking, burning, or excessive heat may destroy kratom’s alkaloids, the active compound responsible for its so-called benefits. However, more research is needed to see if this is the case. That said, similar plant-based active alkaloids tend to get destroyed at the temperatures created by smoking, meaning you destroy many of the benefits of the plant before they reach your bloodstream.
It may increase the potential for abuse of kratom.
Compared to drinking kratom tea (for which you only need small doses), you will need to smoke many kratom leaves in one sitting to experience any effects. According to some experts, you’ll need 5 grams of kratom powder (or the equivalent in leaves, which may be even more) to smoke in one sitting to feel the effects.
That’s a lot of plant fiber and matter to smoke— and the health risks (or unpleasantness of the process) may far outweigh any benefits. Because it is so much dry matter to smoke, it is almost guaranteed to be quite harsh and has intense adverse effects on anyone’s throat and lungs.
That said, for people dead set on having a smoking experience with kratom (and some regular kratom users report experiences that are like pleasant rituals), this method can increase the risk of someone abusing the plant to get a “buzz” or substance abuse of kratom. In the process, kratom users who smoke kratom powder or fresh kratom leaves for quicker, “better” benefits are also more likely to waste money on this less effective way to experience the plant’s benefits, using too much kratom for fewer effects in the end.
It isn’t better than chewing or making tea from kratom.
There is simply no evidence that smoking is better than the classic methods of partaking in kratom. There haven’t been any studies on the effectiveness of smoking kratom compared to other methods, for that matter.
However, as in the long history of traditional medicine methods from Southeast Asia, there has been plenty of evidence measuring the effectiveness or extraction potential of kratom teas or consuming kratom whole. These have been widely accepted as the most practical and classic methods.
The fact that smoking kratom has not been studied is a testament that it is not scientifically viewed as a severe or effective method health-wise— though other methods of taking kratom are.
Can you vape kratom?
The answer to this can fall in the same category as the answer: Can you smoke kratom? While some may claim it is different and possibly even better than smoking, it’s still not a standard, cost-effective way that people successfully experience the benefits of the kratom herb, according to experts.
You won’t be able to vape kratom powder or dried leaves— you must use the concentrate or kratom extracts in a vape pen instead. This may have intense effects (some report) and can help one bypass the harshness or undesirable flavor of kratom oral consumption or kratom smoke.
Because vaping is widely considered better for your health than smoking, vaping kratom in minimal ways may be “better” for you. But there isn’t any research exploring the long-term health effects of vaping yet, nor on the long-term effects of vaping kratom.
The very same pros and cons that apply to smoking kratom apply to vaping kratom:
- You may get faster, more intense effects of kratom— though it’s more likely that the vaping process will burn most of the plant’s alkaloids, its active components.
- Vaping may be a better alternative to smoking but it is still not “healthy.”
- You waste kratom that could be better extracted in tea (or consumed plain).
- You waste money using kratom least cost-effectively.
Ways to consume Kratom that are more effective than smoking
While some people smoke kratom and love it, the science and experts agree: smoking kratom is not an effective way to consume the herb, nor is it a safe method.
Here are methods to experiencing kratom’s health and well-being benefits that are considered far superior and that most people prefer.
- Toss and wash method. This kratom use involves taking the raw kratom powder by mouth (tossing) and then chasing it with a tasty beverage (washing) to improve the flavor. According to some guides, doing this with kratom powder is considered one of the most popular and effective ways to use it.
- Chewing method. You can chew kratom leaves or consume raw kratom powder for those who don’t mind the bitter taste.
- Brewing tea. Just like making any other cup of herbal tea, you can make kratom tea. This can involve simple tea brewing methods, like placing in a tea ball or infuser and pouring boiling water— or boiling for an extended period to create a strong infusion.
Survey says: smoking kratom is probably not worth it. There may be value to the ritual if you already enjoy it as a pastime. But, for those new to kratom, there are more pleasant, cost-effective, and safer ways to get a taste of its excellent wellness properties.