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Kratom VS Kava: The Differences You Need to Know

Though kratom and kava have similar effects, they are very different substances. Learn about how they are different, how they work in the body, and discover the benefits.


Kratom and kava both are plant-based supplements used for their mood-enhancing and relaxing effects. Supplements come in a variety of forms, with the raw leaves and roots of the plants used to manufacture items for consumption. While some of the effects of these substances are similar, kratom and kava come from different plants. They also work in different ways to produce similar effects.

Topics Will Cover

  • What Is Kratom?
  • What Is Kava?
  • Differences Between Kava and Kratom
  • The effects of kava and kratom
  • Should You Drink Kava And Kratom Together?

What Is Kratom?

People are often surprised to learn that kratom is a tree related to coffee. In kratom’s native Southeast Asian countries, locals often chew the leaves for energy and pain relief. In recent years, some of these countries outlawed kratom because of growing concern about the potential for addiction. However, kratom is still exported to the United States and other countries. Manufacturers crush the leaves and process them for commercial sale as a nutritional supplement.

A lot of people purchase kratom in powder form, in capsules, or as a liquid extract. The powder form is sometimes made into a tea or mixed into beverages. It’s also sold in capsule form, which many people prefer because of the strong taste of kratom powder. In liquid extract form, kratom comes as a potent concentrate, which is easy for people to consume in high doses. Kratom is used recreationally to promote relaxation or medicinally to help with various physical and mental health issues and promote well-being.

What Is Kava?

Kava is made out of the roots of the kava plant. The plant belongs to the pepper family, and it’s native to countries like Fiji and Indonesia. People in its native area use the root of the kava plant to create different types of tea and juice beverages. Some restaurants and bars mix it with either water or coconut milk to create drinks that are consumed socially or recreationally. Kava has also been used for ceremonial rituals.

All over the world, kava is used as a tea, a supplement, or even an extra ingredient in certain baked goods. Because of its relaxing qualities, it’s often used by those experiencing anxiety or insomnia.

Differences between Kava and Kratom

Although both kava and kratom produce calming effects, they react with your body in different ways. Kava contains kavalactones that influence GABA receptors in the limbic system and stimulate dopamine receptors. Kratom contains alkaloids that influence the mu and delta-opioid receptors in the brain and stimulate norepinephrine receptors. Kratom influences serotonin and blocks pain receptors, which produces a morphine-like effect that can become addictive. Kratom has been banned in many countries due to its addictive qualities and its future US. legal status remains unclear. Kava, on the other hand, is non-addictive and gaining popularity in the US with no legal issues.


Kratom- Kratom strains and effects are closely linked. For example, the Bali strain produces opioid-like euphoria. The Maeng Da strain acts more like a pain killer and stimulant. The dose also matters. In small doses, kratom produces some of the same stimulating effects as coffee. In larger doses, the effects are more sedating and are similar to those produced by opioid painkillers. 

Kava – Kava’s effects are closer to those of a sedative or depressant. People who use it often do so to help promote sleep or to relax. Kava can also affect a person’s mood by affecting an area of the brain closely linked to emotions.


Kratom- Whether kratom is legal or not depends on where you live. Kratom remains on the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) “drugs of concern” list, and the decision to make it illegal has been deferred to individual states and counties. As of October 2019, six states have banned kratom. Five additional states have at least one county where the sale of kratom isn’t allowed. Additional states have pending legislation against kratom but have not yet passed laws banning it. In states where kratom is legal, it’s often sold in smoke shops or specialty stores.

Kava- In contrast, kava is legal in all states in the U.S. and has not been the subject of controversy in the way kratom has. Kava is sold in specialty stores as well as more mainstream stores, including grocery stores, pharmacies, and other food and beverage stores.

The effects of kava and kratom

On the surface, kava and kratom both have a similar list of effects that include: 

  • Pain relief 
  • Anxiety reduction 
  • Enhanced mood 
  • Increased energy levels

The differences come in the form of side effects, the “addictiveness” of each drug, and the biochemical pathway the two psychotropic plants take to deliver their effects. 

Should Drink Kava & Kratom Together?

When used in high doses, kratom can cause side effects that may get worse when combined with kava. It is not suggested to take the two together.

Kava Or Kratom: The choice is yours

They might appear similar on the surface, but kava and kratom are significantly different. 

Both have a cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. But, as the research shows, Kratom is a much “harder” drug with stronger effects. Kava, on the other hand, is a light alcohol alternative that’s great for calming anxiety and stress without hijacking your nervous system or risking addiction. 

Final words

As demonstrated in this post, Kratom and kava have a lot in common but they work differently. Because they produce the same effects, it is up to you to decide what to use. Whether you prefer using kava or kratom, it is paramount to ensure that it is safe to use.