Kratom vs. Kava: Similar Or Not?

It’s essential to compare the similarities and effects of kratom vs. kava before choosing either as a natural remedy. While both plants have a history in traditional medicine, they differ in chemical composition, method of consumption, and possible effects.

These two herbal supplements recently gained popularity in the USA for their reported health benefits. Some enjoy blending kava and kratom tea made from products like Kali Maeng Da capsules for a relaxing beverage.

Explore the similarities and differences between kratom and kava to help you better understand which may be right for you.

What Is Kratom? 

Mitragyna speciosa, or kratom, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Traditionally, people consume its leaves for their reported medicinal and recreational effects. It contains two main active alkaloids, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxy mitragynine.

Kratom may be a natural remedy for stress, discomfort, and fatigue, promoting tranquility and elevating low moods. Low doses are said to produce mild stimulating effects, while high doses deliver sedative and euphoric results.

This powerhouse herb is no stranger to legal and regulatory controversies. Certain countries enforce kratom bans because of potential health risks and the danger of abuse. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t regulate it, and its legality varies between states.

Kratom is available in various forms, including capsules, extracts, and powders. Its effects depend on dosage, strain, and quality. 

What Is Kava? 

Is kava like kratom? Kava is a beverage made from the plant roots of Piper methysticum, a shrub native to the South Pacific islands. It’s been a staple at traditional ceremonies and social gatherings for centuries.

When consumed in moderation, kava may have various potential health benefits. It’s reportedly a tranquilizer and analgesic that improves sleep quality and relieves stress. It contains compounds called kavalactones, which may be responsible for these effects.

While kava has many potential benefits, it also carries some risks. Overconsumption may cause liver damage and interact with certain medications. Consult a healthcare provider before use, particularly when taking prescriptions or having liver problems.

The legality of kava varies depending on the country. In the United States, it’s legal but may be subject to certain restrictions. In Australia and certain European nations, it’s either illegal or heavily regulated.

The Differences Between Kratom and Kava

Kratom and Kava are two botanicals used for centuries in traditional medicine and cultural practices. Both plants make supplements or teas that may provide certain health benefits. 

Despite their similarities, there are distinct differences between kratom and kava regarding their origins, effects, and potential risks. 

This table will compare and contrast kratom vs. kava to help you better understand the unique properties of each plant.

  Kratom Kava
Origin Southeast Asia: Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Papua New Guinea South Pacific: Fiji, Vanuatu, and Samoa
Family Rubiaceae (coffee family) Piperaceae (pepper family)
Chemical Composition Alkaloids: mitragynine, 7-hydroxy mitragynine Kavalactones
Effects Stimulant or sedative Relaxing and calming
Improves Focus, mood, discomfort Promotes sleep and well-being
Strains White, green, and red vein Noble, Tudei, and medicinal
Types Thai, Borneo, Malay, Maeng Da, and Bali Kasa, lawena, and waka
Forms Tea, powder, capsules, raw leaf, extracts, gummies Roots, liquid, tinctures, extracts, powder, capsules, and tablets, tea
Possible side effects Dry mouth, chills, nausea, and vomiting Liver impairment, fatigue, abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting, and joint ache

While the table above offers a broad overview, you can also find a more in-depth comparison at

The Similarities Between Kratom and Kava

While there are many differences between kava and kratom, some similarities are worth noting.

  • Origin: Both herbs are natural remedies derived from plants. They have roots in traditional medicine and have formed part of cultural practices for centuries.
  • Effects on mood: Mitragyna speciosa may act as a stimulant or sedative depending on the strain and dose. Piper methysticum may provide calming and relaxing effects.
  • Herbal remedies: Kratom is a natural solution commonly used to manage discomfort, improve mood, and provide a sense of calm. Kava may work as a tranquilizer and promote sleep and relieve muscle tension.
  • Dosage: Both products require careful dosing to avoid adverse side effects. It’s essential to start with a low amount and gradually increase it until you achieve the desired effects.
  • Potential for abuse: While kratom and kava are legal in many parts of the world, they have the potential for abuse and addiction. It’s essential to use them responsibly and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

The Bottom Line

So, is kava the same as kratom?

While there are distinct differences, they share some similarities regarding their origin, effects, and use as herbal remedies. 

Kratom’s analgesic properties are well-reported, while kava’s tranquilizing effect is widely recognized. However, it’s vital to use them responsibly to avoid adverse side effects.

Both plants offer natural alternatives to traditional medication for those seeking relief from discomfort and stress. Whether you prefer kava or kratom may depend on individual needs, tolerances, and preferences.