Chronic pain is a prevalent health concern, but in the US, it has turned into an epidemic, which led to the rise of prescription painkiller and opioid addiction. Based on a CNN report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a person dies every 19 minutes from accidental overdoses from prescription painkillers. In fact, drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of accidental death in the US, exceeding car crashes.
With that said, more and more people are looking for other non-addictive pain treatments that are effective and safe.
Kratom and Cannabidiol (CBD) have seen a sharp spike in popularity, particularly among people seeking natural treatment alternatives to prescription painkillers and opioid medications that are known for dangerous side effects.
But how does CBD compare to Kratom? Which one is more effective and safe in addressing pain?
In this article, we will tackle into this seemingly hot debate of CBD vs. Kratom for pain relief, learning about each herb and which one offers more beneficial effects and fewer side effects.
A Deeper Understanding of Pain
Before we go deeper into the discussion, it is important to learn that there are different types of pain. Actually, it’s of the essence to understand how one herb is better than the other for a certain type of condition.
There are two generally known types of pain – the pain of injury or damage and the more bizarre kind that derives from the damage of the nervous system.
- Nociceptive pain – this arises from the kind of damage in tissues, sent by the nervous system to the brain. The kind of pain nearly all people are familiar with – from minor burns, bee sting and paper cut to tumors, sprains and inflammatory arthritis.
- Neuropathic pain – this pain arises due to damage on the nervous system, whether central or peripheral, from injury or disease, causing dysfunction or deterioration of the neurons. When this happens, pain signals are sent to the brain and CNS even if there’s absence of physical damage or injury.
Any damage to the neuron, from multiple sclerosis, alcoholism to chemotherapy, can be categorized under this type of pain. The nature of neuropathic pain is often electrical, burning or stabbing. This often led to chronic pain since nerves do not heal immediately.
Based on various user reports from forums, Kratom and CBD, having different active compounds, target pain in a different yet unique way. Both differ in how they relieve pain and what type of pain they can treat. Most people who tried both reported that CBD is more effective in addressing neurodegenerative and neuropathic conditions while Kratom works better in relieving severe nociceptive pain.
What exactly is CBD?
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is an active component of the plant Cannabis sativa, which is comprised of two major subvarieties – marijuana and hemp.
Marijuana is the variety that contains high levels of THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of Cannabis that is associated with making a person ‘high’. On the other hand, hemp contains very low levels of THC and relatively high amounts of CBD. In order for a strain to be considered a hemp, it must contain less than 0.3% of THC. Most CBD products are derived from industrial hemp.
CBD is a type of cannabinoid that works by influencing the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a network of cannabinoid receptors and endocannabinoids in the human body. ECS is found in almost all types of cells, which is the reason why CBD can tackle a wide range of coditions, from depression, seizures, anxiety to chronic pain.
What exactly is Kratom?
Similar to Cannabis, Kratom is a natural plant that originated from the regions in Southeast Asia. The active components of Kratom include 7-hydroxymitragynine and Mitragynine, two alkaloids that have been found to have potent opioid agonist properties.
While Mitragynine can affect the kappa (κ)- and mu (μ)- opioid receptors, this alkaloid is structurally different from opioid narcotic drugs such as morphine. It works by targeting the body’s natural opioid receptors in a far milder, gentler way without causing severe side effects.
Kratom comes in different vein colors – red vein, white vein and green vein. In general, red-veined Kratom is considered as the most potent of the three as it has both pain-relieving, mood lifting and sedative effects. The white vein Kratom offers a more uplifting and energizing effect, which is often used to improve focus. The green vein is somewhat in the middle between the two.
CBD vs. Kratom: Pros and Cons
One of the biggest advantages of Kratom is that it can be used as an opiate substitute. Many users of codeine, heroin and other prescription painkillers have sworn that this herb is the only thing that liberated them from their dangerous addictions to narcotics without experiencing severe withdrawal effect. Many users consider Kratom a godsend life-saver.
Since Kratom works on the opioid receptors, it still poses a risk for addiction and symptoms of withdrawal if taken in frequent, large doses and the abruptly stopped. This is the biggest disadvantage of Kratom over CBD.
However, when taken as suggested, the risk for addiction of Kratom is significantly less severe compared to opioid drugs such as morphine. Even if a Kratom user develops addiction, the symptoms of withdrawal are very mild (includes sweating, nausea, fatigue, sedation, and loss of appetite) compared to a full-scale opiate withdrawal that is known to be life-threatening.
In addition, people who tried both reported that Kratom works better than CBD in providing relief from acute nociceptive pain, which is usually treated with opioid drugs. For instance, a person who suffered from a broken bone due to a fatal car accident will likely be treated with several Kratom doses than with CBD
On one hand, CBD is often regarded to be more effective in dealing with neuropathic pain as well as chronic neurodegenerative conditions such as fibromyalgia and multiple sclerosis. Chronic pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and epilepsy/seizures can also be addressed using CBD.
Currently, CBD is being studied as a way to reduce the craving in addiction, particularly in its use in cocaine, heroin, alcohol, tobacco addiction, including cannabis misuse. The results seem promising, with experts believing that CBD may help regulate endocannabinoid signalling and glutamate transmission, which usually deregulate during addiction.
It is worth noting that Kratom isn’t advised for daily use due to its tendency to develop dependence. The usual dose of Kratom is anything between 2 and 6 grams, but this should be used every two to three days. Taking more than that will make you build up tolerance to alkaloids, which leads to the increase in dosage needed to achieve the herb’s therapeutic effect. This drastically increases the risk of addiction, too.
On the other hand, CBD is less likely to increase tolerance and can be taken on a daily basis without any serious side effects.
CBD vs. Kratom: How to Use Both Herbs for Pain Relief?
Kratom is often ingested rather than smoked. The simplest, fastest way to ingest it is through the Toss n’ Wash method, which is done by measuring the leaf powder and directly pouring it in your mouth. It is immediately followed by drinking water and swilling it before swallowing.
Instead of pouring the powder in one go, you can divide the dose into 2 to 3 mouthfuls. The reason is that the more Kratom powder is in the mouth, the harder it is to swallow. This is the best method to feel immediate effects, with minimal preparation.
Unlike Cannabis, the active component of Kratom, Mitragynine, doesn’t have to be heated to become activated. Other methods of ingestion include making Kratom tea, adding it to a protein shake or yogurt o encapsulating the powder.
Capsules come in handy for avoiding the bitter taste of Kratom but there’s a downside to this method. The best capsule size to use for Kratom is Size 00, which can hold 0.5 grams powder. If you need to take 5 grams of Kratom, you have to take 10 capsules in order to achieve the desired effect. Some people find this quite challenging to do. But then again, capsules are very convenient, particularly when you’re always on the go.
As for CBD, inhalation is the most popular consumption method. This includes vaporization using e-liquids. Inhaling CBD is ideal when you need immediate relief. It requires 2 to 100 mg per day and is best for urgent situations when you need a quick fix. The upside of inhaling is that it is fast-acting and easy, but one common issue with vaping is that some people are sensitive to vapor.
The second best way is to use CBD capsules, tinctures, or other edibles. Anyone who can swallow a capsule, from the children to the elderly, can use this method. Using CBD in edibles is a popular and affordable option. Some even add it to their smoothies or other foods.
When taking CBD capsules, start with a lower dose and wait for an hour before taking another. Unlike inhaling, oral CBD oil takes some time to kick in, but the good news is that the effects tend to last longer.
CBD tinctures are usually taken sublingually, and ideal for kids too young to ingest CBD capsules. This CBD product is potent, hence it is always advised to start with a very low dose and slowly increase it as necessary. Taking a CBD tincture under the tongue offers fast-acting results. When taking CBD sublingually, simply put a few drops under the tongue and then hold it for 60 to 90 seconds before swallowing.
CBD topicals such as ointments and creams are also proven effective and are popular for joint or muscle pains such as arthritis.
Between the two, Kratom appears to be the desired herb when it comes to relieving acute pain from severe injury or trauma. In addition, numerous anecdotal reports told that it is an effective substitute for opiates, with the potential for opioid dependants to safely wean off from narcotic use.
However, Kratom has a psychoactive nature, unlike CBD. Hence, it still does pose a risk for addiction and later on, withdrawal, despite having milder withdrawal side effects than other opiate receptor agonists.
When it comes to addressing chronic neuropathic pain, CBD seems to be the herb of choice. Neuropathic pain conditions may stem from cancer, seizures, multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia and rheumatoid arthritis. Furthermore, since it does not pose any side effects or even risks of addiction, CBD is considered safer in the Kratom vs. CBD comparison.
Though the mechanism of action and the method of use of Kratom and CBD differs, both supplements can help relieve pain, has anti-epileptic, anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety effects. Hence, people who are using Kratom may also use CBD to experience its healing effects and because it’s not psychoactive, it can be helpful for those who need it for medicinal purposes.