What is the Difference Between Kratom and Cannabis?

January 06, 2019 Articles, CBD Oil, Kratom Alkaloids, Kratom Research, Kratom Vendors


There has been some confusion among newcomers to the kratom community due to the recent popularity and prevalence of CBD oil and similar cannabis-based products. Consequently, a lot of people come to me and ask what kind of weed kratom is.

Naturally, I explain to them that kratom is not a plant from the cannabis family, rather it is an Ayurvedic herb from the coffee family of plants. All too often I can tell that they are still confused after we speak, so I thought it would be a good idea to break down the many differences between these two plants.

The following is a comprehensive guide to both kratom and cannabis which shows you how they differ and how they compare to one another. As you’ll see, these two unique botanicals share some pretty interesting traits, but they also diverge quite significantly.


Kratom is an herb that goes by a lot of names, such as “ketum,” “thuk-thuk” or “kbomb.” Kratom has its origins in Southeast Asia where it is harvested from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa plant, large evergreen trees that can grow to be as tall as 100 feet in height.

Kratom leaves contain as many as 43 compounds, including the key indole alkaloids mitragynine, 7-hydroxymitragynine, raubasine and mitraphylline. These alkaloids are responsible for kratom’s purported benefits which have been said to include analgesia, anxiety relief, stimulation and sedation.

Unlike similar herbs, kratom can produce a multitude of effects at varying dosages. Some have used kratom to alleviate insomnia while others have burned it to enhance energy and endurance.

Kratom’s alkaloids possess a wide range of properties with some acting as muscle relaxants and others serving as stimulants. Of the 43 + compounds in kratom leaves, some are anti-inflammatory in nature while others are anti-malarial and/or antitussive.

Clinical studies of Mitragyna speciosa have been considered inconclusive by the FDA. As such, it is not approved for medicinal use in the United States. However, select studies have demonstrated potential as a cognitive enhancer, mood enhancer and anxiolytic.

Some have implemented kratom for increased stamina, enhanced focus and relief from chronic pain. While it is not approved for human consumption, thousands of Americans have enjoyed kratom for its supposed ability to help manage pain, depression, mood disorders, sleep disruption and more.


Like kratom, cannabis is a tall plant with serrated leaves, except cannabis has its origins in Central Asia. Where kratom contains upwards of 43 compounds, cannabis contains 483, 66 of which are cannabinoids.

Cannabis is known as a psychoactive substance due to the presence of tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, for short. THC is a crystalline compound which induces euphoria in those who ingest it. It is the chief constituent of the plant matter commonly known as marijuana.

Cannabis use has been known to produce an altered state of consciousness which is why users say that they get “high” when ingesting it. It has been known to increase sociability, induce relaxation and yield a distorted perception of time and space.

The recently popular CBD oil is made from cannabidiol, a phytocannabinoid found in the cannabis or marijuana plant. It has been shown to relieve pain in persons suffering from arthritis and other chronic conditions. It is widely available as a cannabis extract for topical use.


As we’ve seen, both kratom and cannabis are believed to be effective as alternative analgesics, but they are also similar in a number of other ways, not least of which is the increased sociability that they each provide.

The effects of both are largely dependent upon dosage, but both are generally considered to be viable options for managing pain, reducing anxiety and improving overall mood. It isn’t often one comes across a kratom or cannabis user with a frown on their face.


Despite some glowing similarities, the differences between the two are manifold. For starters, lots of people turns to kratom for its anxiolytic properties, but cannabis use can actually result in acute cases of anxiousness and paranoia.

Whereas the cannabis-based drug Marinol can be used to control nausea and vomiting, kratom powder can often induce nausea or vomiting. This is mostly due to the common practice of tossing n’ washing kratom powder. The bitter taste and unpleasant texture of swallowing kratom powder can trigger one’s gag reflex. Additionally, the widespread recommendation of taking kratom on an empty stomach can potentiate nausea.

Cannabis has been used as a form of treatment for those afflicted with cancer because it helps to vanquish the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. By contrast, kratom could potentiate vomiting, constipation and/or diarrhea.


There are lots of factors that recommend kratom over CBD oil and vice versa. While cannabis and cannabis-based products are only legal for medicinal use in select parts of the country, kratom remains both legal and unregulated in the vast majority of the US.

Unlike edibles and the like, kratom is more easily measured out for different dosages using a simple spoon and scale. Many kratom vendors sell these accessories in their online stores.

Most notably, kratom is readily available online as well as at smoke shops and headshops across America, making it a cinch to get your hands on this important Ayurvedic herb. Those who have burned kratom or brewed kratom tea can attest to its efficacy as an anti-inflammatory anxiolytic analgesic.


Certain symptoms can crop up when burning kratom and although many of them are mild, some may be more severe than others. They may include any or all of the following:

  • Nausea
  • Pupillary constriction
  • Constipation
  • Flushed face
  • Sweating
  • Muscle weakness
  • Apoplexy
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Irregular heartbeat


As with kratom, adverse effects are not uncommon when using cannabis. Reports of the following side effects have been well-documented.

  • Dry mouth
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dry eyes
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Panic
  • Numbness
  • Paranoia
  • Headaches
  • Depression
  • Hallucinations
  • Sexual dysfunction


Whether you’re using kratom or cannabis, always be sure to burn them in moderation and be aware of any adverse symptoms. Be safe, be smart and be well.

Bob Freville
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