The Differences and Similarities Between Kanna and Kratom

January 19, 2020 Articles, Kanna Powder, Kratom Alkaloids, Kratom Alternatives, Kratom Blends, Kratom Potentiators, Kratom Products, Kratom Research, Kratom Strains, Kratom Tea, Supplements

Kanna vs kratom has become a prominent debate among the botanical community, but likening kratom to kanna is tantamount to comparing Kevin Hart to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Not to be funny, but one’s effects are rather minute compared to the others.

This isn’t to say that either kanna or kratom is weak. Far from it. It really all boils down to what you’re using it for, how much you’re using and the method by which it is taken.

There are some rather extreme consequences to using either of these substances. Once you familiarize yourself with how they compare and contrast with one another, I trust you’ll see exactly what I mean.


Kanna powder is derived from the dried plant matter of the Sceletium tortuousum plant, a succulent indigenous to South Africa. Some individuals mistake it for part of the cannabis family, but kanna is in no way associated with cannabis, genetically or otherwise.

From a tangential perspective, one could compare kanna to the marijuana plant insofar as it contains psychedelic properties, but this is where the comparison ends. Unlike marijuana and, indeed, kratom, kanna powder is capable of making the user feel both energetic and relaxed simultaneously.

Kanna has found favor among Americans thanks to its deeply stimulating effects which tend to present in impressively small dosages. This makes kanna appealing to those who prefer microdosing to swallowing a bunch of capsules or measuring out multiple grams of powder.

Kanna is often mixed up with the similarly named kava root or kava kava. Aside from their nearly identical spellings, kanna and kava share little in common. Kava root extract is also available in powder form, although it is most commonly taken as a drink. Hence the popularity of kava bars in the Western world.

By contrast, kanna is often chewed or taken as a kanna supplement. Some folks have even begun vaporizing kanna with brands like UB40 kanna extract offered exclusively in vapor form. This is ill-advised for a number of reasons, not least of which is the likelihood of kanna powder clogging up the user’s vaporizer.

Those who vaporize kanna prefer it to other methods because they get a stronger effect with a quicker onset. Some have also suggested that less powder needs to be used when implementing a vaporizer since the pick up arrives quicker and with more potency than other methods.


As I mentioned earlier, kanna is known to be quite stimulating at low dosages, but it may also induce intense relaxation or even lethargy at higher dosages. One noted side effect is its substantial appetite suppression, something that has led to its appeal among those who are dieting or looking to burn fat.

As a psychoactive compound it is safe to speculate that kanna could lead to mild hallucinations are certain dosage levels. In fact, such properties may also contribute to giddiness, elevated mood or even slight confusion.


As you may have suspected, some users like to mix kanna with other substances. While it is never recommended to combine two or more chemical compounds that share similar effects, it is interesting to observe the relative safety of doing so with kanna.

Those who have stacked kanna extract with cannabis report an increase in cannabis effects by about three times the magnitude of the plant itself. Perhaps more interestingly, users say that combining kanna with cannabis eliminates any of the anxiety or nervousness typical of sativa strains.

Many have said similar things about combining kanna and kratom, but we’ll get to that later. First things first…


Kratom powder comes from the dried and/or fermented plant matter of Mitragyna speciosa, an evergreen tree from the coffee family of plants. It is commonly found in Southeast Asia where it is cultivated by farmers across Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and so forth.

Kratom is referred to by various names such as biak, keh-thum, kay-thom, kakuam, ketom, thang and thom, depending on where you are and/or who you are dealing with.

The effects of kratom are questionable and subject to skepticism by the mainstream establishment. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has not approved kratom for medicinal use and has urged the public against using it for any purpose.

Nevertheless it has been implemented as a folk medicine for centuries in its native land where laborers have chewed the leaves to ward off work-related fatigue, and ease their aches and pains. Although no medical claims can be made about kratom, there are multiple scientific studies which point to its utility in a variety of areas.

Users who brew kratom tea say that its aroma helps them feel more sociable, less stressed out and more motivated. It has been embraced by athletes and active sporting types, many of whom use it before hitting the gym.

Those who are after a clean feeling of endurance often brew Green Borneo or Green Hulu Kapuas, two of the green vein kratom strains. That’s because green veins are said to be more invigorating than other vein colors.

Alternately, users who want to go out clubbing and meeting new people often brew Maeng Da some in hopes that it will make them feel less introverted and more confident. That’s because Maeng Da, aka Pimp Grade Kratom, is famed for its extreme potency, the effects of which may be so intense as to lose one’s inhibitions. Needless to say, this can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how large your dosage is.


Like kanna, aka kougoed, kratom is believed to heighten one’s emotions and mood, most significantly when using strains such as Green Malay or White Sumatra. Kratom may also share kanna’s ability to instill relaxation, although this is largely debated among the American medical institutions.

As with kanna, kratom is rumored to contain anti-inflammatory alkaloids which work in concert with muscle relaxing alkaloids. Unfortunately scientific data is inconclusive where kratom’s alkaloid profile is concerned and precise concentrations of said alkaloids tends to vary from strain to strain.

In kanna’s case, the psychoactive properties are quite pronounced with some claiming that they are intoxicating and even vision-inducing in nature. The same cannot be said of kratom, although the two share certain nighttime qualities in common as well.

Select strains of kratom are often called “nighttime strains,” meaning they contain high concentrations of alkaloids that are known for making one less tense and more sleepy. These strains have found favor among those afflicted with sleep disorders, but they should not be considered an alternative to medical treatment or pharmaceutical grade sleep aids.


Whereas kratom draws on its 25+ alkaloids to produce lasting effects, kanna’s benefits are mostly due to its Mesembrenone content. Mesembrenone serves as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor which leads to enhanced cognition and anti-inflammatory effects.

As I mentioned in my post, “Kanna and Kratom: A Match Made in Heaven,” kratom differs from kanna in that kanna is not known to be addictive while kratom is. In fact, some have used kanna on a chronic basis and have discontinued use thereafter with minimal to no withdrawal symptoms.

By contrast, chronic kratom use is associated with tolerance, abuse and addiction. Those who have experience kratom hangover can already tell you how unpleasant kratom’s side effects can be, but those who have been addicted to this herb know that there is a fate even worse than a simple hangover.

Kratom withdrawal symptoms can include restlessness, sweating, agitation, fatigue, muscle weakness, confusion, anxiety, constipation, stomach cramp, depression, insomnia, delusions, headaches, spasms and elevated heart rate.


There can be no definitive winner here since users come to these compounds for very different reasons. Suffice it to say that both are very good in their own ways and compliment each other nicely. Personally, I prefer kratom to kanna because I have more experience with the latter.

Others may prefer kanna because of its psychedelic attributes and compatibility with other substances when stacking.


Whether you’re looking to combine kanna and kratom for the ultimate experience or simply turning to one in particular for your personal needs, these two amazing herbs can lend a helping hand that’s totally heaven sent.

Bob Freville
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