Many curious parties have asked me if Red Maeng Da is better than Red Bali. This has always been a question that I am reluctant to answer, not because of any lack of knowledge on my part but, rather, due to the subjective nature of such strains.
“Everyone’s always talking about Maeng Da as if it’s the strongest form of kratom on the planet,” she said. “Is that true? And if so, does that mean I shouldn’t waste my time with Bali strains?”
My response to her question goes far towards illuminating the differences between these two magnificent cultivars. It also sheds some much-needed light on how these strains compare to one another.
“Look,” I told her. “I can’t answer that because I’m not you. Red Maeng Da could be my favorite red, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be your favorite red. If you really want to determine which one is relatively stronger, you’ll have to take the plunge and try the both of them for yourself.”
Once I saw how disappointed she seemed, I pointed her in the direction of my strains guide which attempts to break down the disparities between greens, reds, whites and so forth.
As I wrote in said post, red vein kratom powder tend to be far more abundant than other vein colors, therefore they are the most prevalent on the American market. You’ll likely find strains such as Red Bali and Red Dragon in any smoke shop, convenience store, headshop or kava bar from here to St. Petersburg.
This widespread availability doesn’t make such strains any greater than less accessible ones. On the contrary, some have suggested that the rarer the herb, the better the verve. While I’m always hesitant to take a position on such things (again, all of this is very subjective), I have to admit that I’ve been pleased with small batch kratom more than any wholesale kratom product.
In order to clearly understand how these two stack up against each other, it’s best if we take a look at their origins.
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Maeng Da AKA Pimp Kratom is derived from the leaves of the Mitragyna speciosa tree. This strain is cultivated in the JongKong region of southern Brunei. Like other strains, it is imported from farms in Indonesia where it is hand-selected by experienced petani.
These skilled harvesters allow their Maeng Da kratom leaves to reach optimal maturity prior to cultivation. This results in a plant matter with higher concentrations of mitragynine. As I mentioned in my Red MD strain review, mitragynine typically occurs naturally at 0.5% to 1.5% in raw kratom powder, but Red Maeng Da is composed of approximately 2.5% mitragynine.
Although Maeng Da may be a newer name in the Western world, the natives actually recognize it as the oldest, largest horned leaf cultivar on the planet. Unlike Red Bali, Maeng Da is acknowledged as an actual strain in Southeast Asia. Bali? Not so much. Colleagues in the region have suggested that Bali is, in fact, a Thai strain that’s been renamed for commercial purposes.
Some have argued that the Maeng Da name is nothing more than a shrewd marketing tool as well, but those who have tried it beg to differ. Many users have embraced Pimp Kratom for its superior potency and longer duration.
Of course, not everyone agrees on this one, nor do they agree on just about any form of M. speciosa. One user spoke of the anxiety and restlessness that Red Maeng Da induced, writing, “Very bizarre, but it seems to have an opposite effect on me than intended. It does well on…relief but actually increases anxiety for me and I have a terrible time sleeping.”
This makes sense given Mitragyna speciosa’s status as an unregulated substance here in the U.S. Thus far, the FDA has not approved kratom for medicinal use. Therefore, no medical claims can be made about its purported benefits.
Some have gone so far as to insist that kratom’s effects are experiental at best and tangential at worst. Still, a growing number of users have availed themselves of this incredible strain and spoken of its strength and efficacy.
Commonly reported effects include a coffee-like invigoration, pleasing emotions, tranquility and elevated mood. At larger dosages, some have said that it can make for a powerful nighttime variant.
Some vendors claim that Bali kratom is only grown on the island of Bali, but others have noted that its genetics point to cuttings from Borneo and Sumatra. This hybrid strain is made using a unique grafting process that enables two to become one.
A Sumatra kratom tree is paired with a Borneo tree and they merge to create a perfect kratom blend. Once micronized, this kratom powder is offered in a variety of forms including kratom capsules. The combination of these two distinct cultivars results in an herb with ideal absorption and substantial alkaloid concentration.
Like Red Maeng Da, Bali is known to be invigorating and clean, although it is far less exhilarating at responsible dosages. The same alkaloids are involved, but at lower levels, making for a more mild aroma.
Despite Maeng Da’s reputation as the strongest of the bunch, some have sworn that Bali has it beat. One user said, “Red Bali is working like a charm…I’ve tried maeng da and found it to be mild through all three strains. I dont know if it was low quality or what but I must say that the Red Bali is awesome…”
They go on to add that the adverse effects were also different, writing, “Where my tolerance quickly built up with maeng da, Im finding Bali to be far more potent, and only now about a week into using it twice daily at 5gs am I noticing a little lessening of effects.”
Elsewhere, a user suggested that Red Bali was more exhilarating than others, writing, “Red Bali and gold Bali are probably my favorite. Very relaxing, euphoric and sedating. It’s my favorite right when I wake up because I use to get anxiety when I wake up, and now I take it right when I open my eyes, sometimes fall back asleep for a couple hours but to me it’s great for anytime during the day.
“Best at night and morning in my experience, but I only take Bali once a day, so I don’t get to use to that strain and that way I have the same effects daily. It’s also quite potent in me experience, I take maximum 7 grams at a time, for a relatively new user, I’d recommend 3 grams.”
All of this underscores the singularity of the kratom experience from one individual to the next. As I’ve said many times in the past, no two people are exactly the same and everyone will respond in their own way.
The three most prominent alkaloids in Red MD are mitragynine, mitraphylline and 7-OH (or 7-hydroxymitragynine, if you’re not into the whole brevity thing). These alkaloids are also present in all other forms of M. speciosa, but they generally occur at lower concentrations.
By contrast, the most abundant alkaloids in Red Bali are mitraphylline, paynantheine, speciogynine and 7-OH. A cursory search on Google will tell you everything you need to know about each of these indole alkaloids and their utility in your day to day life.
Both of these magnificent strains are believed to increase sociability, sharpen focus and promote general well-being. Red Maeng Da usage is often associated with moderate invigoration, mild serenity and significant clarity.
Red Bali shares Maeng Da’s potential for invigoration and sharpened focus, but its utility in these areas may be less notable. Still, both share elevation and elation in common.
While Red MD’s capacity for concentration and awareness is alleged to be quite noticeable, Red Bali is more subtle and may require moderate dosages.
Alternately, Red Bali is known for its tranquility, endurance and motivation whereas Maeng Da is thought to be less effective in these areas.
Their physical differences can also be observed right out the gate. Maeng Da only takes around 10 minutes to kick in whereas Red Bali may take between 20 and 30 minutes to be activated. This faster metabolism is but one of the many physiological curiosities that have been reported.
In summation, there is really only one way to determine which one is more preferential and that is to sample them both. Many kratom vendors offer sample packs which enable first-time users to try multiple strains or vein colors. Give them a shot and see where you land. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.
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