If you’ve moved among kratom vendors for as long as I have, you have likely developed a sixth sense for B.S. After more than five years of research and personal sampling, I’m hip to pretty much any lame come on you could throw at me.
When a friend or colleague comes at me with what they invariably refer to as the “untold story of kratom,” I listen with no small degree of good-humored skepticism and saintly patience. Once they’ve said their piece, I pat them gently on the top of their head and sit them down for “the talk.”
Such was the case when a colleague in the kratom space paid me a visit with a batch of his newest Red Horned Leaf and told me to buckle up.
“Buckle up for what?” I asked. “Ain’t no horn gonna get me like a bull’s horns.”
“You don’t know,” he said.
Oh, but I did.
“What don’t I know?”
“You don’t know about my Red Horn,” he insisted. “This stuff’ll outperform your best Red Maeng Da.”
This is when I informed him that the time had come.
“Time for what?”
“Time for us to have the talk.”
Table of Contents
Red Horned Leaf or Red Horn, for short, is a kratom strain that is famed for its uplifting properties. Red Horn gets its name from the horn-shaped leaves of the Borneo kratom tree.
Taken from Mitragyna speciosa trees native to the Kalimantan region of Indonesia, Horned Leaf is distinct in appearance as well as aroma. Its effects are thought to be more pronounced than other plain leaf variants due to the exceptional levels of key alkaloids.
Like other red vein kratom powder, Red Horn is said to be peaceful, calming and inspiring. However, it is more unpredictable than other iterations of M. speciosa. Its effects may vary greatly based on individual sensitivities as well as dosage size.
Here in the Western world, Maeng Da is a far more widespread and recognizable strain, one that is purported to be among the strongest on Earth. Much of Maeng Da’s reputation hinges upon global marketing efforts which have played up the superior potency of this variation without acknowledging its true origins.
Many vendors refuse to admit that Maeng Da is the real OG of kratom strains. With so much demand for new and exotic offerings, it only makes sense from a business standpoint to treat Red MD and other Maeng Da vein colors as something stronger and more exciting than traditional plain leaf…except it is traditional.
After speaking with the native petani of Southeast Asia, I have learned that Maeng Da is the oldest and largest horned leaf in the Wild East. Farmers revere it as a sacramental herb because it was used for hundreds of years in local rituals and remedies.
What this illustrates is just how much misinformation surrounds these two similar (but different) strains. That’s where this strain comparison comes in!
The following should clarify what exactly distinguishes the original horned leaf (namely, Maeng Da) from the Horned Leaf we know today.
Red Horn describes any plant matter from horn-shaped leaves of Borneo extraction. The evergreen trees of Kalimantan grow to awesome heights on the island of Borneo where they are cared for by experienced farmers who hand-select the largest and most vibrant leaves.
Red Horn is prized for its soothing, elevating aroma and “slow” nighttime qualities. Many users brew Red Horn exclusively as a night cap while others incorporate it into their day-to-day routine.
The Red Horn name is a more than a bit misleading since the serrated edges of the M. speciosa leaves rarely make it into the final mixture after undergoing a protracted sifting process. Nevertheless, horned leaf has often been used to make small batch kratom such as Stem & Vein.
Commonly reported effects of Red Horn include all of the following:
Maeng Da AKA Pimp Grade Kratom is a Mitragyna speciosa cultivar from the JongKong district of Brunei. This Indo Kratom strain is notorious for its unparalleled strength and extensive duration of effects.
Red Maeng Da differs from other MD vein colors in that it is far more galvanizing than others. A jubilant daytime strain with just enough tranquility to compliment an evening brew, Red Maeng Da is the most popular kratom variant among athletes and entrepreneurs.
The mineral rich soil in which MD kratom is grown makes for significantly higher concentrations of mitragynine. To put it into perspective, the average plain leaf is comprised of 0.5% to 1.5% mitragynine whereas Maeng Da is made up of at least 2.5% mitragynine in raw powder form.
Commonly reported effects of Red MD include all of the following:
As I mentioned earlier, both of these strains are derived from the horn-shaped leaves of Indonesia. As such, they share many attributes in common, not least of which is their potential for mirth, merriment, motivation and ease.
Although no medical claims can be made about kratom’s purported benefits (or lack thereof), one thing is clear: Horned Leaf is irresistible to speciosa enthusiasts who have lauded it for its supposed relief and positive vibes.
As with Red Horn, Red Vein MD is renowned for its inspiration, excitement and inherent calm. But that’s where the comparisons end and the differences begin.
Red Horn kratom capsules are far less invigorating than Red Maeng Da. Any Red Horn Kratom Reddit post will explain the divide between these two forms of M. speciosa.
Where Red Maeng Da is faster and more geared toward active individuals, Red Horn is more nootropic in nature and substantial in its serenity. What’s more, some have suggested that Red Horn lacks the pleasant taste of Red MD.
As one user explains, “I don’t know if it depends on where you get it, but the red horn I tried was SUPER bitter. I know kratom generally tastes like sh!t, but this was the worst of them all, in my opinion. It did work ok, but I was looking for a replacement of baik Bali. Red Indo santai was as close as I could get.”
In a post entitled “Maeng Da or die,” another user writes: “In my near 6 years of taking kratom, I’ve found that Maeng Da is the most well-rounded strain. For a long time I used to only take Red Vein. The sedative effects, euphoric feeling, and nice sleep you get from Red Vein was what used to attract me to it. That was until I tried a true good batch of Maeng Da.
“Maeng Da is the only strain that gives me both energy or sleep when I want it and the amount of focus you can get is unparalleled. Please don’t think that I’m bashing all other strains – I’ve tried all of them. Whether it’s Bali, Indonesian, Thai, or private reserve of green, yellow, white, red, and every other dang color – a good Maeng Da gets my vote every time.”
I think you’ll agree that there are some major distinctions to be made between mass market Red Horn and the OG Red Maeng Da Kratom. However, it is important to bear in mind that both may be overwhelming at larger dosages. Take care when brewing for the first time. Be safe, be smart and be well.
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