Effects of Smoking Kratom Leaf

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Smoking kratom is a controversial practice, both because of its potential side effects and debate over its efficacy as a recreational drug.

What is Kratom?

Kratom leaves are the leaves of the kratom plant, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosaThese leaves have been used in traditional medicine, and for recreational purposes, for more than 200 years, if not longer. The leaves also have stimulant and opioid properties when smoked (in large quantities) or when chewed. There are some claims about the therapeutic value of consuming kratom leaves in various forms, but formal research results are still lacking.

Can You Smoke Kratom?

In certain cultures, smoking kratom leaves is popular, as there are some stimulant effects, similar to smoking cigarettes, as well as opioid-like effects, which are compared to smoking marijuana. However, there is a lot of debate about this use of the leaves due to the volume of leaves one needs to smoke to generate these effects. Most experts say that between 20 and 25 grams of these leaves would need to be smoked to generate any of the desired effects. It is widely agreed upon that chewing the leaves is a far more effective way of benefiting from this herb. Orally consuming only a few leaves can have the same stimulant effects as smoking dozens of leaves.

A closeup view of fresh kratom leaves on a wooden table

Fresh Kratom leaves Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Effects of Smoking Kratom

Smoking kratom is an inefficient use of the plant, but there are some effects of smoking, both positive and negative, such as relieving opiate addiction, damaging the lungs, and increasing cancer risk.

Opiate De-addiction

Anecdotal evidence shows that smoking kratom leaves can be an effective means of dealing with opiate addiction, as the small amount of opioid-like compounds that are absorbed while smoking can help to ease cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

Lung Damage

Since such a large amount of kratom must be smoked to generate the desired effects, it will wreak havoc on the health of the lungs, just as smoking cigarettes can do.

Anticancer Potential

The leaves of the kratom plant have a very high tar content, and smoking those leaves will release that tar directly into the lungs, which can increase your risk of cancer in the same way that smoking cigarette might.

Alkaloid Content

There are some active alkaloids in kratom leaves, namely hydroxymitragynine, mitragynine, and mitraphylline. When you smoke these leaves, you will end up neutralizing or denaturing many of these alkaloids, rendering them useless, whereas brewing them into a tea is far more beneficial.

How to Smoke Kratom Powder or Extract?

If you do choose to smoke kratom powder, you would need an extremely high volume of the leaves to achieve the desired effects, as smoking will denature and neutralize many of the active ingredients of the plant leaves. However, if you evaporate the water after brewing kratom tea, a powerful resin extract can be made and consumed orally or used to brew a powerful kratom tea. In this way, you are able to take advantage of more of the beneficial alkaloids in this plant.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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