Kratom or Kava? What’s the Difference?

A lot of people get kratom and kava confused. Whether it’s the short names that both begin with K, or that they look similar and are sold in many of the same stores, the truth of the matter is that as similar as they may be, Kratom and Kava are very different, and it’s important to understand their differences. Although getting them confused will be far from deadly, it’s still worth knowing what you’re getting. In this article, we’ll discuss the origins of both kratom and kava, and discuss the differences in medical properties and effects it has on the user.


Nowadays, you can buy kratom online or in stores. But it almost wasn’t that way. Kratom is a tree grown in Southeast Asia, and has been used for a long time to relieve pain in users. In September of 2016 however, the DEA, or Drug Enforcement Administration, almost banned it’s sale in the United States with the kratom ban. This was quickly revoked before it went into effect, and was largely due to the lack of knowledge the DEA had about kratom. The ban was lifted because it was proven that it is a safe substance to use, although those wanting to use it should do their research on how to use it properly. Nowadays, it’s used for both recreational and medicinal purposes. In small quantities, kratom acts as a stimulant, which can be used recreationally or to help opioid addicts withdraw in a safe manner. In large doses, kratom acts as a sedative. This targets the same area of the brain as morphine, however it lacks the creation of a body’s physical dependency on the substance, and also has little to no side effects. Kratom can be used in many different ways. For a weaker effect, you can just eat the raw leaves of the tree. But for most purposes, they’re crushed into a powder and either turned into a tea, or put into capsules. This gives the most potent effect of kratom.


Kava. Unlike kratom, this isn’t grown in Southeast Asia. Kava is a member of the pepper family, and originated in the Western Pacific. Think Hawaii, Fiji, and New Guinea, and such. Similar to Kratom, kava has been used in these areas for a very, very long time. As far as medicinal purposes of kava go, they are somewhat similar to that of kratom. Kava can be used to relieve stress, calm anxiety, and relieve pain. Similar to kratom, in heavy doses kava also acts as a sedative. By drinking kava, you induce yourself into a feeling of euphoria, similar to kratom. The main difference is the use. Kratom is more well known for its medicinal purposes, while Kava is more known for its religious uses. In these Western Pacific islands, Kava is typically consumed before religious rituals or ceremonies. It’s also a replacement for alcohol in many areas. Unlike kratom, kava never really went through a largely controversial phase, and the brunt of that may have been taken by kratom, since it’s similar in some ways. Kava is also widely available in stores, supermarkets, and online as well. 

All in all, similar as Kratom and Kava might be, they are definitely different. There are more differences than I mentioned in this article, and if you’re curious about which one is right for you, I strongly recommend you take the time to do some of your own research. Find out the science behind how each one interacts with your body and mind, and decide for yourself which one is right for you. But either way, it might be worth heading out to a kava bar or hunkering down with some warm kratom tea and reading a book. Just make sure you choose the right plant for the occasion.