It is crucial to keep yourself and your loved ones safe during the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet addiction may pose even a higher danger than the virus.

Learn about recovery during the pandemic:

Kratom Alternatives: Similar Drugs & Natural Substitutes

medical alternatives to kratom

Important InformationThis information is for educational purposes only. We never invite or suggest the use, production or purchase of any these substances. Addiction Resource and it’s employees, officers, managers, agents, authors, editors, producers, and contributors shall have no direct or indirect liability, obligation, or responsibility to any person or entity for any loss, damage, or adverse consequences alleged to have happened as a consequence of material on this website. See full text of disclaimer.

There is a range of kratom alternatives that have a similar mode of action and prescribed for treatment. All of them are available and legal throughout the US. This article aims to determine the advantages of using medical kratom substitutes that have clinical and scientific evidence.

Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

Learn About Clonidine Prescription & Misuse:

Medical Alternatives To Kratom

Among the variety of alternatives to kratom, only the clinically tested and approved ones should be considered as a safe option. Medical options should be used in favor of buying kratom online as they have numerous scientific and clinical evidence for their efficacy, while Mitragyna Speciosa has insufficient evidence to be used as a remedy for any condition.

Pain Relief Alternatives

According to the FDA guide, for treating pain, people usually use:

medical alternatives of kratom

As a kratom alternative, NSAIDs typically can help with minor aches. They include aspirin, naproxen, and ibuprofen, as well as many medicines taken for colds, sinus pressure, and allergies.

Opioid drugs are powerful and can influence the way a person feels pain. Types of prescription opioid medications that can be kratom substitutes include morphine, oxycodone, codeine, hydrocodone, oxymorphone. Also, transmucosal immediate-release fentanyl (TIRF) products refer to opioid pain relievers.

Types of non-opioid prescription medications include ibuprofen and diclofenac, which treat mild to moderate pain.

All of the medications listed above as kratom alternatives are safe and effective only if used as directed by a doctor or pharmacist. Everyone should consult with the professionals in order to avoid adverse effects.

Anxiety & Depression Management

The most common pharmacologic options for treatment of anxiety, insomnia, and seizures include:

Mixing substances that influence opioid and SSRIs receptors is dangerous. Sometimes users report kratom side effects on heart.

All alternatives may cause side effects such as drowsiness, dizziness, weakness, and physical dependence. That is why using drugs like kratom for treating anxiety disorders should be used only under medical control.

Opioid Withdrawal Treatment Alternatives

Using kratom for opioid withdrawal treatment is not approved. As medical alternatives, users usually use buprenorphine, methadone, and codeine phosphate. Some off-label remedies that can be considered as alternatives to kratom are Clonazepam, chlordiazepoxide (Librium), clonidine (Catapres), and methocarbamol (Robaxin). In 2018, Lucemyra (lofexidine hydrochloride), the first medication for use in reducing symptoms associated with opioid withdrawal in adults, was approved by the FDA.

The medicines mentioned above are helpful in the controlled dosage defined by a health worker and if bought in a certified pharmacy. In the case of taking self-decision about consumption, one can experience different side effects, sometimes even lethal.

Herbs Similar To Kratom

The following alternatives are herbs similar to kratom. They pose the same level of danger, and there are no approved uses or dosages for them (except for cannabis).

Kava vs Kratom

Kava (or Piper Methysticum) obtains stimulant and/or sedative effects similar to kratom, influencing one’s physical and psychological condition. On the other hand, they have different pharmacology. Kratom alkaloids influence the opiate receptors and act like opiate drugs, which can eventually lead to addiction. The main active ingredients in kava, called kavalactones, interact with the limbic system, influencing emotional behavior. Unlike alkaloids in Mitragyna Speciosa, kavalactones are not opiate agonists and do not invoke opioid-like side effects.

Despite kava being a legal kratom alternative throughout the US, and Mitragyna Speciosa is legal in most states, there are no recommendations about their usage and dosages. In addition, FDA warns everyone of the possibility of having severe adverse effects, including liver injury.

Akuamma vs Kratom

Akuamma (or Picralima Nitida) has several similar effects. Seeds form the akuamma tree contain alkaloids which interact with opiate receptors in brains and provide analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. Despite both plants may provide pain-relief effects, help to manage stress and anxiety, akuamma does not act as a mood enhancer but traditionally is used to deal with microbial infections and parasites.

There is a lack of research made to investigate akuamma properties and how the plant influences human health in different dosages. The users report its toxicity passes in light form, including nausea and vomiting. However, animal studies showed inflammation and necrosis of the liver. Unlike kratom laws, akuamma is fully legal across the US.

other plants like kratom

Kratom vs Weed

Marijuana is considered as another kratom alternative. However, these plants are used for slightly different purposes. Cannabis treats neuropathic pain more effectively, while Mitragyna speciosa is considered to relieve nociceptive pain. Both plants could be harmful to health, especially in big amounts. The Institute of Medicine examined a potential therapeutic value of marijuana consumption and identified the problems associated with obtaining consistent dosing using a smoked product. Also, it is listed as a Schedule I controlled substance. Nowadays, it is legal in 33 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, to use marijuana for medical purposes.

CBD vs Kratom

Industrial hemp CBD is a widely available treatment supplement that sometimes can be used for similar purposes as drugs like kratom. Many studies confirm its positive result as a remedy for addressing anxiety and stress disorders like PTSD and SAD. Also, there is a report showing its potential in the management of epilepsy. Despite having the same legal status as marijuana, users should consult with a medical professional in terms of use and dosages.

Kanna vs Kratom

Kana (or Sceletium Tortuosum) can work as a kratom alternative because of similar properties. Kanna has four active alkaloids responsible for psychotropic effects. These alkaloids are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors. However, they do not increase the serotonin level but prolong the period of serotonin functioning. Acting like a mood enhancer, it can also stimulate mental activity, making one feel more focused and calm when chewed, smoked, or sniffed. Kanna is legal to cultivate, buy, possess, and distribute in the US. However, manufacturers have to adhere to FDA standards.

Herbal kratom alternatives are dangerous to use, as well as the Mitragyna speciosa plant as such. No one should consider them as safe alternatives. Moreover, it is better to abstain from Mitragyna speciosa products, too.

Why Opt To Medical Kratom Alternatives

When a remedy has much more benefits than risks, the FDA considers it safe to be approved. Nowadays, Mitragyna Speciosa is not approved by the FDA and does not have any recommendations about its use. DEA kratom classification lists Mitragyna Speciosa as a drug of concern associated with high risks of side effects and the possibility of abuse.

If a person has any hurting feelings, especially chronic, one should opt for medical alternatives and ask a doctor for help and follow a prescription. Only healthcare professionals can advise on using or not any drug in a particular situation. Physicians can also determine which alternative to kratom is better to make the treatment more effective and avoid negative reactions.

How To Prevent Side Effects Of Using Kratom And Its Alternatives

Despite a wide range of alternatives to kratom, none of them is completely safe. Every user should be aware of possible side effects. Excessive use of kratom herbal supplement or other drugs often cause severe adverse consequences and sometimes lead to a lethal outcome. Everyone who is prescribed to apply any drugs for treatment purposes needs to control the dosage and health condition with a medical specialist. In the case of unusual symptoms or feeling sick, one should seek help at rehabilitation centers. Such facilities are to provide all levels of care to meet the needs of every patient via individualized treatment options.

Help Line Woman

Hope Without Commitment

Find the best treatment options. Call our free and confidential helpline

Most private insurances accepted

Marketing fee may apply

  1. A Guide to Safe Use of Pain Medicine. FDA. 2009.
  2. Transmucosal Immediate-Release Fentanyl (TIRF) Medicines. FDA. 2019.
  3. New Safety Measures Announced for Opioid Analgesics, Prescription Opioid Cough Products, and Benzodiazepines. FDA. 2016.
  4. FDA approves the first non-opioid treatment for management of opioid withdrawal symptoms in adults. FDA. 2018.
  5. Kava. National Center for Complemenraty and Integrative Health. 2016.
  6. WARNING LETTER: Herbal Junction. FDA. 2016.
  7. Toce MS, Chai PR, Burns MM, Boyer EW. Pharmacologic Treatment of Opioid Use Disorder: a Review of Pharmacotherapy, Adjuncts, and Toxicity. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2018; 14(4): 306–322. doi:10.1007/s13181-018-0685-1.
  8. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 4, Withdrawal Management.
  9. Fakeye TO, Awe SO, Odelola HA, et al. Evaluation of valuation of toxicity profile of an alkaloidal fraction of the stem bark of Picralima nitida (fam. Apocynacaes). Journal of Herbal Pharmacotherapy. 2004; 4(3): 37-45.
  10. Watson SJ, Benson JA Jr, Joy JE. Marijuana and medicine: assessing the science base: a summary of the 1999 Institute of Medicine report. Archives of general psychiatry. 2000; 57(6): 547-52.
  11. Shannon S, Opila-Lehman J. Effectiveness of Cannabidiol Oil for Pediatric Anxiety and Insomnia as Part of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: A Case Report. The Permanente journal. 2016; 20(4): 16-005. doi:10.7812/TPP/16-005.
  12. Crippa JAS, Derenusson GN, Ferrari TB, et al. Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of Psychopharmacology. 2011; 25(1), 121–130. doi 10.1177/0269881110379283.
  13. Terburg D, Syal S, Rosenberger LA, et al. Acute effects of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin), a dual 5-HT reuptake and PDE4 inhibitor, in the human amygdala and its connection to the hypothalamus. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2013; 38(13): 2708–2716. doi:10.1038/npp.2013.183.
  14. Erickson M. Common opioids less effective for patients on SSRI antidepressants. Stanford Medicine. 2019.
  15. Think It Through: Managing the Benefits and Risks of Medicines. FDA. 2018.
  16. Kratom. United States 
Drug Enforcement Administration.

About Author

Peter Grinspoon, MD

Dr. Peter Grinspoon is an experienced physician with long-term clinical practice experience. As a former analgesic addict, Dr. Grinspoon knows precisely how important it is to provide patients with effective treatment and support. Medical writing for him is the way to communicate with people and inform them about their health.


Leave a comment