Kratom Alternatives: Similar Drugs & Natural Substitutes

Last Updated: April 30, 2020

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Why Opt To Medical Kratom Alternatives

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.

Page Sources

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  6. WARNING LETTER: Herbal Junction. FDA. 2016.
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  8. Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2009. 4, Withdrawal Management.
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  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.
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Published on: April 30th, 2020

Updated on: April 30th, 2020

About Author

Peter J. 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.


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