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CBD vs. Kratom: What’s the Difference?


The main difference between CBD and Kratom is how they work in the body to relieve chronic pain. CBD works with receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), while kratom works by binding to receptors in the brain — more specifically, dopamine and serotonin receptors.

CBD is usually derived from the hemp plant, while kratom comes from the Mitragyna speciosa tree native to southeast Asia.

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What Is CBD?

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and CBD may be derived from either the cannabis (marijuana) plant or the hemp plant. But for CBD products to be considered legal at the federal level, they must be derived from the hemp plant and contain no more than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

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How It Works

Like the other most prominent cannabinoid found in cannabis, THC, CBD works by binding to specific receptors in your endocannabinoid system. CBD sends messages to the body, such as “feel less pain” or “become more relaxed.”


CBD oil and other CBD products are frequently used for pain relief, anxiety reduction, and sleep issues. Full-spectrum CBD products, which contain a wide range of therapeutic cannabinoids and terpenes, are more potent than CBD isolate, which is pure cannabidiol.

Potential Benefits

CBD has many potential health benefits, including as a supplemental treatment for:

In addition, CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, which may help treat many of the conditions listed above and other diseases.  

Risks and Drawbacks

CBD is well-tolerated and has a strong safety profile. Side effects will likely be mild to moderate, and some may include dry mouth, fatigue, nausea, and diarrhea. Seek medical help if you experience severe side effects.

What Is Kratom?

Kratom is an herbal dietary supplement taken from the kratom tree (Mitragyna speciosa) with the ability to provide stimulant effects but does not naturally contain caffeine. However, Kratom is part of the coffee family of plants.  

How It Works

The main active ingredient of kratom is mitragynine, which may bind to dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain. This binding action may explain the reported stimulating effects of kratom. Mitragynine also binds to opioid receptors in the brain. It may have beneficial effects on managing opioid withdrawal symptoms and reducing chronic pain, but it also gives Kratom some of its addictive properties. Kratom is sedative in higher doses and so has biphasic effects.


Kratom leaves have been traditionally used in Thailand and other southeast Asian countries to relieve various minor ailments, including diarrhea and fatigue. The leaves are usually brewed into a potent tea with intense stimulant effects, even in low doses. In higher doses, Kratom can have sedative properties. In recent years, kratom has become available in powder or pill form in some retail stores. There are reports of people using kratom to manage opioid withdrawal.

Potential Benefits

Higher energy levels, pain relief, and help with opioid addiction are a few potential benefits of kratom. But there is not enough scientific data to affirm or deny these claims.

Risks and Drawbacks

With mild side effects like dizziness, kratom may cause more severe problems. The herbal substance may increase blood pressure levels, leading to heart problems in some people, especially those with weakened cardiovascular systems. Liver damage and harm to unborn babies are two more possible risks linked to kratom use, whether in low doses or higher doses. Kratom also has addictive properties and may cause symptoms similar to opioid withdrawal if use suddenly stops.

Similarities and Differences Between CBD and Kratom

Both CBD and kratom may have psychoactive effects, although kratom could be said to be far more intoxicating in comparison. The other difference is that kratom generally acts as a stimulant, whereas CBD can have energizing or relaxing effects.

Another similarity is that neither kratom products nor CBD products are FDA-approved. This does not necessarily mean that either type of product is dangerous, but it does mean that they are unregulated. Therefore, it is crucial to purchase either CBD or kratom from a reputable retailer and not on the “black market.”

CBD and kratom also differ in how they bind to receptors in your body; CBD binds to cannabinoid receptors in the human body, while kratom binds to opioid receptors. Therefore, the substances function differently in the body and have different mental and physical effects.

Perhaps most importantly, there have been no documented direct deaths attributable to CBD or cannabis use alone. However, 11 reported deaths in the United States between 2011 and 2017 were attributed to kratom use.

How to Decide Which Is Best For You

You should consult your doctor to determine if CBD or kratom would work better for you. More research on CBD and a wider understanding of its safety profile exists. Kratom addiction and overdose are possible, whereas CBD may help treat addiction and a deadly overdose is extremely unlikely.

When to Use CBD

CBD may be an excellent choice for depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. The cannabinoid has also been shown to ease chronic pain in some people, including difficult-to-treat neuropathic pain (nerve pain).

When to Use Kratom

Kratom may be beneficial if you want to feel energized but don’t want to consume coffee or another caffeinated beverage. People recovering from opioid addiction also sometimes use kratom to help manage withdrawal symptoms. However, due to kratom’s lack of testing, lack of FDA approval, and potentially intoxicating and addictive properties, it is wise to be cautious with kratom, perhaps avoiding use at all.

The Bottom Line

CBD and kratom are both plant-based natural remedies with the potential to relieve pain. But they come from different plant species and function differently in the body, and CBD and kratom products are both legal but unregulated. Exercise caution when using any dietary supplements and consult with your healthcare provider to determine if CBD or kratom is a good fit for you.

Experience a full range of CBD and cannabis products with a medical marijuana card. Reach out to Leafwell’s doctors today and schedule an appointment in our 100% virtual clinic.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What are the positive effects of kratom?

According to the American Kratom Association, the positive effects of kratom may include higher energy, relief from chronic pain, and help with the withdrawal symptoms of opioid addiction. These claims are not substantiated by scientific evidence and require further research.

Does CBD get you mentally high?

CBD can have mild psychoactive effects, but it will probably not get you as mentally high as its more intoxicating counterpart, THC. When using CBD products, you may feel a burst of energy or a wave of calm, or you may not feel any mental effects.

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