Kratom is a tree native to Southeast Asia. The leaves of kratom trees contain two alkaloids that have been used as traditional medicine in the region for thousands of years.
Although it’s a controversial substance, in the right contexts it can support sleep, provide an energy boost, and relieve pain. In specific instances it even can support addictive withdrawal from alcohol, opiates, and more.
Like any substance, you’ll want to know how long its effects are going to last.
An easy analogy for this is to think about caffeine. Caffeine “lasts” in two senses of the word. First, there’s how long its peak, energizing effect sustains you. The second is how long it stays in your body, which will be a lot longer than its original effect.
Kratom has a relatively short peak duration (2-3 hours) but stays in your body for much longer (5-6 days). To understand both of these situations, let’s dig into some chemistry.
Kratom has two main alkaloids: mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG). The former, which is usually in much higher amounts, has a good amount of research on its pharmacology.
The half-life of a substance is how long it takes your body to metabolize half of it. For example, if the half-life of something is 10 hours, and you take 200mg, then after 10 hours, you’ll still have 100mg in your body.
Kratom is not that simple, though, because it has a biphasic half-life. It shares this with its cousin, the coffee tree, and its active compound caffeine.
It means there are two phases to the half-life, most commonly called “dominant half-life” and the “terminal half-life.”
The dominant half-life is how quickly most of the substance metabolizes. Often this is how long you’ll feel the effects.
Often, substances have a long-tail effect on the body. This is the terminal half-life. This determines how long you’ll have trace amounts, and is important sometimes for trace effects, as in the case of caffeine, which can harm your ability to sleep even if you don’t “feel” the effects.
(Kratom likely also has trace effects, but we don’t have enough research to know.)
It’s also important if you’re getting drug-tested and can’t have it in your system, which can be the case with THC, and sometimes, with kratom.
Mitragynine, the main active compound in kratom, has a dominant half-life of about 3 hours, and a terminal half-life of about 29 hours.
However, half-life varies from person to person for just about every substance.
For example, caffeine, while its average half-life is 5 hours, varies from 1.5-9 hours depending on the person.
With this basic pharmacology in mind, now we can answer our questions with a blend of anecdote and research.
Based on the half-life research, you would expect the full effects of kratom, such as the energy boost, euphoria, and strongest pain-relief effect, to dissipate after about three hours.
And most anecdotal reports and surveys show just that. While it ranges from 1-8 hours (again, people metabolize substances differently), most users fall in the 2-4 hour range.
Users also talk about how getting kratom from a reputable seller produced longer-lasting effects. This is… kind of obvious. Because kratom is unregulated, companies can stuff pretty much whatever crap they want into the “kratom” powder. This means the overall mitragynine dose will likely be lower.
That’s why, if you do want to try kratom, make sure you get it from a third-party tested source. To that end, we recommend Viable Kratom because they have the most transparent manufacturing and production in the industry.
This depends on how you take it. We’ve written previously about how you shouldn’t try to smoke it. Just because it’ll kick in faster, doesn’t make it a good idea.
It has to get through your stomach, which usually takes 10-30 minutes. If you’ve recently eaten, it will take longer.
This is an important question specifically if you’re going to get tested for kratom. Now, most standard drug tests do not test for kratom, so it would have to be a specific situation.
Why they’re testing you for kratom in the first place, we think, is kind of stupid. Can kratom be dangerous? Yes. Absolutely. Is it categorically bad? No. We believe it has its place in the right doses, contexts, and from a trusted source. And it might help your productivity at work, but whatever.
That said, because of its terminal half-life, trace amounts of mitragynine will stay in your system for about 5-6 days.
So if you might be getting a kratom test and need to test negative, stay away from it for at least a week beforehand. If you can’t, then that might be a sign that you’re abusing kratom, and should try to stop taking it anyway.
But again, this will vary based on the individual.
We’ve mentioned that everybody has a slightly different half-life for substances.
Here are a few factors that impact how long it takes to metabolize mitragynine. Most of these apply to other substances as well.
- Body fat – Mitragynine is a fat-soluble molecule, so if you have higher body fat, it can stay in your system longer
- Dose – If you take a higher dose, it’ll stay in your system longer.
- Age – Younger adults generally metabolize substances better. That’s why your hangovers seem to be getting a lot worse as you get older. Ironically, check out this article for how you can use kratom as a hangover cure.
- Overall Health – Healthier people tend to metabolize substances better. Workout. Eat your veggies. Get better sleep. You know the drill.
We don’t really know. What we know is these half-life studies were done on mitragynine, which is usually the dominant strain. 7-HMG amounts appeared to not affect how long it lasts. It stands to reason then that the mitragynine content is what governs how long it lasts, so products and strains higher in mitragynine will last longer in the body.
White strains typically have the highest mitragynine content, then green, and then red.
However, this is speculation on our part. And this shouldn’t be the main consideration when choosing which kratom product to try. If you want a quicker impact, then pick up a kratom extract instead of a powder, as we talked about in this article on kratom powder vs kratom extract.
On the internet, you’ll mostly come across kratom information from two types of sources. First, there are the kratom sellers. Obviously they’re going to tell you about how amazing kratom is and ignore the risks because they’re trying to sell you kratom.
Second, there are the addiction centers and big institutions which have taken a hard stance against kratom for their own protection and generally conservative views on health. (Not politically conservative necessarily, but they don’t give recommendations until there is overwhelming scientific research.) This is an even more unhinged opinion.
The reality about kratom is probably somewhere in the middle. People can have serious negative health consequences by taking too much kratom all the time. And people using kratom intelligently have made serious improvements in everything from serious chronic pain to withdrawal from opioid addiction. In fact, lots of people have used it daily for years without negative consequences. To ignore that is asinine.
If you do decide kratom could be a right for you, make sure you get it from somewhere that’s third-party tested for purity, like Viable Kratom. One of the biggest, legit concerns of kratom is how unregulated it is, so make sure you get it from a trusted source.