Despite its growing popularity in the west, kratom is certainly not a new substance.
Originating in Southeast Asia, kratom has long been used by the people in that region, primarily as a way to help them stay awake and energetic to work more.
However, is it safe to mix Kratom and Alcohol?
We’ll explore that in this review, but first an overview of kratom.
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Kratom has relatively recently become more mainstream in countries like the U.S., and as a result, its use is something that’s garnered a lot of attention not just from individuals, but also from regulatory bodies such as the FDA and the DEA.
The plant-derived kratom is considered a psychoactive substance, and the primary alkaloid it contains is called mitragynine.
According to research in animal-based experiments, kratom has been shown to have pain-relieving effects, it works as a muscle relaxant, and it has anti-inflammatory properties.
Mitragynine and other alkaloids in kratom are believed to work on the opioid receptors in the central nervous system, and while there is some concern that kratom could be addictive or could lead to physical dependence, it’s also believed to have therapeutic benefits.
How Does Kratom Work?
Based on what’s known through currently available research, kratom’s main alkaloid mitragynine binds to the MORs, which is a certain type of opioid receptor in the brain, spinal cord, and gastrointestinal tract.
Kratom is often incorrectly described as an opioid, but it’s not, despite similarities.
Experimentation has shown that along with activating MORs, the receptors affected by kratom activate certain pathways that help eliminate the most undesirable side effects of opioids.
While it does activate some of the same receptors as opioids, the most powerful alkaloids in kratom are only about 1/100th the potency of morphine.
One big area of research currently being looked at with regard to kratom and its possible uses is for the treatment of opioid addiction and dependence.
Opioids, including heroin and prescription painkillers, have led to tens of thousands of overdoses and deaths annually, and the addiction problem relating to these drugs continues to grow, despite efforts to contain the epidemic.
Kratom, particularly at higher doses, is believed to act in many of the same ways as opioids, but it doesn’t cause respiratory depression.
Respiratory depression is one of the most significant and dangerous side effects of opioids, so the idea that kratom could help people stop using opioids by activating similar receptors without this deadly side effect is one that’s piqued the interest of researchers and individuals.
Kratom also has the potential to be helpful as a treatment for chronic pain as opposed to relying on traditional opioids, but there is still limited scientific research on the topic.
Kratom used at higher doses does have effects similar to opioids, as was mentioned.
This includes a sense of relaxation, drowsiness, and possibly euphoria, as well as having pain-relieving effects.
What’s unique about kratom is that when it’s used at lower doses, it tends to have a stimulant-like effect.
People who use low doses of kratom often report feeling increased energy and feelings of well-being.
Along with distinctions based on the dosage of kratom a person takes, there are also different effects reported based on the strain of kratom used.
An overview of some of the most commonly used strains include:
- Bali: The Bali strain of kratom is one that tends to act most like a traditional opioid when used, including the sense of euphoria it creates.
- Maeng Da: This is a stimulating strain of kratom that increases energy levels and also serves as a pain reliever in most people.
- Red Vein Kali: Much like the Bali strain, Red Vein Kali acts more similarly to an opioid than to a stimulant, but a lot of people report fewer adverse side effects with this strain as compared to Bali.
- White Vein Thai: This strain of kratom causes more of a sense of euphoria for many users.
If you wanted to compare kratom strains by looking at broader categories, they’re usually grouped into classifications based on vein color.
There is red vein, which tends to more relaxing, white vein which is energizing, and green vein which can have both relaxing and energizing effects.
This is just a small sampling of the different strains of kratom, but it is useful for people to understand that the effects of the herbal supplement are dependent not just on dosage and individual body chemistry, but also the type of kratom.
Comparing Alcohol and Kratom
Alcohol is a drug that’s seen largely as being socially acceptable in the U.S. and western culture in general, but it can cause serious side effects.
Alcohol acts as a depressant on the central nervous system because it’s similar in chemical structure to something called GABA, which is a neurotransmitter in the brain responsible for producing a calming effect.
There is also some research showing that alcohol affects the Mu and delta opioid receptors, similar to other classes of drugs such as opioids.
When you first drink the alcohol goes from the stomach and then to the bloodstream and your brain.
Ultimately our body does recognize alcohol as a poison, especially in large amounts, and it’s broken down in the liver by certain enzymes that are toxic, which is why we experience hangovers.
Certain types of alcohol tend to affect people differently than others as well.
For example, champagne or other forms of fizzy alcohol will often begin to affect the drinker more quickly because of the bubbles.
Women also tend to have less of something called dehydrogenase, which is responsible for breaking down alcohol, so they may get intoxicated more quickly than men.
Regardless of the type of alcohol or your gender, when you drink, it slows down the functions of your body as well as your decision-making abilities.
Your motor skills become clumsier, and your inhibitions will decline as well.
If you drink a moderate amount, you may not feel most of these effects, and there is some research showing that a glass of wine can actually have health benefits, but when you drink in excess it can have serious short and long-term effects.
Combining Kratom and Alcohol
There are different reasons people might wonder about the effects of mixing kratom and alcohol.
They might be interested in amplifying the effects of one or both substances, or perhaps they have a specific condition such as social anxiety that they want to self-medicate.
Regardless of the reasons why, what are the potential effects or risks of mixing kratom and alcohol?
Kratom is such as narrowly researched topic at this point, and there’s really only just now a lot of scientific focus being put on it right now, so it can be useful to look at anecdotal evidence to see what might happen if you were to mix kratom and alcohol.
There is a tendency to believe that mixing alcohol and kratom can be dangerous.
This likely stems from the fact that mixing opioids and alcohol is dangerous.
Both opioids and alcohol depress the functionality of the central nervous system, which can increase the likelihood of fatal respiratory depression.
However, is that risk the same with kratom?
The answer is that since kratom doesn’t cause respiratory depression and that is one of the primary ways it’s different from opioids, this isn’t likely to be a cause for significant concern.
What can happen when higher doses of kratom are mixed with alcohol is that the effects of both can be amplified, especially since they’re similar effects.
This can include euphoria, drowsiness, and sedation.
It’s important to be aware that if you mix high doses of kratom with alcohol that you may become more intoxicated than you would with either alone.
With all of this being said, there’s a HUGE potential for withdrawal from mixing alcohol and kratom on a consistent and regular basis, so it’s best to limit use to just a few times per week, MAX.
Positive Anecdotal Effects
According to anecdotal evidence found on forums related to the topic, most people report that if they drink and take kratom, they get a more significant buzz, even after having only one drink.
Users report that effects are not just more significant with a combination of kratom and alcohol but also that they tend to occur more quickly, and it creates an increased feeling of drowsiness or sedation, especially with certain strains of kratom that are predisposed to have this effect.
Negative Anecdotal Reports
At the same time, while certain people do report pleasant effects when they mix kratom and alcohol, this isn’t the case for everyone.
For example, it can up the chances of nausea and vomiting based on anecdotal evidence.
There is also variance in reported effects based on whether or not someone uses kratom or alcohol first.
Online conversations seem to indicate that using kratom before alcohol reduces side effects like nausea or vomiting, while the opposite is true for having alcohol and then kratom.
In conversations related to alcohol and kratom on Reddit, many people say that they have been able to combine a moderate amount of alcohol with kratom and have few if any negative side effects, particularly if they keep their alcohol usage at a moderate level, while others experienced not only nausea and vomiting but also dizziness and feeling faint.
Uniquely with kratom, some people find that as opposed to other drugs which tend to mask their symptoms of intoxication leading them to drink more than they normally would or should, kratom tends to lead them to drink less, possibly because of the heightened effects.
While entirely anecdotal, some of the variance in the effects and results of mixing alcohol and kratom are likely because of differences in dosage and the strain of kratom used.
For example, since kratom at low doses acts as a stimulant, a person who just took a small amount of kratom with alcohol could feel more lively and have reduced anxiety or social anxiety.
With higher doses of kratom mixed with alcohol, a person may be more likely to feel deeply relaxed or drowsy.
People on other drug forums have expressed a different experience as it relates to the topic of kratom and alcohol.
They’ve found that kratom helped them eliminate the desire to drink altogether, so that’s another way to think about the relationship between the two substances.
People have even turned specifically to kratom as a way to help them stop drinking or stop using other drugs such as benzodiazepines like Xanax, or even over the counter xanax alternatives like Phenibut.
What about lingering after effects? Some Reddit posters have said that when they combine alcohol and kratom, it does lead to a more severe hangover the following day.
This could be the result of both substances affecting similar opioid receptors, or it could be because kratom could impact how well the liver can process the alcohol.
Other posters on similar forums report that kratom helps to relieve the symptoms of a hangover the day after drinking, while others say it has no discernible impact on a hangover.
My Personal Results – With Blood Work
I take Kratom everyday, sometimes as much as 5 times a day.
Usually my dose ranges from as little as 2 grams to as much as 6 grams, but I would say I realistically take in about 12 grams per day.
I also drink a lot, probably more than I should.
And I also don’t even stick to beer and wine, I go straight for the hard stuff (i.e.
Normally I’ll drink about 6 – 7 drinks a night, typically goose and club with lime.
I ALSO drink my goose with kratom at the same time, and thus far, haven’t had any issues.
However, doing the research for this article got me wondering, am I doing a bad thing?
Am I setting myself up for some serious health issues by combining kratom and alcohol?
Has any damage been done?
Well, I decided to bite the bullet and get some blood work done.
Here were my results (click to view full size pdf): Blood test results
As you can see, there were no abnormalities.
My biggest concern was my liver. Alcohol and your liver don’t mix, and has been shown to cause numerous problems like alcoholic hepatitis, cirrhosis, and viral hepatitis.
The specific liver enzymes that are typically tested are Alanine Transminase (ALT), Aspartate Transminase (AST), and Alkaline Phosphatase (ALP).
Luckily for me, all of these came back normal.
The only real downside I noted was in my testosterone levels.
As I mentioned in my full article on Kratom and Testosterone, there hasn’t been a ton of scientific research on whether or not consuming kratom will impact testosterone.
However, the last time I had my testosterone checked in 2014, my Free testosterone levels were pretty good.
Fast forward to 2017, and they had fallen pretty substantially.
Summing Up—Are There Risks of Mixing Kratom and Alcohol?
So, what’s the consensus when it comes to kratom and alcohol?
First and foremost, the scientific evidence about mixing the two is limited currently, but based on the chemical structure and existing research on the two substances, there is little evidence showing alcohol and kratom together is inherently dangerous.
This is in contrast to mixing traditional opioids and alcohol.
Opioids are a central nervous system depressant, and their biggest risk is respiratory depression which causes fatal overdoses.
When someone mixes alcohol and opioids their likelihood of experiencing respiratory depression is even higher since both substances depress the CNS.
This isn’t something that’s a risk with kratom, because kratom doesn’t depress the respiratory system, despite its effects that are similar to opioids.
However, that doesn’t mean that someone isn’t going to experience negative side effects from mixing kratom with alcohol, the most common of which based on anecdotal evidence seem to be nausea, vomiting, and drowsiness.
People who are considering mixing the two should also note that every person is different, and the effects they experience may be completely different from someone else’s experience.
Kratom and alcohol combined with one another can lead to higher levels of intoxication and a lower tolerance for alcohol, so it is essential to keep this in mind and ensure that you don’t put yourself in a dangerous situation if you’re mixing the two.
You should be aware of how much you’re drinking and make sure you avoid things like driving, which you shouldn’t do when drinking regardless.
You should also be in a safe environment, particularly if you’re unsure how the two substances will affect you.
Alcohol on its own can be dangerous.
Kratom on its own tends to have very few side effects and serious risks, but the same can’t be said for alcohol, so if you do experience negative side effects from combining the two, it’s likely that the alcohol is the culprit.
Finally, it’s interesting to note that some people have found kratom helps them reduce the amount of alcohol they drink or stop drinking altogether because they find its effects more pleasant than the alcohol itself.
Ultimately, the best rule of thumb when you’re looking at the possible effects or risks of kratom and alcohol since the research is so limited, is to be cautious.
The risks of mixing kratom and alcohol aren’t the same as mixing opioids with alcohol, although there can be side effects such as vomiting.
If you are going to mix kratom and alcohol, you should drink slowly and avoid becoming overly intoxicated, but this can be a good rule of thumb no matter the situation.
It’s likely that future research on kratom will shed more light on the topic, and it may be that kratom becomes more looked at for its potential to help people stop using other more dangerous substances including opioids or even alcohol.
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