Mitragyna speciosa, better known as the kratom tree, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. The consumption of its leaves can produce stimulant or sedative effects based on the dosage. It is a substance that has engendered a great deal of debate regarding its efficacy and safety. This discussion has intensified now that kratom is more widely available in the Western world.
Proponents say it has pain-relieving properties and could reduce anxiety while improving mood. Opponents of kratom say it is potentially addictive and has many adverse effects. Despite the hype, little is known about how the substance impacts the human body, most notably how long it remains in a person’s system and whether drug tests detect it. This article explores these issues and much more.
What Is Kratom Used For?
Before we investigate the answer to the “how long does kratom stay in your system?” question, let’s outline why people use the herbal drug in the first place. The leaves of the kratom tree contain compounds capable of providing both sedative and stimulant effects. Therefore, there is a variety of reasons for kratom use. However, we’ll briefly focus on three of the most common medical conditions the leaves of the kratom tree could help with.
There are three main types of kratom:
- White Strain
- Green Strain
- Red Strain
All three are linked with pain-relieving effects. Kratom’s alkaloids, particularly mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine, seem to interact with the body’s opioid receptors, which regulate emotions and pain. Consequently, the substance may provide pain management effects akin to opioids such as codeine and morphine. What’s fascinating is that 7-hydroxymitragynine is 13 times more potent than morphine!
Yet, there’s a suggestion that individuals can use kratom to combat opioid drug withdrawal symptoms. Its compounds could interact with our receptors in a fashion that eases certain opioid withdrawal symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, and cravings.
Also, kratom is considered an atypical opioid even though it targets opioid receptors. Consequently, users may experience less severe withdrawal symptoms compared to opioids such as codeine and morphine.
Mood Elevating Properties
Individuals with depression or anxiety often use kratom due to its apparent mood-boosting properties. Its compounds seemingly interact with the dopamine and serotonin receptors in the body, which help regulate mood. As a result of this interaction, kratom users may report an improved mood and a reduction in anxiety, symptoms of depression, and other behavioral health conditions.
Increased Sex Drive
Even in low doses, kratom can potentially increase a person’s energy. Typically, the white kratom strain is the most popular option because of its stimulating effects. Indeed, some users consume it instead of a cup of coffee in the morning and report feeling energetic and positive throughout the day.
Research into kratom as a sexual enhancement supplement is minimal. However, according to the available data, it could act as an aphrodisiac. If nothing else, its energy-boosting properties could prove useful in the bedroom.
What Are the Effects of Kratom?
Mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, the main active compounds in kratom, can produce various effects. Remember, these compounds interact with your brain’s opioid receptors and will likely produce euphoria, pain relief, pleasure, alertness, and much more, depending on the mode of consumption, kratom strain, and dose size.
For instance, those who use low doses (1 – 5 grams) may experience uplifting and energizing effects. They might report increased sociability too. At moderate to high doses of 5+ grams, sedation is more likely as the user feels calm and relaxed. Therefore, it is perhaps wise to use smaller amounts in the morning for energy and slightly larger doses in the evening if relaxation is the goal.
The duration of kratom effects also varies depending on factors such as dosage, kratom strain, and the user’s metabolism and tolerance to the substance. Typically, one will feel kratom’s effects within 10 minutes, and at low doses, the effects may last for 2 – 5 hours. Individuals who use high doses may experience the effects for up to eight hours.
It is also essential to note that how you use kratom dictates the onset of its effects. For instance, it may take longer to feel the effects of kratom powder consumed in tea than if you smoke it.
Things to Note When Using Kratom
First and foremost, the FDA does not approve kratom as there isn’t enough evidence regarding its long-term safety or efficacy. The effects of the substance vary significantly between individuals and are unpredictable.
Furthermore, the potency differs according to the strain and the product source. Therefore, it is challenging to properly determine the potential risks of using the substance.
However, adverse effects associated with kratom include:
- Increased urination
- Dry mouth
- Liver damage
Also, long-term kratom use could cause addiction and withdrawal symptoms. This is unsurprising since it is also the case with other opioid drugs. Furthermore, kratom could interact with certain medications, especially central nervous system active drugs.
The official Naturopathic Physicians Medical Board of Arizona has published a kratom fact sheet for licensed medical professionals, which includes information on known and suspected drug interactions.
Therefore, individuals considering using kratom must approach the drug with the utmost caution.
It is worth noting that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced its intention to classify kratom as a Schedule I controlled substance in August 2016. However, it went back on its plan due to public outcry from lawmakers, scientists, and members of the public.
How Long Does Kratom Stay in Your System?
To date, most research into kratom’s half-life comes from animal studies, and the results aren’t especially clear. The half-life of a drug determines how long it takes for the amount of the substance in one’s system to reduce by half. This is important information because it helps estimate how long it takes a drug to leave the system.
There are two half-life measurements; the terminal half-life and the elimination half-life. The terminal half-life outlines how quickly the drug is absorbed and also reflects the quantity of the drug absorbed. In contrast, the elimination half-life measurement tells us how quickly the substance leaves a person’s system.
According to one study, the terminal half-life of mitragynine, the primary kratom alkaloid, is 23.2 hours. Another study found that the method of consumption impacted the elimination half-life of kratom. It was nearly three hours when injected but over 6.5 hours for oral ingestion.
Using the 23.2-hour estimate, almost 97% of the drug would be eliminated from your system in under five days. It would take well over a week, if not longer, for regular users to get rid of kratom traces.
However, the above half-life figure is NOT the elimination rate. With a half-life of around 6.6 hours, very little trace of kratom use will remain in a person’s system after 33 hours.
Can I Get Drug Tested for Kratom?
One of the main reasons why people want to know how long kratom stays in their system is a concern over whether they will pass a drug screening. Many people use kratom because they believe it won’t appear in drug tests. While this is possibly true when it comes to standard drug tests such as SAMHSA-5, there are forms of drug testing, such as urine or blood tests, capable of detecting kratom alkaloids.
As it happens, kratom drug remains are detected differently depending on the test. Saliva tests may identify kratom metabolites just as they can find traces of other drugs. However, there doesn’t appear to be such a test for kratom detection right now.
Blood tests only provide a short window of detection for infrequent users. Indeed, if you abandon your drug-free life and try kratom once, a blood test will likely only detect it for a few hours after you use it. Urine tests are far more common, and could find kratom components in your system for days if you’re a heavy user.
Hair follicle tests could show evidence of use for up to three months, a long enough timeframe to put someone off taking kratom! However, this form of testing is rarely used by any company and is not used to detect kratom metabolites at this time.
How Is Kratom Metabolized?
Once you consume kratom, its alkaloids journey to your bloodstream and are transported to different body parts. However, the body must metabolize the alkaloids before they take effect.
The metabolic process begins in the liver, where enzymes break down the plant’s alkaloids into different metabolites. Although researchers still haven’t completely figured out the process, it seems to involve a variety of pathways and enzymes. They believe that certain liver enzymes break down kratom into 7-OH-mitragynine, the substance believed to cause most of the substance’s known effects.
Overall, only a tiny amount of mitragynine is eliminated from the body via urine. In contrast, the vast majority of the alkaloid is eliminated via the liver.
What Impacts How Long Kratom Remains in Your System?
Please note that the timeframes discussed in this article are only ballpark figures. In reality, there are a host of variables that determine how long kratom stays in your system. The following are just some of the factors that influence the elimination time of the substance:
Age: Generally, the older you are, the longer kratom (and other drugs you ingest orally) remains in your system. This is because of physical changes in the aging process, such as a slower metabolism. You’re also likelier to use other medications at an older age, potentially keeping kratom in your system for longer.
Dosage & Frequency of Use: In simple terms, the higher the dosage, the longer it takes for the body to metabolize it. Also, as is the case with marijuana, those who use kratom regularly will find that it takes longer for it to clear their systems.
Genetics: Certain enzymes and genetic markers may impact how quickly kratom is eliminated from the body.
Body Fat: Mitragynine is extremely fat-soluble, which means you retain this kratom metabolite for longer if you have a high body fat percentage.
Food and Beverage Consumption: Kratom’s elimination time also depends on the food you eat and whether you’re well hydrated. If you use the substance with a fatty meal, it will absorb relatively quickly, whereas it will do so slowly if you consume it on an empty stomach. This could also cause the drug to hit its peak concentration levels quickly. If you want to eliminate kratom from your system more rapidly, please ensure you’re well-hydrated.
How Long Does Kratom Remain in Your System? Final Thoughts
If you consume kratom, its effects may become noticeable in minutes, depending on the consumption method. Moreover, the impact of the drug could last for several hours, particularly when you use a large dose.
The available data shows that kratom is eliminated from your system more quickly if you’re a casual user than if you consume it regularly. In the latter case, a drug screening could show traces of it for up to five days. In the former case, some drug tests may show a clear result within a day.
However, if you elect to use this substance, do so sensibly. There is a growing concern regarding kratom abuse, with many people apparently falling ill after using it. Reports also suggest that some people have died after using kratom, although the number of fatalities associated with the substance is unknown.
Prospective kratom users should first begin with a very small dose of the substance to see how it impacts them. Excessive use could result in severe adverse effects and potential kratom addiction. Also, if you use it regularly and try to stop, you could experience kratom withdrawal.