There is a misconception that kratom doesn’t appear in any drug test. It is true that the standard 5-panel drug test routinely used by employers doesn’t pick up kratom. However, there are specialized tests available that could reveal the presence of this controversial substance.
It is worth noting that kratom is not a federally illegal substance. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) did try to ban the substance but ultimately backed down after significant protests by the public and licensed medical professionals.
Yet, because the drug could cause euphoria, some employers may not want staff members to use it. There are also concerns over the substance’s safety, with reports of users falling violently ill. Also, several states have moved to ban the substance, including Alabama, Arkansas, and Indiana. Employers in these locations could certainly ask you to submit to a kratom test.
Therefore, if you use the substance and are concerned about failing a kratom drug test, this article is for you. It outlines how it takes for the substance to leave the body and discusses the types of drug tests available.
How Long Does Kratom Stay in the Body?
At the time of writing, there is relatively little scientific research into the length of time kratom stays in the body. Indeed, there isn’t conclusive evidence regarding how kratom is metabolized in the body. However, the belief is that kratom metabolizes in the liver. Furthermore, the likelihood is that 7-OH-mitragynine is the kratom compound responsible for most of its effects.
Most experts now think that once you use kratom, the mitragynine gets absorbed through the GI tract and reaches peak plasma concentration within 60 minutes. From there, the liver metabolizes the substance and breaks it into kratom metabolites.
According to some online sources, mitragynine’s half-life ranges from 24 to 40 hours — however, such articles mistake terminal half-life for elimination half-life, which is the more relevant measurement.
Other research suggests that the elimination half-life can range from 2.9 to 6.6 hours, depending on how the drug is consumed. It is also a fact that it takes longer for regular kratom users to eliminate the substance.
You may read that body weight is a major factor in determining how long kratom stays in the body. It is more accurate to say that body fat is more important. Mitragynine is extremely fat soluble, so the higher your rate of body fat, the more likely it is that you will retain kratom’s metabolites compared to someone with a lower body fat percentage.
Other factors that impact how long kratom remains in your system include:
- Diet (Please note that kratom’s effects may be more potent when it is used on an empty stomach)
- Type of kratom used
- Method of administration
After five half-lives, around 97% of a drug is eliminated from the body. At this point, the plasma concentrations of the substance will fall below a clinically relevant level. In layperson’s terms, a drug test is unlikely to pick up your kratom usage after five half-lives.
If the half-life of kratom is 6.6 hours, then it means measurable amounts of the drug remain in your system for about 33 hours. If the half-life is actually 24 hours, you must wait five days for this process to occur.
Testing for Kratom
It is unusual for an employer to test specifically for kratom. Typically, the basic 5-panel drug test looks for PCP, marijuana, opiates, amphetamines, and cocaine. Even the broader 15-panel test isn’t designed to check for kratom components.
However, specific kratom drug tests do exist. For example, LabCorp’s test looks for 7-Hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine. It is urine testing with a turnaround time of 5-10 days.
All the test requires is between 1ml and 10ml of urine with initial presumptive testing by immunoassay; the testing threshold is set at 5.0mg/ml. Presumptive positive tests are confirmed by a sophisticated liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry test with the threshold set at 1.0ng/ml.y
Typically, employers that engage in kratom testing opt for immunoassay (IA) tests since they are quick and inexpensive. However, as we briefly explore later, IA tests could cause false positive readings. This means they report substances that aren’t necessarily in your urine.
Although gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) tests are more reliable, they can occasionally lead to false positives. Furthermore, they are significantly more expensive than their IA counterparts. As a result, they are generally reserved for verifying the results of individuals who tested positive in the first test.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the different types of kratom tests you might face.
Kratom Urine Test
A urine test is by far the most commonly used method of testing for drug use. It is faster and cheaper than other methods and could theoretically uncover kratom amongst regular users for up to a week afterward. Therefore, this is the kratom drug test you should expect if your employer decides to go down that route.
Listen to the drug administrator’s instructions when completing a urine kratom drug test. Above all else, do NOT tamper with the sample, or you could face severe consequences.
Kratom Blood Test
Blood tests are typically more accurate than their urine testing counterparts. They can detect kratom within 24 hours of use and find evidence of the substance for several days. According to one study, mitragynine remains in the blood for 40 to 200 hours after use.
Nonetheless, few companies use blood tests since they are significantly more invasive and expensive than urine tests.
Kratom Saliva Test
In general, saliva testing is used to find evidence of illegal drug use. As kratom isn’t a federally illegal substance in the United States, it is improbable that an employer will bother with this form of testing.
Kratom Hair Test
If a company decided to pay for a hair follicle test, it could find evidence of kratom use for up to 90 days after abstention! However, it is extremely unlikely that an organization will go to this extent when there are many less expensive options.
In August 2020, the United States Drug Testing Laboratory (USDTL) announced that it had developed the first lab-based test to detect kratom in fingernails and hair. Despite the lab’s assertions that hair and nail samples are easy to collect and non-intrusive, its form of testing is unlikely to replace urine screenings any time soon.
Could Kratom Cause False Positive Tests?
Researchers have yet to determine whether false positives for kratom are possible. One study discovered that kratom users could provide a false positive result for methadone. This is unsurprising since kratom alkaloids interact with opioid receptors in the human body. However, the researchers found that confirmation testing cleared up the confusion.
Prescription medications, herbal supplements and even over-the-counter drugs can appear on a drug test. Therefore, if you’re currently using medication that could result in a false positive reading, tell the test provider beforehand.
Summary of Kratom Drug Testing
Standard drug tests don’t look for evidence of kratom use since it is not a federally illegal substance. However, a growing number of states have decided to prohibit the substance, citing fears over its safety. Both the FDA and DEA have warned people not to use kratom products.
There is also a risk of adverse effects, including heart rate increases, nausea, and in severe cases, hallucinations, and psychosis. A study published in 2020 found that chronic kratom use could cause liver injury. Typically, when liver disease isn’t treated, it eventually leads to liver failure.
Furthermore, there is a suggestion that the drug is addictive, with kratom withdrawal symptoms occurring when long-term users try to stop using it. If you’re concerned about your kratom usage or that of a loved one, it is important to get help before it is too late. Although specialized kratom abuse clinics are rare, it is important to get in touch with a drug abuse specialist as soon as possible.
In general, it is highly unlikely that your employer will ask you to submit to a kratom drug test. However, if they do, please note that there are specialized tests capable of uncovering your usage of the substance. It could take up to a week of abstention for evidence of kratom to leave your system, so bear this in mind before you consider trying it.