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Kava vs Kratom. What Is The Difference?

Both kava and kratom have increased in popularity, and are often found in stores and online being sold alongside each other. They have similar names but they are worlds apart. Both are found in the South Pacific and have been used in Thailand’s social, religious, and ceremonial celebrations. With all the regulations in the herbal industry, many individuals are asking what is the difference between kava vs kratom?

What Is The Difference Between Kava vs Kratom - by Oasis Kratom

In this guide, we will talk about both herbs separately and then do a comparison so that you can see how they are similar and different. 

What is Kava?

Kava is widely used in cultural ceremonies throughout Southeast Asia. It belongs to the pepper family, and its botanical name is Piper Mehysticum. Kava, also known as kava-kava, happens to be a shrub. The plant’s roots are commonly made into a paste. It can then be mixed with water or coconut milk. 

The juice can be extracted from the plant and aid in various wellness elements. There have been some studies with kava, but further research is needed to support claims made by users. There are benefits, as well as serious risks associated with kava. It has been known to contribute to severe liver damage, which has led the FDA to caution consumers against using it. Kava has been banned in some countries because of these findings. 

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What is Kratom?

Kratom originates from Southeast Asia. It comes from a tree known as mitragyna speciosa tree. It is a tropical evergreen tree that is part of the coffee family. The leaves have traditionally been used for medicinal and herbal remedies within the Asian culture. The alkaloid mitragynine is what makes kratom unique from other plants. It is designed to help improve your overall well-being. 

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Similarities Between Kava vs Kratom


  • Kratom leaves can be dried and crushed into a powder that can be mixed with water or other drinks. In addition, the leaves can be used to create kratom tea
  • Kava can also be added to drinks by mixing the ground roots with water and then steeping and straining it to create tea. 


  • Both kava and kratom can be purchased in pill form. 

Appearance and Preparation

  • Both herbs have a similar appearance and can be prepared in similar ways, which can become confusing for consumers. 

Kava Bars

  • Kratom can be found right next to kava in Kava Bars across the nation. This adds to the confusion for some consumers because they look so similar. 

Differences Between Kava vs Kratom

The properties and wellness values are different. 


Kratom contains a variety of alkaloids that stimulate the opioid system within the brain. Kratom is not an opiate, however, it has often been compared to it. This is mainly because of the way it stimulates brain receptors. There is not a lot of scientific research on kratom, but the main alkaloids are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Kratom is classified by its vein colors: Red, Green, White, and Yellow. Kratom also has various strains that consumers can choose from. 


Kava on the other hand does not cause these same types of stimulations. Kava interacts with the limbic system. There is more scientific research on the chemistry of Kava. The main ingredients in this herb are kavalactones. However, the active ingredient will vary depending on the variety of the plant. The kavalactones in kava differ massively from the alkaloids in kratom. 

Legal Differences between Kava vs Kratom


There are many legal battles surrounding kratom. Lobbyists are pushing to get the plant and its active constituents banned from the United States. Kratom originated from Thailand and grows in abundance there, but it has been banned since 1943. What promoted the ban was the threat that it posed to Thailand’s government tax revenue on opiates. 

Supporters of kratom have fought to have kratom decriminalized and removed from the ban list, but no action has happened yet. Many think that it is because of the connection made between kratom and crime throughout Thailand. However, these are speculations and there is no proof to support this reasoning. Kratom has also been banned in Malaysia, and the penalty there is imprisonment. 

It is important that you know whether or not kratom is legal in your state


Kava has gained acceptance worldwide as a herbal remedy. It has been banned in Germany and Switzerland for many years after the release of some research suggesting that kava could lead to liver issues. However, the ban was lifted in 2015 once research proved that liver issues were caused by other contributing factors. 

Kava has been available in the United States for over 20 years and is noted as an herbal supplement. Hawaii has used the herb within its culture for many years. It has gained a lot of traction recently, which led to the opening of kava bars across the nation. Many people have chosen to give up alcohol and enjoy sipping on kava as a natural alternative. 

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Summary of Kava vs Kratom

Both herbs have gained a ton of limelight in the last several years due to the push of leading healthier lifestyles and use natural alternatives. While kava and kratom have some similarities, they act very differently. They do not provide the same types of wellness. 

If you are looking to give kratom a try, check out our powders and capsules. Use our online contact form if you have any questions.

Check out our blog to learn why you should not smoke kratom.

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Written by Nimesh D

Updated on July 3rd, 2022

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