Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a small tree that grows mainly in Southeast Asia, and has remarkable medicinal and psychoactive effects when its leaves are ingested.
People all over the world have started using kratom as a replacement for alcohol, prescription medicine, or other psychoactive plants.
As well as helping to treat pain, improve sex, and reduce anxiety, kratom is also often used as a stimulant. People report using kratom to help boost focus, energy, and creativity in their daily lives.
Here we’ll cover the basics of kratom, and how people are using it for focus.
The Basics of Kratom
Kratom leaves are traditionally chewed or brewed into a tea in Southeast Asian countries, mostly Thailand and Malaysia. Lower doses of kratom can be stimulating, which workers traditionally use in a similar way to coffee. At higher doses, kratom can kill pain, bring joy, and cause sedation.
Kratom contains many alkaloids, but the most prevalent is mitragynine. These alkaloids are active at opioid receptors; although unusually for an opiate, kratom also activates serotonin and adrenergic receptors.
The unusual mix of stimulating and sedative effects of kratom is thought to be because of its excitation of the motor areas of the brain, and its concurrent activation of opioid receptors causing relaxation and euphoria (Rätsch, 2005).
The most common way for kratom to be ingested in the West is in the form of dried powder, which can be made into a tea, packed into capsules, or even swallowed raw. Its effects can be first felt after about half an hour to an hour, and the kratom experience can last for up to six hours.
Kratom for Focus and Energy
Although kratom is known mostly as a painkiller and sedative, it was originally used as a stimulant! Laborers in Southeast Asia chewed kratom leaves when they were at work, finding that the plant gave them a boost of energy and helped them get through the day.
Now the internet is full of stories of people who have successfully used lower doses of kratom to improve focus and boost energy:
“I was working two jobs one semester… Kratom was a life saver for me! I found that it helped me stay focused because I was in a better mood. I have had experiences where it made me less productive, but there were usual other factors like lack of sleep involved.”
“It has the potential to help you focus. It has a very relaxing effect that makes feeling overwhelmed much less common, for me at least. If you just need to put your head down and work then it might assist you with that.”
“Kratom gives you a natural feeling of clarity & calmness that no other stimulant I’ve ever experienced does.”
“My job requires me to work impossible hours every three or four months, probably averaging 10-14 hours of sleep a week for a month. Kratom gets me through better than anything including stimulants. It’s a life-saver.”
But as with any plant medicines, there are people who don’t get along so well with kratom. Its effects on focus seem to be very mixed, especially as it combines stimulant effects with sedative effects:
“You ever try to read a book on kratom? It’s like everything is in one ear out the other. I felt like I could read for ages yet not understand a single word I was reading.”
“It feels like kratom gives a false sense of focus. What I mean is even though you get a boost of energy, it makes it hard to truly focus on something at a critical level at least for me. Kind of like when you have a bunch of coffee and do a bunch of random things but never really end up finishing anything.”
So it seems like the kratom’s effects on focus may be highly individual, and may also depend on the kind of focus you’re looking for…
Kratom for ADHD
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that makes it hard for people to focus on single tasks for long, among other things. One of the most common treatments for ADHD is Adderall, which is a medication containing stimulants – but it comes with a huge array of side-effects and can be quite damaging.
Now that kratom has entered mainstream popularity, some people with ADHD are reporting that kratom is a gentler alternative to Adderall. There are suggestions that kratom could provide a stimulation for focus that could help overcome ADHD, with nowhere near the amount of side-effects associated with Adderall:
“Works great for my ADHD! Never getting more Adderall again.”
“Kratom provides focus and energy, but not the intense focus I’ve gotten from Adderall. Kratom also doesn’t give me that yucky tweaked out feeling where I can’t sleep.”
“It’s somewhat similar to Adderall in this instance for me. It’s the euphoria/energy combination that makes it feel like you can focus but then your attention just gets diverted to a million different things.”
So, if you suffer from ADHD, kratom may be an interesting alternative; especially if you’re having a bad time with Adderall. Always check with your doctor before changing your medications!
Kratom for Creativity
While kratom appears to have some benefits helping people focus on tasks or motivate themselves to get work done, it doesn’t have to be confined to the workplace! Some people have described that the kind of stimulation and focus that kratom offers can be channeled into creative pursuits – providing energy for art and music:
“I paint on kratom, I love how focused and relaxed it makes my mind!”
“I actually find myself to be more creative and full of new ideas since starting kratom.”
Kratom also offers a way for ADHD sufferers to find focus without sacrificing their creativity to harsh medications like Adderall:
“ADHD medications are terrible for creativity, that’s for damn sure. That’s what I love about kratom, I can use it to help me focus & be creative.”
Next time you want to paint, or write or make music – consider trying a small dose of kratom to see if it can help you explore new areas of creativity!
Is Kratom Safe to Use For Focus?
Kratom is overall a safe plant to use. However, anything that activates opioid receptors can lead to addiction if used frequently, and a build up tolerance is possible if you take it every day. Limiting your usage is wise; for example, only using kratom when you need a particular boost of focus or energy.
There have been no human investigations of kratom toxicity, but studies in mice suggest you’d have to eat more than 50g of kratom at once for it to have any immediate harm. Since this is much more than a typical heavy dose, you’d almost certainly throw it back up before it could hurt you.
The biggest risk with kratom is combining it with other depressants or sedatives, because the relaxant effects can combine to make you pass out. If that happens, there’s a risk of vomiting while unconscious – since higher doses of kratom can sometimes cause nausea.
So to take kratom safely, don’t mix it with:
- Other sedatives, like alcohol, opioids, or benzodiazepines. It’s also best to avoid stimulants, because there’s a chance the stimulants and kratom will fight against each other and mask their effects – and when one wears off before the other you could become overwhelmed.
- Anything that will increase your risk of vomiting or unconsciousness, like ketamine or nitrous.
- Certain types of MAOIs react badly with opiates and can cause fatal seizures, so check with your doctor about kratom.
- Tramadol has been known to cause seizures when mixed with opiates.
Which Kratom is Best for Focus and Energy?
Different kratom strains have different effects. People report that some strains of kratom are more euphoric and stimulating, while others have more powerful anxiolytic and sedative properties.
Although different strains will feel different, there is no consensus on which strains are best for focus. It seems to be down to personal preference, so you’ll have to experiment! Bali, Maeng Da, Thai and Indo are popular varieties to start with.
Kratom varieties are often further divided into groups based on the color of their stems. As a kratom tree matures, the stems and veins will change from red, to green, to white; and traditional wisdom is that at each of these stages, the composition of alkaloids in the leaves is slightly different.
It’s commonly said that White Vein kratom is the best option for boosting focus and energy, followed by Green Vein kratom, and with Red Vein kratom being the least likely to be recommended. However, people report focus and energy benefits with red, white, and green versions, so it’s just going to be a case of experimenting!
How to Take Kratom
Kratom can be taken in several different ways, depending on your tastes and preferences. Check out our full guide on how to take kratom for all the best techniques!
For the right dosage of kratom, we’ll assume you have dried kratom powder, as opposed to fresh leaves, as this is the most common way for kratom to be delivered online.
To figure out your starter kratom dose, consider how sensitive you are to other opioids. If you don’t have experience with opioids, think about coffee instead; if you’re a sensitive coffee drinker, you’re likely to also be sensitive to kratom, so start with a lower dose.
A good starter dose of kratom for focus is one or two grams of dried kratom powder. If you’re using the capsule method, with size 00 capsules, this will be roughly 4 or 5 capsules.
It may take an hour for the effects to appear, so be patient before redosing yourself.
If you’ve tried two grams and it didn’t do it for you, take a break of a few days, then try a gram more at a time until you find your sweet spot!
Most people taking kratom for focus report that lower doses, even doses below your typical perception, are generally more helpful – as high doses can start to have too much of a sedative effect and start to make it harder to focus, rather than easier!
Keep in mind that repeated use (i.e. every day) will build up an unhealthy tolerance, so try to space out your kratom sessions. Some people report that alternating with different strains can help to reduce tolerance.
Is Kratom Legal?
Kratom is illegal in some countries, including the New Zealand, Denmark, the UK, Poland, and Sweden. It is legal in the US (except for Arkansas, Tennessee, Indiana, Iowa, Vermont and Wisconsin), and Canada (as long as it’s marked ‘not for human consumption).
Always check your local laws; never just assume something is legal where you live because it’s legal in most places.
If you want to get your hands on some, you can buy kratom from reputable online retailers.
Raätsch (2005) The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants.