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Decoding Kava: History and Usage

Kava, scientifically known as Piper methysticum, has woven itself into the cultural fabric of the Pacific. Join us as we navigate the historical currents, delve into traditional ceremonies, and uncover the diverse effects of this revered botanical.

Historical Anchors

Originating from the South Pacific, Kava has deep historical roots. Used by Pacific islanders for centuries, it plays a pivotal role in social, ceremonial, and medicinal contexts. The ritualistic preparation and consumption of Kava hold significance in fostering community bonds.

Cultural Significance

In many Pacific cultures, Kava is more than a beverage; it is a symbol of respect, tranquility, and connection. The plant’s calming effects play a role in communal ceremonies, easing tensions and fostering a sense of unity.

Modern Applications

Beyond its cultural origins, Kava has found a place on the global stage. Embraced for its potential stress-relieving and anxiolytic properties, Kava supplements and beverages are sought after. However, it’s crucial to navigate the landscape responsibly, considering factors such as quality and proper usage.

Potential Effects and Considerations

Kava’s effects are diverse, from mild relaxation to a sense of euphoria. Yet, responsible use is paramount. It’s vital to be aware of potential interactions, dosage guidelines, and individual variations in response.


  1. Lebot, V., Merlin, M., & Lindstrom, L. (1997). Kava: The Pacific Elixir. Yale University Press.
  2. Singh, Y. N. (1992). Kava: An Overview. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 37(1), 13–45. doi: 10.1016/0378-8741(92)90003-6.

Our Products

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Unearthing Kanna: History, Usage, and Effects

Kanna, scientifically known as Sceletium tortuosum, is a fascinating botanical with a rich history and diverse applications. Let’s delve into the roots of this unique plant, exploring its historical significance, varied uses, and the effects it offers.

Historical Roots

Kanna has deep roots in Southern Africa, where indigenous communities have used it for centuries. The plant’s history is intertwined with cultural and spiritual practices, as it was traditionally employed by the Khoikhoi and San tribes. These communities valued Kanna for its mood-enhancing properties and its ability to induce a sense of relaxation.

Cultural and Traditional Uses

Historically, Kanna was chewed, fermented, or used in teas by indigenous tribes as part of rituals or ceremonies. Its consumption was believed to induce a state of calmness and tranquility, making it a valuable tool for meditation and spiritual exploration.

Modern Usage

In contemporary times, Kanna has gained popularity beyond its cultural origins. It is now sought after for its potential mood-enhancing and stress-relieving properties. The plant contains alkaloids, including mesembrine, believed to interact with neurotransmitters, contributing to its reported effects.

Effects and Potential Benefits

Users commonly report a variety of effects when consuming Kanna, including enhanced mood, stress reduction, and relaxation. Some also describe a mild euphoria and increased sociability. The alkaloids in Kanna are thought to interact with the brain’s serotonin receptors, influencing mood and emotional well-being.

It’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and the effects of Kanna can depend on factors such as dosage, method of consumption, and an individual’s unique physiology.

Cautions and Considerations

While Kanna is generally considered safe when used responsibly, it’s crucial to approach it with caution. Like any botanical substance, it may interact with medications or have varying effects on different individuals. Consulting with a healthcare professional before incorporating Kanna into one’s routine is advisable.


Our Products

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What Is Kratom?

Kratom is a plain-looking evergreen tree originating from Southeast Asia. It’s used as a stimulant in lower doses and a sedative and analgesic in higher doses.

Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa) is a member of the Rubiaceae family of plants — which makes it a close relative of the coffee plant (Coffea spp.).

Much like its cousin, kratom is a powerful central nervous system stimulant. It’s used to boost both physical and mental energy.

Kratom has been a popular herb among laborers in Asian countries as a way to prevent burnout since the early 19th century — but its traditional medical use likely extends much further than that. 

The effects of kratom are unique — it has some qualities that are stimulating, others that are sedative or anxiolytic. The dose of kratom determines its effects.

In lower doses, the kratom plant only offers mild analgesic effect but activates the central nervous system to make users feel more alert and energized.

How is Kratom Used?

The Mitragyna speciosa leaves are chewed fresh, smoked, or powdered and brewed as a strong tea.

Ambedo Naturals offer kratom extracts — which are made by removing everything but the active ingredients of the kratom resin.

Outside Southeast Asia, the most common way of consuming the plant is to mix the dried, powdered leaves with a glass of water. This produces a strong and bitter drink. It’s unusual for someone to enjoy the flavor of kratom, but this isn’t why it’s used.

Most users will flavor the beverage with honey or sweetener to help mask some of the disagreeable flavors and wash the rest back as quickly as possible.  

Dried powdered Kratom in a bowl.

What’s The Dose of Kratom?

There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to the best dose of kratom. There are a lot of variables that affect the dose — including strain selection, the freshness of the leaves, your individual weight, and the desired effects.

We can split the dose of kratom into two different camps:

  • Low-Dose Kratom (2–6 grams of dried powder)
  • High-Dose Kratom (6–12 grams of dried powder)

If it’s your first time using kratom, it’s best to start at the lowest dosage range and increase gradually over several sessions once you know how your body responds.

If you want a more precise estimate on the ideal dose of kratom for your body — aim to take around 0.03 grams per pound of bodyweight for the stimulating effects or a dose of 0.06 grams per pound for the sedative and painkilling effects.

For reference, a teaspoon of dried kratom powder is around 2.5 grams of powder, and a tablespoon is roughly 7 grams.

What Does Kratom Feel Like?

Kratom is a complex plant — there are 16 key ingredients in the leaves, each with its own set of effects. The ratios of these compounds can change from one strain to another, giving each one a unique effect profile.

The dose also affects how kratom feels.

Low doses are stimulating. It feels similar to coffee but less likely to result in negative side effects like anxiety or jitteriness. It also has a mild euphoric action at this dose — helping to uplift the mood and promote more clarity of thought. These doses are used as a nootropic or stimulant to boost physical and mental energy and stamina.

Around the 7-gram dosage mark — the effects of the herb do a complete flip. At higher doses, kratom has a sedative action. Users feel relaxed, carefree, and lazy. These doses are most useful for supporting sleep, easing anxiety, and alleviating chronic pain or muscle tension.

Other effects of kratom at all doses include mild visual effects, increased empathy, and a warming sensation in the body.

It’s a popular aphrodisiac — increasing sexual arousal and improving erectile function. Some people find the sexual stimulant effects of kratom begin to taper off with higher doses.

How Long Does Kratom Last?

In total, the effects of kratom last around 3 or 4 hours.

The effects of kratom take about 30 minutes to take effect and peak around the 1-hour mark. People who use kratom on an empty stomach report an even faster onset of effects — but this also increases the chances of experiencing side effects.

What Are The Side Effects of Kratom?

  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Insomnia
  • Itchiness in the skin
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low libido
  • Nausea
  • Poor appetite
  • Seizures
  • Tremors or muscle contractions

Kratom Active Constituents

There are literally dozens of active ingredients in the kratom plant, each one producing a different set of effects. Most of the active ingredients are classified as either indole or oxindole alkaloids. They exert their painkilling, anxiolytic, stimulating, and nootropic benefits by binding and interacting with various neurotransmitters in the brain.

Each kratom strain has a different ratio of active ingredients — this gives each plant a unique set of effects. Some are more stimulating, others more sedative or painkiller. The difference in effects is the result of different concentrations of the active ingredients.

Roughly 90% of the active alkaloid content consists of just four compounds, but there are many others as well:

  1. Mitragynine — This is the most abundant constituent in most kratom strains, accounting for up to 66% of the total alkaloid content of the plant. It acts as a 5-HT2A receptor agonist, which is a similar mechanism of action used by psychedelics like LSD and psilocybin. It also targets the mu-opioid and kappa-opioid receptors.
  2. Paynantheine — The second most abundant alkaloid in kratom. Paynantheine acts as a smooth muscle-relaxant and opioid receptor agonist with relaxing effects.
  3. Speciogynine — The third most abundant alkaloid in kratom. It provides a great deal of the plant’s muscle-relaxant and anti-anxiety benefits.
  4. 7-hydroxymitragynine — Abundant in varying concentrations for different kratom strains but is most common in red-veined kratom strains. Acts through the mu-opioid receptors.

What Are The Different Types of Kratom?

As with most plants, there are many different strains of kratom — each with different characteristics.

What is a strain?

Whereas a species is a genetically unique plant with its own species name, a strain refers to the offspring of a plant that shares the same genetic makeup but differences in physical or chemical profiles. All kratom is the same species (Mitragyna speciosa), but there are many different strains within that species — such as Red Kali, Green Hulu, White Dragon, and many more.

There are three main categories for the different kratom strains based on the color of the leaf veins — red, white, and green.

While there’s a lot of variability within each category, it serves as a fairly reliable way of cataloging the different effects we can expect from each leaf type.

Red Vein Kratom Strains

Red vein kratom is generally more relaxing and sedating than the other types. It’s usually the best option for pain relief and sleep support. The red color is thought to be the result of the higher 7-hydroxymitragynine concentrations.

These strains are also some of the most fast-acting. You can start to feel the effects of most red-veined leaves within about 20 minutes.

White Vein Kratom Strains

White vein kratom is generally thought to be the most stimulating option (with some exceptions).

It’s more popular among people who tend to take their kratom first thing in the morning, similar to a coffee. They’re rich in euphoric alkaloids, which make them a great option for boosting mood and motivation.

Green Vein Kratom Strains

Green-vein kratom is stimulating similar to white-vein — but with longer-lasting effects. They’re also much more abundant and therefore cheaper overall. These strains are usually quite balanced, offering a good array of sleep-supportive, anti-anxiety, and stimulating benefits.

Because of the high variability within the green-veined group, these strains are much more unpredictable. Some are more stimulating, others much more sedative.

Is Kratom Legal?

Yes, kratom is legal in most (but not all) parts of the world.

Kratom Strains 101

In total, there are more than 50 different strains of kratom.

Each one is differentiated by its geographical location (Thailand, Bali, Borneo, Indonesia, Sumatra, etc.) and the vein color (red, white, yellow, green).

There are also a few strains named after the region they’re grown in (Hulu, Jong Kong, Kali).

Some strains are named after the unique leaf shape (elephant and horn kratom).

What really makes one strain different from another is the leaves’ chemical composition.

The primary active ingredients in kratom are mitragyninepaynanthinespeciociliatine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine (7-HMG), but there are over a dozen other active alkaloids that contribute to how each strain feels as well.

Every strain has a unique cocktail of these active ingredients. Different chemical ratios can alter the color of the leaf veins and the effects the leaves provide.

What is a Strain?

While the word species is used to differentiate plants with different genetics, a strain refers to plants that have the same genetic makeup but different growth patterns or chemical composition (called phenotypes).

All kratom is the same species — Mitragyna speciosa — but each plant manufactures a different ratio of the active ingredients.

For a good example of a strain, consider the tomato plant. There are so many different types of tomatoes, some red, some purple, some yellow — but all of them are the same species (Solanum Lycopersicum). If you were to look at the genetic code of a beefsteak tomato and a cherry tomato — you’ll find they’re exactly the same. The way these genes are expressed is slightly different.

You can think of the genes like a recipe book for the plant. So in effect, each tomato plant uses the same recipe book but decides to use different recipes to prepare a meal. This is what leads to such a wide variability of the different sizes and shapes of the tomato itself.

Kratom is the same. It shares the same genetic code as any other kratom plant, but each strain expresses the genes differently to produce a completely unique chemical profile.

Kratom Strains By Vein Color

The most common way to organize the different strains is to look at the color of the leaf veins. You can find kratom with bright red, white, or green veins — which gives us a clue to the effects we’re most likely to feel from that particular strain.

You won’t be able to see the different vein colors when you order your kratom because this part is removed during processing.

1. Red Vein Kratom Strains

Red vein kratom strains are the most popular among people using the herb to promote sleep or reduce pain. They’re particularly high in the alkaloid 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is one of the primary mu-opioid receptor agonists in the plant.

Red kratom is abundant across Southeast Asia, so virtually every type of kratom is available in a red variety.

These strains are fast-acting and powerful — so make sure to start with a smaller dose when using these strains for the first time.

The strongest kratom currently available for managing pain is the red maeng da strain.

2. Green Vein Kratom Strains

Green vein kratom strains are considered more balanced than the other strain types.

Their effects are somewhere in the middle between stimulating and relaxing — but there are exceptions. Some green kratom strains, such as green Bali kratom, are much more stimulating than the rest.

There are no particularly sedating green vein kratom strains.

In general, green vein kratom is considered well-rounded and can be used for both energy and sleep support, depending on the dose. They’re a great option for beginners looking to experience kratom for the first time.

3. White Vein Kratom Strains

White vein kratom is the opposite of red vein. They’re only mildly sedative and analgesic — but offer excellent stimulating and euphoric qualities instead. They induce a feeling of clear-headedness and a positive attitude — which makes them excellent options for people using kratom in small doses as a nootropic.

Many people use white vein kratom first thing in the morning in place of coffee or in microdoses to promote focus, concentration, and productive flow states. Red vein kratom is reserved for use in the evening when the stimulating effects of white kratom start to wear off.

The most stimulating white vein kratom is white horn kratom.

4. Yellow Vein Kratom Strains

Yellow vein kratom is not technically a different strain of kratom like red, white, or green. You won’t find yellow vein kratom in nature.

Instead, yellow vein kratom is made by processing raw white kratom strains in a particular way. This method of drying and processing the leaves changes the color from white to yellow and alters the effect profile of the plant.

Yellow kratom strains are similar to green Malay kratom in terms of effect. They’re potent, euphoric, and have a very clean “pick-me-up” sort of feel to them. They’re also particularly long-lasting. Many people prefer yellow vein varieties to white vein precursors as a nootropic or mood-booster.