Kanna Vs. Kratom


What are the differences between kanna and kratom? What do they have in common? Whilst kanna and kratom may seem very different at first sight, they also share some common characteristics. That is why we can talk about kanna vs. kratom. In this article, we will explore the differences between kratom and kanna. You will also learn basic facts and important information about these herbs. And of course, you will also find out if kanna or kratom can be useful for you.


Kanna Vs. Kratom: What Is Kanna?


Kanna is a flowering plant in the Aizoaceae family that grows in South Africa. Its botanical name is Sceletium tortuosum. Kanna has a long history, as the Khoikhoi and the San people in South Africa have used this plant for many centuries. Certainly, kanna has been part of South African folk medicine for many generations. Native population of South Africa used kanna as a natural analgesic or to fight insomnia. They also smoked it or chewed it during ceremonies or social events.

The first written reference to kanna comes from Jan van Riebeeck, the Dutch colonial administrator of Cape Town in the 17th century. According to van Riebeeck’s records, the native population used kanna to make tea, gels or tinctures. They also smoked it very often. However, the most common way of consuming kanna was by chewing it. That is why Dutch colonies commonly referred to kanna as “kugoed”, which means “chewable” or “good to chew”.

Whilst kratom has legal issues in many places and is surrounded by controversy, kanna seems to be legal in the whole world. This is an important point to consider when discussing kanna vs. kratom.


Kanna Vs. Kratom: What Is Kratom?


Unlike kanna, which is a small plant, kratom is a tree. Actually, kratom is the common name of Mitragyna speciosa, an evergreen tree in the Rubiaceae family. Kratom trees are native to Southeast Asia and grow in the tropical forest and jungles of Thailand, Indonesia, or Malaysia. Farmers and workers in these places used to chew the leaves of kratom to get an energy boost that would help them endure their harsh working conditions. In Thailand during the 19th century, kratom also became an opium substitute among the lowest social classes. But while kratom is not an opiate, this trend resulted in Thailand banning kratom in the 1940s. However, Thailand is making efforts to lift kratom’s ban. In the meantime, Indonesia remains the main kratom producer and exporter. Nevertheless, this situation might change in the future, since Indonesia wants to ban kratom production.


Kratom Types


One of the main things to point out when dealing with kanna vs. kratom is the number of kratom types. Whereas kanna is a sort of unique product (you can find it in different formats or potency, but that is all), kratom comes in different types and strains.

There are three major types of kratom and a huge number of kratom sub-types (kratom strains). The main kratom types are:

  • White kratom: This is the most stimulating and euphoric kratom type.
  • Red kratom: Red kratom is the most relaxing and sedative type of kratom.
  • Green kratom: While green kratom is milder than its red and white counterparts, it features the full spectrum of kratom effects.

But as we mentioned above, other than kratom types, you can also find kratom strains (Indo kratom, Thai kratom, Maeng Da kratom…). Each kratom strain seems to have different effects.


Kanna Vs. Kratom: Effects and Uses of Kanna


What are the differences between kanna and kratom with regards to effects? What do kanna and kratom have in common? When talking about kanna vs. kratom, one of the major differences has to do with how these herbs act on your body.

Kanna can be a kratom alternative for many people who cannot buy kratom due to legal restrictions or who want to wean off kratom. But you should not think of kanna only as a kratom alternative. In fact, kanna is a great natural remedy to alleviate different ailments or issues. The effects of kanna come from its alkaloids mesembrenone, mesembrine, mesembrenol and mesembranol. These alkaloids are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI). Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood, anxiety and even happiness. People who suffer from depression or anxiety often have low levels of serotonin. Hence, SSRIs are common medications to treat the symptoms of depression. However, SSRIs (and kanna too) do not boost your serotonin levels. Instead, they force your serotonin to function longer.

While the main uses of kanna have to do with anxiety and depression, it has also been traditionally used to relieve moderate pain or to fight insomnia.


A herd of rhinos in an African landscape


Kanna Vs. Kratom: Effects and Uses of Kratom


The effects of kratom are also due to its alkaloids. Kratom leaves contain over 20 alkaloids. However, its most potent alkaloids are mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Kratom alkaloids act on the opioid receptors in your brain and nervous system. The opioid receptors (kappa, delta, and mu receptors) receive this name because they are activated by opioids and opiates. But did you know that your body also produces opioids? These opioids that your body produces are called endogenous opioids and some of them (such as endorphins) may sound familiar to you.

The controversy around kratom is very much due to kratom’s acting on the opioid receptors. And yet there are other products that also affect these receptors and are not opioids either.

When binding to the opioid receptors, kratom can trigger the following effects:

  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • Happiness
  • Euphoria
  • Stimulation

Hence, when discussing kanna vs. kratom you will notice that both herbs share many similar effects. Thanks to these multiple effects, millions of individuals use kratom to cope with many health issues and conditions. Typical uses of kratom include:

  • Relieving pain
  • Combating the symptoms of anxiety
  • Relieving the symptoms of depression
  • Fighting stress
  • Getting a boost of energy
  • Sleeping better and fighting insomnia
  • Coping with the symptoms of opiate withdrawal


Side Effects of Kanna and Kratom


Both kanna and kratom have side effects. And in both cases, they are often the result of high doses. Thus, you should always be careful with your dosage and the amount of herb material that you use.

Side effects of kanna:

  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches

Also, you should never use kanna if you are using another SSRI (whether natural or a medication). This interaction could result in serotonin syndrome, which could have serious consequences.

Side effects of kratom:

  • Constipation
  • Dehydration
  • Migraines
  • Stomach upset
  • Eye wobbles

If you are wondering if you can mix kanna and kratom, the answer is that you should not. Substances that activate the opioid receptors and SSRIs do not mix well. SSRIs seem to decrease the pain-relieving effects of opiates. Moreover, opiates and opioids could also increase the risk of serotonin toxicity. So, even though kratom is not an opioid, its action could interact with kanna and have really dangerous consequences.

If you are doubting whether you should use kratom or kanna, we expect this kanna vs. kratom article has helped you decide.