Kratom alternatives are a very hot subject right now. As you may have already learned, the DEA is set to list kratom (mitragyna speciosa) as a Schedule I substance come
September 30th 2016. (Update: The DEA have delayed their scheduling pending public commentary.)
This is being fought tooth and nail, and quite effectively I might add, thanks to the resources of the advocacy groups and efforts of kratom advocates from all walks of life. They’re writing their representatives, calling the DEA and letting them know this decision is a major mistake that will affect thousands for the worse. “Dear Colleague” letters have been submitted and signed, and these are just the first steps to ensuring it remains legal.
I will state this outright for those of you who relied on kratom to live with severe issues such as chronic disease, chronic pain or managing addiction: this list may not be of much use for you. There are few legal alternatives that are as effective as kratom for some of your conditions. This is why we are fighting the DEA scheduling.
To others who relied on kratom to simply get an uplift in mood, relieve feelings of anxiety and increase confidence, motivation and productivity, you may be looking for something to fill the void. In this case I believe this list of alternatives that I have used to great effect will be useful to you. It contains things I have personally used to wean off kratom, stave off some of its side effects, and take its place. In the instances where I haven’t tried something yet, it’s on this list because I intend to explore it for these purposes and more, anyway, based on what I have read about it. I will add more items to this list as well.
- 1 A Note on Kratom Alternatives
- 2 L-Theanine
- 3 Kava Kava root
- 4 Lemon Balm
- 5 Phenibut
- 6 5-HTP
- 7 St. John’s Wort
- 8 Tianeptine (Sodium and Sulfate)
- 9 Cannabis
- 10 Conclusion
A Note on Kratom Alternatives
I have made this list of every substance I have taken and tried that will help alleviate those problems and symptoms you took kratom for. Though I do call this list kratom alternatives, these are NOT perfect kratom substitutes. With proper use, these substances can help you manage feelings of anxiety. Others could improve your mood and motivation.
L-Theanine is, hands down, the option on this list for just about anyone. It’s inexpensive, simple and has no side effects.
Theanine is a nonessential amino acid, a trace component found naturally in tea. When ingested, it creates feelings of calm and focus, and when combined with caffeine, increases focus even more. Supplementing it improves its benefits over the small amount you would normally find in a cup of tea.
Theanine’s secret is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier and interact with GABA receptors, promoting calmness.
This is the simplest and mildest of the kratom alternatives for handling feelings of stress or anxiety. As long as you don’t expect it to be like Xanax, you should be pleased with what theanine can do. I have used and relied on it for years to take the agitating edge off of caffeine and to get relief in times of stress.
Where to Get L-Theanine
- Powder City – L-theanine bulk powder (10 g) starting at $2.99, L-theanine capsules (30 ct.) starting at $3.95
- Nootropics Depot – L-theanine powder (125 g) starting at $15.99, L-theanine capsules (90 ct.) starting at $11.99
Kava Kava root
Kava kava, specifically the root of this plant, contains kavalactones which interact with GABA receptors, promoting a sense of calm. The root has a very long tradition of use among cultures of the Pacific Islands to whom the plant is native to.
- Kava root itself is known to be safe based on centuries of traditional use of only the root
- See my article on kava kava root
As one of my own kratom alternatives, it is used by many to overcome feelings of anxiety or stress, and it does so with a more noticeable psychoactive effect than theanine.
Where to Get Kava Kava
iHerb – Kava King Instant Kava Drink, $13.99 for 1/2 lb.
- All Products (Including capsules, extracts and more)
- Happy Hippo Herbals (nonaffiliate) – King Solomon Kava Juice Extract, $50.00 for 112 grams
- Bouncing Bear Botanicals – Kava Kava Root, Powder (price varies with product)
Lemon balm, botanical name melissa officinalis, is one herb that I have not tried on its own (yet) and this segment will be altered when that changes. Interestingly, it is said to have indirect GABAergic effects due to inhibiting the enzyme GABA transaminase whereas most of the other kratom alternatives I mentioned here are direct agonists.
Lemon balm has had a storied history of use as a calming, tranquil herb, taken as a tea. Evidence has vindicated its use in this manner, as I have just explained. This one may have use as a kratom alternative in terms of anxiety reduction.
Where to get Lemon Balm
Phenibut is a viable kratom alternative in terms of its potential application as an anxiety and stress reducer. Phenibut is a molecule similar in structure to GABA, and is itself a strong GABA-B receptor agonist because it can actually cross the blood-brain barrier.
In fact, phenibut is already used by people tapering off of a daily kratom regimen and want to feel calm. I don’t believe this one is among the true kratom alternatives. For some people it might be. I was honestly using kratom as an alternative to phenibut!
Phenibut is strong for what it does, so in the times that I have used it, I used it sparingly. I do not use it any longer due to a health condition.
Some people do use it still, with little issue and at varying doses. These people know what phenibut can do, and they understand its potential drawbacks and dependency risk. I urge anyone who considers trying it to do so at the lowest possible doses and as little as possible to minimize potential dependency.
- See my post on phenibut use and side effects
Where to get Phenibut
Powder City – Phenibut HCl Powder, starting at 25 grams for $8.99
- Phenibut HCl Capsules, starting at 250mg/30 ct. for $6.75
Nootropics Depot – Phenibut HCl Powder, starting at 25 grams for $8.99
- Phenibut HCl Capsules, starting at 250mg/90 ct. for $9.99
5-HTP is a form of the amino acid tryptophan, and a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin is the “contentment” neurotransmitter, meaning that increasing it can help relieve feelings of depression or anxiety, and help you to get a good night’s sleep.
One thing I noticed is that 5-HTP has a fairly short half-life, so I feel it is better to use the time released version to ensure your body is taking up 5-HTP at a steady rate. As kratom alternatives go, I feel it works to help alleviate any “down” feelings that come from time to time, and really helps to get to sleep at night.
- A little birdie has told me that 5-HTP is best supplemented with green tea extract (EGCG) to counteract potential negative effects on the heart. 1
Where to get 5-HTP
St. John’s Wort
I consider St. John’s Wort (SJW) to be a kratom alternative because of its serotonergic action. SJW contains several substances, some of which act to increase serotonin by inhibiting reuptake. Reuptake inhibition merely means that serotonin remains active in the synapses of your neurons much longer. It’s similar to prescription SSRIs in that manner, although SJW does not work through the serotonin transport.
This one works best over the span of weeks, taken daily. It has been recommended to purchase special preparations, such as Perika to avoid mild side effects like photosensitivity reported from use of SJW over the short term.
Where to get St. John’s Wort
- iHerb – St. John’s Wort Perika by Nature’s Way, 60 tablets for $10.56
- Amazon (nonaffiliate) – New Chapter St. John’s Force, hypercritical SJW extract, 60 softgels for $89.95
Tianeptine (Sodium and Sulfate)
Tianeptine, in both its sodium and sulfate forms, is in the class of tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) but is also used to treat asthma and irritable bowel syndrome, presumably due to its action on serotonin receptors and other systems. I consider it one of my kratom alternatives because of its antidepressant effect.
Both forms of tianeptine are known to have a mild affinity for the opioid receptors however use of it solely for this effect above documented therapeutic doses (12.5 to 25 mg) is not advisable, so it is not a kratom alternative in this manner. It also carries with it some potential side effects that should be researched beforehand.
I have personally experimented with tianeptine sodium on a few occasions although a full report is pending.
Where to get Tianeptine
- Nootropics Depot – Tianeptine sodium powder, starting at 1 gram for $11.99
- Sodium and sulfate tianeptine powders also available at Ceretropic
Because it is legally available in several states in the USA, and in some parts of the world, I believe that cannabis is a viable, effective and possibly the truest of all the kratom alternatives. Though it does not lend that same productiveness and zen-like tranquility, at least in the way most people use it, it does confer some degree of pain relief.
This post is by no means a complete one, and as time goes on I will add more items, edit and revise things to include pertinent information. Nevertheless, I hope that what is available now can help some of you out as a kratom alternative in the way some of these substances have helped me.
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