When you hear someone talk about kratom, they’re not talking about one particular product but rather an entire category of various strains. If you’re new to this supplement, how can you make sense of all the different types of kratom and know which one to choose?
This guide is a great starting point. We cover everything you need to know about each type of strain and how the color impacts its effects and what sets them apart (including a strain chart).
Find recommendations for the best kratom strains, what they’re used for, and how to mix strains safely. Finally, we share our top picks for the best online vendors, so you know where to find the most effective and safe kratom.
What Is a Kratom Strain?
The word species refers to plants that have divergent genetics. In contrast, the word strain refers to plants with the same genetic makeup. They come from the same species but have noticeable differences, usually due to genetic mutation or cross-breeding. Cannabis is an excellent example of how vastly different one plant can be, whether through effects, aroma, or growing preferences.
Kratom is similar. While each strain shares a set of effects, the alkaloid content produces enough of a change to warrant naming them.
So far, there are over fifty strains, with more on the horizon as farmers become more creative.
This might sound overwhelming, but we promise it isn’t. Strains are classified by color, so it makes more sense once you have a basic understanding of what the colors mean — and we’ll cover that next.
What Do the Different Strain Colors Mean?
Separating the strains by color might seem arbitrary, but there’s a good reason they’re classified this way.
As kratom leaves mature, the color of the center vein changes, signifying a corresponding change in their alkaloid content. Immature leaves start white, eventually turning green and then finally red when they’re fully mature. Farmers harvest the leaves at different times, depending on what effects they’re after.
Kratom contains more than forty alkaloids, offering an almost endless supply of possible combinations. Strains also break down beyond vein color, typically by their place of origin. Other strains may have distinctions based on their leaves’ shapes or growing techniques.
Add in these other factors, and you can see why kratom is so versatile.
These alkaloids act on various receptors in the body, giving kratom its strong pharmaceutical effects.
Here’s a look at each color of kratom, what you can expect to feel, and the science of why they do what they do.
Red Vein Kratom Strains
Red kratom tends to be the most popular due to its potent opioid-like effects. Many people have swapped out their prescription painkillers, sleep aids, and anxiolytics for these strains. We don’t recommend you do that without a doctor’s supervision, but this attests to how effective kratom can be.
Studies show that 7-hydroxymitragynine, one of kratom’s main alkaloids, can be as powerful as morphine. Fun fact: this alkaloid gives red strains their color.
Both mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are mixed opioid receptor agonists and antagonists. They act as partial mu-opioid agonists and delta-opioid antagonists and have very little effect on kappa-opioid receptors. Many of kratom’s other alkaloids also act on these receptors.
It’s important to note that kratom is not an opioid, even though it acts on the opioid system. Kratom’s mixed actions make it more like an ‘atypical opioid’ — these are less likely to produce the adverse side effects that usually come with typical opioids.
Studies show kratom also seems to inhibit cox-2, suggesting anti-inflammatory activity, and might increase pain tolerance and have antinociceptive properties.
To summarize, red strains do the following:
- Promote sleep and relaxation
- Relieve pain, including chronic and nerve pain
- Reduce anxiety
- Sooth the mind
Red Vein Kratom Strains Chart
White Vein Kratom Strains
White kratom strains are typically higher in mitragynine, the alkaloid responsible for kratom’s energizing effects.
Research shows mitragynine has antidepressant effects that seem to be mediated by the neuroendocrine HPA axis systems. Other studies show it acts similar to morphine and can be stimulating like cocaine. Does this make kratom dangerous? Actually, no, but we’ll get to that!
Studies show kratom, in general, can help with depression, lack of focus, and fatigue — but this is where the white strains excel. It’s higher in alkaloids that bind to adrenergic and serotonin receptors. The adrenergic system controls the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline, and serotonin — the happy chemical — helps modulate mood, cognition, and memory.
While kratom can also help with pain, anxiety, and insomnia, white strains are not ideal for these purposes. In fact, they can make you feel more anxious and less tired.
To summarize, white strains are best for the following:
- Improved mood
White Vein Kratom Strains Chart
Green Vein Kratom Strains
As we noted above, green kratom strains are kind of the halfway point between immature and mature leaves, and their alkaloid profile is no different.
These strains are the perfect balance between energized yet relaxed, focused yet calm. They offer a good mix of kratom’s benefits without being overwhelming in any one area. You’ll get some relief from everyday aches and pains and a lift in mood and energy. Because of this, green strains are great for those new to kratom.
However, because each strain differs, some can be more sedating or energizing. Make sure you get more information before diving in if it’s a concern.
To summarize, green strains are great for the following:
- Balanced effects
- A relaxed energy
- Improved mood
- Mild pain relief
Green Vein Kratom Strains Chart
Yellow Vein Kratom Strains
These strains are loosely defined. Many theories exist on where they come from, and there’s likely truth to each one. One vendor’s yellow strain might be completely different than another vendor’s.
Here are some of the theories circulating about the source of yellow kratom.
- The leaves are immature
- The leaves are further along in the maturation process
- There’s a special fermentation process
- They’re a mix of the other strains
This causes some confusion, but fortunately, the effects seem to be fairly consistent. Most people say yellow strains are similar to green strains — balanced and low-key — but milder. These are a popular choice for those dealing with anxiety or who want something uplifting.
To summarize, yellow strains can do the following:
- Relieve anxiety
- Improve mood
- Provide a calm and comfortable state
Yellow Vein Kratom Strains Chart
What Are the Risks & Side Effects of Each Strain?
It’s normal to have mixed feelings about kratom. After all, its effects are comparable to opioids, stimulants, and antidepressants. Honestly, this combination sounds like a death trap.
Unfortunately, many people — and governments — assume it’s dangerous and go to great lengths to ban it. The truth is, kratom is actually very safe.
Even the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed the available research on kratom and its alkaloids during its annual review of new substances. The WHO determined that kratom is not a threat to public health and did not recommend its scheduling as a controlled substance. This verdict was huge for the kratom community since many people rely on kratom.
Compared to the drugs it replaces, kratom looks even more benign. Opioids and some antidepressants are highly addictive and come with many side effects — some are severe, and some are “just” annoying but life-altering, nonetheless.
That said, kratom does have side effects, though they’re more generalized and not strain-specific. Some of these side effects are more likely with strains but can happen with any of them. The biggest risk factor is in the amount used — the higher the dose, the more likely you are to experience them.
Common side effects include:
- Dry mouth
- Liver disease
The alkaloid content can play a role in the side effects. For example, since red strains are more like opioids, the side effects will be similar and include nausea, vomiting, lethargy, and addiction.
White strains are more of a stimulant and, therefore, more likely to cause insomnia, headaches, and anxiety.
However, a large enough dose of any strain can produce any of these effects. The best way to avoid them is to have a light snack before using kratom and limit the amount you take.
Kratom & Addiction
It’s true that kratom is addictive, but it’s not like opioid addiction, despite its action on opioid receptors. In fact, it’s often used as a way to get through opioid withdrawal and helps many people overcome their addictions.
With proper use — which we cover below — you can stay safe and avoid becoming dependent on kratom.
Using Kratom Safely
The following tips will help you get the most out of kratom while avoiding the dangers.
- Never Mix Kratom With Other Substances
The importance of this cannot be overstated. Kratom can cause severe drug interactions due to its metabolization. The same enzymes that metabolize kratom also metabolize many (most) medications. Both substances build up instead of moving through the body, causing a greater risk of adverse effects.
Sometimes this isn’t a big deal, but other times it can be deadly. There are very few cases of kratom overdose or death — other drugs were involved in almost every overdose involving kratom. Opioids and other central nervous system depressants are at the top of the list.
- Only Buy Kratom From A Reputable Vendor
The other risk regarding kratom use comes from contaminated or adulterated products. Unregulated markets, like kratom, mean the customer is at high-risk. Anyone with access to kratom, including those with poor ethics, can sell it. It’s not unheard of for kratom to be cut with a cheap drug to make it seem more potent or to make people sick due to bacteria.
Be picky about where you buy kratom from. The gas station down the street might seem convenient, but it’s better to do a little research and shop around. Any place worth buying from will have third-party lab tests proving the kratom’s purity.
- Limit Your Kratom Usage
This might seem obvious, but it’s worth stating. You’re more likely to become addicted to something if you use it all the time, especially if you regularly use too much.
Only use kratom when you need it, and use the proper amount. Take breaks from it every week to avoid building a tolerance.
If you feel you might be using it too much, try switching to another herb that can help. Seek help if your use is getting out of control or becoming problematic.
How to Choose the Right Strain
You’ll be able to narrow down your choices now that you know why strains matter and how they’re categorized.
However, it can still be a little overwhelming since each color has so many kinds. You know red strains are good for pain, but some can make you extremely tired, while others are better at keeping you awake.
As a quick reminder, or in case you skipped to this section, here’s the rundown on what each strain offers:
Red strains offer the most opioid-like effects, making them ideal for treating pain, insomnia, and anxiety. These make a great nightcap and can help you relax at the end of a long day.
White strains offer nootropic effects like increased focus, motivation, and creativity and are physically and mentally energizing. They also give feelings of euphoria, making them great for reducing symptoms of depression.
Green and yellow strains don’t lean too far in either direction and are great for those that need a little bump but don’t want anything extreme. Not that these strains are ineffective — they’re anything but weak. Yellow strains tend to be better for anxiety and mood.
So, where do you go from here? How can you narrow down which strain to choose if you have specific needs?
- Be Specific About What Your Needs Are
It’ll be impossible to find the perfect strain if you don’t know what problem you’re trying to solve. Be as specific as possible so you can weed out the strains that don’t meet your needs.
If you’re just looking for a supplement, you have more room for error and can play around with different strains. Just write down the effects you feel so you can remember the specifics for next time.
- Find Informative Websites
Your best source of information will be professional websites dedicated to kratom. These are great resources to have on hand, and you’ll be able to find answers to any questions you might have — including detailed descriptions of each strain.
- Get Recommendations From A Reputable Vendor
If you’re still stuck, call a reputable vendor’s customer service. If the company is good, the employees will be more than willing and able to answer your questions and offer recommendations.
- Try a Sample Pack
Many vendors give you the option to buy smaller amounts. This way, you can test a strain before investing too much into it.
Many vendors even offer a money-back guarantee on opened products. If you feel the strain doesn’t match the description, you can send it back — no questions asked.
What Are the Best Kratom Strains?
If you’re still unsure what to buy or don’t feel like putting in the work — no judgment, we get it! — here’s an introduction to the most popular strains.
1. Maeng Da Kratom
Maeng Da is one of the most familiar names in the kratom world. However, there are many types within the Maeng Da kratom strains. These types differ based on the color of the veins or where it specifically grows.
Harvesters create the Maeng Da strain using very specific techniques. First, they sow it in a tropical, humid environment. Then, they perform a process called grafting to increase the plant’s potency.
Users praise Red Maeng Da for its status as a sedative, potent pain reliever that brings on a “heavy,” relaxing sensation. White Maeng Da sits at the top when it comes to a long supply of feel-good energy.
2. Red Borneo Kratom
Red Borneo kratom is one of the best strains because of its soothing scent and strong potency. While it contains the two most common alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine, it also contains high amounts of components known as speciogynine and 9-hydroxycorynantheidine. These produce a moderate energy boost and a stronger sense of overall well-being.
3. Red Bali Kratom
Red Bali strain is specific to the island of Bali and is uniquely more stimulating than many of the other red options. Users most commonly take this strain for mild pain relief and a mix of energy and relaxation.
4. Red Horn Kratom
The Horn strain is rare and only grows in Borneo. It gets its name from the little spikes (or horns) on its leaves. Red Horn strain is often more expensive than other kinds because it’s difficult to achieve the ideal growing conditions.
When farmers perfect the growing process, they’re rewarded with an incredibly potent final product. Red Horn provides more potent sedative effects than other strains.
5. Green Malay Kratom
Green strains combine the energy boost of a typical white vein with the pain-relieving power of the red vein options. Green Malay strain does this arguably better than any other, especially within the green vein category as a whole. Green Malay tends to linger in the body, giving it longer-lasting effects than most strains.
6. Green Bali Kratom
Green Bali hails from its homeland of Bali, but this colored strain offers more balanced effects than Red Bali. It’s still relaxing but provides a feeling of balanced energy and an uplifted mood. Its effects don’t last for too long, so you can take it any time of the day as a quick pick-me-up.
7. Green Borneo Kratom
Green Borneo creates a balanced, uplifting effect while also providing substantial pain relief. It does this thanks to the alkaloids 7-hydroxymitragynine, mitragynine, 9-hydroxycorynantheidine, speciogynine, and mitraphylline. These alkaloids work to reduce your physical symptoms while stimulating the brain.
Green Borneo is one of the most effective, natural ways to manage acute and chronic pain and improve your mood along the way.
8. White Indo Kratom
White Indo offers a break from the potent effects of some other strains. It’s a stimulating variety, but it gradually wakes up the mind and enhances your focus. Adding a small dose to your morning routine will enhance your overall well-being and prepare you for whatever the day has to bring.
9. White Borneo Kratom
White Borneo is similar to other white-vein options in that it is pretty uplifting and stimulating. Thanks to its energy-boosting alkaloids, White Borneo can lift your spirits and help you focus, making it a great option to use at the start of your day. It also provides a mild degree of pain-relieving effects along with enhanced mood.
10. White Thai Kratom
If you’re looking for stimulation and euphoria, White Thai is a smooth, clean energy source that’s perfect for helping you through a rough day. Just a tiny dose will do, as this strain is potent.
Many users report that White Thai is beneficial for those struggling with symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Mixing Kratom Strains
Whether you want to combine the benefits of multiple strains into one or counter your tolerance by enhancing the effects of one color, blending strains can be a great way to shake up your usual routine.
However, certain strains can be incredibly potent, so you want to be careful with the strains you mix and follow best practices. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Use High-Quality Products
There’s no doubt that you should always secure high-quality kratom. However, it’s even more important to use premium products when mixing them. It’ll cost a bit more than mid-market options, but you’ll reduce the chances of having an adverse reaction.
Invest in the best kratom strains you can find and mix the two to see how you like the combination. You may have to experiment a bit to find the ideal mixture.
Determine the Effects You Want to Experience
Before mixing and matching, you should know what effects you want to achieve. Are you looking for mental stimulation and mood enhancement? Do you want pain relief and sedation? Or are you craving a more balanced blend to enhance overall well-being?
If you want to enhance particular effects, you can mix two strains of the same vein color. If you want more general wellness, try blending two regionally similar strains with different vein colors.
Try Established Blends
Not feeling creative? You can always try established blends that kratom users have raved about for years, including:
- Maeng Da + Indo
- Red Bali + White Maeng Da
- Green Malay + Red Horn
- Green Thai + Red Thai
What’s the Dose for Each Kratom Strain?
The dosage of kratom is important, and it can change slightly from one strain to the next.
Generally speaking, the dose of kratom is going to range from 2 to 12 grams. Some people need less kratom; others need quite a bit more.
You’ll need to find the dose that works best for you and your needs, but we can offer some help to get you started.
- Red Vein Kratom — Most often used for pain relief. Start with 4 grams.
- Green Vein Kratom — Most versatile kratom. Start with 3 grams for energy or 6 grams for pain or anxiety.
- White Vein Kratom — Most often used for energy. Start with 2 grams.
Whether you’re new to kratom or trying a new strain, start with a small dose to see how it affects you. You can always take more, but wait an hour to make sure the effects have fully kicked in.
Top Ways to Take Kratom
Once you have the strain and dose figured out, you need to decide how you want to get it down.
Kratom has a bitter taste that is a turn-off to some users. There are ways around it if you can’t stomach it. Otherwise, brew it like tea and drink it (a sweetener and lemon can help).
- Toss-and-wash — While this doesn’t help you avoid the taste, it washes down quickly enough. This method requires you to take a mouthful of juice or whatever drink you prefer, add the dose into your mouth, and swallow it.
- Parachuting — Think of this as a weird capsule. Take toilet paper, wrap the dose in it, and swallow it like a pill. Divide the dose up if it’s too large to fit in an easy-to-swallow size.
- Capsules — These are more expensive than powder but are portable and simple, making them ideal for traveling or work.
- Tinctures and extracts — Both can be challenging to find and tend to be pricey. However, users love their versatility and how easy they are to use.
Where to Buy Best Strains of Kratom (2023)
You’ll notice a significant difference between mediocre kratom and high-quality kratom. Figuring out which top online retailers have the good stuff and which retailers you should pass on is a difficult task, especially for anyone new to trying the substance.
For your convenience, we’ve researched the three top places where you can find the best kratom strains online:
Kona Kratom’s products all go to a third-party lab for testing and verification, which is why it’s an approved vendor registered with the American Kratom Association.
In Compare Kratom’s recent review, this vendor’s products have some of the lowest prices online. You can choose from a vast selection of different strains and types of products to choose from, including capsules, powders, and more.
Kona Kratom works directly with farmers throughout Southeast Asia in Thailand, Indonesia, Borneo, and Vietnam to guarantee freshness.
If you are looking for tested, certified, and affordable products, it’s hard to find a better option on the market than Kona Kratom.
- Superb selection
- Lowest prices on the market
- Works directly with farmers in SE Asia
- facMember of the American Kratom Association
- Quality testing conducted by third-party labs
VIP Kratom is an excellent destination for high-end kratom products. You’ll notice this vendor doesn’t have the lowest prices, but the price increase is relative to the quality increase. If you only like to shop top-shelf stuff, this is the kratom vendor for you.
Since VIP Kratom is a premium kratom you’re dealing with, it’s always best to start with a very low dose before trying more. Better kratom is always more potent, so don’t make the mistake of starting with too much. You may have an overwhelming experience that will turn you away from kratom’s excellent benefits.
- Grade-A, premium kratom
- Strains with higher potency
- Rare and exotic strains
- Member of the American Kratom Association
- Quality testing conducted by third-party labs
Star Kratom is a newer player in the world of kratom, but it has impressed us with its incredibly speedy shipping times. You can get your deliveries 2-3 days faster than you will from other vendors. So, if you need your products as soon as possible to deal with urgent needs like chronic pain, Star Kratom can deliver — quickly.
This vendor offers notably higher quality than many other retailers online while still keeping its prices competitive. To maintain this level of production, it tests all its products through third-party labs.
If you need your products ASAP but don’t want to dig too far into your wallet, you can’t go wrong with this high-quality vendor.
- A small, family-owned company
- Incredibly speedy shipping times
- Money-back guarantee with no questions asked
- Member of the American Kratom Association
- Quality testing conducted by third-party labs
Conclusion — Choosing the Best Kratom Strains
Kratom comes in many forms, based on the color of the leaf veins and the plant’s growing region. Red varieties work as powerful relaxants, while white ones provide euphoric, stimulating feelings. Green varieties offer a good balance between the two.
With our recommendations for the best kratom strains, you’ll be able to find the one that works for you. If you want to enhance certain effects or experience all of them, consider mixing strains.
As you’re shopping, remember — you’ll only get the best kratom strains when you purchase from the best kratom retailers. Buy through VIP Kratom, Star Kratom, or Kona Kratom, and you can’t go wrong.