Over the past few years, kratom has surged in popularity in the United States and in European countries due to its effective medicinal and psychological properties. While some of these effects remain apparent through long term use, kratom tolerance can diminish these effects and make it less effective. Because of this, it is important to understand how kratom tolerance works in order to avoid diminished effects and maintain medicinal benefit.
In order to understand how kratom tolerance works, you need to understand the alkaloids found in the plant and how they affect brain chemistry.
Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) has a large variety of alkaloids that contribute to its medicinal potential; however, there are a two primary kratom alkaloids who do most of the heavy lifting in the case of tolerance: 7-hydroxymitragynine and mitragynine.
7-hydroxymitragynine is responsible for the plant’s painkilling and sedating properties, whereas mitragynine is responsible for some painkilling and stimulating effects.
Whenever one uses this plant, these two kratom alkaloids begin to work at the brain’s receptor sites, typically within 20 or so minutes. Once these alkaloids have reached a significant concentration in the brain, causing kratom’s characteristic effects, the brain responds by temporarily down-regulating these receptor sites in order to achieve homeostasis and balance.
Whether you’re enjoying an Indo kratom strain or a Maeng Da, if the concentrations of these alkaloids remain in the brain too long from very frequent dosing or heavy dosing, this down-regulation becomes somewhat longer lasting and becomes tolerance, desensitizing one from the plant’s effects.
For anyone looking to avoid building tolerance, the most obvious and effective solution is to limit its use to rare occasions, however, for those with chronic pain or similar conditions, this may be out of the question. Because of this, it is important to know how to moderate one’s dosage or supplement in order to avoid tolerance.
One of the best ways to avoid gaining a tolerance is to space doses so that all alkaloids are out of one’s system before redosing. Because the alkaloids don’t reach a stable concentration in the brain, the development of tolerance is less likely to occur. The best way to do this is to take the plant only once per day or less, however, even spacing doses by a small portion can dramatically help.
Even for those who use it regularly, a kratom tolerance break can help dramatically and should be exercised fairly frequently.
While not as effective as spacing dosage, reducing the dosage amount can also help reduce tolerance. Additionally, this will give one room to dose higher when its effects are necessary without causing side effects.
Because the alkaloids in different strains of kratom vary to an extent, many people have taken to rotating strains in order to avoid tolerance. For anyone looking to utilize strain rotation to reduce tolerance, it is a good idea to switch by strain and vein color daily, like switching from a Red Vein Bali to a White Vein Thai. For instance:
However, in order to do this, one will need to have a variety of strains — at least four are suggested. Strain rotation also seems to make one more sensitive to the unique effects of each kratom strain and reducing the likelihood of strain “burn out”, which causes one to become nearly immune to the effects of a particular strain.
You can also alternate with a stem and vein kratom to make this even more effective, as their alkaloids are quite diverse from plain leaf alone..
While there isn’t much research in the area of tolerance, there is an appreciable amount of evidence that certain supplements and medicines can help slow, not prevent, the development of tolerance. What all these substances have in common is that they are NMDA antagonists, a receptor site responsible for a large portion of development of kratom tolerance.
The best and safest supplement to use when trying to slow the development of tolerance is magnesium, a natural NMDA receptor antagonist. However, dosing too high on even this relatively harmless supplement can cause some negative effects. Because of this, if you decide to take magnesium, it is a good idea to ensure dosage is within healthy means.
There are other NMDA antagonists, such as dextromethorphan, common in over the counter cough syrup. However, we don’t suggest using it regularly, as high doses of this are suspected to cause lesions after long-term use.
Of all of the ways to increase tolerance, extracts such as UEI kratom are the worst. Because of this, if you choose to use kratom extracts, it is important to use them very irregularly in order to avoid the consequences. Many anecdotal reports we have read commonly state that extracts can cause near immunity to plain leaf kratom if used for too long.