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Kanna vs Kratom: Differences & Similarities, Effects, and Benefits

A ton of kratom users have been wondering what Kanna is and how it compares to the all-time beloved Kratom. You might be wondering, which one is better? Well, it’s going to depend on what you’re looking for in terms of benefits and other factors. 

The Kanna herb is derived from a succulent that is originally found in South Africa. Kratom comes from a tropical evergreen tree known as Mitragyna Speciosa, which is commonly found in Southeast Asia. Both Kanna and Kava have similar effects, such as mood boost and energy. Differences can be found in their origins, alkaloids, and more. 

Let’s go over the key differences and similarities to help you determine what you might like best.

What Exactly is Kanna?

For those of you who are coming from the kratom community, you’ve probably read somewhere or heard about Kanna. I often get asked a ton of questions about this particular herb, more specifically, what it is. 

Kanna is the dried up plant matter that comes from a succulent plant known as Sceletium tortuosum. It’s mostly found in different Cape regions within South Africa. When you translate Kanna (also known as kougoed), it literally means “something to chew” in the Dutch language. 

For centuries, hunter gatherers and tribespeople would chew the kanna leaves for medicinal and feel-good purposes. However, some did not understand the negative effects it would cause when overdosing. Some of the side effects can include hallucinations and delirium along with other things. 

Today, Kanna is still widely used by tribespeople and citizens in South Africa and beyond. It’s known to be a really great alternative and recreational herb. 

Effects of Kanna 

Kanna is known to have a variety of effects. Here are some of the common effects felt by Kanna users: 

  • Elevate Mood
  • Decrease Stress
  • Helps bring you out of your “shell”
  • Energizing
  • Sedative at higher doses
  • Can possibly enhance effects of cannabis

What is Kratom?

Most of you probably know what Kratom is and its amazing benefits. If you’re still new to kratom or have never tried it before, it can be really helpful to know about kratom’s origins. After all, you want to know about this all-around natural and enjoyable plant. 

Kratom, also known as mitragyna speciosa, are leaves from a tropical evergreen tree that are found throughout Southeast Asia. These tropical plants have also been used for centuries, probably thousands of years. Similar to Kanna, the leaves would be chewed in order to produce an overall well-being of effects.

It has been believed to have medicinal-like purposes along with other benefits. But, we make no claims that it cures or helps with any of that. What I do know is that it is a really awesome strain that is loved by not only natives within Southeast Asia, but all over the world. 

Effects of Kratom

Kratom has different effects, depending on the type of strain you ingest- red, green, or white. It can be sedating or energizing and even somewhere in between. Here are the most common kratom effects:

  • Relaxing
  • Soothing/Relieving
  • Increases Mental Focus
  • Uplifts Mood 
  • Boosts Energy
  • Euphoric
  • Sedative

Key Differences and Similarities Between Both

To sum it up, there are certain key differences and similarities between Kanna and Kratom. They might actually be more different than alike, as you’ll see in a bit.



The alkaloids in Kanna are entirely different from kratom’s alkaloids. Two of the main alkaloids in Kanna are mesembrine and mesembrenone. These alkaloids increase serotonin and inhibit PDE4, which allow you to get that mood lift and feel-good effects. 

Kanna is known to attach to CB1 receptors, which is your endocannabinoid system. Because of this, users often report feeling “high” and even compare it to a psychedelic. I’ve heard of kratom users not liking Kanna for this same reason- some just don’t find the effects to sit well with them.


Kratom’s main alkaloids include mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, just to name a few. Unlike Kanna, these alkaloids attach to mu-opioid receptors. This is why most people who take kratom find that they have similar effects and feelings to opioid drugs, but without the negative consequences.

Although kratom is not an opioid, it can be said to act similarly. 


Kanna, just like kratom, can come in different forms. Here are the main forms they come in:

  • Powder
  • Capsules
  • Extracts
  • Tinctures
  • Tea-cut/ fine-cut
  • “Honey”

Kratom comes in very similar forms as Kanna. Here’s what you can typically find in stores and online shops that sell kratom:

  • Powder
  • Capsules
  • Extracts
  • Tinctures
  • Tablets
  • Shots

The most popular form kratom is bought in are the traditional fine powders. 


The taste of both Kanna and Kratom are pretty different.

Kanna is described to taste like a more bitter/unpleasant green tea. Kratom, however, is infamously known to taste very, very bitter. 

Between the two, Kanna is more palatable. But, most people get used to the bitter taste of kratom. Plus, most places offer capsules so you can avoid the bitter taste all-together.


Kanna and Kratom can have very similar benefits, as mentioned earlier. 

The benefits of Kanna can be mood-boosting, soothing, and relaxing. Kratom can have these same effects. What makes kratom a bit different is that it can be a really good choice for those who need mental focus, want euphorias, and feel energized. 

What Reddit Users Are Saying

There’s a lot of debate on Reddit in regards to which one is better and their effects. It seems to be very split. Here are some great insights from our helpful Reddit community:

“I REALLY disliked Kanna. It seriously made me feel like I was having a depressive episode or something. It messes with your neurotransmitters like SSRIs do. It is nothing like kratom at all. I know others have said they’ve had good experiences with it, but I personally would not recommend it to anyone.. Only legal substance besides kratom that I really enjoyed was Phenibut. I believe it is legal in all states.” -timdongow

“I would vape/smoke it [Kanna] with cannabis and it’s a nice mixup from time to time but mostly what this guy said. It’s hit or miss a little like kratom but not at all similar. It’s good to stack with cacao/chocolate or caffeine before a workout or before coitus with cannabis. I use it when I take tolerance breaks on kratom.” -PineappleMerchant

“They both change your mood for the better. Kratom is more euphoric for sure. Just speaking from a recreational standpoint. Kanna does not seem to build a tolerance as much or I just don’t take it enough to know. Kanna many times is more sedating although it can go the other way and that’s based on the dose. Lower doses of Kanna are supposed to be more stimulating just like Kratom but it doesn’t always work that way. There must be something else affecting that? Taste for Kratom is bad which is why I take capsules. Kanna extract does not taste very good either, it’s an extract so more of a chemical taste. The amount you need is so much less so not that big of a deal. Kratom once or twice a week at most for me, Kanna, you can use it more often. Neither one is addictive for me, I am not that type.” -willwar63

It definitely seems like kratom is still more popular amongst the kratom community because of its chill and energizing/mood boosting effects that don’t feel overwhelming to most. 

Are Kanna and Kratom Legal?

Kanna is legal in all 49 states within the US, except for Louisiana. Kratom, on the other hand, has a few more bans in certain states. 

Here are the states and cities where kratom is banned:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California- ONLY banned in San Diego County. 
  • Indiana
  • New Hampshire- ONLY banned in Franklin City.
  • Rhode Island
  • Tennessee -ONLY synthetic kratom is banned.
  • Vermont
  • Wisconsin

Since the legality of kratom is pending in certain states or becoming overturned, you’ll want to keep up with your own states laws and regulations. 

How to Take Kanna and Kratom

There are many different ways to consume or take Kanna and Kratom. Let’s first start off with Kanna.

Ways to Take Kanna 

Orally or Sublingually 

You can take Kanna orally or sublingually via capsules or with a liquid extract. Placing it under the tongue can better your chances of having the product fully absorbed. Taking Kanna capsules or tablets can be another great way to quickly enjoy without any taste.

Kanna Tea

Kanna powder or tea-cut kanna can be made into a warm or hot tea. It’s said to taste like an unpleasant version of green tea. 

The only downside is that this method tends to be less potent. But, it’s the perfect way to take Kanna for newbies or those who are sensitive to its strong effects. 


Surprisingly, this is one of the most popular ways to take Kanna. Snuffing the powder can cause instant and strong effects. It’s also said to be very happy-inducing. One of the issues is that it can cause nose bleeds, so you’ll want to be careful.


Of course, vaping or smoking Kanna is another very popular method. Special liquid tinctures can be placed into vape pens for easy vaping or kanna extracts can be purchased for 

Ways to Take Kratom 

Kratom Tea

Making Kratom teas is one of the most popular ways to consume kratom. You’ll want to be careful to simmer the kratom powder, and not boil. Boiling can cause the alkaloids to burn. Pour it over ice for a refreshing kratom tea.

*Tip: Add lots of lemon juice during the simmering process for increased potency.

Toss and Wash Method

This is a really quick way to take kratom that allows effects to kick in really fast. Measure out your desired kratom powder and take it orally. Then, wash it down with water or your favorite juice. 

Orally with Capsules/Tablets

Since kratom has a reputation of tasting really bitter, you can opt for the capsules or tablets for an easy, mess-free way to ingest

Final Thoughts

Kanna can be a great alternative to those who want to try something different or can’t access kratom due to legality issues. However, kratom is an amazing option if you can get your hands on it. It has far less side effects and most people say they feel really good when using it. Unlike Kanna, kratom can be great for those who also need a boost in mental focus and energy, while feeling relaxed. The effects can be a lot more manageable to beginners and kratom veterans alike.