Kratom: Research Findings and Methods of Use with Dr. Oliver Grundmann


This episode of the Plant Medicine Podcast features a conversation about kratom with Dr. Oliver Grundmann. Dr. Grundmann earned his bachelors in pharmacy and European pharmacy license from University of Münster in 2004, after which he pursued graduate studies at the University of Florida, where he is now a clinical professor in the College of Pharmacy. His research interests focus on investigating the use of natural products as novel treatments for a variety of physical and mental conditions. Dr. Grundmann is a leading kratom researcher and has published numerous articles on the substance, examining the plant medicine and its use using a variety of methodologies.

In this episode, Dr. Grundmann introduces kratom (scientific name mitragyna speciosa) and discusses its pharmacology and potential as both a medicine and a drug of abuse. The kratom tree is native to southeast Asia and belongs to the same botanical family as the coffee plant. The leaves of the kratom tree contain a wide variety of active alkaloids and they are consumed orally to produce a psychoactive effect.

Dr. Grundmann explains that kratom is unique because the primary alkaloids mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are opioid agonists, yet the substance does not fit neatly into the opiate category as it lacks certain properties of the classic opioids such as morphine or heroin. For example, respiratory depression is not observed with the use of kratom, while this is a hallmark effect of opioids at high doses—and one of the major dangers associated with the use of these drugs.

Another way in which kratom is unique is that its effects are highly dose dependent. At lower doses, Dr. Grundmann explains, the plant tends to have a more energizing effect, while higher doses lead to a more sedating experience.

In this conversation, Dr. Grundmann also shares insights into kratom use in America based on survey research he has conducted. While scientific research into kratom remains a small field, this type of survey research helps to give insight into the potential kratom has as a plant medicine through data which shows the variety of conditions people are attempting to treat through kratom use.

As kratom consumption increased in the United States and the plant gained notoriety, its use became associated with the treatment of chronic pain and opioid withdrawal. Dr. Grundmann’s research has been showing, however, that users are also turning to kratom for dealing with conditions such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These initial findings provide fertile soil for further research into kratom’s potential medicinal applications.

In This Episode

• The pharmacology of mitragyna speciosa
• The legality of kratom in the United States
• The current state of scientific research into the effects of kratom consumption
• Contraindications for kratom use
• Potential uses for kratom to treat both mental and physical ailments
• Various methods for kratom consumption


“Just because a substance binds to an opioid receptor doesn’t mean that it shows all of the same properties as, for example, morphine, or oxycodone, or fentanyl, or heroin.” [14:20]

“When we talk here one to five grams per dose, three times a day—the potential to develop a use disorder, kratom use disorder, basically, is relatively low. When we talk about really taking high amounts of an extract or also of the powder for example, let’s say above eight grams, ten grams per dose, more frequently—four, five, eight times a day—then there is the potential to develop a dependence on it.” [18:52]

“Between 70%–85%… [of] folks were in the range of one to five grams and didn’t have to go above five grams to maintain alleviation of their symptoms for which they are using kratom… That indicates to me that there’s no risk of tolerance up to five grams per dose.” [22:53]

“Surprisingly, we had a large group now in the second survey who were using it to treat—self-treat—symptoms of ADHD or PTSD and nothing else aside from that. So it’s really a very diverse population of users that we’re seeing with kratom.” [25:09]


* The Psychedelic Medicine Podcast has allowed the Psychedelic Medicine Association to post episodes as an educational resource, and in return the PMA is hosting the podcast show notes.