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What Happens When You Use Kratom?

Before we look at whether or not kratom can cause you to test positive on a drug test, let’s consider what exactly it is that happens when kratom enters your body.

As you may already know, small amounts of kratom usually result in a stimulating sensation, while larger amounts have more of a sedative effect. This variability is what makes kratom a good option for a wide range of symptoms and conditions, but it can also cause potential confusion for new users.

Kratom in the Body:

Even though kratom alkaloids like mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine are known to be similar to opioids – and organizations like FDA would have us believe they’re identical – the effect these alkaloids have on the receptors in our brains is notably different. As one clinical toxicologist named Oliver Grundmann told The Scientist: while both opioid and kratom compounds bind with the G-protein-coupled receptors inside us, only opioids recruit beta-arrestin, an intracellular protein that has been linked to the negative side effects of opioids including respiratory depression and distress – and maybe even the addiction symptoms.

Like many scientists, Mr. Grundmann worries that banning kratom will serve a crippling blow to research progress.

Now that you have a bit of insight into what’s happening in the body, let’s look at how long the alkaloids stick around, and the possible testing outcomes.

How Quickly Does Kratom Take Effect?

When you first ingest a dose of kratom, it usually takes about 15 minutes before you begin to feel the effects, though factors like how recently you ate will, of course, affect this onset.

You may know that the effects of smaller doses of kratom are usually felt for an average of two hours, while larger, sedating doses can last as long as four to six hours. Often, users find the effects are most powerful about an hour after ingestion.

How Long Does Kratom Stay in Your System?

does kratom show up on drug tests

Kratom can take effect in fewer than half an hour but can remain in your system for as long as a week.


If you have a bit of supplement or drug knowledge, you might have heard the term “half-life”. This term refers to the length of time it takes for a substance to be diluted to half its initial concentration, and in the case of kratom, this seems to be about 24 hours. There are a lot of reasons to be interested in the half-life of a substance, but for our purposes, kratom’s half-life suggests it could take anywhere from about 36 hours to over a week for kratom to be completely eliminated from the body. (For comparison’s sake, cannabis can sometimes remain in the body – though long past having any effect – for as long as a month!)

Will Kratom Show Up on a Drug Test?

Of course, the length of time kratom stays in your system doesn’t have a direct correlation to every drug test. While it could appear on some specifically tailored to those alkaloids present, more often a basic drug test like you might be required to take at work is not going to be looking for these compounds. It sounds like it’s also unlikely kratom would produce a false positive, though some users do claim this has happened to them. For that reason, if you are worried about an upcoming test and have the ability to stop using kratom for a few days (maybe a good time to take a tolerance break?), doing so could at least put your mind at ease.

That said, with the discussion around kratom these days it’s always possible some employers or states will choose to begin testing for kratom (and it looks like the tests exist), though this probably couldn’t happen in most regions unless the supplement is actively banned or placed on the federal Schedule 1 list because, as it currently stands, kratom is legal almost everywhere!

It’s good to know that the compounds in kratom are different enough from the kinds of drugs that show up on common drug tests, not only because the fact makes therapeutic kratom users feel safer, but because it serves as one more indicator that mitragynine and 7-HMG are not opioids (but good luck convincing the DEA).

(Something to keep in mind: All this information assumes you have taken pure, unadulterated kratom, so always be sure to buy only from a trusted vendor that tests its products and promises 100% pure kratom – for your own safety!)

Have you had any experience with kratom and employee drug testing? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below!


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