Kratom Lab Testing Explained

As kratom becomes more popular in the United States, it is important that kratom products are rigorously tested for microbial agents and heavy metals before they are marketed to the consumer.

Unregulated kratom products could potentially contain harmful contaminants that could make people sick. Kratom lab testing helps ensure the safety and quality of kratom products.

Why Lab Test Kratom?

Kratom products should be lab tested for microbial agents and heavy metals for several reasons:

  • To ensure the safety of kratom consumers
  • To verify the quality of kratom products
  • To protect the kratom industry from adulterated kratom products

Believe it or not, the majority of kratom companies do not laboratory test their products. Some state that everything is tested, but lab results are nowhere to be found either on product packaging or on the vendor’s website. Lab testing is expensive, perhaps prohibitively so for smaller vendors, but they should always be up front about it if they don’t run analysis on their kratom before selling it. These unscrupulous vendors give the entire kratom industry a bad reputation. That is why it is important that all kratom products are lab tested to ensure that they are free of harmful contaminants.

Heavy metals, which can be found in many botanical specimens, are very toxic to the body and brain and can present major health problems. Harmful microbial agents can potentially kill. Kratom lab testing can detect the presence of both heavy metals and bad microbes in kratom products and ensure that they are below safe levels.

Analytical Methods

There are several analytical methods that can be used to test kratom for the presence of heavy metals and microbial agents. The three most common methods are inductively coupled plasma-mass spectrometry (ICP-MS), high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


ICP-MS is a very sensitive technique that can detect trace levels of heavy metals in kratom products. This method works by ionizing the kratom sample and then measuring the resulting ions with a mass spectrometer.


HPLC is another sensitive technique that can be used to test kratom for the presence of heavy metals. This method works by passing kratom extracts through a column containing a metal-absorbing material. The amount of metal adsorbed onto the column is proportional to the concentration of metal in the kratom sample.


PCR is a very sensitive technique that can be used to test kratom for the presence of microbial agents. This method amplifies DNA or RNA sequences from microbes present in kratom samples. PCR can also be used to identify specific microbial species present in kratom products.

What Does Testing Look For?

Kratom lab testing at a bare minimum looks for certain microbiological contaminants along with heavy metals. When you check out a vendor’s test results, at least make sure they’ve analyzed the these things:

  • Salmonella: A bacteria that causes 1.35 million infections annually in the US. The most common cause of diarrheal illness and is also associated with fever, cramps, and very occasionally, death. Kratom tainted with salmonella has been a problem in the past, but it was traced back to a single likely source.
  • E. coli: Found in abundance in areas with poor hygiene, harmful versions of the E. coli bacteria, like E. coli O157:H7, can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and strong stomach cramps. Healthy adults usually recover within a week, but the process is not pleasant.
  • Lead: Natural element that can cause anemia, headaches, abdominal pain, infertility, high blood pressure, and kidney damage in adults. Often found in contaminated drinking water and herbal products.
  • Cadmium: Builds up in the liver and kidneys and causes irreversible damage including renal disease, metabolic bone disease, and chemical pneumonitis. It is easily taken up by plants, but it is not absorbed well when ingested orally.
  • Mercury: In Indonesia, where US-bound kratom is harvested, mercury is used in the process of producing gold and can make its way into the soil. This is probably the most important heavy metal to test for because it is the most likely to be present in high amounts. Pay attention to this result.

How to Read Results

When going over kratom lab testing results, you are going to be comparing the findings to the a set of references ranges of your choice. Some of more commonly used standards are those set forth by the United States Pharmacopoeia (USP), American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), NSF/ANSI, and World Health Organization WHO.

There are no regulations that specify what standards a kratom vendor must go by, but AHPA seems to be a common one because that organization deals specifically with botanicals. This graphic shows the AHPA standard limits for microbiological agents and heavy metals, including some additional ones we didn’t include above but may still be tested for:

AHPA Herbal Product Microbiological and Heavy Metals Limits


In conclusion, kratom lab testing is an important part of ensuring the safety and quality of kratom products. All kratom products should be tested for microbial agents and heavy metals before they are marketed to the consumer. Kratom vendors who don’t lab test their products are risking the health of their customers and damaging the reputation of the kratom industry. Lab testing kratom is the best way to protect consumers and ensure that only high-quality kratom products are available on the market.