Public Perceptions toward Kratom (Mitragyna Speciosa) Use in Malaysia

Darshan Singh, Suresh Narayanan, Shariffah Suraya, Azlin Saref, Oliver Grundmann, Walter C. Prozialeck, Ornella Corazza, Marc T. Swogger, O. Griffin, Vicknasingam Balasingam

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Kratom (Mitragyna speciosa), an indigenous medicinal plant of Southeast Asia, is believed to be harmful. We compared the perceptions toward kratom use among kratom users and non-users in Malaysia. 356 respondents (137 kratom users and 219 non-users) were recruited for this cross-sectional study. The majority of respondents were male (60%, n = 212/356), Malays (88%), and 51% were ≥37 years old. Non-users showed higher unadjusted odds of reporting a perception that kratom use can cause addiction (OR = 6.72, CI: 3.91–11.54, p < .0001), withdrawal symptoms (OR = 7.58, CI: 4.62–12.42, p < .0001), illicit drug use problems (OR = 10.12, CI: 6.14–16.68, p < .0001), impaired social-functioning (OR = 12.05, CI: 7.24–20.05, p < .0001), and health problems (OR = 10.44, CI: 6.32–17.24, p < .0001). Similarly, non-users viewed kratom policies differently from kratom users, displaying increased odds of reporting the belief that kratom use and sales must be regulated with stringent laws (OR = 5.75, CI: 3.61–9.18, p < .0001), and kratom should be regulated instead under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 to overcome kratom use problems (OR = 8.26, CI: 4.94–13.82, p < .0001). Because of the disconnect in kratom use perceptions and personal experiences between kratom users and non-users, hastily criminalizing kratom without investigating carefully its scientific merits can significantly impede future kratom research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-288
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Psychoactive Drugs
Issue number3
Early online date10 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 26 May 2020


  • criminalization
  • Kratom
  • mitragynine
  • perceptions


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