What to Know About Khat Use

Khat for sale at market.

Khat (or qat) is a drug found in the leaves of a wild, East African shrub called Catha edulis buy khat online. The plan contains a central nervous system stimulant called cathinone.1 Khat chewing is tied to social and cultural traditions dating back thousands of years, mostly in North-Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where the plant is widely cultivated.

While it has traditionally been a custom associated with older Muslim men, khat’s use has expanded to include women and younger people. In Eastern buy kaEthiopia, nearly 30% of adolescent girls and over 70% of adolescent boys chew khat.3

Cathinone is a Schedule I controlled drug. Khat is illegal in the United States and Canada, but is legal in many other parts of the world, including Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen, and Kenya. buy khat toronto

Also Known As: Qat, Kat, Chat, Miraa, and Quaadka

Drug Class: Stimulant (khat has a stimulant effect when chewed that is similar to the leaves of the coca plant, which is used for making cocaine)

Common Side Effects: Increased respiration, elevated blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, and dilated pupils; regular use can cause tooth decay, gum disease, ulcers, and constipation

Khat’s effects are similar to those of other stimulants, such as caffeine. People who use khat may become talkative, alert, elated, and experience euphoria. Some people report feeling increased self-esteem. Others describe increased imagination and ideas. buy khat toronto

Khat is usually chewed, with people typically holding the chewed leaves in their cheek for several hours, chewing periodically. Chewing sessions typically last 3 to 4 hours.

Khat chewing is an important social ritual among Somali, Yemeni, and Ethiopian cultures.

When people from these countries migrate to other parts of the world, they often use the social act of chewing khat to maintain a sense of connection to their community. The practice has lead to the development of an international drug trade for khat. buy khat toronto

What the Experts Say (buy khat online)

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the effects of khat consumption are similar to those of strong coffee.5 Research published in 2011 suggested the effects of khat are seen in the central nervous, cardiovascular, respiratory, endocrine, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary systems buy khat toronto.

Other Uses

Khat has no approved or evidence-based medical uses in the United States. In countries where its sale and use are legal, khat is sometimes used to treat fatigue, headaches, colds, and depression.6 People also use khat to experience the effects of euphoria, increased energy, and appetite suppression.

Common Side Effects

Although khat is a relatively low-risk drug, it’s associated with an increased risk for a variety of medical complications including dental disease, weight loss, constipation buy khat toronto, hemorrhoids, impotence, blurred vision, dizziness, and headaches.6

It’s unclear whether the health risks associated with khat use are directly related to the drug cathinone, the consumption of caffeinated drinks that intensify the high, or if they’re partially related to inhalation of second-hand smoke in poorly ventilated chewing houses. buy khat toronto

Some of these health problems may be the result of toxic pesticides. Many people who use khat do not wash the leaves prior to chewing, as they believe that washing the leaves will reduce the drug’s potency.7

Mental health conditions associated with khat use, including psychosis, have been documented but are not well understood. Khat use has also been associated with symptoms of depression, mood swings, and violent behavior buy khat toronto.

Research has indicated that khat use can cause relationship and social difficulties, particularly when its use takes men away from their families for extended periods, and when a large amount of money is spent on the drug. buy khat toronto

Over the last few decades, a small number of deaths have been identified by researchers as being directly or indirectly associated with the use of khat. effect of khat

Signs of Use

If you are concerned that a loved one is using khat, there are some behavior and physical signs and symptoms you can look for. Signs that someone is using khat can include: effect of khat

  • Irritability
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • High blood pressure
  • Excitability or hyperactivity
  • Depressed mood
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss

Signs of Stimulant Use Disorder

Myths & Common Questions

Khat is widely used by approximately 20 million people worldwide.2 It has cultural significance in many countries. Some have argued that media portrayals of the drug tend to exaggerate its effects. effect of khat

Khat is often seen as a food rather than a drug (much the way that coffee is viewed in the United States). Since it is only a mild stimulant, people sometimes mistakenly believe that khat does not have any serious side effects.

In addition to some of the more severe short-term consequences such as heart arrhythmias, khat can also have longer-term health effects, including mouth and stomach disorders. effect of khat

Occasional recreational use of khat is still considered to be low-risk, but there are legal consequences to its possession, sale, and use in countries where it is banned. effect of khat

Khat is illegal in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, as well as most of Europe and Africa.The Legal Consequences of Drug Use

Tolerance, Dependence, and Withdrawal

Chewing khat releases the drug slowly. It does not produce the immediate and intense high of addictive drugs such as cocaine and meth.

Khat chewing is traditionally an all-male social activity. Women who chew khat tend to do so alone and in secrecy, putting them at increased risk for dependence.5

How Long Does Khat Stay in Your System?

Once consumed, the effects of khat peak after approximately 15 to 30 minutes. The drug has a half-life of approximately three hours. How Long Drugs Can Be Detected in Your System


Khat might be an addictive drug. The substance is believed to create a physical addiction similar to that of caffeine.11 However, it is hard to differentiate dependence from addiction to the psychoactive compounds in khat, as there is a lack of criteria to make such a determination. effect of khat on pregnancy

Research has found that khat use is often associated with the use of other addictive substances. For example, a 2011 study of Yemeni subjects living in the UK found an association between nicotine use and khat chewing.13 More research is needed to determine the addictive potential of khat.14

Prevalence of Use

According to Home Office CSEW statistics published in 2016, 0.06% of adults aged 16 to 59 had used khat in the last year; this equates to around 20,000 people in England and Wales. This is similar to the 0.05% estimated in 2014/15, but a statistically significant fall compared with 0.2% in the previous two survey years when khat use was legal. It should also be noted that a household survey such as the CSEW may underestimate the use of substances such as khat, the use of which is concentrated in individuals of a specific national origin. effect of khat on pregnancy

The law

As of June 2014 khat became controlled as a Class C drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

Possession incurs a possible sentence of two years imprisonment, a fine or both.

Possession with intent to supply, production and cultivation could each result in a maximum sentence of 14 years imprisonment, a fine or both.

In practice those found in possession of khat for the first time are most likely to receive a warning. Khat warnings could be issued to adults from June 2014. According to the Ministry of Justice 2016 statistics there were 36,300 cannabis and khat warnings issued in the latest year, a decrease of 6,300 (15%) from the previous year.

The Home Office have produced a Khat fact sheet (PDF) for England and Wales in a variety of languages. This gives more information about the decision to ban khat and what it means in practice.


References to khat use can be found in Arab journals from the 13th century. Physicians prescribed khat to treat depression and lack of energy. The stimulant effects also mean it has been commonly used by peasants who work long hours. In some Muslim countries where alcohol is banned, khat is commonly used in social situations, although khat is often condemned on religious and cultural grounds.

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