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Review Article

PBS. 2011; 1(4): 187-194

Psychopharmacological aspects of catha edulis (khat) and consequences of long term use: a review

Nasir Tajure Wabel.


Catha edulis (khat) is a plant grown commonly in the horn of Africa. Its leaves are chewed by the local people for their stimulant action. The purpose of this review was to summarize the psychopharmacologic aspects of Catha edulis (khat) and consequences of long term use. I collected data from scientific journals. The databases such as Pubmed, Medline, Hinary, Google search, Cochrane, and Embase were searched for literature on the different aspects of Catha edulis (khat) including central nervous system effects, pharmacological effects and long term consequences of khat use. Different research findings from various sources showed that Catha edulis (khat) causes schizophreniform psychotic illness, mania, and more rarely, depression and also has negative impact on health and socio-economic conditions. Most of the effects of chewing khat come from two phenylalkylamines; cathinone and cathine which are structurally related to amphetamine. On occasion these presentations are associated with episodes of self-harm or harm to others. Owing to the mode of consumption, the dose of khat tends to be self-limiting, unlike amphetamines. Therefore toxic psychosis as a result of excessive use is much less frequent with khat than with amphetamines. Frequent khat chewing is responsible for different disorders including psychotic illness and has harmful socioeconomic consequences. It is important for clinicians to increase awareness of their patients and the general public about the harmful effects of khat-chewing.

Key words: khat, catha edulis, pharmacological effect, cathinone, psychological sequela, psychosis

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