Khat  

Latin:  Catha edulis

Family:  Celestraceae

Parts Used:  Leaves

Taste/Energetics:  Bitter, warming

Properties:  Stimulant, astringent, anti-depressant, euphoric at high doses, aphrodisiac, nootropic

Actions:  Common to East African countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia, khat is a leaf from a tree that is traditionally rolled up and chewed for its potent stimulant effect.  With two strong stimulating alkaloids  (Cathinone and cathine) has a similar effect to amphetamines with associated alertness, energy and euphoria at higher doses.  Khat does have the potential to be abused and addiction is prevalent in some users.

The desire to consume stimulants for increased alertness and energy is a worldwide phenomena whether it be with coffee, cacao, tea or coca leaf and khat is another stimulant that offers similar effects, though perhaps stronger than average depending on dose.

Khat has been tied up in immense controversy over the years and recently the UK chose to ban importation of the plant.   Khat is also illegal in the US, Canada and most of continental Europe.  Again I would reiterate that it seems strange that we ban a substance like khat while allowing for addictive and potentially lethal sale of tobacco and alcohol.   While khat is likely tied to increased agitation, violence and addiction with a percentage of users, it is also a cultural touchstone plant with thousands of khat cafes abounding in East African countries.  Khat is extraordinarily popular in parts of the world that are strongly Muslim and where alcohol is generally illegal.  Khat offers an alternative form of pleasure.

In terms of mental health, we are talking about a substance similar to many stimulants.  It gives a nice buzz but there is a long term effect if one abuses it- diminished reserves, agitation, insomnia, etc.

Dosage:  Man, you got to chew a lot of this stuff.  A couple big pinches of leaf rolled up and chewed for a couple hours or so is a general beginning dose.  100-200 grams.  Its most potent fresh and loses its potency when dried.

Contraindications:    Its a stimulant- so…not for folks with cardiac conditions, hypertension, tachycardia, pregnant, prone to anxiety, panic attacks, mania, psychosis, insomnia.  Its addictive with withdrawal issues but shows no potential for overdose.