Khat

khat.jpg

Basic Information
  • Classified as a flowering plant
  • Kingdom- Plantae
  • Order-Celastrales
  • Family-Celastraceae
  • Genus- Catha
  • Species- C. edulis
  • Angiosperm meaning they are seed producing plants
  • Contains a monoamine alkaloid called cathinone which is an amphetamine-like stimulant
    • Causes lack of appetite and euphoria
    • Requires large amounts of water to be cultivated successfully
    • It takes eight years for a Khat plant to reach its full height

Geographic Origin
  • Originated in the Horn Of Africa (Northeast Africa or the Somali Peninsula)
    • Most abundant in Dijbouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, Yemen
    • Explorer Sir Richard Burton suggested the plant was introduced to Yemen in the 15th century and it originated in Ethiopia
    • Dates back as early as the Ancient Egypt


africa.gif


Importance
  • Due to containing cathinone it has been classified by the World Health Organization as a drug abuse that can lead to psychological dependence similar to alcohol and tobacco
  • It is a controlled substance in the United States and Canada but a natural resource in the African Horn
  • Consumed by chewing on the plant itself or dried and consumed as tea
  • Considered by the Ancient Egyptians to be a divine food meaning that it was capable of releasing humanity‚Äôs divinity
  • The fresh leaves are the most effective part of the plant it is very difficult to transport the plant
  • Due to recent infrastructure improvements it has been able to be sold globally as a perishable commodity in places such as England, Wales, Rome, Amsterdam, Canada, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States
  • Cultivating the plant provides large economical gains to Yemen
  • The plant can be harvested four times a year providing year-long income for farmers
  • Estimated 10 million people use khat on a daily basis
  • 70-80% of Yemenis between 16 and 50 years old chew khat

Side Effects
  • Dilated pupils
  • Withdrawal from consuming this plant can lead to depression, nightmares, or tremors
  • Can be used as a anorectic which can cause the consumer to have a loss of appetite
  • Can cause infrequent hallucinations


khat2.png
Chart showing dependency and physical harm of Khat in comparison to other drugs


Research Programs/ Wildcard Topic
  • University of Minnesota is researching the neurobehavioral and health effects of khat
  • Discovering the long term effects of daily khat usage
    • Causing acute coronary syndrome
    • Oral cancer
    • Cases of psychosis
    • If there are any health benefits that can be provided by consuming khat for pharmaceutical purposes

Sources:
www.drugfree.org
www.mayoclinic.org