A stack of catha edulis leaves and stems prepared for chewing. Khat is the most popular recreational drug in the horn of Africa.

Simon’s Khat Guide

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Khat (Catha edulis, edible khat) is a very popular, legal recreational drug in Africa and in the Arab world.
Catha edulis is a flowering plant (see picture below) native to the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Recreational consumption of khat, khat chewing, is a traditional activity dating back thousands of years and is an accepted part of the mainstream culture.

Countries, where khat is consumed the most:

This is a map displaying khat usage in various countries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. Places where khat is traditionally consumed is colored gray. The heaviest consumers of khat are Sudan, Ethiopia, Yemen, Kenya, Somalia and Djibouti.
Khat usage map – Africa

 

Somalia is widely considered the “khat capital” of the world and the consumption per capita in Somalia is said to be the highest in the world. However, I could not find any reliable data to back up this claim.

Khat chewing has a rich tradition as a social/communal activity dating back thousands of years.


 

Khat’s effects:

The main active ingredient is cathinone, an amphetamine like stimulant.

It is a stimulant and  a strong mood enhancer (depending on the dosage).

The effects are described as amphetamine like and cocaine like by users (see trip reports at the bottom).


 

Interesting facts about Khat:

They modeled the active ingredient in bath salts after the active ingredient in khat, cathinone (see below).

 

Types of Khat

Hadar: khat is harvested when the plant is very young. The more mature Khat, which has been left to grow is called hadar. Hadar can also be chewed, it has a different, more bitter taste and it is harder to chew. Younger khat is preferred over hadar.

Arabian tee: tea made from the dried leaves and twigs of khat. It is especially popular in Yemen, where 85% of the population consumes it daily. Sometimes this tee is also called bushman’s tea.

Quat: it’s just a different way of spelling khat, it’s not a different type. Sometimes the spelling “chat” is used as well.

 

It is not an overstatement to say, that khat has taken the place of alcohol in Muslim countries (alcohol is banned by the Quran). 

/It is interesting, that in Western world Khat is universally banned, but alcohol, which is a more dangerous (more physical harm, higher addiction potential, see the picture below) is legal and accepted.

It is a strong reminder, that drug policies are not solely based on scientific data./

 

This a picture of a function. The x axis of the function represents physical harm, the y axis represents dependence. The most commonly used legal and illegal recreational drugs are all on this scale. The most harmful is heroin and the least harmful is khat.
Khat is the least harmful recreational drug.

 

Khat is generally harmless, it is hard to overdose and it has a low addiction potential.

Actually, it is the least harmful and one of the most popular recreational drugs.

 

Source:
“Comparison of the perceived harm for 20 popular recreational drugs from a poll among medical psychiatrists specialized in addiction treatment.” 

Source: Pubmed – Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential

On the picture there are six bundles of khat prepared the traditional way for chewing (wrapped in banana leaves).
Khat prepared for chewing, the traditional way

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Khat, Catha edulis

 

 

 

Places to buy Khat

Khat cultivation and consumption is constrained to a small area within the Arab peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

Khat leaves and stems must be consumed within 48 hours after harvest, or else they starts to lose it’s potency rapidly.

With such a short shelf life it is not surprising that you can not buy khat online.

To only way you could acquire khat online is to buy extracted cathinone – the main active ingredient -.

But that is illegal in most countries in the West (see country-by-country breakdown below) and therefore it is not sold.

 

Buy Khat -US

Illegal in the US.

You can only buy Khat seeds.

Buy Khat seeds here /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/.

 

Buy Khat -Netherlands

Khat is illegal in the Netherlands.

You can only buy Khat seeds.

Buy Khat seeds here /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/.

 

 

Khat’s main active ingredient, cathinone, and it’s effects

 

This is a picture of the molecular structure of Cathinone, the main active ingredient of Khat. The chemical formula of cathinone is (S)-2-Amino-1-phenyl-1-propanone.
Cathinone

Cathinone is similar to ephedrine, cathine, methcathinone and other amphetamines.

It is the main contributor to the stimulant effect of Catha edulis.

Cathione cause amphetamine like effects (and cocaine like effects, according to some trip reports), effects such as:

  • general feeling of well being/elevated mood, euphoria with higher doses,
  • increased heart rate, blood pressure,
  • hyperactivity,
  • impaired inhibition,
  • insomnia,
  • suppressed appetite,
  • dilated pupils,
  • and decreased libido in some cases.

 

Khat’s legal status

 

County-by-country breakdown of khat’s legal status.

Khat’s legal status
ChinaIllegal
FinlandIllegal
FranceIllegal
GermanyIllegal
IcelandIllegal
IrelandIllegal
NorwayIllegal
PolandIllegal
SomaliaIllegal
UKIllegal
USIllegal
United Arab EmiratesIllegal

 

Resources:

European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction

Erowid – Khat law

Wikipedia – Khat – Laws and Regulations

 

 

Khat’s methods of consumption, preparation, dosage

 

Fresh khat leaves and stem tips are generally chewed in large quids for 10-30 minutes.

The juices are held in the mouth and then swallowed, the chewed plant material is spit out.

Khat chewing sessions generally last between 1-6 hours.

 

The traditional method of chewing khat: 

  • It takes place in a mufrage (sitting room designed specifically for chewing khat, drinking tea and socializing).
  • Have toothpicks ready to clean teeth if necessary, and have a spitting bowl ready (an ashtray won’t be enough).
  • Assume a comfortable reclined position.
  • Each time you spit out the chewed plant material drink a little traditionally prepared black tea to rinse your palate (mind your caffeine intake, khat is a stimulant!)
  • Take your time with it, chewing sessions last for hours.
  • Traditionally khat is never chewed alone, it’s a social occasion.

 

Khat Dosage:

One traditional bundle of khat wrapped in a banana leaf (banana leaves are used in Africa, on the Arabian peninsula plastic bags are used) is 400 – 500 grams, it’s usually is enough for two people to start feeling mild effects, for strong effects you need more.
During a sessions of khat chewing users typically chew between 100-300 grams of fresh plant material.

 

 

Dangers of Khat

 

In countries, where khat is the predominant recreational drug instead of alcohol there are many cases of khat addiction.

However, khat is actually much less addictive or harmful than alcohol or tobacco.

Source: Pubmed – Development of a rational scale to assess the harm of drugs of potential misuse

Khat is generally safe and harmless,. However, if abused for a long time the following symptoms may occur:

  • permanent staining of the teeth and swelling of the mouth
  • intense nausea and stomach cramps
  • liver damage
  • myocardial infarction (heart attack)
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • hallucinations
  • psychosis
  • difficulty with breathing and an increase in blood pressure and heart rate
  • oral cancer
  • loss of appetite lasting for days
  • loss of libido
  • stroke

The biggest problem with khat is that very heavy and frequent users can have violent psychotic episodes during chewing session.
Khat is said to accentuate pre-existing mental problems.

 

Source: World Health Organization – Assesment of Khat

 

 

Heath benefits of Khat

 

Khat is a very effective appetite suppressant and a stimulant. Therefore, moderate consumption of khat can help weight loss efforts.

It is traditionally used to cure depression.

 

If you find this khat guide useful please give it a “+1”:

Thank you! It helps my website a lot.

 

Buy Khat -US

Illegal in the US.

You can only buy Khat seeds.

Buy Khat seeds here /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/.

Buy Khat -Netherlands

Khat is illegal in the Netherlands.

You can only buy khat seeds.

Buy Khat seeds here /shipped from the US, credit cards accepted/.

 

Khat trip reports

 

This was chewed, now I had began to get used to the taste of the khat, and I chomped away on the church step for 20 minutes or so, getting nicely focussed, clearheaded, and stimulated to about the same degree of intensity as two nice lines of good quality coke.

 

Overall vote on khat: its very nicely active, a gentle, yet very euphoric stimulant, no nasty comedown, no noticeable comdown at all really, and synergised perfectly with the weed.”

Source: Bluelight – Khat – Trip report

 

Is great for a pick me up and goes great with alcohol and cannabis for an enjoyable evening. Makes you very chatty like amphetamine and gives you stamina but without the nasty side effects of amphetamine. Only down side is the sore jaw after chewing all day. Cannabis and alcohol seem to work great with it. Think alcohol could potentiate it and cannabis makes it quite psychedelic.

So all in a great plant that I can take in many different situations and have good experiences, highly enjoyable!!”

Erowid – Khat – Trip  report

 

“After 10 minutes there was a slight numbing of the gums. After 15, Mark started jabbering loudly. At 25 minutes we were laughing uproariously. After 45 minutes, Ethiopia’s troubles had slipped away and a sense of wellbeing, alertness, euphoria and lucidity took over.

Over the next three hours we could report heightened senses, ideas flowing, periods of great calmness, interspersed with spells of reflection and analysis .”

 

Source: The Guardian – Chew on this

 

Share your own trip report in the comment section below (to ensure anonymity don’t use your real name or real email address when submitting trip reports)!

 

 

Some of the information presented here might be outdated or incorrect (check “last updated” below). Make sure, that if you are planning to try out any of the substances to research them yourself as well.

I’m 100% committed to safe and responsible legal high consumption. If you have a few minutes to spare please read my blog post about responsible and safe legal drugs use

 

 

Khat is only one of the legal highs included in Simon’s legal high guide, check out the others as well.

If you are only interested in legal stimulants, then check out Simon’s Legal Stimulants for more.

 

Last updated: 2015. 10. 22

Summary
Simon's Guide to Khat, Catha edulis
Article Name
Simon's Guide to Khat, Catha edulis
Description
An in-dept guide to Khat preparation (leaves, stems) , consumption methods (Khat chewing), Khat legality and health effects.
Author

3 thoughts on “Simon’s Khat Guide”

  1. Erik van Rees V. says:

    Interesting article. Does anyone has experience with making a drink from Catha edulis shoots? I made some and it is very easy. Now the question is how long will it stay good when u cool it.?Anybody a clue? Thanks for your reaction

  2. No, it is in the “Legal status of khat” section. It’s illegal in the US, on a federal level, in all states.

  3. I’ve been given ground khat in powder form. How do I use it? Dosages?

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