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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. Catha edulis khat is a plant grown commonly in the horn of Africa. The leaves of khat are chewed by the people for its stimulant action. Its young buds and tender leaves are chewed to attain a state of euphoria and stimulation. Khat is an evergreen shrub, which is cultivated as a bush or small tree.
The leaves have an aromatic odor. The taste is astringent and slightly sweet. The plant is seedless and hardy, growing in a variety of climates and soils. Many different compounds are found in khat including alkaloids, terpenoids, flavonoids, sterols, glycosides, tannins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. The phenylalkylamines and the cathedulins are the major alkaloids which are structurally related to amphetamine. The major effects of khat include those on the gastro-intestinal system and on the nervous system.
Constipation, urine retention and acute cardiovascular effects may be regarded as autonomic peripheral nervous system effects; increased alertness, dependence, tolerance and psychiatric symptoms as effects on the central nervous system.
The main toxic effects include increased blood pressure, tachycardia, insomnia, anorexia, constipation, general malaise, irritability, migraine and impaired sexual potency in men. Databases such as Pubmed, Medline, Hinary, Google search, Cochrane and Embase were systematically searched for literature on the different aspects of khat to summarize chemistry, pharmacology, toxicology of khat Catha edulis Forsk.
Khat is a natural stimulant from the Catha edulis plant that is cultivated in the Republic of Yemen and most of the countries of East Africa. Khat can be grown in droughts where other crops have failed and also at high altitudes. Khat is harvested throughout the year. Planting is staggered to obtain a continuous supply. The vast majority of those ingesting khat do so by chewing.
Only a small ingest it by making a drink from dried leaves, or even more rarely, by smoking dried leaves. The chewer fills his or her mouth with leaves and stalks, and then chews slowly and intermittently to release the active components in the juice, which is then swallowed with saliva. The plant material is chewed into a ball, which is kept for a while in the cheek, causing a characteristic bulge. Only a minority frequently chew alone. A session may last for several hours.
During this time chewers drink copious amounts of non-alcoholic fluids such as cola, tea and cold water. In a khat chewing session, initially there is an atmosphere of cheerfulness, optimism and a general sense of well-being. After about 2 hours, tension, emotional instability and irritability begin to appear, later leading to feelings of low mood and sluggishness.
Chewers tend to leave the session feeling depleted. Chewing khat is both a social and a culture-based activity. It is said to enhance social interaction, playing a role in ceremonies such as weddings. In Yemen, Muslims are the most avid chewers. Some believe that chewing facilitates contact with Allah when praying. However, many Christians and Yemenite Jews in Israel also chew khat. Khat is a stimulant and it is used to improve performance, stay alert and to increase work capacity. Students have chewed khat in an attempt to improve mental performance before exams.
Yemeni khat chewers believe that khat is beneficial for minor ailments such as headaches, colds, body pains, fevers, arthritis and also depression. Khat contains more than forty alkaloids, glycosides, tannins, amino acids, vitamins and minerals. In the Yemen Arab Republic, about 44 different types of khat exist originating from different geographic areas of the country.
The cathedulins are based on a polyhydroxylated sesquiterpene skeleton and are basically polyesters of euonyminol. Recently, 62 different cathedulins from fresh khat leaves were characterized. These compounds are structurally related to amphetamine and noradrenaline. The plant contains the - -enantiomer of cathinone only. Cathinone is mainly found in the young leaves and shoots. These compounds seem to contribute less to the stimulant effects of khat.
Cathinone is unstable and undergoes decomposition reactions after harvesting and during drying or extraction of the plant material. Both the dimer and phenylpropanedione have been isolated from khat extracts. The phenylalkylamine content of khat leaves varies within wide limits. Fresh khat from different origin contained on the average 36 mg cathinone, mg cathine, and 8 mg norephedrine per gram of leaves. Khat contains many different compounds and therefore khat chewing may have many different effects.
The major effects include those on the gastro-intestinal system and on the nervous system. As cathinone, and to a lesser extent cathine, are held responsible for the effects of khat on the nervous system, the effects of the many other constituents of the khat plant are frequently overlooked. As a consequence, much research has been focused on the pharmacological effects of cathinone and cathine, and much less on the other constituents of khat. Because of the large of different compounds in khat, it is not feasible to include all effects of all components of khat.
But this report will focus on the psychoactive properties of khat and the main psychoactive compounds, cathinone and cathine, found in khat. Rats fed C. In pregnant rats, khat reduces food consumption and maternal weight gain, and also lowers the food efficiency index. Many reports have since confirmed the enhanced locomotor activity. In addition, khat extracts and - -cathinone produce stereotyped behavior, self-administration and anorectic effects in animal species. Both khat extract and - -cathinone enhance baseline aggressive behavior of isolated rats.
Cathinone is also able to act as a discriminative stimulus in a food-reinforced operant task. Dopaminergic antagonists e. Further evidence for serotonergic involvement is given in a recent study in which both khat extract and cathinone produced a ificant depletion of serotonin and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid in both the anterior and posterior striatum.
Locomotor sensitization and deficits in prepulse inhibition PPI induced by psychostimulants are two paradigms that have been widely studied as animal behavioral models of amphetamine psychosis. Repeated oral administration of a standardized C. Clozapine, an atypical antipsychotic agent, was able to reverse this behavioral sensitization and the PPI deficits induced by C. In the remaining regions anterior and posterior striatum no ificant changes were found. Cathinone has vasoconstrictor activity in isolated perfused hearts from guinea pigs. In rabbits, a khat extract given orally for 30 successive days induced a decrease in adrenal cholesterol, glycogen, ascorbic acid and an increase in adrenal phosphorylase activity, serum free fatty acids and urinary hydroxycorticosteroids.
This effect was also seen after oral administration of cathinone and cathine 6. Animal data are conflicting. Treatment of male mice with a khat extract over a period of 6 weeks produced a dose-dependent reduction in fertility rate in female mice in the first week after the 6-week khat treatment. Cathinone also produced a ificant decrease in plasma testosterone levels of the rats.
Although both enantiomers of cathinone produced deleterious effects on male reproductive system, - -cathinone was found to be more toxic. Khat given to pregnant guinea pigs reduces placental blood flow 52 and produces growth retardation in the offspring.
The main effects of khat chewing are on the central and peripheral nervous system, and on the oro-gastro-intestinal system Table 1. Reported and suggested adverse effects of khat in human 9. Khat chewing induces a state of euphoria and elation with feelings of increased alertness and arousal. This is followed by a stage of vivid discussions, loquacity and an excited mood. Thinking is characterized by a flight of ideas but without the ability to concentrate.
However, at the end of a khat session the user may experience depressive mood, irritability, anorexia and difficulty to sleep.Effects of qat
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What to Know About Khat Use