Report on Khat Side Effects and Usage


Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Khat (Catha edulis). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions. Please note that Khat has been banned in the USA, France, Switzerland, and Sweden.

Khat is a flowering shrub native to east Africa.

Warning 1 – Contraindications: Pregnancy and lactation, in children, or in those with known hypersensitivity. People with renal, cardiac, or hepatic disease should avoid its use. Khat may cause headaches and elevate blood pressure. Large quantities are addictive and withdrawal may cause lethargy. Although most people experience an amphetamine-like effect, for some people Khat may work as a depressant. Chronic use may lead to nervous tremors and cause one to become more high-strung, constipated and susceptible to disease.

Warning 2 – Amphetamines: The use of Khat increases the effect of amphetamines.

Warning 3 – Antiarrhythmics: Khat increases the action of antiarrhythmics.

Warning 4 – Antihistamines: Khat increases the action of antihistamines.

Warning 5 – Antihypertensives:The use of Khat increases the effect of antihypertensives.

Warning 6 – Beta-blockers: Khat increases the action of beta-blockers.

Warning 7 – Calcium-channel blockers: Khat increases the action calcium-channel blockers.

Warning 8 – Cardiac glycosides:The use of Khat increases the effect of cardiac glycosides.

Warning 9 – Decongestants: Khat increases the effect of decongestants.

Warning 10 – MAOIs: Khat increases the action of MAOIs.

Warning 11 – Controlled Substance: In the United States, cathinone is a Schedule I drug, according to the U.S. Controlled Substance Act. The 1993 DEA rule placing cathinone in Schedule I noted that it was effectively also banning khat.

Used as a natural health remedy: Khat is used internally for the following benefits and conditions:

  • euphoria
  • stimulation
  • appetite suppressant (anorectic)

Side Effects of Khat

The known side effects of using Khat include:

  1. constipation
  2. dilated pupils (mydriasis)
  3. hyperactivity similar to those produced by amphetamine
  4. increased blood pressure
  5. increased heart rate
  6. manic behaviors
  7. Withdrawal symptoms that may follow occasional use include mild depression and irritability. Withdrawal symptoms that may follow prolonged khat use include lethargy, mild depression, nightmares, and slight tremor. Long-term use can precipitate the following effects: reduced liver function, permanent tooth darkening (of a greenish tinge), susceptibility to ulcers, diminished sex drive, and premature ejaculation.

Other side effects may also occur when using Khat. (See form below)

Khat is known by a variety of names: qut , chaat , chat , kaht , tchat , qaad , jaad , miraa , Kus es Salahin , Tchaad , Tschut , Tohat , Tohai , Gat , and Qat.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

Return to the Herb List.

For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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