Catha edulis (generic name)
treats Cognitive function
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SafetyDISCLAIMER: Many complementary techniques are practiced by healthcare professionals with formal training, in accordance with the standards of national organizations. However, this is not universally the case, and adverse effects are possible. Due to limited research, in some cases only limited safety information is available.
Avoid in individuals with a known allergy or hypersensitivity to Cathus edulis or members of the Celastraceae family.
Side Effects and Warnings
Fresh khat leaves contain cathinone - a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act; however, the leaves typically begin to deteriorate after 48 hours, causing the chemical composition of the plant to break down. Once this occurs, the leaves contain cathine, a Schedule IV drug, which is similar in structure to amphetamine.
The stimulatory effect associated with khat has been documented with delusions, paranoia, hypomania, mood swings, depression, irritability, insomnia, and increased alertness. There have also been reports of persistent hypnagogic hallucinations caused by khat use.
Khat may cause nervousness, nightmares, aggressiveness, excitement, talkativeness, manic behavior, and hyperactivity. Khat chewing has dependency potential and may lead to dependence and addiction. Avoid using in patients with psychotic personalities. Use cautiously in patients with motor tics and Tourette's syndrome. Theoretically, khat may exacerbate motor tics and Tourette's syndrome. Khat is currently illegal in the United States.
Although not well studied in humans, khat may increase respiratory rates, increase systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate, or cause acute myocardial infarction (heart attack). Other reported side effects include gastritis (stomach inflammation), malnutrition, hemorrhoidal disease, constipation, and oral carcinoma. Avoid holding khat in the cheek for extended periods of time to avoid oral infection.
Use cautiously in patients with hypertension (high blood pressure), tachycardia (fast heart rates), or cardiovascular disease because khat may increase blood pressure and heart rate. Khat should also be used cautiously in patients taking antihypertensives (blood pressuring lowering agents). Theoretically, khat may antagonize the effects of these drugs.
Fasciola hepatica infection, a parasite infection, has been reported after the chewing of khat leaves. Loss of appetite and anorexia has also been noted.
Methcathinone, a methyl derivative of cathinone, has been reported to cause mydriasis (dilation of the pupil).
Use cautiously in patients taking stimulant drugs or herbs. Increased stimulant effects may occur. Avoid driving after khat use; there are reports of impaired driving and psychophysical function. Avoid using in patients with glaucoma.
Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Khat is not recommended for use in pregnant or breastfeeding women due to possible reductions in birth weight, birth defects and breastfeeding inhibition.