What is khat?

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Khat is a flowering shrub that can be found in parts of East Africa and southern parts of the Arabian Peninsula.  In many parts of the world, this plant is considered an illegal substance because of its cathinone and cathine content.  These substances are known psychoactive ingredients and may cause stimulation of the brain particularly on the part where muscular movements and pleasure are regulated. These substances found in khat leaves are said to behave like amphetamine substances wherein the pleasure center of the brain is stimulated and therefore inducing feelings of high self-esteem and euphoria.  Khat intoxication is also associated with an increased level of alertness and a lower threshold for arousal.  The problem with khat is that its brain-stimulating effects can last for about 24 hours.  After which, people who have consumed khat leaves are known to undergo a dip in their mood and feelings.  People often feel depressed and have difficulty sleeping several hours after they have intoxicated themselves with khat leaves.

The cathinone and cathine content of khat leaves are known mild stimulants but their recreational use or consumption is still illegal or very much regulated in many countries around the world. These substances are said be highly addictive as it targets the pleasure center of the brain.  If overused and abused, too much khat leaves may be chewed and consumed resulting to an over-stimulation of the nervous system.  When this happens, people may get to be too alert and too joyful while the cathinone and cathine will alter the brain’s functions and the body’s hormones.  Once the positive effect subsides, the opposite may also result in the form of loneliness, lethargy, and depression.

Aside from its mildly addictive properties, khat leaves or its main components cathinone and cathine are also known to cause some medical complications like mouth cancers, liver disease, heart disease, and sleep disorder s among many other conditions.  With these concerns, many countries strictly regulate the use, sale, and consumption of this plant in its natural leaves form or in drug form.

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