Khat is a drought-tolerant evergreen shrub that is native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Catha Edulis Khat
Photo: Catha Edulis (Khat) - Wikimedia Commons

The plant, Catha edulis, contains two alkaloids, cathinone and cathine, which act as stimulants.

Users simply chew the green khat leaves, keeping a ball of partially chewed leaves against the inside of their cheek (like chewing tobacco). Some khat users also smoke the drug, make it into tea or sprinkle it on food. Once a common landscape plant in California, khat is now a controlled substance, in Canada, the US and most of Europe. Use of khat has been a tradition for centuries throughout Somalia, Yemen and Ethiopia, where khat cafes, mafrishes, are often found. Khat leaves are often chewed by students before exams, in the morning before work or at social gatherings. Though khat is generally described as a mild stimulant, there is consistent evidence of overuse and addiction.

What is Khat?