Other names: Qat
These are substances derived from the khat plant (also known as qat; scientific name: Catha edulis) of East Africa (especially Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen). There are only two major natural cathinones – cathinone and the much weaker cathine. They both act as serotonin-noradrenaline-dopamine reuptake inhibitors and releasing agents, similarly to the amfetamines. They are both schedule 9 substances in Australia, as is khat in all forms, and the U.S. similarly prohibits their sale, distribution and possession.
Khat is usually chewed, which releases the natural cathinones over an extended period of time, which should mean its potential for causing an addiction is significantly reduced. Its potential adverse effects include: hypertension, tachycardia, heart attacks, palpitations, dry mouth, indigestion, constipation, white plaques on the tongue, decreased sperm count (in men), decreased ejaculate volume (in men), stunted growth (in children), liver failure, mydriasis and hyperactivity. As with amfetamines there is a come-down period in which people may become depressed, fatigued and lack concentration. As with amfetamines there is also some therapeutic potential for antioxidants to mitigate some of its ill effects. Although this is purely theoretical, there is no clinical evidence, in the form of well-designed clinical trials to support this, just theory. There is also evidence that regular khat users may suffer from neurological deficits (such as cognitive impairments, tremor, migraines and mydriasis) too. Although the evidence for these effects is weak at best.
A khat chewing session can last for 3-7 hours and is more common amongst males, when compared to their female counterparts – 80-90% of East African males use khat on a regular basis whereas just 10-60% of East African females do. Chewing khat releases cathinone within 15-45 minutes; as with amfetamines the more active enantiomer of cathinone is the S-(—)-enantiomer. Its peak levels in the blood occurs roughly 1-2 hours after oral administration of cathinone – it is believed that the effects of cathinone come in faster than those of amfetamine, when both are administered orally. The elimination half-life (t1/2) of cathinone is less than that of amfetamine, at 3 hours. Cathinone, is dose-by-dose about half as potent as amfetamine, whereas cathine is one-tenth to one-seventh (10-14%) as potent as amfetamine.
It is sometimes used for weight loss.
- ↑ Hoffman, R; Al'Absi, M (December 2010). "Khat use and neurobehavioral functions: suggestions for future studies.". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 132 (3): 554–63. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.05.033. PMC 2976806. PMID 20553832.
- ↑ Aleryani, SL; Aleryani, RA; Al-Akwa, AA (September 2011). "Khat a drug of abuse: roles of free radicals and antioxidants.". Drug Testing and Analysis 3 (9): 548–51. doi:10.1002/dta.224. PMID 21132679.
- ↑ Al-Motarreb, A; Al-Habori, M; Broadley, KJ (December 2010). "Khat chewing, cardiovascular diseases and other internal medical problems: the current situation and directions for future research.". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 132 (3): 540–8. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.07.001. PMID 20621179.
- ↑ Al Suwaidi, J; Ali, WM; Aleryani, SL (April 2013). "Cardiovascular complications of Khat.". Clinica Chimica Acta; International Journal of Clinical Chemistry 419: 11–4. doi:10.1016/j.cca.2013.01.007. PMID 23370046.
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Khatib, M; Jarrar, Z; Bizrah, M; Checinski, K (2013). "Khat: social habit or cultural burden? A survey and review.". Journal of Ethnicity in Substance Abuse 12 (2): 140–53. doi:10.1080/15332640.2013.788908. PMID 23768431.
- ↑ Brayfield, A, ed. (10 January 2014). "Catha". Martindale: The Complete Drug Reference. London, UK: Pharmaceutical Press. Retrieved 12 June 2014.