Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Abyssinian Tea, Arabian-Tea, Catha edulis, Celastrus edulis, Chaat, Gat, Kat, Kathine, Kus es Salahin, Miraa, Qat, Qut, Tchaad, Thé Abyssin, Thé Arabe, Thé Somalien, Tohai, Tohat, Tschut.


Khat is a plant. The leaf and stem are used as a recreational drug and as medicine.

As a recreational drug, the leaves and stem are chewed by people in East Africa and the Arabian countries to elevate mood (as a euphoriant).

As a medicine, khat leaf is used for depression, fatigue, obesity, stomach ulcers, and male infertility. It is also used to lower the need for food and sleep, decrease sexual desires, and increase aggression.

The World Health Organization (WHO) lists khat as a drug that creates “dependence” in people, meaning it produces a continuing desire to keep using it. In Somalia, civilian and military use of khat has been blamed for fueling civil war, draining the nation's economy, and undermining international relief efforts.

How does it work?

Khat contains stimulants similar to amphetamines.


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Uses & Effectiveness

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Depression.
  • Fatigue.
  • Obesity.
  • Stomach ulcers.
  • Elevating mood.
  • Male infertility.
  • Reducing the need for food and sleep.
  • Decreasing sexual desire.
  • Increasing aggression.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of khat for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Khat is POSSIBLY UNSAFE for most people when taken by mouth. Although it isn't associated with physical addiction, it can cause psychological dependence.

Khat can cause many side effects including mood changes, increased alertness, excessive talkativeness, hyperactivity, excitement, aggressiveness, anxiety, elevated blood pressure, manic behavior, paranoia, and psychoses. Trouble sleeping (insomnia), loss of energy (malaise), and lack of concentration usually follow.

Other effects include rapid heart rate, heart palpitations, increased blood pressure, faster breathing rates, increased body temperature, sweating, eye changes, mouth ulcers, inflammation of the esophagus and stomach, gum disease, jaw problems (TMJ), and constipation.

Regular use in young people is linked to high blood pressure.

Severe side effects include migraine, bleeding in the brain, heart attack, lung problems, liver damage, changes in sex drive, and inability to get an erection (impotence).

Chewing khat leaves has led to infections that can cause problems such as pain below the ribs, changes in white blood cells, and an enlarged liver.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: It is POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take khat by mouth if you are pregnant. Khat may lower birth weight. It is also POSSIBLY UNSAFE to take khat by mouth if you are breast-feeding. Some of the active chemicals it contains can pass into breast-milk.

Diabetes: Using khat seems to lower appetite, causing people to skip meals. When eating becomes less routine, people with diabetes may stop following their recommended diet. This could lead to higher blood sugar levels.

High blood pressure: Khat might increase blood pressure. This might be especially unsafe in people who already have high blood pressure. Avoid use.


AmpicillinInteraction Rating: Major Do not take this combination.

Khat might reduce how much ampicillin the body absorbs. This might decrease how well ampicillin works. Separate dose times by at least 2 hours.

Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Khat might increase blood pressure. By increasing blood pressure, khat might decrease the effectiveness of medications for high blood pressure.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and many others.

Stimulant drugsInteraction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Stimulant drugs speed up the nervous system. By speeding up the nervous system, stimulant medications can make you feel jittery and speed up your heartbeat. Khat might also speed up the nervous system. Taking khat with stimulant drugs might cause serious problems including increased heart rate and high blood pressure. Avoid taking stimulant drugs along with khat.

Some stimulant drugs include diethylpropion (Tenuate), epinephrine, phentermine (Ionamin), pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), and many others.


The appropriate dose of khat depends on several factors such as the user's age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for khat. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

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Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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