Review Articles

Khat (Catha edulis): The herb with officio-legal, socio-cultural and economic uncertainty

Sikiru Lamina
South African Journal of Science | Vol 106, No 3/4 | a155 | DOI: | © 2010 Sikiru Lamina | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 08 March 2010 | Published: 23 April 2010

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Sikiru Lamina, Biomedical Technology Department, School of Health Technology, Federal University of Technology, Owerri, Nigeria

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Khat (Catha edulis) is a plant of uncertain and highly controversial status grown in the countries around the Red Sea and on the eastern coast of Africa. The chewing of khat leaves has a deep-rooted religious and socio-cultural tradition. Khat is considered a cash crop and its cultivation is a source of economic value to the societies and nations involved. There have, however, been reports of negative economic effects on the individuals engaging in the habit of khat chewing.

The increasing use of khat worldwide, along with the negative international attention that this has garnered, has led to the present status of uncertainty of the once indigenous practice of khat chewing. Scientists, mostly western Europeans, have tended to focus on problems related to khat with little attention to the positive role of khat chewing in society and the world at large. In addition, no report has directly associated khat with any organised crime, violence or antisocial activity, particularly in countries where khat is legalised.

This paper reviewed the various areas of uncertainty and controversy relating to khat. Based on the findings of the review, further qualitative and quantitative research is required and a positive international approach to khat use at economic, religious and socio-cultural levels is advocated.


Catha edulis; economic; khat; legality; religion; socio-cultural


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