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Khat (Molecule of the Month for January 2006)

cathinone and cathine

Khat (Catha edulis, family Celastraceae), pronounced "cot" and also known as qat, gat, tschat, and miraa, is a flowering plant native to tropical East Africa. Khat has been grown for use as a drug for centuries in parts of Africa mainly Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Its fresh leaves and tops are chewed in order to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation. Khat is currently legal in the UK although it is banned in the United States, Canada and several European countries.

The stimulant effect of the plant was originally attributed to cathine, a phenethylamine-type substance isolated from the plant. In 1975 Cathinone (?-ketoamphetamine) a monoamine alkaloid was found in the shrub and is probably the main contributor to the stimulant effect. Cathinone is closely related to cathine, ephedrine, and other phenethylamines. Cathinone is not very stable and breaks down to produce cathine and norephedrine.

In the UK Cathine and Cathinone are Class C drugs. The plant Catha edulis is uncontrolled. Similar levels of control exist throughout most other European countries. Cathine is in Schedule V and cathinone is in Schedule I of the U.S. Controlled Substance Act.

Formal Chemical Name (IUPAC)



Picture of Khat 3D model

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Khat structure
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Picture of Khat

Update by Karl Harrison
(Molecule of the Month for January 2006 )

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