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In article <1fr83qINN84g@tamsun.tamu.edu> ron@cs.tamu.edu (Ron J Theriault) writes:
>  Now that US troops are about to "become involved" in yet another
>country with a foreign culture (Somalia),  I'd like to find out
>about the common intoxicant of that culture, Khat (spelling?),
>uniformly referred to in the media as "the narcotic leaf Khat".
>(Do all these reporters get the same crib sheet or something?)
>Anyway, does anyone know anything about it?
>-- 
>----------- 10-4 --------------

first, some comments, facts will follow...

  I watched 2 shows today (Sunday, 12/6) which contained references to
khat.  The two shows were "Meet the Press" and "Face the Nation".
I'm now having trouble remembering which was which, so I won't try
to distinguish between the two.  On one, the host was interviewing
Tom Brokaw live from Somalia.  Near the end of the interview, the
host asked something like "what effect will the drug khat have on
events?".  Brokaw played it down somewhat, stating that nearly
everyone in Somalia used it, to varying degrees.  He did state however 
that "the technicals nearly always have a mouthful of leaves" [for 
those who don't know, the technicals are mostly young men who are 
basically the hired thugs of the 5 warlords in Somalia, who roam the 
streets armed].  He also stated that the warlords used khat to recruit 
new technicals and keep the current ones happy.  Brokaw concluded that 
the effect was unknown.
  On the second show, a reporter (Dave Pizzey, I think) was giving a
live report from Somalia.  He was of the opinion that khat made things
a bit more volatile.  He said that by about 4 pm, after chewing khat
for most of the day, the technicals were so whipped up that they were 
hard to control.

  I'm not sure what to think about the drug.  On the one hand, it
seems like coffee/tea/coke (insert caffeine containing beverage of
choice) to the people there.  Yet its effects seem more unpredictable,
especially considering the varying dosages.  While it's clear that
there is a lot of propaganda bullshit floating around about the drug
(like the hard copy story saying that it made crack look like candy!),
more discussion and information seems necessary.  I'm witholding my
opinions on the matter until I can get such information.

  Anyway, I promised some facts...

From p. 47 of "The Hallucinogens", by A. Hoffer and H. Osmond, 1967,
Academic Press.  [my additions in square brackets]

KHAT (KAT)

   Because khat contains ephedrinelike compounds it seems best included 
in this section [a setion on Amphetamines].  Lewin (1931) gave a brief
account of khat and how it was used.  Apparently it was taken socially
to produce excitation, banish sleep, and promote communication.  It was
used as a stimulant to dispel feelings of hunger and fatigue.
   The natives chewed young buds and fresh leaves of catha edulis
(_Celastrus edulis_).  This is a large shrub which can grow to tree
size.  It originated in Ethiopia and spread until its use covered Kenya,
Nyasaland [now Malawi], Uganda, Tanganyika [now Tanzania], Arabia, the 
Congo, Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe and Zambia], and South Africa.  The khat 
trees are grown interspersed between coffee trees.
   Khat was used in Yemen even before coffee and it was immensely
popular.  Lewin described khat markets to which khat was brought in
bundles of branches from the mountains.
   Khat contains cathine (d-norisoephedrine), cathidine, and cathinine.
Cathine is also one of the alkaloids found in _Ephedra vulgaris_.  It is
fortunate, perhaps, that khat is also very rich in ascorbic acid which
is an excellent antidote to amphetamine-type compounds.
   In animals, khat produces excitation and increased motor activity. In
humans, it is a stimulant producing a feeling of exaltation, a feeling of
being liberated from space and time.  It may produce extreme loquacity,
inane laughing, and eventually semicoma.  It may also be an euphorient
and used chronically can lead to a form of delirium tremens.  Galkin
and Mironychev (1964) reported that up to 80% of the adult population
of Yemen use khat.  Upon first chewing khat, the initial effects were
unpleasant and included dizziness, lassitude, tachycardia, and sometimes
epigastric pain.  Gradually more pleasant feelings replaced these
inaugural symptoms.  The subjects had feelings of bliss, clarity of
thought, and became euphoric and overly energetic.  Sometimes khat
produced depression, sleepiness, and then deep sleep.  The chronic user
tended to be euphoric continually.  In rare cases the subjects became
aggressive and overexcited.  Galkin and his colleague observed 51
subjects who had taken khat.  Of these, 27 became excited, 18 became
somnolent, and 6 remained unchanged.  The respiratory rate and pulse
rate were accelerated and the blood pressure tended to rise.  The
subjects also had a decrease in the functional capacity of the
cardiovascular system.

Lewin, L. (1931) "Phantastica, Narcotic and Stimulating Drugs."
  (Translation of 1924, German edition.)  Routledge and Kegan Paul,
  London
Galkin, V. A., and Mironychev, A. V. (1964). _Federation Proc._, 23:
  Suppl., T741

        -bryan
         butler@cluster.gps.caltech.edu
      or butler_b@caltech.edu

"Instead of all of this energy and effort directed at the war
to end drugs, how about a little attention to drugs which will
end war?"	Albert Hofmann

=============================================================================

AUTHOR   Weir, Shelagh.
TITLE Qat in Yemen : consumption and social change

London : Published for the Trustees of the British Museum by British Museum
Publications, c1985. 

CALL NO.   HV 5822 Q3 W34x 1985
	   
=============================================================================

Date: Fri, 21 Jan 1994 21:12:00 +0500
From: ANDY HILL 
Subject: Re: Videodrugs?
Sender: Drug Abuse Education Information and Research 
Message-id: <01H81CCK2YVQ934WTH@YMIR.Claremont.Edu>

Don't know to much about SMART DRUGS or VIDEODRUGS.  However, the following
is from a NYS Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services Newsletter.

WHAT IS KHAT?
        Khat(pronounced "cot") is a natural stimulant from the Catha Edulis
plant, found in the flowering evergreen tree or large shrub which grows
in East Africa and Southern Arabia.  It reaches heights from 10 feet to 20
feet and its scrawny leaves resemble withered basil.

        Fresh Khat leaves are crimson-brown and glossy but become yellow-
green and leathery as they age.  They also emit a strong smell.  The most
favored part of the leaves are the young shoots near the top of the plant.
However, leaves and stems at the middle and lower sections are also used.

        Khat leaves contain psychoactive ingrediants known as cathinone,
which is structurally and chemically similar to d-amphetamine, and
cathine, a milder form of cathinone.  Fresh leaves contain both ingrediants
; those left unrefrigerated beyond 48 hours would contain only cathine,
which explains users' preference for fresh leaves.  Other names by which Khat
is known include: Qat, Kat, Chat, Kus-es-Salahin, Mirra, Tohai, Tschat,
Catha, Quat, Abyssinian Tea, African Tea, and African Salad.

EFFECTS OF KHAT AND MODE OF INGESTION

        Fresh Khat leaves, which are typically chewed like tobacco, produce
a mild cocaine- or amphetamine-like euphoria that is much less potent than
either substance with no reports of a rush sensation or paranoia indicated.
By filling the mouth to capacity with fresh leaves the userr then chews
intermittenly to release the active components.  Chewing Khat leaves
produces a strong aroma and generates intense thirst.  Casual users claim
Khat lifts spirits, sharpens thinking, and, when its effects wear off,
generates mild lapses of depression similar to those observed among
cocaine userrs.
        Since there appears to be an absence of physical tolerance,
due in part to limitations in how much can be ingested by chewing, there are
no reports of physical symptons accompanying withdrawal.
        Advocates of Khat use claim that it eases symptoms of diabetes,
asthma, and stomach/intestinal tract disorders, Opponents claim that Khat
damages health, suppresses appetite, and prevents sleep.

TRADITIONAL USERS OF KHAT

        Khat has been used since antiquity as a recreational and religious
drug by natives of Eastern Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and throughout
the Middle East.  In the US, Khat use is most popular among immigrants
from Yemen and the East African nations of Somalia and Ethiopia.
        Traditionally, in those societies that have not evolved cultural
or support systems to integrate Khat use into the social fabric, the
decreased productivity and diversion of income attributed to its use in
a socio-historical context, use is an accepted practice, occuring in
environments that give positive reinforcement and meaning to the experience.

PACKAGING AND AVAILABILITY

        Khat is usually packaged in plastic bags or wrapped in banana
leaves to retain its moistness and freshness.  It is often sprinkled
with water during transport to keep the leaves moist.  Khat also may be
sold as dried or crushed leaves or in powdered form.
        Khat iis becoming increasingly available in the US, especially in
cities like NY, DC, LA, Boston, Dallas, and Detroit.  It is commonly sold
in resteraunts, bars, grocery stores, and smoke shops that cater to East
Africans and Yemins--after its importation from Kenya, Egypt, and Arabia.
Because Khat in leaf form starts to lose its potency after 48 hours, it is
generally shipped to the US on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays for weekend
use.

CURRENT LEGAL STATUS

        Until very recently, Khat was classified as a schedule IV substance
by the DEA.  Cathinone, an ingrediant present only in fresh-picked leaves,
(within 48 hours of harvest) has now been classified as a schedule I narcotic,
the most restrictive category used by the DEA.  Cathine, an ingrediant that
remains in Khat after 48 hours, is still classified as a schedule IV substance
(one that has low potentail for abuse and has a current accepted usage in
treatment).  Law enforcement efforts directed against Khat in the US have been
minimal thus far.
        There is some doubt as to whether khat will become a popular street
drug in this country like crack and other drugs.  However, illegal labs
have been discoverred using a synthetic form or Khat's most active ingrediant
(cathinione) which is called "Methcathinone", known on the street as "Cat".

STREET OBSERVATIONS
        From the perspective of street users, Khat is not considerd to be a
"street drug" with a desirability comparable to heroin, cocaine, crack,
marijuana, or pills.
        Media attention given to Khat is probably bringing about an interest
in its use, and street adddicts have been observed by the OASAS Street
Studies Unit seeking to purchase Khat.  Howeverr, street addicts and other
non-African/Arab seekers of khat are being turned away by sellers.  Discreet
inquiries by field staff of African/Arab sellers of Khat indicate they are
not selling it as a "drug" and therefore do not seek outsiders who would
bring additional attention to them.
        Researchers have not observed street sales of Khat.  However, a
member of the Street Studies Unit was told by an Arab Teenaager, standing
in close proximity to an Arab resteraunt, that he was waiting to buy a
bundle of Khat for $28 when the shipment arrived "after five."  Street
researchers have been informed that Khat is being sold for $300-$400 a kilo,
with a bundle of leaves selling for $28-$50.
        From the standpoint of their cultural norms, the African/Arab sellers
and users observed by the OASAS Street Studies Unit do not consider Khat to
be illegal and often oppenly advertise its availability on signs in
resteraunts and grocery stores much as they would any other food product.

TREATMENT FOR KHAT DEPENDENCE.

        Khat is a sympathomimetic and its pharmacological effects are believed
to parallel those of amphetimine.  Psychiatric manifestations induced by Khat
are similar to the effects of other known stimulants.
        Giannini Miller, and Turner (1992) described a recent, successful
attempt to treat 2 cases of Khat dependency using prrotocols similar to those
developed for cocaine.  Both patients presented for treatment with psychriatic
manifestations and were screened for stimulant and depressant drug addiction
since substances other than Khat were involved in each case.  Specific
procedures for treatment entailed an inpatient detox phase of 1-2 weeks
followed by long-term attendance at outpatient recovery programs.  Succesful
inpatient detox was facilitated with the use of bromocriptine (ranging in
dose from 0.625 mg. gid in one case to 1.25 mg. gid in the second case, and
tapered off over a period of 5-12 days.)  Continued craving for stimulants by
one patient resulted in the use of desipramine (200 mg. a day) for up to 6
months post-detox with dose levels gradually tapered downward.
        Previous attempts to treat Khat-induced psychosis have employed
thioridazine (300 mg. a day) foor 1 week without reccurrence symptoms.


The Above "STREET ADVISORY" was published 2/93 by OASAS

I have noticed an increase in use of Khat in the upstate NY area
This is probably due to the return of the drug from Somalia. Military
personal that have returned to the Fort Drum and Surrounding areas were
introduced to Khat and seek to continue the use of it.

Andy Hill
PRIDE Project Coordinator
SUNY Delhi
HILLAC@SNYDELVA.bitnet

=============================================================================

In article  marsthom@qed.cts.com (Mark Thompson) writes:
>[Various items about the Qat leaf (aka "Khat") being illegal...]

>This is pretty strange, since you can buy the purified active alkaloid 
>that's present in Khat, Ephedrine, over the counter in most truck stops
>and gas station mini markets along the interstate highways in the 
>Southwestern US, as well as mail order ephedrine tablets through
>ads in nationally published magazines.

Actually, the main active component of khat is cathinone (S-alpha-
aminopropiophenone), which looks like amphetamine with a carbonyl
group replacing a methylene group on the side chain.  Khat also
contains cahine and norephedrine but these are less potent.  See,
for example, Geisshusler & Brenneisen's "The content of psychoactive
phenylpropyl- and phenylpentenyl- khatamines in Catha edulis
Forsk of different origin," _J. Ethnopharm. 1987, 19: 269-277.

>I've also heard that Khat leaves become inactive when dried. This was 
>mentioned in an article I read several years ago discussing the use of 
>Khat in Yemen - it was mentioned in passing that Khat had no value as
>an item of export because it had to be chewed fresh.

This is true.  It would also seem to be evidence against the idea
that ephedrine, a fairly stable molecule, is the active component in khat.