Khat consists of parts of a shrubby plant and is sold in specialist health food shops. On the plus side: it can make you feel calm and chatty. The down side? It might give you insomnia, depression, stained teeth and mouth cancer. Find out more...
What is it?
Khat consists of the leaves and shoots of a shrubby plant that has natural speed-like compounds in it. It has been chewed for centuries in some African and Middle Eastern countries.
Khat is sold in twig-like bunches in some greengrocers and specialist health food shops. The leaves have a withered appearance and lose a lot of their potency a few days after being picked.
A normal chewing session lasts about 6 hours over one or two bundles. Most people who use chew once or twice a week.
How does it make you feel?
It makes you feel more awake and alert. You have no appetite and you'll get really chatty. Some people get a feeling of calm that grows over a few hours.
Chewing khat makes you produce lots of saliva which you have to spit out constantly.
What are the health effects?
If you use khat more than once or twice a week, you can end up with insomnia, anxiety, depression and irritability. Some people can get violent and aggressive as well.
Khat discolours your teeth, and using it on a long-term basis will increase your chances of mouth cancer.
On Tuesday 24 June 2014 khat became a controlled class C drug in the UK. This means that it is illegal to have khat for yourself and to sell or give away khat to someone else. If the Police catch you with khat, they’ll always take some action. This could be a police warning, a £60 penalty notice, or arrest and possible conviction. Having khat for your own use (called possession) could result in being arrested and facing up to two years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Selling khat or giving khat away for free, even to friends, (called supplying) could result in up to 14 years in jail and/or an unlimited fine.