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Pharmacol Ther. 1990;48(3):397-416.

Pharmacological properties of the stimulant khat.

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D├ępartement de Pharmacologie, Centre M├ędical Universitaire, Geneva, Switzerland.


The chewing of the stimulant leaf khat is a habit that is widespread in certain countries of East Africa and the Arabian peninsula. During the last decade, important progress has been made in understanding the pharmacological basis for the effects of khat. It is now known that the CNS action of this drug is due to the presence of the alkaloid cathinone, and the results of various in vitro and in vivo experiments indicate that this substance must be considered a natural amphetamine. It is the purpose of the present review to describe briefly the khat habit and to summarize the pharmacology of khat and of its active constituents.

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