Public Health Impact and Mental Illness

There is a growing international interest in the popularity of Khat, a naturally recurring stimulant plant, which contains Cathinone. Cathinone can produce stimulant effects often likened to Amphetamine but quite distinct from Amphetamine. The chewing of Khat is a traditional habit in some African and Arab countries but is becoming popular amongst immigrant communities living in North America, Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

There is a constant debate about the toxic effects of Khat, the increasing burden on the health, social and prison services and whether it should be an illegal substance or not. A Systematic Review published by Warfa et al in Social Science and Medicine highlights some of the dilemmas, moral panic and lack of research evidence to support a legal ban. Yet Khat is illegal in many countries, although not in the UK.

A research programme on Khat use is continuing at the Centre for Psychiatry, Barts & The London School of Medicine & Dentistry and as part of the extensive work programme of Careif.

Further information available from
Professor Kamaldeep Bhui
Co- founder and vice chair on [email protected]