Risks of khat chewing on the cardiovascular, nervous, gastrointestinal, and genitourinary systems: A narrative review

J Family Med Prim Care. 2022 Jan;11(1):32-36. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_1254_21. Epub 2022 Jan 31.


Khat is an evergreen plant and its fresh green leaves and buds are chewed for several hours a day for its psychostimulant response. This study aimed to review the effects of khat chewing on the body. PubMed was searched for literature on the different aspects of khat chewing to summarize its effects on different body systems. The major effects of khat chewing are those on the cardiovascular system including increased blood pressure, increased heart rate, and increased risk of myocardial infarction. It causes insomnia, stress, depression, hallucination, and increased risk of brain stroke. It causes dental caries, bad oral hygiene, periodontitis, increased oral mucosal ulcers, and increased gingival bleeding and recession. Khat chewing causes loss of appetite, gastritis, constipation, and hemorrhoids, and increased risk of hepatotoxicity and liver cirrhosis. Ultimately, it causes weak micturition, decreased sperm motility and count, and low birth-weight offspring in khat chewing mothers. The published articles about khat chewing in journals indexed in the PubMed was reviewed. Inclusion criteria involved each article available with English language and have a reported new effect of khat chewing.

Keywords: Effects of khat chewing on the cardiovascular system; effects of khat chewing on the gastrointestinal tract; effects of khat chewing on the genitourinary system; effects of khat chewing on the nervous system.

Publication types

  • Review