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Tuesday, 26 August 2008 16:43

QAT (khat)

The fresh leaves of Catha Edulis are chewed in Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia. These leaves contain cathine or d-nor-pseudoephedrine, a light stimulant which clears the mind, produces a state of euphoria, and eliminates hunger.

The use of qat has become an important daily ritual especially in the two Yemens. The first stage begins around twenty minutes after chewing has commenced: an increased ability to concentrate and an increased ability to listen to others lead to conversation. The conversation gradually comes to a halt and a peaceful, harmonious tranquillity descends, marking the onset of the second stage. The user sings or listens to music and is withdrawn, overwhelmed by a feeling of power and insight.

A third, depressive stage gradually takes over. Before the participants go home, this depressive mood is counteracted by drinking coffee together. After the return to reality, the feeling of insecurity which everyone present feels is removed by the solidarity of the group and the stimulating effect of coffee. (Note 78, 79)

Qat has also found its way to Western Europe, particukarly through the influx of refugees from Somalia, though its use is confined to this group.


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