Among communities from the areas where the plant is native, khat chewing has a history as a social custom dating back thousands of years analogous to the use of coca leaves in South America and betel nut in Asia.It is a controlled substance in some countries, such as Canada, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States, while its production, sale, and consumption are legal in other nations, including Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen.
The effects of oral administration of cathinone occur more rapidly than the effects of amphetamine pills; roughly 15 minutes as compared to 30 minutes in amphetamine.
Khat can induce manic behaviours and hyperactivity, similar in effects to those produced by amphetamine. Dilated pupils (mydriasis) are prominent during khat consumption, reflecting the sympathomimetic effects of the drug, which are also reflected in increased heart rate and blood pressure.
Long-term use can precipitate permanent tooth darkening (of a greenish tinge), susceptibility to ulcers, and diminished sex drive.
It is unclear if the consumption of khat directly affects the mental health of the user or not.
It has evergreen leaves, which are 5–10 cm (2–4 in) long and 1–4 cm (0.39–1.6 in) broad.