Catha Edulis: In the news

Last modified: Thursday, 25. December 2008 - 9:45 am

The social aspect of khat chewing is as important, if not more important, than the physical high it creates. In Yemen, for example, khat sessions are a major part of life; participants regard the time spent chewing as productive time, such as when business deals are arranged, and communication is enhanced.

In Yemen, work days end between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m., at which time groups of 10-50 people convene in a home to dine and chew. In almost every house there is a mafraj, the most pleasant room in the house; it is in this room that khat sessions are held. No food is served with khat; only water is available to help wash the leaves’ juices into the system. Between 3.5 and 7 oz (100 and 200 g) of leaves are chewed over three or four hours.

Stimulation can occur within the first 15 minutes of chewing, although the peak “high” is reached in the third hour. Effects from the chewing can remain in the system up to 24 hours. Following a high, a slight depression sets in and remains for a few hours. Tea with milk is often served at the end of a khat session.

Fewer women than men chew khat, and the sexes hold khat sessions separately. Reports indicate that women’s khat sessions, with dancing and music, are often more lively than men’s.

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