Khat (Catha edulis Forsk.) is used in East Africa and Middle East as a mild stimulant and traditional remedy. At the same time, long-term use of khat may have adverse health effects. The stimulant action of the plant is related to the presence of amphetamine-like alkaloids, primarily cathinone. In addition, the khat leaves are rich in phytochemicals with health-promoting potential, such as polyphenols and ascorbic acid. In this work, the content of phenolic compounds and antioxidant activity of hydrophilic and lipophilic fractions were investigated in fresh leaves and stems from two distinct genetic forms of khat (“red” and “green”). The leaves were divided into three age groups in accordance with their proximity to the shoot tip. The leaves of khat showed very high hydrophilic antioxidant capacity, comparable to that of the tea leaves. No significant difference was found in this parameter between the leaves of red and green khat, as well as between the three leaf age groups studied. The samples also demonstrated considerable, but not outstanding lipophilic antioxidant capacity. It was suggested that returning to the old practice of consuming khat as infusion of dried leaves (‘Abyssinian tea’) would fully realize its health-promoting antioxidant potential and minimize the adverse effects.
Vinokur et al., Yakov
"Hydrophilic and Lipophilic Antioxidant Capacity and Content of Phenolic Compounds in Fresh Khat Leaves (Catha edulis Forsk.),"
Ethnobotanical Leaflets: Vol. 2008
, Article 73.
Available at: http://opensiuc.lib.siu.edu/ebl/vol2008/iss1/73