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Khat vs Kratom: Understanding the Differences

The use of khat and kratom has been a subject of interest and debate in recent years. Khat, a flowering plant native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, has been known traditionally for causing a certain degree of alertness. Kratom, on the other hand, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia and is known for the different moods it induces. Both substances contain active ingredients that can affect the body and mind in various ways.

Khat and kratom contain differing alkaloids with different effects, which are related to psychoactive effects. These substances have been found to interact with receptors in the brain, influencing different moods depending on the dose and the individual.

Khat is illegal in many countries in the world and is a Schedule 1 drug in the United States. Kratom, on the other hand, is illegal in several countries but legal on a Federal level in the United States. Several US states, counties, and cities have banned kratom. Many states have favored adopting the Kratom Consumer Protection Act, which proposed regulation (age restriction, manufacturing and labeling guidelines, etc.) in favor of an outright ban.

image of khat


Khat, scientifically known as Catha edulis, is a plant native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The leaves of the khat plant contain cathinone, a psychoactive alkaloid. Chewing khat leaves has been linked with producing varied effects among users. However, prolonged and excessive use of khat has been associated with a variety of negative outcomes.


Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia. Its leaves contain active alkaloids, mitragynine, and 7-hydroxymitragynine. Kratom is often consumed as a tea or in powder form, and some users report a range of experiences. However, the discussion about kratom is ongoing regarding potential risks and impacts, particularly in relation to its potential for misuse.

Active Ingredients and Effects

When comparing khat and kratom, it is important to consider their active ingredients and the effects they produce. Both khat and kratom contain psychoactive substances that can influence the body and mind.

Active Ingredients

Khat contains cathinone, cathine, and norephedrine as its active alkaloids.Kratom contains mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine as its active ingredients.

Psychoactive Effects


The active alkaloids in khat have an influence on the central nervous system. Users may experience a different perceptual state, increased energy sensation, and changes in appetite. Prolonged use of khat can influence sleep, mood, and cognitive function.


Kratom’s active ingredients have both stimulant and psychoactive properties. Depending on the dosage, kratom can produce different effects ranging from heightened awareness to a mild change in perception. However, long-term and excessive use of kratom may lead to habitual use, withdrawal symptoms, and potential side effects.

image of usage and abuse

Usage and Abuse

Historical Use


Historically, khat has been used since the 13th century for its stimulant properties in parts of Africa and the Middle East.


Kratom, or Mitragyna speciosa, is a tree indigenous to Southeast Asia. The leaves of the kratom tree contain active alkaloids, including mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine. Kratom has a long history in Southeast Asian countries like Thailand and Malaysia.

Current Use


Khat is predominantly used in East Africa, Yemen, and other parts of the Arabian Peninsula. In these regions, chewing fresh khat leaves is a common social activity, particularly among adults. However, in recent years, khat use has spread to other areas for recreational use, including North America and other countries. As a result of this, many countries have banned Khat and/or its ingredients as a narcotic.

image of current use of khat and kratom


Kratom use has gained popularity in North America, Europe, and other parts of the world in recent years. It is commonly consumed as a tea or in a powdered form, which can be mixed with other beverages or taken in capsules.

Abuse Potential


Khat contains psychoactive substances that can lead to abuse and dependence. The active ingredients in khat, particularly cathinone, have a similar chemical structure to amphetamines. Prolonged and excessive use of khat can cause various adverse effects.


Kratom also has the potential for abuse and dependence. Its active alkaloids, especially mitragynine, interact with receptors in the brain, leading to certain observable effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has raised concerns about the safety and potential abuse of kratom, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has listed it as a drug of concern.

image of regulation and legal status

Regulation and Legal Status

Khat and kratom are two psychoactive substances that have gained attention for their potential effects and implications. Both substances have active ingredients that can produce psychoactive effects. However, their legal status and regulation vary across different regions.

Regulation of Khat

In 1980 the World Health Organization banned kratom. Many countries, including the United States and across the world, have banned or restricted the sale and consumption of Khat. These regulations are mainly due to concerns about its use.

Regulation of Kratom

The legal status of kratom varies greatly across different countries. Although kratom remains unregulated on a federal level, six US states have banned kratom, as well as several counties and cities in various states.

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