Effects of Catha edulis on kidney and liver function among chewing adults in Meru County, Kenya

  • C.M. Mworia
  • W Kinge
  • M Kahato
  • J Mwamisi


Background: Catha edulis chewing is common in Kenya and is a daily activity in Meru. According to the National Authority for the Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) 2012 drug-use study, there are 1.6 million Catha edulis users in Kenya. The habit of khat chewing is widespread with a deep-rooted socio-cultural tradition in Kenya and as such poses a public health problem. Some studies have been done to investigate the effects of Khat on kidney and liver in animals. However, only a few of these studies have been conducted in human.

Objective: To investigate the possible effects of Catha edulis on the levels of various biochemical parameters to assess kidney and liver function.

Design: Cross sectional study.

Setting: Meru County, Kenya.

Subjects: Three hundred and ninety one (198 C. edulis chewers and 193 C. edulis non-chewers)were enrolled in the study.

Results: Total bilirubin, direct bilirubin and alkaline phosphatase activity was significantly increased in the serum of Catha edulis consumers than non-consumers. Total protein and creatinine concentration were significantly decreased in the serum of Catha edulis consumers as compared to non-consumers.

Conclusion: Catha edulis chewing is not associated with electrolyte imbalance hence no predisposing effect to renal disorders. Chewing C. edulis might not be responsible for kidney damage but might be responsible for liver damage.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 0012-835X