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Effects of khat (<i>Catha edulis</i>) consumption on reproductive functions: a review

J.M. Mwenda
M.M. Arimi
M.C. Kyama
D.K. Langat


Objectives: To review research findings on the effects of khat (Catha edulis) chewing on reproductive functions.

Data sources: Retrieval and critical review of relevant articles and abstracts cited in international and local journals, literature searches on Medline and Medchem from 1961 to 2002.

Data synthesis: Analysis of published data and limited interviews of regular khat users revealed that khat chewing lowers libido in humans and may also lead to sexual impotence following long term use. In pregnant women, consumption of khat affects growth of foetus by inhibiting utero-placental blood flow and as a consequence, impairs foetal growth.

Conclusion: Detailed studies on the effects of khat on reproduction are lacking. However, the limited available data reveal that chewing of khat has a negative impact on human reproductive health. Khat is genotoxic and has teratogenic effects on the foetus if regularly consumed by pregnant mothers. Since low birth weight is a well-established risk factor for both perinatal and young infant death, khat chewing during pregnancy may be one of the factors contributing to infant mortality in communities where khat is commonly chewed. Khat consumption affects the potency of male sexuality by affecting spermatogenesis and plasma testosterone concentration. However, the precise mechanisms by which khat may affect the male reproductive physiology have not been elucidated.

(East African Medical Journal: 2003 80(6): 318-323)

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eISSN: 0012-835X