Monday, May 22, 2017

Khat - from Yemen to Israel

fresh khat leaves*

The 'khat' plant (khat is pronounced 'gat' in hebrew) is a stimulant and appetite suppressor. The plant is native to Yemen, Ethiopia, Somalia, and it was brought to Israel by jews of yemenite descent. It was, and still is  in some neighborhoods inhabited primarily by yemenite jews, part of their tradition to sit together for several hours (men and women apart), chewing the oval shaped leaves of this plant, and socializing.


bunch of khat leaves*

During the recent years , the juice extracted from the plant has become a Hit. Chewing khat in leaf form is legal in Israel, but as for the juice, its status is not very clear, and that has allowed people to use this fact to make a profit by selling it at kiosks, certain eateries and  restaurants.


khat juice*

Neither the leaves nor the juice are cheap; in fact it's an expensive habit, but people will pay any price for the promises that khat  chewing or khat juice carry: weightloss, virility, increased energy etc..(it reminds us of another mild narcotic - marijuana). Its main dangerous feature for the consummer, besides possible addiction, is raise in blood pressure with all that is associated with it (stroke, heart attack).


field of khat shrubs*


Anyway, the 'khat'  growers and traders in Israel are reporting an increase in demand for the leaves; among the new users - quite a lot of women (weightloss ?!!).  

The other day, I saw an article from TIME  on the internet with the following  headline  :" Is Yemen chewing itself to death?" Interesting article, dealing with the negative influence of chewing 'khat' on the society and economy of Yemen. The situation there is extreme, but even in Israel  and the UK this khat chewing is certainly not a blessing.


*web pictures

27 comments:

  1. that's so interesting! I've never heard of khat. I'm interested in why it is so bad for society/the economy...i'll go read about it. at least its not tobacco!

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    1. I've never tasted it myself, but I do know it's bad both for the consummer and for society. For example,it might cause insomnia, and so this leads to late awakening and to decreased productivity.

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  2. So much that is habit-forming, addictive, is bad for us! Even regular medicines.

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    1. Indeed,so; even regular meds or prescription meds can be addictive (valium for sleep disorder, ritalin for hyperactivity...)

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  3. Lovely photos, Duta! Khat is illegal here in Canada. Your posts are always fascinating and informative. Thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Good for Canada! When you bring in immigrants, it's not easy at all to make them give up the habits from their country of origin.
      Thanks for your kind words.

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  4. No, it wouldn't be a blessing if it causes high blood pressure. Maybe the younger crowd makes it so popular? They seem to be able to consume anything without consequences! We have a similar "pick-me-up" energy drink I tried in the kiosk called lemon grass. I liked it. No resemblance to Marijuana!!!

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    1. Of course not. Like smoking - long-term effects are bad.

      There are indeed some energy drinks on the market. I've tried once but..water or soda water are the best for me.

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  5. I have never heard of this plant before. I especially like the red on the leaves and stem. it gives it a lot of interest. I am sure I could not grow it here as it is too cold in winter.

    Great post

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    1. Immigrants from Somalia who live in the UK have introduced the chewing khat habit in UK. It is now illegal since 2014, I think). The khat used to, or maybe still is imported from Kenya.

      As a plant it is lovely, and there is more than one type. The strongest variety is called red khat. Customers prefer the organically grown khat.

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  6. It's a very pretty plant and as your other commenters have said it makes one wonder why the increase. You do mention it is addictive and who doesn't want to try almost anything for weight loss! Very interesting topic and post as always DUTA.

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    1. Hi, Alicia

      Thanks for the compliments at the end of your comment.

      Well, chewing khat has some short-term benefits and most people go for that ignoring the long-term dangers. That's human nature, to turn life into some sort of casino.

      Since the leaves are legal, the sky is the limit , as they say.

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  7. Khat I have never heard of...glad you said how to pronounce it! It is pretty...hope it works for weightloss

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    1. It probably helps with weightloss, but so does marijuana and even cigarette smoking. That's not the way to shed the surplus of pounds. It involves major health hazards in the long run.

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  8. Thank you for such interesting information. Yes, it is unfortunate that many women will turn to this just to lose weight.

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    1. Also unfortunate is the fact that even in those countries where the khat is banned, law enforcement about it is weak to almost inexistent (as far as I know).

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  9. Sounds like another addictive thing to avoid! But I could see the benefit were there a food shortage; however, who needs insomnia? Sounds a lot like marijuana.

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    1. In my country, it used to be associated with the elderly people who came from Yemen in the 1950-s. It seems, however, the younger generations looking for quick solutions to everything - have newly discovered it. And that's bad news.

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  10. I've never heard of this plant, Duta. I hope they keep a watchful eye on it, as it sounds like it's not very beneficial to chew the leaves or drink the juice. I always learn something when I come over here and visit. Thank you for that, friend.

    ~Sheri

    speaking of traditions, come by and see my Greek festival post. I'll be posting it soon. Have a lovely rest of the week, Duta.

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    1. I suppose you haven't heard of it because it's banned in most Western countries, and those who nevertheless use it, do it quietly in hidden rooms.

      Thanks for the invitation to stop by your blog to read about the Greek festival. Hopefully, I will.

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  11. Interesting post once again Duta. Fads, good and bad, rise and fall away don't they. A shame that this one is on the comeback. As you said in a previous reply "That's human nature, to turn life into some sort of casino"

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    1. It's always been there, but now it seems to be on the rise - and that's a shame, as you've remarked.

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  12. The drink sure looks green and healthy. I'll stick to coffee since we don't have khat. And alcohol. Everything in moderation. Most of the time! Except chocolate. That I consume with abandon.

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    1. Beautiful green, indeed! I'm a coffee person too. As for chocolate, who doesn't love it? At a certain age, however, (and I'm at a certain age)one should better ignore this heavenly product..

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  13. I only know this word from playing Scrabble. Thanks for the information.

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    1. Word games like Scrabble expand our vocabulary and teach us a lot.
      You're welcome.

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  14. I'm having problems commenting on your current Manchester post so I'll say it here:
    God bless those who do this important work. Terrorism infiltrates many countries now and must be stopped. It will take determination and good leadership in government. Evil comes in many forms and as you noted, here in America our biggest challenge is division. The citizens are most affected when protocol is abandoned and leaders do whatever they choose. We cannot trust the media. But we are a strong republic founded on God’s Christian/Judaeo principles so I am hopeful He will hear and answer our many prayers for our country and rescue us from all the damage that has been done.

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