Friday, 14 December 2012

Somalia in Khatatonia...

God!... it is horrible to be away from you guys as I just love writing on this blog, but things lately have been tiring, stressing and inconvenient. To start with, one of the plasmids I have been working with has been playing funny for the past months and we've had to mount 4 new strategies to tackle this so annoying issue. Right after, had to prepare everything for my Christmas trip as my girl and myself need to fly back to Portugal to see our family. And this week she got all messed up with Norovirus after visiting Lincoln Christmas Market and munching on some German cookies some lady was offering on a tray. I should have seen that coming, i.e., loads of hands just diving onto a tray full of free cookies. You can expect one of them to have just covered a cough, hands in hands, hands in cookies, KAAABOOMM. She stayed in bed for two days with the worse vomiting ever, and I succumbed the day after she got better.

But not all is bad news, while trying not to vomit my soul away I watched a few documentaries (I just love them!) and interviews. One of the interviews was to my role model Mr. Billy Corgan (lead singer of The Smashing Pumpkins). I even watched for like the 5th time the film "Black Hawk Down", one of the most realistic war movies ever made, and followed up with a Greek documentary about it (pure luck I found that just popping out of the blue).  However, the most surprising thing was when whilst watching this documentary a herb was exposed as being partially responsible for the fierce, resilient and insomniac behavior of the Somali warmongers. It appears to be quite known amid the drug users in the UK, but for this Toxicologist wannabe/maybeis/lovesscienceforsure I wasn't aware of the existence of Khat. Even more surprising is the number of websites that profit on it! Apparently is not just the Kenyans making loads of money out of the Somali men and women who use this herb on a daily basis to kill hunger, to fight tiredness and stimulant an aggressive/responsive behavior. 

In the markets of Mogadishiu a bouquet of Catha Edulis is sold by 5 dollars, more than the daily wage of a security officer (illegal or not) in the capital of Somalia. It is also becoming a very worrying issue in Europe (where else!!!); specifically in the Netherlands where a ban has been very recently discussed by the former Minister of Immigration and Integration, Dr. Gerd Leers.


Khat is a stimulant shrub that can be chewed making the user more alert, responsive to external stimuli, causing elation and frenzy, as well as increased libido and suppressing appetite. If chewed for hours it can cause a sense of bliss [1].  There are many risks associated to Khat, immediately one can consider high blood pressure as a natural occurrence derived from using such amphetamine-like stimulant, but other effects are known nowadays:

- mouth inflammation,
- teeth decay,
- constipation,
- risk concerning long-term development of mouth cancer,
- heart palpitations,
- feelings of anxiety or aggression,
- worsening of pre-existing mental health issues,
- paranoia,
- psychotic reactions,
- irritability,
- addiction [1].

Khat is not illegal in the United Kingdom, you can get it without any penalty, but to be fair, why would you?, when it is knowingly so dangerous??! In the United States you can face a prison sentence for dealing with Khat and some other countries are starting to revise their prohibition status on this shrub.

See you soon guys, after this crazy long report I have to submit today! Hehehe!

[1] Talk to Frank - Khat, [], last seen on the 14th of December 2012, last update unknown.

1st image taken from RippeEffectImages, [], last seen on the 14th of December 2012, last update unknown

2nd image taken from Galgaduud24 - Somali News Hour, [], last seen on the 14th of December 2012, last update on the 28th of January 2012.

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