Schedule I

What is the mechanism of action of cathinone?

Answer: Cathinone is a monoamine (dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin) releaser and reuptake inhibitor.

khat leaves cathinone drug

Cathinone is an alkaloid plant-derived psychostimulant with an action similar to that of amphetamine. It comes from the plant khat, which is common in northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula. When the leaves are chewed, cathinone is released and absorbed into the bloodstream. Cathinone easily penetrates the blood-brain barrier, where it can then affect the action of neurotransmitters at synapses.

There are two phases of absorption. Initially, cathinone can be absorbed through the oral mucosa. The secondary phase is absorption through the stomach lining and the small intestine. Peak blood concentration of cathinone occurs around two hours after chewing the leaves, and it is mostly metabolized by 6 hours. In the body, it is broken down into cathine and norephedrine by the liver.

Cathinone initially produces a sense of euphoria, heightened imagination, and general well being. There is also a depressive phase that may occur after, alongside other symptoms such as irritability and insomnia.

Cathinone itself is generally illegal across the world, and it classified as a Schedule I drug in the US according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency.