Synthetic cathinones (such as 4-CMC, 3-CMC, 3-MMC, 4-MEC, 4-MMC etc.) are derivatives of the natural active ingredient cathinone, as found in the khat plant. They are classified as research chemicals or new psychoactive substances (NPS) and are largely unexplored. Cathinones belong to the amphetamine group and their effects are comparable to those of stimulants such as cocaine, MDMA and amphetamine. Some of the substances are sold on the internet as "bath salts" or "plant food".

Due to the similar effect, misdeclaration of MDMA pills and MDMA crystals, which are stretched with synthetic cathinones, occurs again and again. There is hardly any information about risks, side effects, long-term effects and toxicity of synthetic cathinones.