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Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum)

kannaSceletium tortuosum is Uncontrolled in the United States, however, it is not approved for human consumption.

Addictive Potential: Unkown

Emergency Room Visits Yearly: Unkown

Mandatory Minimum Sentence: Unknown

Mechanism of Action: Not fully understood, may be an SSRI, PDE4-inhibitor


Sceletium tortuosum is a succulent herb commonly found in South Africa, which is also known as Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed) – which literally means, ‘chew(able) things/goodies’ or ‘something to chew’. The plant has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance from prehistoric times. The first known written account of the plant’s use was in 1662 by van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures. It has also been used as a snuff and smoked.

Sceletium tortuosum is known to elevate mood and decrease anxiety, stress, and tension. It has also been used as an appetite suppressant by shepherds walking long distances in arid areas. In intoxicating doses it can cause euphoria, initially with stimulation and later with sedation. Users also report increased personal insight, interpersonal ease, and a meditative/grounded feeling without any perceptual dulling. Having such properties Sceletium is classified as an empathogen type herb. Others have noted enhanced tactile and sexual response, as well as vivid dream inducing properties. High doses produce distinct inebriation and stimulation often followed by sedation.

The alkaloids contained in S. tortuosum believed to possess psychoactivity include: mesembrine, mesembrenone, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in Sceletium tortuosum, which is claimed by a US patent to be a potent serotonin reuptake inhibitor with stronger antidepressant effects than imipramine. It is also believed to be a PDE4-inhibitor due to a strikingly similar chemical makeup and effects profile in comparison to rolipram.

Sceletium tortuosum contains about 1-1.5% total alkaloids. There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the leaves and 0.86% in the stems of the plant.

Side Effects and Adverse Reactions:

As it is currently understood, Sceletium tortuosum will most likely not produce any major side effects. Some individuals will experience drowsiness, thus it must not be taken before operating any type of machinery or. Also, it should not be taken in conjunction with any other psychoactive substance or by pregnant or nursing women, except under the supervision of your health professional.

More research is needed to understand the full spectrum of side effects, adverse reactions, and addiction potential.


Psychoactive constituents of the genus Sceletium N.E.Br. and other Mesembryanthemaceae: a review

The Distribution of Mesembrine Alkaloids in Selected Taxa of Kanna and their Modification in the Sceletium Derived `Kougoed’

Sceletium—A review update

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