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(L.) N.E. Brown
Sceletium tortuosum (Mesembryanthemaceae]) is a succulent herb commonly found in South Africa, which is also known as Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed,/ 'kougoed', prepared from 'fermenting' S. tortuosum) - which literally means, 'chew(able) things' 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 Jan 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.
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Sceletium has been reported to cause elevated mood and decreases 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. Having such properties Sceletium is classified as an empathogen type herb. High doses have been shown to produce distinct inebriation and stimulation often followed by sedation. The plant is not hallucinogenic, contrary to some literature on the subject, and no adverse effects have been documented. Kanna is considered by many to potentiate (enhance the effects) of other psychoactive herbal material, such as cannabis.
Kanna is best planted in Spring/Summer and harvested in mid-Autumn. It can be used as a herbal smoke, pill or one can chew the leaves to feel its effects. It can be harvested whether or not the flowers themselves have appeared yet.
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.
S. tortuosum contains about 1–1.5% total alkaloids. There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the leaves and 0.86% in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant.
Little is known about the interactions of S. tortuosum, although it should not be combined with other SSRIs, MAOIs, or cardiac medications. Headache in conjunction with alcohol have been noted with kanna use. Some reports suggest a synergy with cannabis.
- "SCELETIUM TORTUOSUM HERBA" (pdf). South African National Biodiversity Institute.
- Smith, M. T.; Field C. R.; Crouch N. R.; Hirst, M. (1998). "The Distribution of Mesembrine Alkaloids in Selected Taxa of the Mesembryanthemaceae and their Modification in the Sceletium Derived 'Kougoed'". Pharmaceutical Biology 36 (3): 173–179. doi:10.1076/phbi.22.214.171.12450.
- Smith, M. T.; Crouch, N. R.; Gericke, N.; Hirst, M. (1996). "Psychoactive Constituents of the Genus Sceletium N.E.Br. and other Mesembryanthemaceae: A Review". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 50 (3): 119–130. doi:10.1016/0378-8741(95)01342-3. PMID 8691846.
- Gericke, N.; Viljoen, A. M. (2008). "Sceletium--A Review Update". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 119 (3): 653–663. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.043. PMID 18761074.
- Harvey, A. L.; Young, L. C.; Viljoen, A. M.; Gericke, N. P. (2011). "Pharmacological Actions of the South African Medicinal and Functional Food Plant Sceletium tortuosum and its Principal Alkaloids". Journal of Ethnopharmacology 137 (3): 1124–1129. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.07.035. PMID 21798331.