Mesembryanthemum tortuosum

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Sceletium tortuosum)

Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Aizoaceae
Genus: Mesembryanthemum
M. tortuosum
Binomial name
Mesembryanthemum tortuosum
  • Mesembryanthemum aridum Moench
  • Mesembryanthemum concavum Haw.
  • Phyllobolus tortuosus (L.) Bittrich
  • Sceletium boreale L.Bolus
  • Sceletium compactum L.Bolus
  • Sceletium concavum (Haw.) Schwantes
  • Sceletium framesii L.Bolus
  • Sceletium gracile L.Bolus
  • Sceletium joubertii L.Bolus
  • Sceletium namaquense L.Bolus
  • Sceletium ovatum L.Bolus
  • Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E.Br.
  • Sceletium tugwelliae L.Bolus

Mesembryanthemum tortuosum (many synonyms, including Sceletium tortuosum) is a succulent plant in the family Aizoaceae native to the Cape Provinces of South Africa.[1] It is known as kanna, channa, kougoed (kauwgoed/ 'kougoed', prepared from 'fermenting' M. tortuosum[2])—which literally means, 'chew(able) things' or 'something to chew'.

Eight species related to M. tortuosum have also been placed in the genus Sceletium: M. crassicaule, M. emarcidum, M. exalatum, M. expansum, M. archeri (S. rigidum), M. ladismithiense (S. strictum), M. tortuosum and M. varians.[3]


The plant has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance from prehistoric times.[4] The first known written account of the plant's use was in 1662 by Jan van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried plant was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures.[5] It has also been used as a snuff and smoked.[6]


M. tortuosum is traditionally used to fight stress and depression, relieve pain and alleviate hunger.[6]

M. tortuosum has been studied to alleviate excessive nocturnal barking in dogs, or meowing in cats, in pets diagnosed with dementia.[4]


M. tortuosum can be grown from seeds and be propagated from cuttings. Its cultivation and care are similar to cactaceae like Echinopsis. The optimal temperature is at least 16°C and it does not tolerate frost.[7]


M. tortuosum contains about 1–1.5% total alkaloids.[6] A standardised ethanolic extract of dried M. tortuosum had an IC50 for SERT of 4.3 μg/ml and for PDE4 inhibition of 8.5 μg/ml.[3]



Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in M. tortuosum.[8] There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the roots and 0.86% in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant.[6]



Traditional and contemporary methods of preparation serve to reduce levels of potentially harmful oxalates found in M. tortuosum.[6] An analysis indicated levels of 3.6–5.1% oxalate, which falls within the median range for crop plants, just like spinach or kale.[6] It is speculated that physical crushing of the plant and the fermentation process reduce the potentially harmful effects of oxalic acid.[6] In particular, free oxalic acid is likely to complex with cell wall-associated calcium salts and precipitate as calcium oxalate when plant material is crushed.[6]

Animal studies[edit]

No treatment-related adverse effects were observed in an oral toxicity study in rats of a standardized hydroethanolic extract of M. tortuosum.[9] The extract, although not mesembrine itself, produced ataxia in rats, thereby possibly limiting the usefulness of the extract as an antidepressant.[10]

Human studies[edit]

In a study evaluating its safety, a 2:1 standardised extract consumed by healthy adults at a dose of up to 25 mg once daily over a three-month period was well tolerated, with adverse effects such as headache not occurring more than when taking a placebo.[11] A phase 1 trial for premature ejaculation has been approved by the FDA.[12][13]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Mesembryanthemum tortuosum L." Plants of the World Online. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2023-01-27.
  2. ^ 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'" (PDF). Pharmaceutical Biology. 36 (3): 173–179. doi:10.1076/phbi.
  3. ^ a b 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" (PDF). Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 137 (3): 1124–1129. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.07.035. PMID 21798331. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2015-06-30.
  4. ^ a b 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.
  5. ^ Manganyi, Madira Coutlyne; Bezuidenhout, Cornelius Carlos; Regnier, Thierry; Ateba, Collins Njie (2021-04-28). "A Chewable Cure "Kanna": Biological and Pharmaceutical Properties of Sceletium tortuosum". Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). 26 (9): 2557. doi:10.3390/molecules26092557. ISSN 1420-3049. PMC 8124331. PMID 33924742.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h 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.
  7. ^ "CULTIVATION: How To Grow Healthy Kanna Plants". Kanna Sceletium Tortuosum. 2016-11-14. Retrieved 2023-02-08.
  8. ^ Coetzee, Dirk D.; López, Víctor; Smith, Carine (2016-01-11). "High-mesembrine Sceletium extract (Trimesemine™) is a monoamine releasing agent, rather than only a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 177: 111–116. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2015.11.034. ISSN 0378-8741. PMID 26615766.
  9. ^ Murbach TS, Hirka G, Szakonyiné IP, Gericke N, Endres JR (2014). "A toxicological safety assessment of a standardized extract of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin®) in rats". Food and Chemical Toxicology. 74: 190–9. doi:10.1016/j.fct.2014.09.017. PMID 25301237. Retrieved 2015-06-28. No mortality or treatment-related adverse effects were observed in male or female Crl:(WI)BR Wistar rats in the 14- or 90-day studies. In the 14- and 90-day studies, the NOAELs were concluded as 5000 and 600 mg/kg bw/d, respectively, the highest dose groups tested.
  10. ^ Loria MJ, Ali Z, Abe N, Sufka KJ, Khan IA (2014). "Effects of Sceletium tortuosum in rats". Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 155 (1): 731–5. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2014.06.007. PMID 24930358. Retrieved 2015-06-28. Mesembrine appears to have analgesic properties without abuse liabilities or ataxia. The Sceletium tortuosum fraction has antidepressant properties but does produce ataxia. The ataxia may limit its usefulness as an antidepressant unless the antidepressant activity is associated with one constituent and the ataxia is associated with a separate constituent.
  11. ^ Nell H, Siebert M, Chellan P, Gericke N (2013). "A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial of Extract Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin) in healthy adults". Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 19 (11): 898–904. doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0185. PMID 23441963. Retrieved 2015-06-29. Both doses of extract Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin) (8 mg and 25 mg) were well tolerated when used by healthy human subjects once daily for 3 months.
  12. ^ "Kanna Health's KH-001 for premature ejaculation cleared to enter clinic | BioWorld". 2023-11-17. Retrieved 2023-11-20.
  13. ^ Gray Royston A, Sahyoun Laura M N, Kokkinou Michelle, Boistelle Fraser R, Protzko Ryan, Gericke Nigel, Pfeiffer Thomas (2023). "KH-001 but not other tested alkaolids derived from Sceletium Tortuosum delays ejaculation in the rat PCA model". The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Retrieved 2023-11-20.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]