Table of Contents
Effect: Stimulate, become more social, mood lifter, enhanced tactile and sexual response
How is it: Burns slowly, should be snorted for maximum effects.
Pro: great potentiator, regular uses amplify its effect (priming)
Best with: Cannabis, alone
Benefits: reduce anxiety, stimulant
Kanna (sceletium tortuosum), also commonly known as Channa or Kougoed, is a herb that grows in South Africa. The name Sceletium tortuosum means “something to chew” or “chewable things”. This plant is known to have existed among the hunter-gatherers and pastoralists in South African since prehistoric times. The locals commonly used the plant as a mood altering substance. They ingested the herb by drying and chewing it, alternatively the tribesmen made it into a snuff for snorting or smoking.
Sceletium is usually harvested in early summer or spring since this is when the alkaloids are known to be highly concentrated in the plant. This is because these compounds appear to fluctuate seasonally during certain seasons. South African natives often fermented or dried the herb before chewing and swallowing the saliva. This plant has been made into gel caps, tinctures or drank as herbal teas to help alcoholics deal with their addiction.
The herb contains no less than 9 alkaloids which have various effects on people who ingest the herb or its products.
The alkaloids leads to elevated moods while reducing stress, anxiety and tension when chewed, smoked or sniffed.
People who needed to travel for long distances especially in semiarid areas used it as an appetite suppressant and analgesic by chewing and keeping it in the mouth for an extended period of time. Its intoxicating effect usually results into a feeling of euphoria due to initial stimulation and later sedation.
When smoked, chewed or sniffed in high doses it tends to cause inebriation, stimulation and sedation. Kanna is known to have the potential of enhancing effects of other psychoactive substances such as cannabis.
There are strong indications that the plant was used by the Hottentots to awaken their animal spirits and cause laughter as well as gaiety. When they chewed too much of the herb the locals often lost conscious and became delirious.
The Khoi-khoi and the San tribesmen often put a plug of the fermented herb as a concoction for relieving a painful tooth. Alternatively fresh leaf juice would be placed on the tongue or applied to the aching tooth for quick relief. They also used the plant as a general analgesic for stomach pains.
Kanna (sceletium tortuosum) is a confirmed source of mesembrine in the form of capsules or tablets. This is an important serotonin inhibitor that generally regulates the functions of the neurotransmitters in the brain. Basically the brain consists of various neurons which send and receive signals to and fro each other. They accomplish this by jumping the synapse or gap to other neurons in the neighbourhood; however they cannot jump over the gaps without some assistance.
This assistance comes in the form of neurotransmitters that fill the gap to enable the signal to pass through. The neurons on the receiving end have many points on their surfaces to act as a potential lock, each of this is a receptor that is influenced by a certain form of neurotransmitter. When there are sufficient levels of transmitters by relevant receptors an impulse by a nerve is started and the signal continues to the desired place. In order to allow the recovery of neuron to receive fresh messages the brain removes the neurotransmitter from neuron receptors. This allows it to be transmitted back to the nerves where it originated in a process commonly referred to as re-uptake.
Patients who suffer from depression usually lack the neurotransmitter serotonin. When mesembrine is administered it lowers the re-uptake process. This heightens the possibility of sufficient levels to put up signal transmission in all neighboring neurons.
Generally the herb does not cause major side effects however there have been claims of drowsiness by some individuals.
Other side effects include:
- Mild nausea
- Increase in anxiety after onset of treatment
- Insomnia, this is usually corrected by lowering the dosage
- Mild headache (probably because too much was taken)
- A feeling of sedation, this is often corrected by taking a single dose of 50mg at night
According to federal law, Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is legal to cultivate, possess, buy and distribute in the US without the requirement of a license. When sold for consumption it must conform to the standards set by the FDA however some states have stricter laws to control its use. The herb is uncontrolled in Canada, Poland and Australia. In South Africa it is sold as medicine but is subject to SA Medicines control.
Where to buy Kanna
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Nicolas ‘Axel’ Duval is the founder and content editor of this website. He launched Smokable Herbs in 2011. He later created the Smokably herb online store, which sells herbs and blends worldwide.
As an herbalist and marketing enthusiast, he used Smokable Herbs as a sandbox to test ideas and deploy content.