Fermented Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum)
Native to South Africa, kanna (sceletium tortuosum) has long been favored as a natural stimulant and pain reliever. In nature, this succulent “groundcover” plant has tiny, thread-like petals.
The South African Hotentot tribe was one of the most well-known societies that used Kanna. The Hotentot are known to chew kanna roots and leaves to get a feeling of euphoria, energy or relaxation. There's even evidence that prehistoric cultures used kanna too.
Also called “channa” or “kuogoed” – a word that means”chewable” – kanna is gaining popularity outside of Africa. It is available in two basic forms: fermented or unfermented.
Kanna can be used as-is or it can be aged and fermented. The fermenting process takes approximately one week. Traditionally, the kanna plant – leaves, stems and roots – would be crushed and allowed to ferment for approximately seven days. Then, it would be dried in the sun. A similar process is used today.
Fermented kanna has what most regard as a more pleasant flavor and more pleasant effects. It's also possible to blend fermented and unfermented kanna.
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History & Traditional Use
Fermented kanna’s effects are somewhat stronger than unfermented kanna. The effects typically include improved mood and euphoria, pain relief, reduced anxiety and a relief of stress and muscle tension. Kanna also has appetite reduction properties.
In smaller dosages and/or on a full stomach, kanna can be more energizing, whereas in larger dosages and/or on an empty stomach, kanna can be more sedating.
Kanna’s active alkaloids produce a variety of effects. The primary constituents include mesembrine, mesembrenol, mesembrenone and tortusamine.
The most plentiful alkaloid in kanna is mesembrine and it is a serotonine reuptake inhibitor, so it works in a manner similar to SSRI drugs – a class of medications that are prescribed for anxiety and depression.
Fermented kanna’s side effects are reported to be less pronounced than unfermented kanna. This is especially true for the digestive upset, which is far less common with fermented kanna.
The side effects can include dizziness, nausea and vomiting. These adverse effects are most common in cases where an individual takes a large dosage,especially on an empty stomach.
On rare occasions, some individuals report headache when taking large amounts of fermented kanna. This can be avoided by opting for a smaller dosage or trying unfermented kanna instead.
Kanna is also said to have synergistic effects when mixed with SSRI drugs and MAOi drugs, so it’s best to avoid these combinations.
The general dosage for fermented and unfermented sceletium tortuosum is fairly similar. Fermented kanna tends to be a slight bit stronger, although kanna does have a rather broad dosage range.
When fermented kanna powder is snuffed (or snorted), the dosage is usually between 40 mg to 120 mg. The minimum dosage for experiencing effects is around 15 mg using this method. Typically, snuffing produces highly euphoric effects that last around two hours. Some users report taking two dosages via this method before they feel the initial onset of effects.
You can also smoke fermented kanna. It has been described as a mild marijuana-like sensation and some even combine cannabis with kanna.
The minimum dosage threshold is 40 mg and you can take dosages of up to 425 mg. The average dosage – which is usually between 110 mg to 225 mg – produces effects for a timeframe of approximately 90 minutes. It should be noted that when smoking kanna, the euphoric and pain relieving effects are less pronounced.
Kanna can also be taken sublingually by placing it beneath your tongue or inside your cheek, but the absorption process takes about 30 minutes, so many find it easiest to mix the kanna with chewing gum. The minimal dosage for sublingual kanna dosages is 40 mg. A dosage of 175 mg is considered moderate, whereas up to 325 mg is considered a heavier dosage. An extremely high dosage would be up to 800 mg (8/10 gram).
Sublingual dosing for kanna usually produces moderate euphoric and pain relieving properties, which last for about two hours.
If you prefer pain relief and sedative effects, fermented kanna tea can be a great alternative to red vein kratom. A small dosage is between 175 mg to 400 mg; a moderate dosage from 400 mg to 800 mg and a high dosage would be up to 1.5 grams or more.
When enjoying fermented kanna tea, it’s usually best to drink it on an empty stomach and beware that it can take as long as 90 minutes to feel the effects. Kanna tea can produce effects that last up to four hours.