Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum)
Kanna – which is also called by its scientific name, sceletium tortuosum – is a succulent plant that's native to South Africa, where native cultures have long used this plant as a stimulant and discomfort reliever. It's also called channa or kuogoed, which means “chewable.” (A reference to one of the ways in which native cultures enjoy kanna.)
In nature, kanna is a groundcover plant with lovely flowers that have thread-like petals. The South African Hotentot tribe would chew fermented kanna roots and leaves to boost mood, but there is evidence that prehistoric cultures used kanna as well.
In fact, in South Africa, kanna is available as a commercial product which can be snuffed or “snorted”. In recent years, kanna has gained popularity outside of Africa.
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History & Traditional Use
Kanna’s active alkaloids include mesembrine, mesembrenol, mesembrenone and tortusamine, which are known to produce many different effects. This includes improved mood and euphoria, discomfort relief, reduced anxiety and a relief of stress and muscle tension.
Mesembrine, the most plentiful alkaloid in kanna, 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. Kanna also reduces your appetite, making it a great choice for anyone who struggles with overeating.
Kanna side effects can include dizziness, nausea and vomiting, which are most common when an excessive dosage is consumed. Additionally, kanna can have synergistic effects when mixed with SSRI drugs and MAOi drugs, so it’s best to avoid these combinations.
Sceletium tortuosum was traditionally fermented and dried before being turned into a powder form. Most commonly, kanna is snuffed (or snorted) at a dosage of 50 mg to 150 mg. The minimum effects threshold when snuffing is 20 mg. This method produces highly euphoric effects that last up to 120 minutes, although some users need at least two dosages before they feel the effects initially.
It’s also possible to smoke kanna. The minimum dosage threshold is 50 mg for this method. This technique involves far higher dosages of up to 500 mg. The average dosage is around 125 mg to 275 mg and the effects last around 90 minutes when smoking kanna. Notably, this method of taking kanna dosages is said to be less effective at relieving discomfort and producing euphoria. Some describe it as a mild marijuana-like sensation and some combine cannabis with kanna.
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 50 mg. A dosage of 200 mg is considered moderate, whereas up to 400 mg is considered a heavier dosage. An extremely high dosage would be between 400 mg to 1000 mg (1 gram). This is the preferred technique for moderate euphoric and discomfort relieving properties, which tend to last for about two hours.
If you prefer discomfort relief and relaxing effects, kanna tea can be a great alternative. A small dosage is between 200 mg to 500 mg; a moderate dosage from 500 mg to 1000 mg (1 gram) and a high dosage would be between 1-2 grams. Drink the tea on an empty stomach and beware that it can take as long as 90 minutes to feel the effects, although once experienced, the effects can last up to four hours.