Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa.

What is Fermented Kanna Powder vs. Unfermented Kanna?

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The Kanna plant or Sceletium tortuosum is a ground cover plant that is native to the Cape area of South Africa. In Afrikaans, Kanna is known as kougoed, literally meaning “good to chew.” Today, this ethnobotanical herb has spread around the world in the form of powders, tinctures, teas, chewing gum, smokes, and snuff. So what is the best Kanna powder to buy, and should you choose fermented or unfermented Kanna? Find out the answers to these questions and more in today’s article about Kanna and its effects.

What Is Kanna Powder?

Once upon a time, Sceletium tortuosum grew in the wild on the hills of Channaland where the locals harvested a year’s worth of supply at a time, crushed the plant material between two stones, sewed it up in sheepskins, and left it to ferment for eight days. They then carried the fermented Kanna with them — chewing on the leaves and stems for Kanna’s famous calming effects and its ability to stave off hunger and thirst — similar to some of the original uses of Mitragyna speciosa.

Due to overharvesting of the plant in the wild, Kanna is now cultivated in nurseries before being processed and packaged for sale in health food shops in South Africa and online to customers located around the world. In some cases, Sceletium tortuosum is fermented for the traditional eight days before being dried and ground into a fine powder. In other cases, the plant is dried and ground immediately.

What Is Fermented Kanna Powder?

At Kratora, our fermented Kanna powder comes from all-natural plant material that is left to ferment for eight days before being dried and ground. This product, therefore, offers the aroma that most closely resembles the chemical profile and effects of the original Kanna products first used by natives in South Africa.

Why Ferment Kanna?

Intensifies the Alkaloids

According to a forensic analysis published in 2012, the levels of mesembrenone and other alkaloids in Kanna increase dramatically when the plant is crushed and then left to ferment. It’s no wonder, then, that the traditional Khoikhoi and San peoples of the Cape area fermented their Kanna — it really does give you more bang for your buck!

Lowers the Presence of Oxalic Acid

A second reason for fermenting Sceletium tortuosum is to decrease the amount of oxalic acid (oxalate) in the plant — similar to the way you would cook or ferment spinach and other greens to make them more digestible. A naturally-occurring compound and known antinutrient, oxalic acid is a potential digestive irritant, can reduce mineral absorption, and increases some people’s risk of developing kidney stones.

To put this in perspective as far as what Kanna powder is, consider that unprepared Kanna contains between 3.6% and 5.1% oxalate whereas uncooked spinach contains between 5.3% to 11.6% oxalic acid. According to Healthline, as long as you don’t consume huge amounts of either leaf product and keep up your intake of calcium, consuming them raw generally isn’t a huge problem for most people.

A sandy field where heated Kanna is created.

What Is Heated Kanna Powder?

A second option for preparing Kanna that also lowers the oxalic acid levels is heating the crushed, fresh plant on red-hot coals or burying it in hot sand until dry, and then powdering and using the plant as usual. While this method might not increase the alkaloids to the extent that the eight-day fermentation process does, it does take care of the oxalic acid issue. According to research, oxalic acid is lowered between 30% and 90% when boiled at temperatures of 101-102°C.

What Is Regular Kanna Powder?

We’ve looked at some of the changes that heat and fermentation have on Sceletium tortuosum, so what about just regular Kanna? As you would have guessed, regular Kanna is simply dried and packaged from the crushed, fresh herb. The main advantage of unprepared Kanna is the shorter processing time, with a secondary benefit being the milder effects of unprepared Kanna.

The only drawback to unprepared Kanna is its higher levels of oxalic acid; however, as you have seen, the oxalic acid content can be reduced quickly and easily by boiling the powder.

What Is Kanna Extract Powder?

Finally, Kratora offers a Kanna extract 10x. Just like our regular and fermented Kanna, this powder comes from the whole, fresh, and crushed Kanna plant and is concentrated down to a tenth of its original volume. This powder is typically used to give your regular or fermented Kanna a pleasant boost.

A cup of coffee next to a keyboard and notebook.

What Are the Effects of Kanna Powder?

Just like kratom powder, Kanna’s effects are largely due to the presence of alkaloids. Whereas kratom is high in Mitragynine and 7-Hydroxymitragynine, Kanna powder contains varying levels of its own exclusive alkaloids, with the main three being:

  • Mesembrine
  • Mesembranol
  • Mesembrenone

So far, research on these alkaloids has been complicated by the fact that the alkaloid content in Kanna is quite variable. However, researchers have noticed that the three main alkaloids in Kanna help improve focus, and increase the amount of serotonin available to the brain, boosting the related functions of mood, memory, learning, appetite, and sleep.

Purchase the Finest Kanna at Kratora

As we have seen, determining what is good Kanna powder depends on how it is prepared as well as the care and knowledge that goes into its cultivation. The Kanna that we sell at Kratora has been grown without pesticides and ground to a very fine consistency after the traditional eight-day fermentation process (in the case of our fermented Kanna).

Ready to shop our Kanna, and fresh kratom products? Order today to receive same-day shipping on orders submitted before 3 p.m. Eastern Time Monday through Friday and 1 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturdays (excluding holidays).

Please note that none of the products sold on our website are intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or medical condition.

Want to learn more about kratom quality and value? Start here:
Why Buying Cheap Kratom Can Be Dangerous

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Colleen is a part owner of Kratora along with her brother David. Kratora was founded in 2013 by David with Colleen joining the team later in 2017. The siblings were born and raised in the Bay Area and spent most of their professional years working in Silicon Valley. Their interest in botanicals began in the early 2000s as they cared for a sick family member and quickly grew into the passion that formed Kratora.

Colleen and the team at Kratora are dedicated to providing the best quality botanicals on the market along with the best customer service. They believe their loyal customers are what makes Kratora so special! Over their many years in business it has always brought them joy to work with their customers and see how botanicals are changing lives for the better.

Kratora’s vision is to help their customers live a better life by consistently providing the highest quality, safest, and purest botanicals on the market. Colleen and her team specialize in regular kratom, kratom extracts, liquid kratom, even kratom gummies — plus a lot of kratom alternative products. Kratora is always looking to expand their product line while remaining true to their high standards.

Colleen believes in transparency between the Kratora team and the expert farmers in South Asia which is why they follow Fair Trade policies. Without these farmers, Kratora would not have any products to sell. As part of Colleen’s commitment in providing the highest quality botanicals, Kratora invests highly into third-party lab testing for all of the products they sell.

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