Benefits of Sceletium Tortuosum

Sceletium is a South African plant. It has a lengthy history of usage by South African tribes as a traditional medicine. It has been used to improve mood, induce relaxation, and induce feelings of euphoria. The roots and leaves were traditionally fermented before being consumed. It’s also been smoked, snuffed, and turned into a tea or medicine.

Sceletium is a herb that has nootropic properties [1]. Traditional usage and recent clinical effectiveness evidence for S tortuosum overlap most frequently in alleviating physical and mental stress and creating a sense of well-being. Clinical effectiveness for depressive disorders, anxiety, social phobia, and low libido has been reported in published case reports and observations by doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists. It’s also been utilised to help with alcohol rehabilitation and smoking cessation psychotherapy programs or sessions [2]. Kanna is also a slang word for a variety of generic medications that may include Sceletium outside of South Africa [3]. Sceletium is a spasmolytic and antidepressant that is approved in South Africa [4].


A safe dose, according to research, would be 50-200 mg of dried herb, taken 2-3 times per day in the form of tablets or capsules [5]. Dosing of 100-200 mg 2-3 times day for a total daily intake of 200-600 mg of raw herb has been recorded. Up to 5000 mg of dry herb has been used, although there is no safety information for such quantities [6].

Clinical studies using a standardised proprietary formulation of Sceletium at dosages of 12.5-50 mg per day were conducted [7]. This product contains 0.35-0.45 percent total alkaloids, with 60 percent mesembrenone + mesembrenol, 20% mesembrine, and 5% mesembranol contributing to total alkaloids [8].

Considered Benefits

Multiple research studying these advantages have found Kanna to be useful, but bigger and more comprehensive studies are needed to prove its effectiveness. Furthermore, several of these studies have a high probability of being skewed. Before taking kanna, see your doctor.


Natural antidepressants include mesembrine and full Sceletium tortuosum extract. People who took Sceletium tortuosum reported better sleep and less stress in clinical investigations. A pure extract of Sceletium tortuosum was shown to be roughly half as efficient as imipramine, a tricyclic antidepressant medication, in rats [6,9].

Kanna is prescribed by a few psychiatric professionals in South Africa to people suffering from depression, moderate depression (dysthymia), and anxiety. These case studies were effective; in some circumstances, patients responded to kanna better compared to other antidepressants like citalopram [10,11].

A Sceletium tortuosum extract high in mesembrine reduced the stress hormone cortisol in a cell investigation. The extract may be beneficial to persons with high stress and blood pressure, according to the researchers; however, these findings have yet to be confirmed in animal or human investigations [12].

Inflammation and Depression

Depression and inflammation are connected, and high levels of inflammatory chemicals known as cytokines may play a role in some episodes of depression. In one study, cells treated to Sceletium tortuosum extract enhanced the expression of IL-10, a unique cytokine that suppresses inflammation and the expression of other inflammatory cytokines [13].

Kanna protected immune cells and lowered inflammatory responses in this way, which might explain its antidepressant benefits in part. However, no evidence of this impact has been found in animal or human investigations.

Alzheimer’s Disease

Phosphodiesterase 4, or PDE4, has been discovered as a potential target for novel Alzheimer’s treatment by researchers. Alzheimer’s disease is characterised by a severe decline in cognition. Kanna’s capacity to suppress PDE4 has led some researchers to speculate that it may help to reduce early Alzheimer’s symptoms. There haven’t been any clinical experiments to see if this theory holds up in the actual world [1411].

Safety Precautions

Kanna is regarded as a generally harmless herb. Up to a dose of 6 mg per kg of body weight per day, or 420 mg in an average adult human, no negative effects are predicted; nevertheless, some persons may suffer nausea when they first start using the plant. Most individuals become used to kanna after one or two doses, according to traditional practitioners [7].

There have been no toxicological studies done on the effects of Kanna on children. Traditional practitioners prescribe little quantities of kanna to newborns to help them sleep, but without enough safety evidence, we strongly advise against use. Before offering any bioactive supplements to children, consult your doctor [101].

Similarly, pregnant women chewed kanna to alleviate sickness and indigestion. Kanna’s safety profile in pregnant or breastfeeding women has not been researched, since it has not been studied in children. As a result, we advise precaution [10].

What Have We Learned?

Kanna is the fermented result of the whole Sceletium tortuosum plant, a tiny succulent native to South Africa that grows wild. Kanna’s main ingredients, mesembrine and mesembrenone, may work as natural serotonin reuptake inhibitors, allowing more serotonin to be accessible in the brain.

Kanna has antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, as well as the potential to enhance executive function and cognitive flexibility. It’s been used for centuries as a modest pain reliever and appetite suppressant. It is generally considered to be safe, with few recorded negative effects even at high dosages; nevertheless, some people may experience nausea while using this plant for the first time. Kanna has never been shown to be addictive.

Kanna should not be taken with other serotonin reuptake inhibitors since it is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Serotonin syndrome is a potentially fatal illness caused by an excess of serotonin in the body. Combining kanna with any chemical that affects serotonin, such as SSRIs and antipsychotic medication, should be done with caution. The body’s reaction to serotonin reuptake inhibitors is influenced by a number of genes. These genes may also have an impact on how you perceive kanna.


[1] Sceletium–a review update

[2] Clinical application of selected South African medicinal plants

[3] A Chewable Cure “Kanna”: Biological and Pharmaceutical Properties of Sceletium tortuosum

[4] Natural products of relevance in the prevention and supportive treatment of depression

[5] Review of the Book “African Herbal Pharmacopoeia” by Brendler, T., Eloff, J. N., Gurib-Fakim, A., Phillips, L. D. Published by the Association for African Medicinal Plants Standards (2010)

[6] A randomized, double-blind, parallel-group, placebo-controlled trial of Extract Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin) in healthy adults

[7] A toxicological safety assessment of a standardized extract of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin®) in rats

[8] Sceletium tortuosum: A South African Plant for Mood and Stress

[9] Effects of Sceletium tortuosum in rats

[10] The Past, Present and Possible Future of Kanna

[11] Proof-of-Concept Randomized Controlled Study of Cognition Effects of the Proprietary Extract Sceletium tortuosum

[12] Modulation of glucocorticoid, mineralocorticoid and androgen production in H295 cells by Trimesemine™, a mesembrine-rich Sceletium extract

[13] Immunomodulatory effects of Sceletium tortuosum (Trimesemine™) elucidated in vitro: Implications for chronic disease

[14] Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4) Molecular Pharmacology and Alzheimer’s Disease


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