Kanna (aka Kougoed or Sceletium) is a succulent plant from South Africa that has been used for centuries for its mood-enhancing effects. The dried and fermented plant material was traditionally chewed as a ‘quid’, smoked or used as a snuff. It can also be brewed as a tea.
The mood-elevating action of sceletium is caused by a number of alkaloids including mesembrine, mesembrenol and tortuosamine which interact with the brain's dopamine and serotonin receptors. Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in Sceletium. Mesembrine has been demonstrated to be a potent serotonin-uptake inhibitor (SRI). SRIs are most often used as anti-depressants, as they increase the extracellular concentrations of seratonin (the ‘happy hormone’).
Smoking or chewing Kanna gives a buzzy euphoric feeling, which gently fades into relaxation. Brewed as a tea it uplifts mood, relaxes stress and anxiety. According to anecdotal reports, it can potentiate the effects of other substances.
According to sceletium.org, Kanna is being used by some psychiatrists, psychologists and doctors with excellent results to treat anxiety and depression.
Despite its bitter taste, chewing on a 'quid' of Sceletium is well worth the experience of short-lasting euphoria! For longer-term effects, best drink a heaped teaspoon 3 times the first day and again the following morning to feel its more lasting benefits. Some enjoy smoking it, especially as a mull mix, for its buzzy effects.
Some may occasionally experience mild headaches, slight nausea, soft stools and insomnia. Avoid if taking antidepressants or other psychiatric drugs.