Serving as a versatile, medicinal herb since prehistoric times, Kanna is a succulent (water-retaining) plant endemic to South Africa still used to treat a wide variety of health
conditions by rural peoples living in South Africa, Botstwana, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Kanna’s scientific name is Sceletium tortuosum (Latin for “something to chew”) and
emerges in South Africa’s written history as early as 1660, when founder of Cape Town Jan van Riebeeck described Kanna’s use and effects on indigineous tribes.
Kanna is also known by other terms, such as Canna root, Kauwgoed, Sceletium powder or root and Racine de kanna ( http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredien tmono-1259-SCELETIUM.aspx?activeIngredientId=1259&activeIngredientName=SCELETIUM ).
PHARMACOLOGY OF KANNA
According to early research into Kanna, this plant contains several indole alkaloids, specifically mesembrine and mesembrenol. Mesembrine and mesembrenol appear to
imitate the same effects produced by antidepressants known as SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors). In addition, mesembrine weakly inhibits an enzyme called
phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which has recently been identified as a major contributor to cognitive issues, depression and hypertension.
Measuring alkaloid levels in kenna leaves and stems throughout the year has led researchers to believe that the strength of these beneficial alkaloids fluctuate according to
seasonal changes, with the highest levels of mesembrine and mesembrenol found in kanna plants harvested during late spring and early summer.
WHAT ARE INDOLE ALKALOIDS AND ARE THEY SAFE?
Indole alkaloids found in kanna are completely safe to consume and exhibit significant physiological effects on the peripheral and central nervous system. In fact, an amino
acid called tryptophan is actually the biochemical precursor required to make indole alklaloids. In addition, indole alkaloids share structural similarities with the
neurotransmitter serotonin, which is why kanna interacts advantageously with serotinin receptors in the brain.T
KANNA–A NATURAL SAFE SOLUTION FOR RELIEF OF ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
Containing approximately one to two percent total alkaloids, with a combined 0.89 percent of the plant’s mesembrine in the leaves, flowers and stems. kanna is not an
hallucinogenic and will not produce auditory or visual hallucinations ( http://www.erowid.org/plants/kanna/kanna_journal1.shtml ). Erroneous literature describing
kanna as a psychoactive drug is not based on laboratory-directed research but is instead coming from pharmaceutical companies that do not want effective herbs
such as kanna to be discovered as a safe, affordable and natural alternative to synthethetic medications produced by their companies.
By blocking the reuptake of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood, sleep, appetite and libido, kanna keeps sufficient amounts of serotonin in the brain
to stop depression and anxiety. When serotonin is prevented from being released into the brain due to chemical dysregulation, moodiness, anxiety, insomnia, lack of libido and
appetite problems occur. People who cannot shake these unwanted and often debilitating symptoms usually seek help from their doctor, who writes them a prescription for an
antidepressant such as Paxil, Prozac or Effexor.V
No adverse side effects have ever been reported by kanna users. However, prescription antidepressants are well-known to produce nausea, headache, insomnia, daytime
fatigue, weight gain, dizziness and in rare cases, suicide ideation ( http://psychcentral.com/lib/side-effects-of-antidepressant-medications/000318 ).
HOW KANNA IS CONSUMED
Traditionally, kanna is prepared for chewing by placing whole plants (roots included) into a canvas or plastic bag and letting the plants dry in the sun for about a week. Once
fermented the plants leaves and stems are light brown, tough and stringy, resembling uncut chewing tobacco. Some South Africans bake freshly picked kanna plants over a
fire for an hour to achieve the same result ( http://www.plantzafrica.com/medmonographs/scelettort.pdf ).
EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL BENEFITS OF TAKING KANNA
Due to its all-natural, alkaloid-based, anxiolytic properties, kanna provides the following benefits without causing negative side effects:
- Calms nerves, eases agitation produced by anxiety and chronic stress.
- Slows racing thoughts, which sometimes inhibits the ability to fall asleep.
- Relieves depression and health issues related to depression, like aching muscles, lethargy, “fuzzy” thinking, mental fatigue and migraine.
- Has appetite-suppressant qualities when taken in higher doses.
- Some South African people use kanna to relieve toothaches by plugging a cavity with a wad of kanna leaves. Since only a few of kanna’s alkaloids have been classified,
some as-yet-detected analgesic alklaloids may provide remarkable, pain-relieving abilities that are not yet officially documented.
A higher dosage of kanna provides stimulatory properties that infuses the user with energy and a sense of well-being and optimism. In addition, kanna is non-habit forming
and does not affect areas of the brain involved in the addiction process, in contrast to prescription antidepressants or pain relievers that carry a strong risk of addiction when
used for even short periods.
Kanna has even been researched as a potential anti-malarial drug, When researchers isolated mesembrine and another alkaloid called pinitol, they found that they “exhibited
potent in vitro anti-malarial activity against the chloroquine-sensitive strain [of malaria] ( http://researchspace.csir.co.za/dspace/bitstream/10204/4316/1/Setshedi_2010_P.pdf ).
KANNA IS LEGAL TO USE AND PURCHASE IN THE U.S.
Federal law states that anyone in the U.S. can grow, own, purchase and sell Sceletium tortuosum without obtaining a license or permission from an authority figure.