Sceletium Tortuosum (aka “Kanna”), What Can It Do for You?

The name “sceletium tortuosum” is quite a mouth full.  When I first learned of the herb, whics is another South African herb that has made the mainstream over the past few years, I wasn’t sure if it was a newly discovered species or a fancy name for a body part!

The herb, otherwise more easily known as kanna, especially by the natives who regularly eat the herb in teas or simply chew it or eat it in powder form, is a powerful mood enhancing agent when used correctly.

I recently wrote about the herb at as a part of a greater article about balancing mood and cognitive function, and this herb was a part of that.

However, I thought it merited a wider discussion since it’s a natural remedy well worth looking into if you have occasional bouts of depression or darker moods.  It’s easy to get the blues, especially when you live in a climate like mine where the weather is cold for most of the year and the sunlight doesn’t shine much during certain months.

When you’re relegated to living indoors much of the time, these mood disorders are much more prevalent.  Sceletium tortuosum has been used for many years by Africans to help elevate and balance the mood. It is a powerful plant, so only a little is needed to help boost mood.

Why Sceletium Helps with Emotional Balance

The thought behind sceletium’s effect on the mood is its high content of alkaloids. Some of these alkaloids have the ability to “calm” in a manner of speaking the circuitry in our brain that is responsible for processing anxiety.

Because this is tempered, our reactions to stress stimuli may be lessened, resulting in a calmer and more flexible “adaptive” response to stress and anxiety stimuli in our environment.  Think about how much different your emotions would be if you could react more calmly and rationally to stress and anxiety.  It could make a world of difference in your every day mood and outlook on life.

A Potent Natural SSRI?

The herb has an effect on the SSRI function of the brain as wel, meaning it can help us to maintain our serotonin levels, which leads to a more pleasurable feeling.  Serotonin deficiency is one of the biggest causes of depression, and most of the antidepressants prescribed today are SSRI’s, which help to boost the serotonin in the body.

The alkaloids present in kanna definitely deserve further study for their use as an adaptogen for the receptors in the brain that deal with serotonin production as well as with the receptors that dictate how we emotionally react to anxiety and stress.

These alkaloids are mesembrine, mesembrenol and tortuosamine.  Mesembrine is thought to be the most powerful of the three, having a very impactful effect as a natural SSRI.

More importantly, kanna has not shown the debilitating withdrawal effects that so many of the prescribed medications for anxiety and depression tend to have.

Couple that with the fact that most people have to go on various medications and dosages before they find the one that works for them, and often feel even worse in the meantime, and sceletium (kanna) looks like a pretty good and viable natural alternative so far. If nothing else, it is worthy of your further attention and research if you’re looking for something to elevate your mood.

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