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What is Sceletium Tortuosum

Sceletium Tortuosum

Sceletium tortuosum is a succulent plant commonly found in South Africa, which is also known as Kanna, Channa, Kougoed (Kauwgoed/ 'kougoed', prepared from 'fermenting' S. tortuosum)—which literally means, 'chew(able) things' or 'something to chew'.

The generally recognised eight Sceletium species are S. crassicauleS. emarcidumS. exalatumS. expansumS. rigidumS. strictumS. tortuosum and S. varians. Per Klak et al. (2007), an alternative classification for the Sceletium group is Mesembryanthemum crassicauleM. emarcidumM. exalatumM. expansumM. archeri (S. rigidum), M. ladismithiense (S. strictum), M. tortuosum and M. varians.

The plant has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance from prehistoric times. The first known written account of the plant's use was in 1662 by Jan van Riebeeck. The traditionally prepared dried Sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed, but it has also been made into gel caps, teas and tinctures. It has also been used as a snuff and smoked.

What is Sceletium Tortuosum

Uses | Effects | Pharmacology

S. tortuosum is traditionally used to fight stress and depression, relieve pain and alleviate hunger.

S. tortuosum has been studied to alleviate excessive nocturnal barking in dogs, or meowing in cats, in pets diagnosed with dementia.

S. tortuosum may elevate mood and decrease anxiety, stress and tension. Intoxicating doses can be euphoric but not hallucinogenic, contrary to some literature on the subject.

Mesembrine | Mesembrenone

Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in S. tortuosum. There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the leaves and 0.86% in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant. It serves as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor with less prominent inhibitory effects on phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). In an in vitro study, a high-mesembrine Sceletium extract showed monoamine releasing activity by upregulation of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2).

Mesembrenone on the other hand serves as a more balanced serotonin reuptake inhibitor and PDE4 inhibitor.


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