This small ground cover plant of the succulent family is native to Southern Africa. Though its origins are lost to antiquity it has been known in the last four hundred years as; Kanna, Kougoed, Channa and Red Tea. Sceletium Tortuosum has been prescribed by South African Hottentot and San medicine men as a mood elevator, relaxant, empathogen and analgesic.
Much like Kava of the South Sea islands It is regarded by botanical historians as one of the most significant influences on the evolution of human consciousness. Also, like Kava when chewed in sufficient quantity Sceletium tortuosum has a mild anesthetic effect in the mouth. African tribes traveled great distances to harvest this shrub from the root. After mass drying and fermenting it was then twisted up like tobacco and stored for periods of drought and thirst. An intoxicant, it induced a celebratory inspiring them to dance. The main active chemical in Kanna is mesembrine. Contrary to popular lore sceletium is not an hallucinogen. No adverse effects have been recorded and can be used with other relaxants including St. john’s wort, SAMe, 5HTP and pharmaceutical SSRI”s such as Prozac.
Sceletium is a potent blocker of 5-HT transporter binding and has powerful inhibitory effects on phosphodiesterase 4 but not other phosphodiesterases which explains why it has a mile erectile enhancing ability.. Sceletium’s most active component, mesembrine is the most active alkaloid against the 5-HT transporter and PDE4. (Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G4 0RE, UK) The alkaloid mesembrine, is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, was isolated from Sceletium tortuosum. (Stafford GI, Pedersen ME, van Staden J, Jäger AK.) It possesses no cytotoxic effects.