Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum) 101: Uses, Effects & More

Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum) 101: Uses, Effects & More

by Aaron Cadena on Jun 07, 2021

While much of the world relies on traditional medicine to soothe everyday ailments that plague the human mind and body, some parts of the world are still deeply rooted in plant-based solutions. South Africa is one place where that happens to be the case. The newfound interest in holistic and natural alternatives to synthetically produced pharmaceuticals has shed much light on some of the valuable plants that have been growing and in use by certain populations for centuries. kanna sceletium tortuosum, or simply kanna, is the perfect example. 

Once heavily relied on by hunters, gatherers, and native tribes for pain and mood alteration, kanna products are making their way into the mainstream of natural remedies. Let's take a closer look at kanna, the effects of this far-from-ordinary plant, and why kanna may be worth getting to know. 

What Is Kanna?

What is Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum)? | Hello Kanna

Kanna is a succulent-type plant that can be found growing natively in parts of South Africa. The plant itself is a shrub-like plant that has flat, moisture-filled leaves that creep over the desert ground as the plant grows. Seasonally the plant blossoms with yellow or pink flowers. Scientifically, kanna is sceletium tortuosum, but the plant is known by locals and people of different parts of the world by different names, such as canna, kauwgoed, and channa. 

You can find kanna in a number of forms, including as powder, oils, and simply in dried-leaf form for use as tea. However, kanna extracts and capsules are perhaps the most common modern product. Sceletium tortuosum extract is created in different ways, but the extract is taken from the leaves of the kanna plant. For years, kanna was prized for its psychoactive effects to uplift mood and soothe anxiety, but it may also be helpful in other ways, such as for pain and appetite suppression.

The History of Kanna and Traditional Kanna Extract Usage 

Kanna sceletium tortuosum has a long history with the first documented instances of its use dating back centuries. The sacred herb was often harvested by native tribes in the area and used for everything from pain to mood improvement. San and Khoi people from the area often chewed on the dried and fermented leaves of kanna to help them on treacherous journeys. The plant not only helped keep their moods uplifted to contend with the challenges they faced, but it could also be used to curb hunger when food was not abundant and soothe aches and pains. 

The traditional method of using kanna has been either ingesting the plant's leaves, smoking kanna, or rubbing juices from the leaves on the skin. As noted, most natives would ferment and dry the leaves, which allowed them to be chewed on to release the concentrated alkaloids or even ground and smoked. 

The Effects of Kanna 

In larger doses, kanna extract or powder has been reported to offer stimulating, almost euphoric effects. However, when used conservatively, the effects of sceletium tortuosum tend to be more therapeutic in nature, especially for individuals who deal with depression or anxiety.

For the most part, kanna is commonly reported to deliver a general sense of well-being; it uplifts your emotional outlook and decreases feelings of tension or stress. You may feel slightly more energetic or focused, experience a more positive outlook, or feel a bit less on edge. Kanna may even help you feel a bit more self-confident in your everyday interactions. Some people also find that kanna tends to suppress feelings of hunger, which may be helpful for individuals trying to lose weight. 

What Science Says About Sceletium Tortuosum Benefits 

Even though kanna sceletium tortuosum has been heavily used throughout history for positive effects, formal research into the extract is in its early stages. For this reason, much of what we know about kanna is based on anecdotal reports from people who have tried the extract. Nevertheless, a few studies do show that kanna could potentially be useful for several reasons. 

Emotional Outlook 

One of the most noteworthy benefits of kanna is its apparent ability to improve your overall mood. Some research has noted that sceletium tortuosum extract may be effective for boosting serotonin levels much like prescription medications for anxiety or depression. In one specific study, 37 adult subjects were given either 25mg of sceletium tortuosum, 8mg or the extract, or a placebo. The adults given kanna reported better sleep and a better ability to cope with stress. In cell studies, kanna has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels, which is a prominent stress hormone. 

Pain and Inflammation 

Kanna has been purportedly used for pain for many years. However, the formal research into whether kanna can help with pain is lacking. One study published in 208 noted that kanna seemed to have mild anti-inflammatory properties, however. Additionally, many commonly prescribed pain medications work in part by affecting the release of serotonin, which changes the perception of pain. Therefore, it is easy to conclude that kanna may actually help people with some types of pain. 

Cognitive Benefits 

Some of the earliest research into kanna has shown that it may help improve cognitive function, which can play a role in everything from memory to focusing on tasks. In a randomized, placebo-controlled study, adults given 25mg of sceletium tortuosum exhibited cognitive-enhancing effects. The effects were so promising that the researchers noted the extract may be a potential agent to help with Alzheimer's. 

How to Use Kanna

You can find kanna in several forms, and each form can offer certain benefits. For example, kanna tea can be a nice way to get the morning off to a lifted start and kanna tinctures or powders are easy to add to your daily smoothie. However, the majority of kanna extract is available in capsule form, which makes the plant easier to ingest in a perfectly measured-dose form. For example, Hello Kanna Kanna Paks give you easy-to-swallow, 40mg capsules to take as needed. 

Because kanna is not an FDA-approved product, no specific dosing guidelines have been established. Kanna can yield so many effects depending on the user and quality of the product, so the general rule is to start with a lower dose and work your way up in smaller increments as needed. 

Is Kanna Sceletium Tortuosum Safe?

Adverse reactions to sceletium tortuosum are unlikely, and the supplement is generally considered safe for most people. Some people may experience mild nausea with initial use, but the symptom usually passes with repeated use. As an adage, kanna has been shown to not be addictive in animal studies. Plus, numerous people have taken sceletium tortuosum products for long periods without experiencing problems if they stop taking the supplement suddenly. Kanna may interact with some medications taken for depression, such as: 

  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
  • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

These medications affect serotonin levels in the brain, which may also be an effect of kanna. Be sure to discuss kanna with your doctor before taking if you are currently being treated with prescription medications. 

Why Choose Hello Kanna

With so many interesting benefits of the kanna sceletium tortuosum plant coming to light, you may want to try kanna for yourself. Without question, finding the most reputable seller is a must. While kanna extract, tea, and powder are easy enough to find, not every seller is offering a high-quality, reliable product. 

At Hello Kanna, we wholly believe in the value of kanna as botanical medicine. We offer standardized extracts with higher-yet-consistent mesembrine alkaloid levels, so you always get a reliable experience. Each kanna product we offer is 100 percent all-natural, tested by a third-party lab, and available at industry-leading prices. As an adage, we formulate proprietary kanna extract blends with added nootropics and vitamins to complement the effects of the extract. Take a look at our collection to find a quality kanna-based product today!