Also known as Kanna, sceletium tortusoum is a herb that is traditionally chewed prior to stressing endeavours. It suggest that it may play a role in reducing state anxiety although more evidence is required.
Kanna is most often used for
Sceletium tortuosum is a herb known as Kanna which is traditionally known as a psychoactive herb. It is not known to be hallucinogenic nor habit forming but is taken prior to stressing events such as hunting (traditional use) for its cognitive effects.
Limited evidence does not suggest any improvement in reaction time or many parameters of cognitive performance such as memory although there may be an attenuation of state anxiety. State anxiety refers to the increase in anxiety experienced during a high stress event (such as a cognitive or physical test) and administration of Kanna prior to these events may reduce how much anxiety is experienced and thus the deleterious effects of anxiety on performance.
While the mechanisms as to why Kanna exerts these effects is not conclusively known, it is known to influence the amygdala of the brain (a brain region central in emotional processing) and is known to also have inhibitory effects on both the serotonin transporter as well as an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4); both of these proteins existing in the amygdala.
While there is not enough evidence to currently recommend Kanna, its main role of reducing state anxiety appears promising and there are a few other claims (such as antidepressive effects) which remain untested.
- Sceletium Tortuosum
Currently studies using Kanna have used the brand name Zembrin® at doses of 8-25mg prior to cognitive testing. This brand name is a 2:1 concentration of Kanna based on dry weight and is considered equivalent to 16-50mg of the dry weight of the plant itself.
Kanna has been studied as oral administration (capsules) but traditionally the leaves have been chewed and saliva swallowed for similar effects.
Optimal frequency of dosing (ie. either only on testing days or daily) is currently not known.