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Sceletium – Herb of the Year

Published On: 30 November 20184.4 min read

“We elect Sceletium tortuous, also known as Kanna, as the herb of the year – not only for its heart-opening qualities but myriad other benefits.”

Sceletium is one of the most usable herbs for mental and emotional wellness. It has wide and profoundly efficacious application in many areas, and is a unique botanical treasure. Growing only in a small arid region of South Africa, this tiny succulent ground-cover has been used and revered by the San (Bushmen) and Khoikhoi (Hottentot) people for longer than history records. This legacy, which they have lovingly stewarded since ancient times, is their gift to us; and in perfect timing for the needs of the world today. It is truly the great plant of the heart, enlivening the heart where it is active and restoring it where it has been lost.

Not only does Sceletium regenerate the capacity for deep empathy and love, it also mediates the entire mind and nervous system in the direction of calm, clear centeredness and spacious feeling. In this age of sensory overload, stress, busyness, anxiety and disconnection that so many people suffer, Sceletium is the perfect ally. The name Sceletium comes from the Latin Sceletus from the skeletonise pattern in the dry leaves. It has possibly the most complex chemistry of any dthnobotanically significant plant, with at lest 32 known alkaloids, including the number of terpenes and saponins. the alkaloids mesembrine and mesembrenone are responsible for most of the activity.

Mood Enhancement

There is no better natural mood enhancer than Sceletium. It’s more effective than commonly used botanicals such as St. John’s Wort, Rhodiola, Ginkgo Biloba, Mucana, Valerian, Gotu Kola, Kava, Passiflora and L-Theanine etc; and while all are usable, not all have the directness and reliability of action that Sceletium does. Sceletium greatly enhances serotonin function (more than any other herb known) and does so more effectively than L-Tryptophan, 5-HTP and Griffonia (without causing the drowsiness that is often associated with these serotonin precursors). Sceletium is primarily an SRA (Serotonin Releasing Agent) and a safer and more natural approach than using synthetic SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-Uptake Inhibitor) drugs for dealing with depressive feelings.


Sceletium is the model anxiolytic (anti-anxiety agent). Anxiety has multiple causes, but a central theme among them is a racing hyperactivity of the mind and a consequential hyperactivity of the automatic nervous system. Sceletium works directly, in an adaptogenic way, to mediate the “pace” of the mind, slowing a reading mind and brining a calm centeredness to the being.

Stress Reduction

Few are exempt from the stress that comes with information overload, complexity, time scarcity and the multi-tasking we engage in to survive midst of our modern lives is the key to mangling stress. Sceletium allows us to take a breath and see the world from a more spacious vantage, and to convert what would otherwise be “stressful”, into energy and inspiration.

Cognitive Enhancement and Neuro-protection

A calm mind is an intelligent mind. When we are relaxed, creativity springs freely and unbidden, memory performs as needed and overall cognition is improved. Mesembrenone is a PDE4 Inhibitor, which is known to have strongly precognitive and neuro-protective effects.

Intimacy Enhancement

Sceletium, especially when used in a single high dose, opens the heart, dissolves emotional armouring, and removes relational fear. With the natural human trust opened and expanded in this state, there’s opportunity for a profound deepening of love, communication and intimacy between lovers.

Pro-Sexual Aphrodisiac

Sceletium has a profound and authentic aphrodisiac and pro-sexual effect; one based on emotional responsiveness rather than mere physically generated changes in the body. Bodily relaxation is deepened, tactile sensitivity is enhanced and mend find they can last longer. Recent research also suggest that △7-mesembrenone, another key Sceletium alkaloid, may function as a mild PDE5 Inhibitor thereby enhancing and strengthening erection and enhancing blood flow in the pelvic area for men and women. The deep physical-emotional opening effect of Sceletium has the power to transform sexual conditions, allowing full sexual function and expression.

Stopping Smoking

Significant benefits for those who wish to stop smoking come from Sceletium. Apart from reducing the severity of nicotine withdrawal, it also greatly alleviates the carving and desire to smoke. The greatest challenge, that smokers attest to when giving up, is the tendency to compulsively and obsessively thing about smoking. As one of Sceletium’s central effects is to mediate the obsessive tendency of the mind, it’s been found to make a crucial difference to successfully relinquish the habit.

Deep Sleep

Aside from increasing melatonin levels as a consequence of enhanced serotonin function (melatonin is a serotonin metabolite), Kanna greatly supports falling asleep and remaining asleep. Reports indicate enhanced sleep quality, better morning function and a decrease in muscle cramps and night sweats.

Yoga and Body Work

For those involved in yoga, the herb is extremely useful: due it its combined actions of relaxing and releasing the fascia, as well as allowing a more body-centred awareness. Breathing is also enhanced, inviting a deeper pranayama practice. Likewise, it’s an excellent aid to various bodywork therapies, including massage, deep tissue work and fascia release therapies such as Rolfing or Structural Integration.

This article originally appeared in Holistica, a South African Directory of Natural Health Annual Directory of 2018

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