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How the bushmen used Kanna (Sceletium)

Updated: Oct 21, 2021

Sceletium tortuosum, known to us as Kanna, and in the past referred to as kougoed has been used by indeginous KhoiSan people in South Africa, even before it was documented for the first time in 1662.

It is believed that the San and Khoikhoi, who were hunter- gatherers, discovered this plant whilst looking for food. They definitely saw its potential. Several tribes in Africa have traditionally used Kanna to elevate mood, relieve anxiety, regulate sleep, and quench thirst and hunger. It was also used for healing, social and spiritual purposes. Kanna was often chewed - thus the name “kougoed” in Afrikaans that refers to “kou” - chew; “goed”- stuff.

In 1738, Peter Kolbe, a keen botanist made this remark about Kanna (Sceletium)

“the greatest cheerer of the spirits and the noblest restorative in the world”

Studies revealed that Kanna’s (Sceletium) mood-elevating action is caused by a number of alkaloids including Mesembrine, Mesembrenol and Mesembrenone which interact with the brain's dopamine and serotonin receptors. Kanna (Sceletium) acts as a 100% natural SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor). This means that it keeps the serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter, in the space between neurons (brain nerve cells) making it easier for the brain to transmit messages.

We planted our first field of Kanna (Sceletium) in 2008 in Namibia and started using Kanna (Sceletium) a year later for first-hand experience and confirmation of the deemed benefits. Over the years we found an altogether positive effect; a sense of calm and coping in stressful situations, an absence of drowsiness - and definitely no ‘kick’.

Friends and relatives that tested the effect of Kanna had similar positive experiences. Taking Kanna daily since 2009 we have experienced no side effects.

This natural plant-based product is a game changer in the fight against stress, anxiety and tension. Additional research proved that this succulent improves cognitive flexibility, assisting in areas of focus and memory.

Click here to learn more about the benefits of Kanna (Sceletium) and how you can start balancing your ‘happy hormones’ naturally.

Works Cited “Sceletium Tortuosum.”, 23 August 2021, Accessed 29 09 2021.

Faber, Richard James, et al. The Importance of Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E. Brown and Its Viability as a Traditional African Medicinal Plant. Intechopen, 2021.

Manganyi, Madira Coutlyne, et al. “A Chewable Cure “Kanna”: Biological and Pharmaceutical Properties of Sceletium tortuosum.” Molecules, vol. 26, no. 2557, 2021.

Neuropsychopharmacology. “Acute Effects of Sceletium tortuosum (Zembrin), a Dual 5-HT Reuptake and PDE4 Inhibitor, in the Human Amygdala and its Connection to the Hypothalamus.” Neuropsychopharmacology, vol. 38(13), no. 2708–2716, 2013.,

Patel, Kamal. “Sceletium tortuosum.”, 14 June 2018,

Wild, Sarah. “Bushmen cure-all offers locals a sustainable income.” Mail & Guardian, 19 Feb 2015.,

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