Kanna Powder known scientifically as Sceltium tortuosum is directly sent to us from a South African farm dedicated to growing Kanna and similar products. Traditionally Kanna is used as a liquid, chewed or consumed as a tea.The major alkaloids found in Kanna are Aptenia and Mesembrine. S. tortuosum may elevate mood and decrease anxiety, stress and tension. Intoxicating doses can be euphoric but not hallucinogenic, contrary to some literature on the subject. According to anecdotal reports, it may potentiate the euphoriant effects of cannabis.
S. tortuosum contains about 1–1.5% total alkaloids. The alkaloids contained in S. tortuosum believed to possess psychoactivity include mesembrine, mesembrenone, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. A standardised ethanolic extract of dried S. tortuosum had a IC50 for SERT of 4.3 μg/ml and for PDE4 inhibition of 8.5 μg/ml. Mesembrine is a major alkaloid present in S. tortuosum. There is about 0.3% mesembrine in the leaves and 0.86% in the leaves, stems, and flowers of the plant. It serves as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor with less prominent inhibitory effects on phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). In an in vitro study, a high-mesembrine Sceletium extract showed monoamine releasing activity by upregulation of vesicular monoamine transporter 2 (VMAT2).
Traditional and contemporary methods of preparation serve to reduce levels of potentially harmful oxalates found in S. tortuosum. An analysis indicated levels of 3.6-5.1% oxalate, which falls within the median range for crop plants, just like spinach or kale. It is speculated that physical crushing of the plant and the fermentation process reduce the potentially harmful effects of oxalic acid. In particular, free oxalic acid is likely to complex with cell wall-associated calcium salts and precipitate as calcium oxalate when plant material is crushed.
Kanna is believed to act as a Selective Serotonin Re-uptake (SSRI). In combination with common psychiatric medications including other SSRIs (such as Prozac) and MAO Inhibitors, it may cause injury if ingested.