What is Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum)
The world around us is hectic as all hell. This chaos comes in many forms; societal, professional, what you consume, the list is endless! Luckily, there are a ton of great minds looking for ways to deal with this stress. One such thing that we have stumbled upon that is starting to see more prevalence is something called Kanna.
Kanna is the common name for sceletium tortuosum, a plant native to South Africa. Natively this plant has been known to be de-stressing, or at least help deal with situations of high stress. The local people would chew on the leaves prior to a high stress situation, social or otherwise. They would report it would leave them able to coupe with the task at hand a lot better, calming the nerves and not getting overwhelmed. Sounds familiar?
Our reasons to use Kanna may be a bit different, but the results we would seek aren’t that different at all. We’re all human after all, and we all could use a little less stress. However, chewing on leaves all day is kind of a bit much. Packing a lip of Kanna isn’t quite as acceptable in our culture. And frankly, it would be kind of gross, too. Luckily we do have science on our side. We are able to condense or extract the molecules that are giving the relief we seek. In this particular case, we are going to want not just a single extract but a concentrated serving. Why is that?
Within Kanna, there are active molecules that play a very important role when it comes to reducing anxiety. These molecules are anxiolytic, which is a fancy yet accurate way of saying “anti-anxiety”,and act upon receptors in our body that would usually allow for this state of anxiety to get worse or persist. Right now, we are not entirely sure if there is a single molecule doing the leg work here [hence why we largely see the industry using the concentrate]. However, it does seem that a certain family of molecules is crucial. These appear to be some mesembrine alkaloids.
These alkaloids appear to be the ones giving the anxiolytic effect of Kanna. The way they do this is by acting as a reuptake inhibitor of serotonin and an inhibitor of phosphodiesterase 4 (PED4). Science. But why does this make it anxiolytic? Well serotonin is fairly well known to be mood elevating and makes you feel good. Our body doesn’t necessarily like outright breaking all of the serotonin down, so it will “suck it back up” in a sense when it needs to regulate its production. That can leave you feeling not so good and low levels of serotonin can leave you feeling stressed. Naturally this is a normal, healthy, and necessary function. However we throw dirt in nature’s face constantly and we can seriously mess with this control, leading us to states of high stress. Introducing these mesembrine alkaloids tamper down the re-uptake, allowing serotonin to float around a bit longer. This is one way Kanna helps us back off the stress.
The other way Kanna helps reduce stress is via that PDE4 enzyme inhibition. Typically, these enzymes are important for cellular signaling especially in nerve cells. However the overproduction/expression of these enzymes manifests as stressing to the organism. Typically these manifestations look like declines in cognition, high levels of stress, and negatively altered mood. By working against this, you get the opposite effect; less stress, better cognition, and a more positive mood. Best part is both of these benefits come with a very nice safety profile. At doses of upwards of 500mg are tolerated quite well, with upset stomachs being the most reported side effect at this high end dose.
The two ways Kanna work seem like god sends, and for some they could be. But this benefit is not some overtly powerful panacea that will cure all the stress ever. Rather they work mildly to reduce the stressors you experience. It won’t cure a disease state, or reverse a full blown panic attack. Rather it makes the day more bearable, a rough task less daunting, or a preworkout less electric.
When it comes to supplementing with Kanna, you’ll likely find it best as something to take the wild edge off a preworkout. It allows you to focus the energy more into the life, rather than just sending your mind off in a million different directions. You may also find it in nootropic products, again for it’s ability to increase focus. Better yet, you may find it harnesses and works in conjunction with other ingredients to further get you to the headspace you want. You could use it for sleep as well, but it mechanisms are not going to be overtly sedative. But if mild stress is what is preventing you from sleeping, this could potentially be helpful for you!
Kanna has a lot of room to run. With more and more stress being thrown at us daily, ways to combat it are becoming borderline necessary. With how safe it is and how it works, it will likely become more and more popular as people start to discover what it is. That is NOT to say everyone jump on board and go nuts. Be responsible. Try it out at the lowest dose possible and see how you feel and react! Hopefully this helps you deal with the stressors of every day a little better!