Kratom Alternatives: Kanna Plant


Kanna (Sceletium tortuosum) is a succulent plant in the cacti native to South Africa. Kanna plant is small, with thick leaves and small white and yellow flowers. The properties of kanna were already known to the ancient tribes of South Africa. Because of its benefits, kanna is gaining popularity across the world. However, there are still many people unaware of kanna properties and what it can do for them. In this article, we will show you some facts about kanna that may encourage you to try this natural remedy.


A Brief History of Kanna


The San and the Khoikhoi tribes from South Africa used the kanna plant as part of their traditional medicine. The name kanna is also the name they gave to the eland antelope from Southern Africa.

These tribes used kanna for rituals, ceremonies, and even in the tooth extractions. It was also a remedy to treat colic and to suppress hunger. They also used the kanna plant to make the children sleep.

The first written references of Sceletium tortuosum come from Dutch colonists at the end of the 17th century. Thanks to these reports we know how popular kanna was among the indigenous people. But also, that they consumed it by chewing it and smoking. Because of that, the Dutch settlers also referred to kanna as “kougoed”.


Kanna Active Elements


The kanna plant has three main alkaloids:

  • Mesembrenone
  • Mesembrine
  • Mesembrenol

However, it is not easy to set up the exact distribution of alkaloids in kanna. This is due to several reasons:

  • Environmental conditions: Depending on the place where kanna grows, the season of the year… All these conditions will affect the set of alkaloids that the kanna plant will have.
  • Preparation method: The process of fermenting kanna to prepare the “kugoed” product could also alter the set of alkaloids.
  • Sceltium plants: Scientists do not agree on the categorization of the Sceletium plants. Due to that, you can find different plants in the sceltium family labeled as kanna. And they wll have different sets of alkaloids.

In any case, all kanna plants have mesembrenone, mesembrine and mesembrenol. Other alkaloids that you can find in these plants are mesembranol, Sceletium A4 or tortuosamine, among others.

How do Kanna Alkaloids Work?


Kanna alkaloids are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. That is, they block the reuptake of serotonin in your brain. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, sleep, appetite, memory, or sexual desire. It is a common belief that low levels of serotonin are linked to depression. By blocking its reuptake, kanna makes that more serotonin is available.

But kanna alkaloids also inhibit enzyme Phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), which regulates mood or cognitive functions, especially those related to age. As a result, kanna plant is also a neuroprotective substance.


Uses of Kanna


Because of its active elments, you can use kanna plant as a natural remedy for different conditions. Kanna can help you fight depression and anxiety. It is also a great stimulant and it can help you improve your mood.


Fight Anxiety and Depression

Kanna is an excellent remedy for anxiety and depression. It will provide you with a relaxed sense of comfort and calm. And because kanna’s alkaloids block the reabsorption of serotonin, it is a great ally in fighting the symptoms of depression. Bear in mind that antidepressants are also serotonin reuptake inhibitors. Hence, kanna is a natural antidepressant. It will also enhance your mood.



If you use kratom for euphoria, kanna may also be your a good choice for you. This herb can bring about euphoria quite easily. This plant will provide you with a nice, deep feeling of happiness. If you want to feel euphoria, kanna will help you.


Energy Booster

Kanna plant is also a good energizer. By consuming kanna, you will get a great boost of energy, very helpful especially when you are very tired or experiencing fatigue.


How to Take Kanna


Native tribes from South Africa used to chew and then smoke kanna. But before doing that, they fermented the different parts of the kanna plant (roots, bark, leaves…). Then, they consumed the fermented product.

Nowadays, chewing and snorting are still the most common ways of consuming kanna. If you opt for chewing it, you can mix it with a chewing gum to make it easier to consume.

Another choice is to consume kanna sublingually, which can be combined with chewing. Many users claim that taka kanna sublingually is the best way to feel its effects.

Smoking kanna is also very popular. If you smoke kanna, the effects will be more relaxed, but it can also make you feel stoned.

You can also brew kanna into a tea. However, you will need higher doses.

Another way of consuming kanna is by snorting it. This will bring about its effects very quickly. However, snorting can even be harmful and damage your nose and mucus membranes.


Different Types of Kanna Products


The products derived of the kanna plant usually include all or many parts of the plant: roots, leaves, flowers, bark… You can find different types of kanna product, such as:

  • Dried kanna
  • Fermented kanna
  • Kanna extracts

A different choice is Zembrin, a kanna extract patented and marketed by HGH Pharmaceuticals.


Kanna plant dosage chart infographic

Dosage of Kanna


Kanna dosage depends on the intake method.

Chewing and sublingual

  • Small dose: 50 mg
  • Medium dose: 200 mg
  • High dose: 400 mg


  • Small dose: 50 – 125 mg
  • Medium dose: 125 – 250 mg
  • High dose: 250 – 500 mg


  • Small dose: 20 – 50 mg
  • Medium dose: 50 – 100 mg
  • High dose: 100 mg

Kanna Tea

  • Small dose: 200 – 500 mg
  • Medium dose: 500 mg – 1 g
  • High dose: 1 – 2 g



Side Effects and Interactions of Kanna


Do not consume kanna if you are already taking other serotonin uptake inhibitors (SRIs or SSRIs) or mono oxidase inhibitors (MAOi’s). That includes antidepressants, but also other plants, such as passionflower or yohimbe. You must not combine kanna with MDMA (ecstasy) either, as it could provoke hyperthermia.

Kanna side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • High blood pressure
  • Drowsiness

Avoid driving or operating any vehicles if you have consumed kanna. Also, do not consume kratom during pregnancy or breastfeeding