What is Kanna?
Kanna, channa or kougoed is a chewable psychoactive substance made from a plant scientifically referred to as sceletium tortuosum. Kougoed means something to chew on in Dutch or Afrikaans. The latin name reflects the fact that when dried, the veins give the plant a ‘skeletal’ appearance. It has a long history in South Africa of being used to alter someone's mood. To prepare it for consumption it is traditionally crushed, then fermented, and dried after. The product is (like its name implies) preferably chewed but can be smoked, used to brew tea or eaten raw. To benefit from the psychoactive effects of kanna, it has to be fermented. This process combined with exposure to sunlight is required to obtain the active compounds including, but not limited to, mesembrine and delta-7-mesembrenone.
Where does Kanna come from?
Sceletium tortuosum grows naturally in some parts of South Africa but can be cultivated anywhere under the right circumstances. It has been used for it’s cognitive effects by various tribes in what is now South Africa and has also been used in religious ceremonies by the San people. Due to its popularity it had been traded widely in and around the south of Africa. Kanna is available as a supplement, amongst others under the brand name Zembrin.
What are the effects of Kanna?
Even though there are studies on the mechanisms behind the supposed effects of kanna it is not fully understood yet. It is known that it has an effect on the serotonin system, inhibiting reuptake. It also has a limited inhibition of noradrenaline and dopamine. Furthermore some compounds in kanna may interact with the body’s cannabinoid system possibly leading to synergistic effects when combined with cannabis. Kanna has also shown measurable beneficial effects when used to treat dementia, cancer and malaria.
- Reduced anxiety
- Increased cognition 
- Improved sleep
- Reduced depression
- Reduced pain 
How to use Kanna?
Kanna is available in various forms, as supplemental pills, finely ground plant material or even fermented and shredded plant material. There is evidence suggesting that the active compounds from kanna can enter the body more easily when it is chewed. It is, however, not necessary to do so to experience the purported effects. Both powdered kanna and pills are widely available. Pills have the easiest way to dose but a limited ability to be finetuned. Powders can differ in strength and have to be adjusted accordingly.
How much Kanna to use?
When trying out new supplements it is wise to start with a lower dose and–depending on the experienced effects–increase or decrease the dosage accordingly
Kanna distributed under the brand name Zembrin comes in doses of 8 to 25 mg. One source compares it to 16 to 50 mg of dried plant material. Powders come in different strengths so it is not known what dosage to use to maximize effects.
What are the side effects of Kanna?
In a double blind study evaluating the side effects of kanna, 37 subjects taking 8 to 25 mg per day for 3 months showed no adverse effects compared to the control group.  There are no other known dangers or risks associated with the use of kanna.
Interactions of Kanna
Most nootropics are relatively safe to use on their own. Combining them with other substances may cause them to suddenly become dangerous or life-threatening.
As kanna has an effect on the serotonin system it may have harmful effects when combined with antidepressant drugs.
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|Other names||Sceletium Tortuosum, channa, kougoed|