What Is Kanna?

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Until recently, it was difficult to source quality standardized kanna extracts outside of South Africa. However, with centuries of indigenous San use and a growing body of contemporary studies to support its healing benefits, this plant is poised to become a much more widely used tool in promoting mental health and well-being. The latest research indicates that Sceletium tortuosum (commonly known as kanna) has light SSRI capabilities, regulating serotonin production and limiting its reuptake in the brain; it also acts as a PDE4 enzyme inhibitor implicated in depression treatment.

What is kanna euphoric effects of kanna can be compared to those experienced with MDMA, which is why it’s often referred to as “nature’s MDMA.” But, there are many key differences, including a more balanced mood, a less intense experience and the ability to help people feel grounded while feeling euphoric. In addition, kanna doesn’t typically increase anxiety or paranoia.

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In fact, some people claim that kanna actually decreases physical pain. The evidence behind this is extremely limited, but some rat studies using the kanna supplement Zembrin found that it reduced amygdala activity associated with anxiety in restrained rats.

Ultimately, though, kanna isn’t recommended as a long-term solution for anxiety or depression. Wassermann tells VeryWell Mind that it’s important to talk with your doctor before trying any new herbal supplements to ensure that they won’t interfere with your current medications or cause side effects. She does caution against taking kanna with MAO inhibitors, MDMA or 5HTP, which could lead to a dangerously high level of serotonin.