A South African pharmaceutical company recently obtained a license to study and market Sceletium tortuosum, a small succulent herb also known as kanna or kougoed.
The plant has been used to reduce hunger, thirst and fatigue and is said to have sedative, hypnotic and mood-elevating effects. It has been used by ancient tribes (San Bushmen) for thousands of years. It is commonly chewed, but also can be made into tea or smoked. Aside from its potential health benefits and mood-altering qualities, the plant is also well known for its ability to enhance the effects of other psychoactive drugs-- particularly cannabis.
Early next year, clinical studies will be done by a university to determine the plant's benefits.
After the trials, the company hopes to have a peer-review study published with its findings, and then use that to gain the support of potential food supplement manufacturers who will create a product containing the plant's ingredients.
Ben-Erik Van Wyk, a botany professor at the University of Johannesburg, said he's researched the plant and found no major side effects or evidence of dependency. He said he hopes the plant gains more attention.
"So often traditional remedies are looked down upon as old-fashioned and outdated," Van Wyk said. "If this product becomes a huge success, the culture will become more respected and better known."
Fortunately, the San people are meant to receive a portion of the profits received from the mass marketing of kanna.
- Research into mood-lifting plant
- Azarius encyclopedia on Kanna