Did You Know…that a South African plant has been shown to dramatically improve mood and mental clarity?
Thousands of plants have been and continue to be used to improve mood and boost mental function. Perhaps the one with the longest history and the most exciting recent research is a South African plant called Sceletium tortuosum.
Sceletium (also called “Kanna” by the San people of South Africa) has been used as far back as 1662. According to Chris Kilham, a “medicine hunter” who researches natural remedies all over the world and teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the San people would harvest sceletium and then bury it to ferment it before finally drying it. The dried sceletium was then consumed, used as snuff, or smoked. The San people credited sceletium for enhancing clarity, optimism, idea generation, and focus. In fact, the valued it so much that it was even used as currency!
How Sceletium Rewires Your Brain
Sceletium benefits are thought to stem from the alkaloids it contains, notably mesembrine, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. Researchers believe these alkaloids enhance natural production of dopamine, ”a pleasure chemical. They also boost the effects of serotonin, another crucial mood compound. Finally, sceletium also appears to increase levels of a substance called cAMP, which has been shown to produce beneficial effects on mood and cognitive function in stressful situations.
Reported positive effects of sceletium include…
- Quick mood elevation
- Improved sleep
- Better focus and memory
- Lower stress hormone levels
- Better cognitive function
- More energy and motivation
- Lower anxiety
- Fewer food cravings
- Increased relaxation
- Increased libido
Natural Defense Against Depression and Anxiety
A study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology showed that the main alkaloids in sceletium demonstrated the same selective serotonin reuptake inhibition that pharmaceutical antidepressant drugs rely upon. However, there is a crucial difference with sceletium. Namely, because it is multi-compound plant, it appears not to present the hazardous effects of antidepressants, which can include gastrointestinal disorders, weight gain, loss of libido, sleep problems, and exacerbated depression.
One prominent natural medicine practitioner notes that most people report a sense of relief and comfort and a lift in their mood and mental clarity within as little as 30 minutes of taking sceletium.
As noted, sceletium has been used medicinally for centuries, with no significant adverse effects noted. This safety profile makes sceletium an interesting option for mild depression and anxiety. Although it won’t necessarily help all cases of depression and anxiety, it probably merits a closer look by those with for mild to moderate mood disorders and for those interested in better focus and mental energy.