· By Herbal Healings
5 Benefits of Kanna
In recent times, the search for natural remedies to alleviate stress, enhance brain function, and promote overall well-being has led many individuals to explore the world of nootropics. These substances, known for their cognitive support properties, include well-known herbs like Lemon Balm, Saffron, Lion’s Mane Mushroom, Gotu Kola, and Ginkgo, and now gaining attention is the South African succulent, Kanna, scientifically known as Sceletium tortuosum.
What is Kanna?
Kanna, also referred to as Kougoed or Channa, is a flowering succulent indigenous to South Africa. Its name, derived from the Latin word "sceletus," meaning skeleton, points to the skeletal appearance of its dried leaves. "Kanna" translates loosely to "something to chew," highlighting its historical use as a chewing agent with health benefits. Traditionally, Kanna has played a vital role in South African culture, serving purposes ranging from thirst quenching to trade and various health, social, and spiritual practices.
According to a review in the journal Molecules, the Khoikhoi and San people have used Kanna since ancient times, incorporating it into their indigenous practices for endurance during hunting, stress management in challenging environments, and overall well-being. Health-wise, Kanna has been traditionally used for emotional well-being, stress response, stomach upset, minor pain, sleep support, toothaches, and respiratory health.
5 Health Benefits of Kanna
1. Kanna May Support Emotional Well-Being
Kanna has a reputation for promoting relaxation and calmness, creating a blissful state of mind. Emerging research suggests that the alkaloids in Kanna, particularly mesembrine alkaloids, may support emotional well-being by influencing the production and function of serotonin. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being, contentment, and happiness, is crucial for maintaining a positive mood.
2. Kanna May Offer Diverse Cognitive Support
As a nootropic, Kanna is known for its cognitive support, partly due to its stress-relieving effects. Research indicates that Kanna may support cognitive function by enhancing attention, promoting cognitive flexibility and neuroplasticity, and providing memory support. These effects are attributed to its influence on serotonin, phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE4), and antioxidant properties that benefit inflammatory response.
3. Kanna May Help Ease Stress and Tension
The use of Kanna to ease stress and tension has been increasing. Historical use and research suggest that Kanna supports a healthy stress response through its effects on serotonin, PDE4, and the adrenal cortex, which produces stress hormones. Despite historical comparisons to recreational drugs, Kanna has unique effects and is considered safe for managing everyday stress and tension.
4. Kanna May Help with Minor Pain Management
Kanna, traditionally known for its analgesic properties, has been used to ease various minor aches and pains. Preliminary research suggests that Kanna's alkaloids may work on pain receptors, offering potential relief. Additionally, its promotion of normal inflammatory response contributes to its traditional use in managing pain.
5. Kanna May Help You Sleep
Given its relaxation-inducing and calming effects, Kanna may contribute to promoting normal sleep for those experiencing occasional sleeplessness. While the exact mechanisms are not fully understood, Kanna's potential effects on serotonin and mild analgesic properties may play a role in supporting restful sleep.
Kanna Side Effects & Contraindications
Kanna is generally considered safe when taken in recommended doses. Side effects, when they occur, are rare and mild, including stomach upset, headaches, or changes in elimination patterns. However, caution is advised for those taking medications targeting serotonin, as Kanna may influence serotonin levels. Larger doses of Kanna can have a mild sedative effect, affecting alertness, so driving or operating machinery is not recommended until its effects are known. Pregnant or nursing individuals should consult their healthcare providers before using Kanna.
A look back
Kanna, deeply rooted in South African tradition, has garnered global attention for its potential benefits in emotional well-being, cognitive support, stress relief, pain management, and sleep. While preliminary research supports its traditional uses, more studies are needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind Kanna's effects. Available in various supplement forms, Kanna offers a natural approach to enhancing overall health and well-being, but individuals should exercise caution and consult healthcare professionals, especially if they have underlying health conditions or are taking medications.
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