are eight species, all are found at the Cape region of
South Africa. Sceletium Tortuosum (Canna, Kougoed) is
the best known and most widely distributed.
The use of Sceletium tortuosum as a mood-altering
substance dates back from 1662 to 1685. It was used by
pastoralists and hunter-gatherers to decrease thirst and
hunger. A traditional method was used to prepare the
plant. It was then chewed, smoked or powdered to be
inhaled as a snuff. The plant is used to this day as a
sedative in the form of tea, decoction or a tincture,
and it is used effectively by indigenous healers to wean
alcoholics off alcohol. Sceletium tortuosum is not
hallucinogenic; it can cause euphoria, initially with
stimulation and later with sedation.
Very few people experience severe side-effects.
Occasional nausea, an increase in anxiety or
irritability and insomnia has been recorded. People
taking psychiatric drugs or any cardiac medications are
advised not to take Sceletium products. Safety in
pregnancy has not been established.