sceletium tortuosum - the south african 'herbal diamond'...

Lessen Anxiety & Tension, Raise Your Spirits and Enhance your Sense of ‘Connection’

Sceletium tortuosum grows in South Africa and is prized for its calming and mood-altering effects by hunter-gatherer tribes (since prehistoric times). Its primary use was by warriors returning from battle, who took it to help dispel the fear and depression that was common after violent conflict.

It lessens anxiety, stress, and tension; raises spirits; and enhances the sense of ‘connection’. Moreover, nearly 400 years of documented use have not revealed any undesirable side-effects.

The first documented use of it under Western auspices occurs in 1662, when an explorer - trader named van Riebeeck started to barter with local tribes for it, after finding out about its effects on stressed individuals. Traditionally the plant was chewed, smoked, or powdered and inhaled as a snuff, producing euphoria and alertness which gently faded into relaxation.

Laidler in 1928 noted that it was "chewed and retained in the mouth for a while, whence the spirits would rise, eyes brighten and faces take on a jovial air, and they (the San tribes peoples) would commence to dance. However if indulged in to excess, it robbed them of their senses and they became intoxicated”.

According to Dr. Nigel Gericke (a medical doctor and authority on medical ethno-botany) - “Sceletium is one of the most ancient of mind-altering substances, and it is likely to have had a profound influence on the evolution of human consciousness. People interested in consciousness will find that sceletium is a key, but it needs to be used consistently”. He continues - “It is not a quick fix, and after ten years of use, I’m still learning about it”.

Dr. Gericke is continuing research into sceletium in cooperation with psychiatrists, including his wife, Dr. Olga Gericke, and psychologists in South Africa.

Dr. Gericke has a natural products consultancy in Cape Town and is co-author of “People's Plants" - “A Guide to Useful Plants of Southern Africa” and is a photographic guide to the useful plants of Southern Africa.

Uses and Benefits of Sceletium
This amazing plant gives people help for...

» Low mood & Depression
» Anxiety, Stress, Tension or Nervousness
» Obsessive Compulsive disorders
» Bulimia Nervosa
» Hot flushes and irritability in menopause
» Drug addiction support
» Smoking cessation support
» Alcohol rehabilitation support
» Post-traumatic stress disorder support
» Attention deficit disorder
» Lack of Energy

Whilst no clinical trials have been published yet, a number of doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists have reported a wide range of positive uses - from treating anxiety and depression to alleviating alcohol, cocaine, and also nicotine addiction. Moreover, by promoting a sense of empathy and connection, it has also been reported to help couples in therapy.

Because of its anti-addiction properties it also has many benefits in relation to appetite control as it reduces cravings. In his 1934 book Phantastica, Dr. Louis Lewin reports that mesembrine (the prime constituent), induces a meditative state of mind, which is believed to be the reason for its ability to reduce and eliminate addictions.

Others have noted enhanced tactile and sexual response, as well as vivid dream inducing properties. Regular users also report increased personal insight, interpersonal ease and a meditative, grounded feeling without any perceptual dulling. However high doses produce distinct inebriation and stimulation often followed by sedation. Others have reported increased skin sensitivity as well as sexual arousal, while others have said that it leaves them feeling free of fear and stress. 

People have reported that sceletium-induced relaxation has helped them to focus on inner thoughts and feelings or to have a heightened experience of the beauty of nature.

When chewed Sceletium has a mild anaesthetic effect in the mouth, and is still used by the San tribes when having a tooth extracted. Sceletium  is also used as an appetite suppressant by the San tribes peoples when walking long distances in arid areas because it reduces cravings. In minute doses, the San tribes treat children with colic. Sceletium is also considered a potentiator (enhancer of effects) for other herbal products.

How Sceletium Works So Effectively
Sceletium tortuosum is one of the oldest mesemb bearing alkaloids known to the western world. The active constituent alkaloids include mesembrine, mesembrenone, mesembrenol and tortuosamine. Mesembrine is usually the major alkaloid present, and has been demonstrated in laboratory studies (sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health in the United States) to be a very potent natural serotonin-uptake inhibitor (SSRI).

Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (or serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitor) are a class of anti-depressants used in the treatment of depression, anxiety disorders & some personality disorders. They are also typically effective and used in treating premature ejaculation problems as well as some cases of insomnia. The first SSRI drug being fluoxetine (Prozac)!

Like Prozac, it helps to keep more serotonin in circulation. However unlike Prozac and other SSRI’s it also appears to have a harmonizing and balancing effect on the other feel-good neurotransmitters, dopamine and norepinephrine, as well as on adrenaline. Sceletium is also proven to be much safer than pharmaceutical alternatives.

U.S.Patent 6 288 104 was granted for specific Sceletium alkaloids whereby in specified doses they act as anti-depressants, minor tranquilizers and anxiolytics used in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, psychological and psychiatric disorders where anxiety is present, major depressive episodes, alcohol and drug dependence, bulimia nervosa, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

Sceletium & Depression
In individuals suffering from depression the neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP)) is lacking. Mesembrine slows down the re-uptake process between neuron transmission and reception making it more probable that there will be more serotonin in the required receptors, thereby greatly increasing the possibility that there is sufficient levels to ensure full signal transfers in all neurons. The effect is mesembrine allows the brain to function fully even with reduced levels of serotonin.

Dosage: A typical dose is between 50mg and 100mg once or twice a day, usually taken after breakfast and lunch, although some doctors prescribe 100 - 200 mg a day for those with chronic depression or anxiety. In cases of severe addiction and drug rehabilitation programs, under a physicians or psychiatrists supervision the dose needed may be as high as 200mg twice daily.

Both plants are used for ameliorating the effects of depression and anxiety, and for causing a positive mental and emotional state. In that sense they are similar but there are some distinct and important differences. The primary one is that Sceletium can be said to be both “deeper” and “more subtle” in its effects.

Sceletium Is Stronger, Safer & More Effective than Kava Kava
The effects of Kava Kava can, in a very general way, be likened to the effect of alcohol and cannabis, in that all three tend to cause basic physiological relaxation. There is relaxation of both muscle tension and social inhibition, and a gentle opening of our emotional centre. The effects are generally distinct and easily noticed, and there is a discernible change in mood, and it is generally obvious to the user that the mood change is connected to the herb/drug in question.

Sceletium induces deep Relaxation
Sceletium has an altogether more sophisticated mode of action. It is not usually as directly discernible as Kava, cannabis or alcohol, and there is not the direct sense of “inebriation” that is generally felt in response to Kava.

Often the user will not even notice a change in state (i.e. they will feel perfectly “sober” and “normal”). However if questioned relative to the states of depression or anxiety that were previously being experienced, they will comment that those states are not present, and that they are quite happy, calm and relaxed.

Thus Sceletium is less like a “drug” that causes an “altered state”. Sceletium's way is to deeply and very gently cause a relaxation of the habitual mental tension that many people feel. Thoughts become more calm and relaxed, and the mind tends to function better (which, as we know, is not always the case with alcohol, cannabis & Kava!).

The energy being expended with the obsessive tendency of the mind in its anxious and depressed state, becomes liberated as the cause of the agitation disappears and the mind relaxes. This is noticed as a lifting of mood and the feeling of a sense of purpose, direction and “meaning”, as well as a very subtle increase in bodily energy. Sceletium therefore enjoys wider application than mere anti-depressant or anxiolytic (anti-anxiety).

It is an excellent support to anyone who is dealing with any kind of obsessive or habitual tendencies, so, for example, it makes quitting smoking, nail biting, drinking an easier and less traumatic affair to overcome.

Sceletium is a clear advance over the traditional social inebriants and may be used in a more integrated and sustained way. It does not inebriate or tranquilize, but rather removes the causes of stress and tension (which also drain mental and emotional energy) leaving one functioning in a “normal”, simple and happy way.

Because the mode of action is more subtle its beneficial effects (especially in more serious cases of depression) it can take a few days to reach optimum effect.

Alex’s (28) Story
“I used to drink on Friday nights to unwind after my stressful week. Now I prefer Sceletium, it not only chills me out but it makes me feel very connected and present and able to really enjoy my friends’ company. It's a bit like the buzz you get sitting on the beach watching the waves rolling in. What's more, there's no hangover”!

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