Plants - Drugs Mind - Spirit Freedom - Law Arts - Culture Library  
Erowid relies on the generosity of the public for funding.
Please, include Erowid Center in your charitable giving!
From: (Paul Rossouw) 
Newsgroups: alt.drugs
Subject: Canna/Kanna
Message-ID: <>
Date: 18 Jul 94 02:53:00 GMT

A recent query  asked about a psychedelic
called Kanna or Canna (not Cannabis), a tree or bush with a Latin name
starting with Me- or something.

This is the species Mesembryanthemum (aka Sceletium) a hardy ground
cover with sea-anemone flowers that grows in the Cape Provinces. For
hundreds of years the Khoi aka Hottentots used S.expansum and
S.tortuosum as Canna or Kanna (Channa/Khanna). With the arrival of
the Dutch, they called it Kaugoed (gauwgoed) which literally means,
"chew(able) things/goodies" or "something to chew". They chewed, and
later smoked, the roots or leaves and then "their animal spirits were
awakened. Their eyes sparkled and their faces manifested laughter
gaiety. Thousands of delightsome ideas appeared, and a pleasant jollity
which enabled them to be amused by the simplest jests. By taking the
substance to excess they lost consciousness and fell into a delirium"
(Kolbe, 260 years ago)

The alkaloids mesembrine and mesembrenine were isolated by Zwicky (1914)
who chewed 5 gm of the plant and felt a prickly sensation on his tongue.
A higher dosage gave him a headache. He then dissolved 0.15 gm
mesembrine in hydrochlori acid. He heard a buzzing in his ears, felt a
weakness in his arms and legs and he trembled slightly. Kolbe's
exaggerations notwithstanding, in humans and animal these alkaloids seem
to have mainly a NARCOTIC (not psychedelic) effect. Lewin in
his book Phantastica (1934) classifies it as a hypnotic. That is,
delirium, sedation, loss of appetite, depression, analgesia, torpor. I
did hear of a botanist who tried it and it made his mouth and then his
body go numb. While out in the Botanical Garden of Stellenbosch he was
stung by some bees, and felt no pain.

There are other *more* interesting plants here in southern Africa that
were used long ago and are used now. A lot of serious research needs to
be done. To entice those of you who are attuned to these things, here is
list of some of them:

- Pancraetium trianthum (R.E Schultes reported that the San (Bushmen)
made deep cuts in their foreheads and then rubbed the sliced bulb on
the open wound to induce visions.)

- Sutherlandia sp?. (Is this the "sch-oo-ah" that features so
prominently in the San myths?)

- Ferraria glutinosa (Richard Katz, a psychologist who spent some time
with the Kalahari San, reported that the bulb is apparently

- Monodendium lugarde (Used by the sangomas who chew some root to see
visions of the future)

- Catha edulis (Yes its Khat, only here it was known as Bushmen's Tea)

- Nananthus albinotus (Pulverized as a hallucinogenic additive to tobacco)

- Ranunculus sp.  (I cannot remember the species, but Schultes
mentions that it is smoked by the Xhosa for hallucinations)

I hope this has helped.

Cheers for now

. SLMR 2.1a . No left turn unstoned

--- Digitec Online --- Johannesburg, South Africa --- tel +27 11 476-2008 ---