Sceletium tortuosum is a herb that’s been used for thousands of centuries as a way to alter one’s mood. The first written account of the plant’s use for medicinal benefits stems from an entry in a book by Jan van Riebeeck in 1662 which discusses indigenous people drying and chewing the herb.
What it does
Sceletium tortuosum is an ingredient that does not have too much evidence behind it but makes claims to be able to fight stress and depression and relieve certain types of pain. One of the most in-depth studies to its name shows that sceletium tortuosum was able to increase executive function and cognitive flexibility in comparison to placebo.
How it works
The chief active alkaloid found within sceletium tortuosum is mesembrine. The leaves of the plant contain about 0.3% of this compound, with the remainder of the stems and flowers containing up to 0.86% (3). The compound is believed to be the active constituent of the plant as it has been shown to act as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, as well as a weak inhibitor of the enzyme phosphodiesterase 4. These qualities have led researchers to test its benefits as a possible analgesic and antidepressant.
The most commonly used extract of this compound is via the branded version Zembrin® at doses of 8-25mg before cognitive testing. Anecdotal reports of users trying 50-75mg per serving are not uncommon; however, they should be used only by those who are familiar with the effects of this herb.