A comparison between the anthropological and modern day uses of this indigenous herb
De Beer, Sanien
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Sceletium tortuosum (Fig. 1) is a scrambling succulent ground cover indigenous to the Western and Eastern Cape. It has probably been used for centuries as a mood-altering drug, especially by the Khoisan hunters and Nama shepherds, where it was often smoked or used as snuff. It also has hallucinogenic properties and high dosages were often used during trance dances. These properties have been associated with alkaloids such as mesembrine. The San people used it prior to hunting to sharpen their senses, and to diminish hunger and thirst. Even in excessive dosages its initial euphoric effect seems to be replaced with feelings of serene sedation. It was more often used for enjoyment and not primarily for medicine. Modern day medical and commercial use of Sceletium spp is primary as a mood enhancer, to decrease anxiety, stress, and in addiction therapy. The objectives of this study was to investigate and compare the historical and anthropological se of Sceletium with the modern day and current uses there of.