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Sceletium and mesemb thoughts

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These are the pages I am drawing from.

Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E.Br. was reported to contain 0.3% and 0.86% mesembrine in the leaves and stems, respectively (Watt and Breyer Brandwijk, 1932). Popelak and Lettenbauer (1968) reported that levels of alkaloids in 'kougoed' ranged from 1-1.5%, while mesembrine and mesembrenine levels were 0.7 and 0.2%, respectively...

Relative Levels of the Alkaloids in Sceletium and


The fermenting Sceletium sample was found to be foul

smelling and possessed observable fungal growth.

Comparison of the integrator counts for the alkaloid

extract of the fermented product yielded marked variations

in peak sizes and ratios compared to that of the

control. While the peak of 4'-O-demethylmesembrenol

had almost completely diminished, the peak for

mesembrine was halved, and the mesembrenone peak

had doubled (Fig. 2). A similar pattern was observed

for a sample which was crushed and immediately dried.

When examining the chromatograms from the second

experiment in which any enzymatic reactions were

stopped by freezing in liquid nitrogen, it was found that

material dried at 80°C had a similar alkaloid ratio and

concentration as the fermented material while the sample

that was boiled in ethanol and immediately

extracted had an alkaloid ratio and concentration similar

to that of uncrushed plant material.

the extent of under-investigation of the Mesembryanthemaceae with respect to alkaloids is illustrated in Fig. 2 where twelve of the thirteen genera (Psilocaulon is excluded, see above) which tested alkaloidpositive by Zwicky are presented graphically, by the number of species. It is a salutatory observation that of the possible number of species, less than 0.04% have been investigated.

Studies by Jeffs et al. (1971) indicated greater biosynthesis of alkaloids in Sceletium strictum L. Bolus during the spring and summer, suggesting that levels may change seasonally. It is significant that within genera of the Mesembryanthemaceae, different species were tested both alkaloid-positive and negative.

Sceletium tortuosum was found to contain a third structural variant, Sceletium A4 and tortuosamine (Snyckers et al., 1971). Jeffs et al. (1970) found that 3-year-old plants of Sceletium strictum grown from seed yielded, from a dry cake weight of 151 g, some 4 g of alkaloid. Over half of this was demethylmesembrenol and demethylmesembranol, followed by mesembrenol, mesembrine, mesembranol, mesembrenone (Fig. 4). Curiously, on one occasion o-acetylmesembrenol proved to be the major alkaloid. In a later study (Jeffs et al., 1974) 3.5 kg dry weight Sceletium namaquense yielded 50 g of alkaloidal material. When 20g were subjected to column chromatography, formyltortuosamine and unidentified alkaloids predominated, followed by mesembranol, mesembrenone, mesembrine, unidentified alkaloids and mesembrenone, and Sceletium A4 alkaloid.

An informant reported that historically, a skin or canvas bag was used as a fermentation vessel, but that these have been replaced by plastic bags. The informant detailed his technique:

'Leave the bag of crushed 'kougoed' in the sun to get warm; its not necessary to put it (the bag) in the shade, it gets shade at night, and the sun doesn't harm it. The plant is left to sweat. After 2-3 days the bag is opened, the 'kougoed' is mixed around, and then the bag is tightly closed again. On the 8th day after the crushing, the bag is opened and the 'kougoed' is spread out to dry in the sun, as when you dry raisins. You leave it out until it is dry. If you don't do the whole thing, the plant won't have power. If you eat the fresh plant nothing will happen - it doesn't have power. I learned to prepare it from my father'.

The finished product is stringy, light brown and unattractive in appearance. The informant noted that the season of collection of plants was important; plants collected too early would posses less psychoactivity.

A poly-substance abuser addicted to nicotine and a frequent abuser of alcohol and 'dagga', reported that after using a single dose of 'kougoed', he had felt no craving for alcohol, tobacco or 'dagga' for 4 days.

Some reported euphoria as well as a feeling of meditative tranquillity. Several users felt that the relaxation induced by 'kougoed' enabled one to focus on inner thoughts and feelings, if one wished, or to co ncentrate on the beauty of nature.

Some informants reported heightened sensation of skin to fine touch, as well as sexual arousal.

Perhaps the most remarkable claim is to be found in Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk (1962) who cite the observations of a mining engineer (and apparently also a social scientist and moralist!). The Nama peoples had a 'universal addiction' to the use of 'kougoed' which 'produces visions' and led to a 'serious degree of moral degeneration particularly with regard to veracity and sex'. This unsubstantiated notion was later promulgated by Lewis and Elvin-Lewis (1977).

Laidler (1928) notes that it was: 'chewed and retained in the mouth for a while, when their spirits would rise, eyes brighten and faces take on a jovial air, and they would commence to dance. But if indulged in to excess it robbed them of their senses and they became intoxicated.'

Although 'kougoed' was primarily chewed, there are reports of it being taken as a tea (Jacobsen 1960; Watt and Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962) and also as a snuff (Jacobsen, 1960). This latter mode of administration has also been used for the 'keng-keng' of the Griquas who used another genus of the Mesembryanthemaceae, Rabaiea albinota (Haw.) N.E.Br. (= Nananthus albinotus N.E.Br.) as an additive to tobacco or snuff (Emboden, 1979)...

Smoke-derived volatiles would have a somewhat different chemistry, but could presumably have been just as effective pharmacologically. Of relevance in this regard Thunberg (1794) wrote in his journal of the San: 'These people chew 'Canna' (Mesembryanthemum) and afterwards smoke it'.

It is possible that, on crushing, enzymatic reactions

may take place following cellular decompartmentation,

these reactions may explain the modification of the

alkaloid ratio and concentration that is observed in

crushed plant material dried at 80°C; a temperature at

which these reactions may be greatly amplified. In the

second experiment these were suspended by crushing

the plants in liquid nitrogen. The enzymatic reactions

would be resumed with resuspension of the plant material

in water but be eliminated by boiling in ethanol and

immediate extraction. From the results of this experiment

it would seem that the essential step in the production

of ‘kougoed’ may not entirely revolve around

‘fermentation’ but that the crushing of the plant material

and consequently the mixing of cellular material

may be equally essential.

some of the points i wanted to consider:

mesemb plants were shown to have seasonal variations and fluctuations in regard to alkaloid content

the use of the plant to enhance sexual enjoyment seems to be its best application

Crushing itself has the capacity to alter alkaloid profile and content, fermentation also has an impact, note that a peak found in scelly that was crushed and whole plant was absent from the fermented material, despite the crushed material being closer to the fermented material than it was the intact plant. The heat of drying at 80C also seems to have been an interesting factor.

I suspect that seasonal variation is a huge deal, for all mesemb alkaloids.

Trout noted that several Delosperma species showed indications of tryptamine content in a seasonal manner and that the same material can show significant variation in this regard.


It might also be considered, and verified with a minimal amount of research, that 5meoDMT has been utilized to increase sexual pleasure... although no doubt that when taken to excess it causes one to lose ones senses... It is also active in rather low doses.

Several members of this plant family could have potential applications in terms of sexual recreation...

the chewing seems to reflect absorption through the membranes in the mouth, not actually eating or swallowing it, which would make sense that the material is also used as a snuff

Edited by Archaea
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Interesting, many things i didnt know about scelly!

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I think Iv read that before, but its always good to read things again, because whenever I prepare scelly the quick way (crushed and dried in the oven) I tend to have the oven too hot, which seems to diminish the quality a bit. Crushed and fermented is always great though (unless it gets too funky and I get scared to try it), but I can confirm its different, but not much, which would be explained by the slightly different compositions of the two methods mentioned above. Also the seasonal variation is very significant, because all my plants are clones of probably 1 or 2 plants (I received a heap of cuttings a few years ago and have been using cuttings from the plants I grew from those to replace what I use), and some times I get almost no effect and other times its really noticeable (I only use it a few times a year, when other things arent available or I feel like something different)

Im not sure about enhancing sexual pleasure (havnt tried it), but it definitely does make everything feel nice to touch, similar to MDMA actually, so I would imagine it would be pretty good for that purpose (or even just lounging around on something soft or with an interesting texture). It should be noted that Iv only ever smoked it, because the fermentation process is a bit off putting (smells nice when its finished, but looks and smells quite bad while its fermenting), so maybe next time I should try chewing (as the paper mentions the alkaloids would likely be different again when its burned)? Its winter here though, so that may have to wait till spring or summer when the alkaloid levels go back up and it starts to die off because of the humidity.

Have you tried kougoed before archaea (or was that the point of posting)?

Edited by poisonshroom

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I've tried it many times... but never for sex.

I can't say it really did that much, very subtle.

I grew it and tried several methods of preparing it.

I think that the notion of an extraction to a form of blotter seems the most promising.

I'd like to try it again in a sexual context.

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chewing is the nicest methode, one get's this cosy rush, but it takes a long time...

smoking strong material can produce hallus, of a very pleasant nature.

it actually grows better over the colder months at my place.

always take a lot of cuttings, they hate too much rain, and the roots of sceletium are prone to nematode attack, taking new cuttings periodicly avoids the nematode problem.

i think it only sometimes works like an aphrodisiacum, but it can even help a man to increase his frequency.

people with a tendency for panic attacks, might be advised to rather re dose many times than to take "one big hit".

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Extraction to a blotter sounds interesting - never hear of that. I have done an ethanol extraction before, which worked to some degree, but i got these weird cramps in my legs (which may or may not have been related).

I can pretty much only get it to grow over the cool dry months here too, because as ph mentioned it really doesnt like a lot of water and humidity, and we get heaps of both of those here in summer.

Cant say Iv ever had a problem with nematodes though - probably because I only ever grow it in small pots off the ground.

I think Ill go out and make some more cuttings in a minute - thanks for the reminder =]

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Im now near convinced that sceletium is a potent norepinephrine transporter inhibitor.

Taken to improve mood and calm, like Kava it could potentially have paradoxical restlessness as a consequence of this.

Edited by Zen Peddler BlueGreenie

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Not sure about that, but it does seem to keep me up (even if there arent any noticeable effects other than that), even if Im tired, so possibly. I havnt tried kava though so I couldnt compare. Just a side question on that note - is kava still legal to grow and use in QLD (i just dont really want to start a new thread for some thing with a simple yes or no answer)?

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Thanks for the info on fast prep.

I had given up on kanna. To many hit and misses in fermentation.

Be chance I read this the other day. Now I have a nice baggy of active kanna. Just like it was bought in a store.

I had given up. But I've still had heaps of plants and seeds. Atleast that part of the mission was successful.

I had only fermented kanna previous with mixed results.

Now I crush it and bake it at 80 degrees then roast it at 160 degrees.

It's so dry it totally turns to dust in the coffee grinder. With fermentation I couldn't grind the stalks. Now it looks and feels like bought Kanna.


Mission totally successful.

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I usually ferment mine for about a month in a shallow glass jar. After the month period I pour the contents out on to a flat pyrex dish then proceed to SLOWLY heat it from the bottom on the stove. This way I find I can control and see the drying process and make necessary heat inclination/declinations.

Once it's powdered, allow to cool, then add a SMALL amount of Isopropyl alcohol to kill off anything that 'may' be present and let that dry off naturally. Using a flat blade I chop and scrape the contents and stuff is ready to go!

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