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The Psychotherapeutic and Spiritual aspects of S. tortuosum in severe mental illness

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Lately I've been comparing the subjective efficacy of S. tortuosum as an antidepressant vs high dose SSRIs and interestingly that has opened up a dimension where I've seen it's a personally effective tool for encouraging psycho-social-spiritual personal growth and deeper self-inquiry 


Case Study - The Subjective Clinical, Psychotherapeutic and Spiritual Benefits of Sceletium tortuosum in severe mental illness.pdf


Full write up:








The concept that beyond the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects with cognitive enhancement noted in clinical studies, there may be some merits for psychotherapeutic use has been suggested by Nigel Gericke where he states it may have benefits for


• facilitating psychotherapy
• facilitating meditative and spiritual states


I've noted:


- Prosocial and emotional enhancements - encourages a feeling mode, anxiolysis facilitates direct and open communication with others
- Contact with the present moment as 'still', improved cognitive clarity and suppression of mind chatter opens a state more conducive to learning a more meditative state
- Acute mood improvements suppress downward negative emotional spirals of anger, blame, self-hatred etc into a more accepting embrace of peaceful acceptance of the moment
- Feelings of some elements of spirituality, eg embrace of more self-transcendent states, gentle ego-dissolution, positive emotions encourage a more open mental process of appreciating beauty, the uplift of emotions and cognitive fluidity can broaden-and-build mental states of openness to experience, more profound shifts in mental state can encourage consideration of the Divine in one's life


It's been interesting simply freeing my way of feeling and thinking a bit, the Kanna seemingly serving as a mild empathogenic ego-dissolution tool that is dose-dependently gentle in action, which has clinical merits over more rapid and robust ego-dissolution seen with 5-HT2AR agonists etc (personally more in line with an empathogenic action), particularly for fragile mental states that may be susceptible to more pathological hallucinations. It's also very emotionally friendly as in it encourages a heart-centred way of thinking, feeling and being


Some subjective clinical benefits I've observed in the reasonably short time period:


Gradual but robust improvement in mood which is once again quite dose dependent.


Greater cognitive clarity, reductions in cognitive complaints, intrusive lines of thinking and improved time that I can focus on tasks, improved receptiveness to the world around me, rather than being stuck in my own mind


A sense of pleasure and enjoyment, currently fairly restricted to very simple activities like movement and dance, 'drumming', feeling rhythm more deeply but very gradually a return to enjoyment of more mundane everyday tasks, cooking, mowing the lawn


This embrace of the now as more pleasurable, valued and meaningful has somewhat hindered the desire for more goal-directed tasks but I still feel it's personally valuable to have an improved hedonic baseline in the moment that is not so dependent on goal-directed activity


Improved emotional tone and states of feeling over obsessive analytical thinking


Reductions in sensorimotor stereotypies and aberrant ASD related behavious which are slowly being embraced by a more free flowing way of movement through life. Whereas I always felt held down by life, I've been able to hold my head higher and put my chin up and be more comfortable in myself and that is slowly reflected in my body posture


Transient states of self-transcendence and spiritual moments, from embracing a more present moment way of thinking to even embracing an all-loving sense of something greater than me in the universe, or higher power particularly within nature. I've felt there be this all-encompassing sense of light in the darkness, the need to pray and hold myself in devotion to such etc.


Robust anxiolysis and greater inner calm and peacefulness in my mind, rather than being at war with myself which is slowly reflecting in my ability to have more positive social relationships


Reductions in positive symptoms - AVHs have drastically reduced in intensity (despite resisting conventional antipsychotics) from harsh, persecutory and denigratory to a generally more absent status and slowly less pathological self-talk has become softer, quieter and easier to deal with


Reductions in agitation and catatonic posturing


A sense of stronger healthier self-concept and self-empowerment, the ability to be more in control of my mental state rather than 'driven by pathology'

I've found that quite often it's our mind's own rigidity and ego barriers that are constraining our consciousness to realms of pain and suffering. A heavily ingrained 'allegiance to pain and suffering' seems to be one of the significant cognitive biases that our brains can be pinned down into low states of consciousness by.


 By simply loosening those cognitive constraints in a more loving, gentle, kind and spiritualised direction, rigid loops of dysfunctional thinking patterns can slowly be loosened or literally blown away, freeing up new ways of thinking that may be less fear-based, pathological, freer, more loving and kinder to ourselves and others


While there is the need to pathologise some aspects of mental functioning, too heavy an ingrained thought pattern of pathology and 'biomedical fixing' constrains you to a dimension where it is always heavy and dark.


If you see the beauty, feel the love and peace, cultivate the compassion and kindness towards yourself you can seemingly slowly slay the demons in your mind - I like the line "the monsters in my head are scared of love". It's not an overnight process and it takes lots of repetition to stabilise a more positive growth mentality but it's worth it, and slowly that inner work has the chance to make life more easy to deal with each day

I was inspired to create this "Devotion to the Heart and Light' by some of the experiences


May be an image of Vanda orchid



Whereas on the maximal SSRI dose it felt like negative emotions were stuck within me, on the kanna I didn't have to hold onto anger, dysphoria, pain and downward negative emotional spirals as me and could now begin to embrace new possibilities despite significant limitations. From the glimmers of contentedness, it felt like new emotions could broaden and build from that but I had to put in the effort to create those states. It wasn't a pushy mania 'high' but an opportunity to grow. For me, that choice was to simply dance with my emotions instead of letting the negative take over me and pin me down.
I noticed in switching, contrary to the blocking and blunting of SSRIs, there was a new inner emotional landscape that was opening up. It wasn't the kind of hedonistic happiness that some seek but it was emotional depth of polarity. Some moments would be feeling like I was about to burst into tears (and did) but with that there was a background of greater emotional resilience with the possibility that those states of sadness could be felt for a moment, then transcended into new more positive emotions.
I've often felt that psych medicines can be more 'filters' or even constraints to consciousness that lock you into a fixed mental state, which can be useful to taper intensity of suffering but this experience with kanna was one of something positive growing in me, a glimmer of aliveness. A new ability to make a 'choice' other than being miserable. Also, there was a sense of enjoyment that started to build, which had been lacking. Before I was always pushing myself to do things like the runs etc to feel better, now I could simply enjoy going for a run. Music sounded good, whereas before it was simply drowning out woes. Movement, no matter how unco and simple, felt pleasurable.
It'll take a while and effort to keep choosing a more positive choice over sadness to build a hedonic baseline of some level of happiness but in deep dark depressions, I think you don't always have that capacity to begin to develop a new more positive choice because nothing feels positive. Something opened in me, I felt more deeply and a gentle activation energy to do positive things opened, on a backdrop of greater contentedness


Edited by Alchemica
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^ Timeframe, dosage, etc.?

The SSRI family are roughly comparable with placebo, in terms of treatment of depression, with a few adverse effects (like suicidal ideation, loss of libido) being added to one's laundry list of symptoms, for good measure. 

It's good to know about Kanna as a potential remedy. Personally, I've never noticed much of an effect -- is it something that takes repeated administrations in order to become effective? 

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27 minutes ago, fyzygy said:

^ Timeframe, dosage, etc.?


I've been exploring mainly plain (?fermented) powdered raw herb (source Koda, sometimes Medicine Garden), at doses from a 1/4 tsp up and using it as added PRN as needed. Some of the other extracts on ebay etc seem potentially questionable


I used a cold-turkey 5.5 half-life washout of the maximal dose SSRI and straight onto the kanna, just using plain herb. Naturally, the washout was really unpleasant but was only ~week to rough out which is easy enough when mood has been dysphorically shitty long-term. 

is it something that takes repeated administrations in order to become effective? 


The first few days on the kanna were not overly remarkable but slowly an organic contentedness started to build which was solid basis for broadening and building other states from. Social things were still very challenging, probably harder during the transition which is understandable when you're in a state of change.
Some of the case-study literature (as per article in original post's link) suggests therapeutic benefits in MDD, anxiety, personality disorders etc may be seen in the 10-14 day period
Still good days and bad days but at least there are good days to build from

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It would be interesting to see a comparison of your experience if you'd just gone off SSRIs without going straight onto Kanna. You might be feeling some of these effects simply as a rebound from the SSRIs...?


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31 minutes ago, Strontium Dawg said:

It would be interesting to see a comparison of your experience if you'd just gone off SSRIs without going straight onto Kanna. You might be feeling some of these effects simply as a rebound from the SSRIs...?


 True but mood was too low to not quickly implement something as an option for mood enhancement. I wouldn't be surprised if the removal of the SSRI allowed a fuller range of feelings to emerge - removing the SSRI-induced emotional blunting and reducing induced akathisia - but during the week of washout, all emotions were extremely negative, it wasn't until the kanna was implemented that gradually positive emotions started to build.


There were a few days of extreme emotional lability on the transition and after a couple of weeks the moods began to not be so volatile. I described a more longer-term leveling out of the effects of the kanna where "rather than the more acute robust uplift and transformative effects initially, almost a sort of tolerance to the effect but with improved baseline mental states" was noted


Edited by Alchemica

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Currently I'm finding I still have to not expect the kanna to do all the heavy lifting mood wise, it's really a tool that opens a potentiality for better states but without following through with behavioural activation/valued action you rapidly can sink back into the abyss.


With a disability, I find the whole movement/dance/loosing your sh*t aspect nicely therapeutic to couple with the kanna as it's cognitively non-demanding and easily achievable behavioural activation at home that is not dependent on others.  It's a sense of aliveness to life.


Other areas I'm focusing on are:


  • Connection. Improving some social engagements
  • Independence. Gaining small steps of growth in self-care and independence doing very simple tasks myself
  • Meaningful Pursuits
  • Growth - for me, currently just trying to be content, happy

"Dance is a pleasurable and captivating activity that involves motor, cognitive, visuospatial, social, and emotional engagement. Although practiced for thousands of years in rituals and as a leisure activity, the long-term effects of systematic dance on cognition, and brain structure and function are not well understood."


Currently, there is increasing interest in dance as a therapeutic intervention for various clinical groups, ranging from developmental disorders, to neurological disorders such as schizophrenia (Martin et al., 2016) and mood disorder, neuromotor disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, to dementia prevention and management.


Movement Medicine


The efficacy of dance lies in its cognitive-affective-sensorimotor power to effect change’ and includes all aspects of the body-heartmind-spirit continuum. This continuum includes, transcends and bridges movement between the self, humanity, the world and divinity 

While for some it seem effortless, for some people it actually takes as much (or even more) courage and effort to choose an attitude of happiness, pleasure and gratitude as it does to let go of difficult emotions. It often requires an active choice, which needs to be renewed and renewed, instead of unconsciously and habitually emphasising struggle, suffering and hardship. 


It offers qualities such as:

- being wholly present in the moment
- an absence of thoughts
- a sense of expansion or dissolving into the cosmos
- distortion of time and space; experiences of non-duality
- and a lost sense of self or ego


If one can  keep dancing through fear, the unknown, anxiety, avoidance and resistance, and eventually  come out ‘on the other side’. Life seemingly becomes easier, and therefore they are willing to ‘invest’ in that reward. ‘Surviving’ these challenges often eventually results in increased self-confidence through knowing from experience that one is able to handle more than one initially thought. This is comparable to a ‘spiritual emergence’. Through the embodied experience of this cycle of descent, crisis and emergence, spirituality becomes a lived and living experience, rather than an abstract, external, metaphysical and transcendent concept


Both the ‘feel-good feelings’ and the reward of emerging from a ‘dark  night of the soul’ seem to stimulate happiness and well-being in general. One can consciously make an effort to increase and spread this zest for life. 





"The art of living is based on rhythm — on give and take, ebb and flow, light and dark, life and death. By acceptance of all aspects of life, good and bad, right and wrong, yours and mine, the static, defensive life, which is what most people are cursed with, is converted into a dance, ‘the dance of life,’ metamorphosis. One can dance to sorrow or to joy; one can even dance abstractly. … But the point is that, by the mere act of dancing, the elements which compose it are transformed; the dance is an end in itself, just like life. The acceptance of the situation, any situation, brings about a flow, a rhythmic impulse towards self-expression. To relax is, of course, the first thing a dancer has to learn. It is also the first thing a patient has to learn. It is the first thing any one has to learn in order to live. It is extremely difficult, because it means surrender, full surrender.
Life, as we all know, is conflict, and man, being part of life, is himself an expression of conflict. If he recognizes the fact and accepts it, he is apt, despite the conflict, to know peace and to enjoy it. But to arrive at this end, which is only a beginning (for we haven’t begun to live yet!), a man has got to learn the doctrine of acceptance, that is, of unconditional surrender, which is love."
- Henry Miller


The psychological "holdings" in the body as the result of traumas, poor posture, or stress can be released, lulling the person into a "hookup" [peaceful, meditative state]:- given the choice between old painful "holdings" and new, freer movements, the unconscious will automatically choose the latter

By moving the body, restrictive patterns can be changed, promoting relaxation and mental clarity.

Also exploring therapeutic Drumming:


Normally I'm an extreme stereotypic stimmer (flapping), which is one thing that kind of has no 'end result of health' associated with it, you can get worked up/modulate arousal levels but it doesn't have any personal sense of peace, connection, healing etc associated with it.
The next level lately has been to embrace super unco 'drumming', which I've tried to get into a long time ago but I couldn't even manage to sense rhythm back then where my head was. Lately, I've been trying it again, learning to crank some techno and kill the rhythm fast as I can (starting just simply, tapping a table). I can attest, it does something quite nice to your mental-emotional-spiritual state, particularly at high bpm. Found it therapeutic enough that I want to ingrain it as a new habit over flapping, so whipped up a $0 drum from an old indoor planter and made it more interesting (second pic).
"Drumming produces an altered state of consciousness and an experience of a rush of energy from the vibrations, with physical stimulation producing emotional release"
My $0 drum
It's able to calm one down and help a person deal with stress in their lives. “Drumming helps them to experience a kind of peacefulness and provides a spiritual learning context [potential to access a “higher power” and reestablish connections with their “natural selves.”].
Learning to 'drum' leads to positive changes in brain function and behaviour among those with mental illness [1] autistic people [2] and in addiction [3].
Improvements in:
- hedonia (natural pleasurable experiences)
- agency
- accomplishment
- engagement (focus and flow)
- defining the self/self-awareness
- produces the sense of connectedness
- improved synchronicity between brain regions responsible for inhibitory control, which prevents impulsivity.
- improvements to social skills and social well-being
- reduces hyperactivity and attentional difficulties
- enhances hypnotic susceptibility, increases relaxation, and induces shamanic experiences
- release of emotional trauma
- addresses self-centeredness, isolation, and alienation
- enhanced sensorimotor coordination and integration


Edited by Alchemica

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i worked a lot with sceletium, and darcy sold kanna powder to snort, for a while after, i introduced him to this.


one has to always think of how you admister the substance, and how to prepare it.

i am one of those people who doesn't like ssri's, however once i had a very euphoric eperience, after smoking close to pure kanna extract.


it's undersupplied on the market so money can be made.

the internet is full of stories, of people giving up zoloft for kanna....

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