Does kanna have side effects? Here's what research says

Have you ever heard of the plant Sceletium tortuosuml, known as kanna, and wondered if it has any side effects? It's worth taking a closer look. Read on to learn what specific negative effects can occur and how to prevent them. What do scientific studies say about this topic?

side effects

The Sceletium tortuosum plant can have side effects. But they are very rare and usually only occur with improper use. Let's take a look at specific adverse effects and how to prevent them. Let's see what the expert studies have to say on the subject.

Side effects

Kanna is a plant commonly used for its mood-enhancing and anti-anxiety properties. It is available in various forms such as powder, capsules, and strong extracts. Like any supplement, kanna can have side effects, especially when taken in high doses or without proper guidance.

Common side effects

1. Headaches and nausea: These symptoms are quite common, particularly at higher doses of kanna.

2. Increased blood pressure and heart rate: Some users report these symptoms, which are likely due to kanna's stimulating effects on serotonin and other neurotransmitters.

3. Dizziness and lightheadedness: These can occur, possibly as a result of changes in blood pressure.

4. Dry mouth and gastrointestinal discomfort: These issues may arise, especially with initial use or higher doses.

5. Insomnia and disturbed sleep: While some find kanna helps with sleep, others experience difficulties.

Serious side effects

There is a possibility of serotonin syndrome. When used with other serotonin-modulating drugs, such as SSRIs, there is a risk of serotonin syndrome. This is a serious condition caused by excessive serotonin activity in the nervous system.


  • Pregnant or breastfeeding women: Kanna should not be used due to a lack of safety data.
  • Cardiovascular issues or psychological conditions: Individuals with these conditions should use kanna cautiously and consult healthcare providers before starting.
  • Starting dose: It's advisable to start with lower doses to assess tolerance and avoid potential adverse effects.

Scientific research and mechanisms

Studies highlight kanna's role in enhancing mood and cognitive function. It acts as a natural SSRI and inhibits PDE4, an enzyme that regulates mood and inflammation. These actions increase serotonin and other neurotransmitters, which are beneficial for mood regulation and stress response. 

Additionally, kanna shows promise in enhancing cognitive functions such as memory and focus, likely due to its effects on neurotransmitter levels and synaptic plasticity.

kanna (4)

Usage advice

For newcomers, or indeed for all users, the following recommendations should be taken into account:

  • Start with a low dose: Begin with a small amount to see how your body reacts.
  • Consult healthcare providers: Especially if you are currently on medication, due to potential interactions, particularly with psychiatric medications.
  • Avoid continuous use: Do not use it continuously for extended periods to prevent tolerance build-up.

Kanna's effects and benefits continue to be studied. Existing research supports its use for anxiety, stress reduction, and cognitive enhancement, but more comprehensive clinical trials are needed to fully understand its potential and safety profile.

Overall, while kanna can offer significant benefits, it is important to use it responsibly and be aware of potential side effects.

Tip: If you are familiar with kratom, you will be interested in comparing kratom and kanna, as these plants have something in common. 

Potential interactions 

Caffeine-containing beverages

Kanna can increase the stimulating effects of caffeine. This might cause heart palpitations, high blood pressure, and anxiety. Watch your caffeine intake when using kanna.

Energy drinks have high levels of caffeine and other stimulants. These can amplify the effects of kanna and raise the risk of side effects.


Mixing alcohol with kanna can enhance the sedative effects of both. This can make you very sleepy, slow your reactions, and lower your concentration. Drink alcohol in moderation and be careful.

Foods high in tyramine

Aged cheese and cured meats can affect serotonin levels. Even though there's not much proof that kanna interacts with tyramine, it's wise to be careful and watch your reactions.

Fermented foods like sauerkraut or soy sauce contain high levels of tyramine and may potentially affect the effects of kanna.

Citrus juices

Grapefruit juice can change how many drugs and herbal supplements are absorbed and metabolized in your body. This might affect how kanna works.

Key takeaways

So research shows that while cannabis can have significant benefits for improving mood and reducing anxiety, it is important to use it responsibly. Side effects such as headaches, nausea, increased blood pressure and more are mostly associated with high doses or improper use. 

Although serious side effects such as serotonin syndrome are very rare, caution is necessary, especially if you are taking other medications. It is advisable to start with low doses and consult a specialist about use to avoid possible interactions and side effects.