News24

Scientist warns on ‘happy plant’

2011-02-14 19:07

Cape Town - People chewing the traditional mood-changing plant known as 'kougoed' should do so only in moderation, a Stellenbosch University researcher has warned.

Too big an intake could lead to diarrhoea and suppression of certain parts of the immune system, Dr Carine Smith of the university's department of physiological sciences said on Monday.

Sceletium tortuosum - traditionally also known as kougoed (literally, "something to chew") or kanna - is a succulent-like ground cover found largely in the Western Cape.

The Khoikhoi apparently chewed or smoked kougoed as a sedative with anxiety-alleviating properties and as a light anaesthetic for toothache.

Treatment for depression

A preparation has recently become available in tablet form as a so-called medicine for the treatment of depression.

Smith, who has researched the plant's effect on laboratory rats, said this effect could be due to an alkaloid in the plant's leaves.

"So much of the information and so many claims about the benefits of kougoed that one finds on the internet and in books have never been tested scientifically with the appropriate controls," she said.

"They're based simply on untested tales and anecdotes.

"As in the case of any product with so-called healing properties, it's important to prove scientifically that people really benefit from it and that it's not just the placebo effect at play."

Numerous negatives

Smith's studies showed that dried kougoed had a limited positive effect on anxiety when taken in a low daily dose of about 5mg per kilogram of body mass.

What concerned her, however, were the numerous negative effects that she had observed.

When rats were given an increased dose of kougoed - 20mg - they showed signs of inflammation, diarrhoea and other forms of irritation of the alimentary canal.

The immune system could also be suppressed by increased intake.

"It's absolutely essential that more research be done to determine the optimal therapeutic dose for kougoed and other indigenous products," she said.

"There's a fine line between what's therapeutically good and what is, in fact, detrimental."

Smith said too few scientific tests were generally done to determine suitable doses for natural herbal products.

Comments
  • Madelane - 2011-02-14 19:52

    Indeed herbs can have a detrimental effect if taken over the prescribed rate. "So much of the information and so many claims about the benefits of kougoed that one finds on the internet and in books have never been tested scientifically with the appropriate controls," she said. "They're based simply on untested tales and anecdotes. "As in the case of any product with so-called healing properties, it's important to prove scientifically that people really benefit from it and that it's not just the placebo effect at play." I wonder if these good scientists would explain the placebo effect to my horses in particular who have been treated when required with both herbal and homeopathic remedies always with excellent results. I am quite sure they would be most interested!

      Ozymandios - 2011-02-14 20:28

      Madelane, I produce what is known as Primordial Water - that which is treated in 4 different ways to give you a water that is 100% pure but with the correct magnetic fields in it and the proper balance of 84 trace elements. We trialed it on humans first - a waste for us and then trialed it on top race horses. You cannot whisper in a horses ear if it takes this water, and in your case homeopathic medicine, it'll perform or run better.Either it does or it doesn't. The horses in 4 days showed a 100% improvement and also ran faster and performed better on the race track. We now produce this water only for overseas racing pigeons to combat and yes, compete against sterioids etc. Yet still the medical profession will not be open to trials on humans without placebos. We have to tell the patinets what performance we expect from them before the "scientists" will do a trial. You see you cannot patent water at all and most herbs too. So no exhorbitant profit to be made from them and no allowance is made for those who try to market it, as Big Pharma will quickly put a stop to it.

      maseratifitt - 2011-02-14 22:00

      Ozymandios : 100% pure with 84 trace elements?

  • Vyeboom - 2011-02-14 20:32

    Please note that this study was only done on the dried version of plant, and not on the tablet version. Also, please note that the article makes mention that kougoed has the ability to have a positive influence, but not in too large quantities.

      Mikemcc - 2011-02-15 08:39

      @Vyeboom, so what else does the tablet contain that makes it so much better than the pure version of the plant?

  • slg - 2011-02-14 20:33

    Drugs create scores of negative side-effects, even death. In South Africa, these side-effects are largely hidden. In the US, drug companies are legally obliged to advertise side-effects, at the same time as they promote the use of drugs. Modern medicine is largely archaic and barbaric, as it is self-righteous and superior. Our future is energy medicine.

  • Vyeboom - 2011-02-14 20:35

    This study does not claim to have tested the tablet format of kougoed, but the dried version., For the full version of the press release on which this report is based, visit the Stellenbosch University website at http://blogs.sun.ac.za/news/2011/02/14/guard-against-mouthfuls-of-kougoed-says-su-researcher/

      Mikemcc - 2011-02-15 08:40

      @Vyeboom, so what else does the tablet contain that makes it so much better than the pure version of the plant?

  • Vyeboom - 2011-02-14 21:14

    This study does not claim to have tested the tablet format of kougoed, but the dried version., For the full version of the press release on which this report is based, visit the Stellenbosch University website at http://blogs.sun.ac.za/news/2011/02/14/guard-against-mouthfuls-of-kougoed-says-su-researcher/

  • flummery - 2011-02-14 22:29

    for sure, im a big sceletium user, i take it with my breakfast and during work to cope with stress, and keep a bit of an upper. Yea, if i take sceletium in large doses, i have stomach problems. (it`s the only side effect i notice) Personally the pros far outweigh the cons. But like everything in life, its all in your perspective. Most people who would take scel. are very aware of that choice. But fair enough for the article, it`s made an observation and stated it. I honestly dont think it will affect the market that sceletium is aiming for. Placebo or not, ive been using it for9 years, and i can only sing its praises. Important to note though, different strokes for different folks! Regards

  • meesterbrein - 2011-02-14 23:55

    Should have known this article would bring all the scientifically illiterate crackpots crawling out of the woodwork.

      Spoofed - 2011-02-15 08:41

      Thats your comment? You have nothing better to say so you decide to belittle the people who actually understand the article and what it means? get a life loser

  • guytheitguy2010 - 2011-02-15 00:43

    oxalic acid. The san know how to prepare properly with fermentation to remove this aspect. Mesembrine doesn't cause these. Ingest it pure and you will know it is not a placebo.

  • Shistirrer - 2011-02-15 15:14

    Ozymandios, water with the correct magnetic fields in it - wow... what does an incorrect magnetic field in water look like, and how does it get there? WTF is a magnetic field in water anyway? Oh, it's the thingy that makes a big metal ship stick to the surface of the water... must be.

  • A THEIST - 2011-02-16 06:39

    a succulent-like ground cover found largely in the Western Cape........ YOU KNOW WHERE TO FIND ME ! if anyone's looking

  • Jim Cochell - 2013-03-14 20:47

    This completely bias story brought to you by ”Big Pharma” Be very careful, with side effects like diarrhea this plant will soon be banned by the government. Meanwhile the unsubstantiated claims that “untested tales and anecdotes” conflicts the fact that the people in the region have used it for years, with amazing results. You can bet Big Pharma will be rushing in to grab the patent and sell it to the masses in a synthetic form. Then it will read as follows …side effects may include major mood swings and suicidal thoughts, constipation and diarrhea combined with trouble sleeping at night. Consult your physician if you drink water on a regular basis, due to the increased risk of death etc…..you get my point.

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