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Exploring Kanna vs Kratom: A Comprehensive Comparison

The debate between kanna and kratom has been a topic of interest in the botanical supplement industry. Both substances have been used for various purposes and have gained popularity in recent years. Kanna, also known as Sceletium tortuosum, is an aquatic herb native to South Africa. It has been historically consumed in some communities. On the other hand, kratom, or mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree in the coffee family native to Southeast Asia, and it is also traditionally consumed in its native region.

When comparing kanna and kratom, it is important to consider their alkaloid composition, as this plays a significant role in the attributes they are recognized for. Kanna contains various alkaloids, including mesembrine and mesembrenone. Kratom, on the other hand, contains primary alkaloids such as mitragynine and 7-hydroxy mitragynine.

While both kanna and kratom have mainly been analyzed for their unique chemical compositions, it’s important to remember that they are complex botanical substances with a variety of effects, and their use should always be well-informed and responsible.

Native to South AfricaNative to Southeast Asia
Has been historically consumed in some communitiesTraditionally consumed in its native region
Contains alkaloids like mesembrine and mesembrenoneContains alkaloids like mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine


Kanna, also known as Sceletium tortuosum, is a flowering plant native to South Africa. It has been used for centuries in traditional African practices and has gained popularity in recent years as a natural alternative to kratom and other botanical substances. Kanna is often associated with mood-enhancing properties and is noted for its calming effects.


Kanna is an aquatic herb that belongs to the succulent plants family. It is characterized by its small, fleshy leaves and vibrant pink scoops, making it a visually appealing botanical supplement in the herb industry. Kanna is known for its unique aroma, which has been compared to the scent of earth and freshly washed rainwater. The plant’s alkaloid composition is what gives it its characteristic properties.


The use of Kanna dates back centuries in South Africa, with documented evidence of its consumption by indigenous communities before colonization. Jan van Riebeeck, a colonial administrator, first documented the use of Kanna in 1662 when he observed the local communities chewing on the plant material. Kanna has been featured in ancient artwork and played a significant role in the agricultural industries of Southern Africa.

Theoretical Background

The primary substances in Kanna are mesembrine and mesembrenone. These compounds react with the PDE4 enzyme. Some believe that Kanna acts as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), which may influence levels of serotonin in the brain.

Alkaloid Composition

Kanna contains a variety of alkaloids and other molecular compounds. The alkaloid profiles can vary depending on the species and growing conditions of the plant. The principal alkaloids found in Kanna include mesembrine, mesembrenone, and mesembrenol. These alkaloids contribute to the unique aroma profile and properties of Kanna.


Mood Enhancement

Kanna is often utilized for its mood-enhancement properties. Some users report an improved mood after consuming Kanna. This is believed to be due to the plant’s alkaloids’ interaction with neurotransmitters in the brain.

Calming Effect

Kanna is frequently associated with calming properties. The alkaloids in Kanna are believed to contribute to these effects. Some individuals utilize Kanna as a natural botanical substance with calming qualities.

Areas of Interest

There is ongoing interest in studying Kanna’s properties, particularly in relation to chronic conditions. Some preliminary observations suggest that Kanna may have certain effects that are of interest to researchers; however, more comprehensive research is needed to fully understand its potential.

Consumption Methods

Kanna can be consumed in various forms, including powder, capsules, and extracts. The most common consumption method is to chew the fresh leaves or consume a powdered form. The recommended serving size is typically 2-3 grams, but it can vary based on individual preference. Kanna tea, where the plant material is steeped in hot water and consumed, is also a popular method.


Kratom, also known by its scientific name Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical evergreen tree native to Southeast Asia. It belongs to the coffee family and is widely cultivated in countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. The leaves of the kratom tree have been a part of traditional practices among the indigenous populations due to their unique properties. Over the past few years, kratom has become more prevalent as a botanical alternative to pharmaceutical drugs.


Kratom leaves are typically dried and ground into a fine powder, which is then consumed orally or brewed into a tea. The powder form is often preferred as it allows for ease of use and convenient storage. Kratom is available in various strains, each characterized by its vein color (red, green, or white) and distinct alkaloid profiles. The alkaloids in kratom, particularly mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine, contribute to its unique effects.

Vein ColorEffect
RedUsed for Relaxation
GreenUsed for Focus
WhiteUsed for Cognitive Awareness

Kratom is available in various forms, including powder, capsules, and extracts. It is essential to remember that the safety and regulation of kratom as a botanical supplement vary across different regions. Several countries and states have regulated its sale and consumption due to safety questions and the potential for misuse.


The traditional use of kratom dates back centuries in Southeast Asian communities before colonization. It was commonly consumed by chewing fresh leaves or brewing them into tea. Kratom played a notable role in the cultural and social settings of these communities, often during religious ceremonies and as a recreation. However, the arrival of colonial administrators subjected kratom to increased scrutiny, leading to its controversial history in recent times.

Theoretical Background

The alkaloids in kratom interact with the brain’s receptors, which leads to a variety of experiences for its users. Some believe that these interactions contribute to a potential mood-enhancing effect of kratom.

Alkaloid Composition

Kratom contains more than 40 different alkaloids, with mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine being the prevalent ones. The alkaloid content varies depending on the strain and vein color of the kratom. Red strains could have a higher concentration of 7-hydroxymitragynine, while green and white strains typically contain a wider range of alkaloids, resulting in a collective effect.

Uses and Benefits

Traditional Uses

Kratom has often been used as a part of traditional practices. Its alkaloids, particularly mitragynine, interact with the brain’s receptors. It’s important to use kratom responsibly and as per local regulations.

Mood Enhancement

Many users report that kratom may contribute to a sense of calm and relaxation. Alongside, it is also known for its stimulating effects, which are traditionally associated with combating fatigue and improving focus.

Consumption Methods

Kratom can be consumed in various ways:

  • Oral consumption of kratom powder: This is the most common method, where the powder is mixed with a liquid or food and the toss and wash method.
  • Kratom tea: Kratom leaves, or powder can be brewed into a tea by steeping them in hot water.
  • Capsules: Kratom powder can be encapsulated for easy dosage.
  • Tinctures and extracts: These concentrated forms of kratom are consumed sublingually or added to beverages.

Comparison: Kanna vs Kratom

Kanna and kratom are two botanical substances that have gained popularity in recent years. While they both belong to the category of natural alternatives, there are several differences between them in terms of their origin, alkaloid profiles, consumption methods, and legal status. Let’s explore these aspects in detail.


Both are botanical in natureBoth have psychoactive effects
Both are consumed by some people for various reasonsBoth can be consumed in powder form

Botanical Nature

Kanna, scientifically known as Sceletium tortuosum, is an aquatic herb native to South Africa. It has a long history of use in traditional African cultures and is often depicted in ancient artwork. On the other hand, kratom, scientifically known as Mitragyna speciosa, is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia. It belongs to the coffee family and has attracted interest due to its historical use in Asian cultures.

Psychoactive Effects

Both kanna and kratom are associated with mood-altering effects, though individual experiences can vary widely. Kanna is believed to induce mood alterations and induce a relaxed state, while kratom is associated by some users with pain management and mood elevation. They both are thought to act on different brain receptors to produce these effects.

Research Status

Both kanna and kratom have been subject to studies exploring their properties. Further research is needed to fully understand the effects of these substances.


Origin and Cultural Significance

Kanna has deep cultural significance in South Africa and has been used by indigenous communities for centuries. It was first encountered by Jan van Riebeeck, a colonial administrator, in the 17th century. Kratom, on the other hand, has a long history of use in Southeast Asian countries and is deeply rooted in the cultural traditions of those regions.

Alkaloid Profiles

Kanna primarily contains alkaloids such as mesembrine, mesembrenone, and mesembrenol, which potentially contribute to its psychoactive effects. Kratom, on the other hand, contains a broader range of alkaloids, with the most abundant alkaloids being mitragynine and 7-hydroxymitragynine. These alkaloids are thought to contribute to kratom’s effects.

Consumption Methods

Kanna is commonly consumed by isolating the alkaloids from the plant material using methods like mixing the powder with food or liquid. On the other hand, kratom is most commonly consumed in capsules, brewing kratom tea, ingesting kratom powder, or using kratom extract. It is also available in capsule form.

Legal Status

The legal status of kanna and kratom varies across different countries. In some regions, kanna is legal and widely available, while in others, it may be subject to restrictions. Kratom, on the other hand, has faced stricter regulations due to safety concerns. Some countries have banned kratom altogether, while others have imposed regulations on its sale and consumption.


Kanna Vs. Kratom – FAQs

What are the possible side effects of Kanna?

Possible side effects of Kanna
Mild symptoms of nausea and dizziness
Allergic reactions in some individuals

Kanna is generally considered safe when used in moderation. However, some individuals may experience certain side effects. It is important to start with a low dose and assess your tolerance before increasing the serving size.

Can kratom be addictive?

Kratom, a plant native to Southeast Asia, contains alkaloids that may interact with receptors in the brain. Regular and excessive use of kratom could potentially lead to psychological dependencies and withdrawal symptoms. It is essential to use kratom responsibly.

How does Kanna affect mood?

Kanna, also known as Sceletium tortuosum, is traditionally used in South Africa. It is believed to interact with certain receptors in the brain. Kanna’s alkaloid composition contributes to its distinct properties, often observed in convivial settings.

Is kratom legal in all countries?

The legal status of kratom varies from country to country. While it is legal in many parts of the world, including most states in the United States (with the exception of 6 states), some countries have banned its use, such as Australia, Thailand, and certain European nations. It is important to check the legal status of kratom in your country before purchasing or using it.

What is the ideal serving size for Kanna?

The ideal serving size for Kanna depends on various factors, including the individual’s tolerance, the quality of the product, and the desired effects. A common range is between 15-50 mg of kanna powder, which can be taken sublingually or mixed with a carrier oil for sublingual absorption. It is advisable to start with a lower serving size and gradually increase as needed.

Can kanna and kratom be used together?

There are no documented conflicts from combining kanna and kratom. However, this is the result of a lack of study of both botanicals, and this does not necessarily mean the combination is safe. Caution is advised when mixing these botanical substances. Interactions can vary, and individual sensitivities can also differ. It is recommended to start with low doses of each to assess compatibility.

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