The happy pill that has taken four centuries to get to you

08 April 2015 - 02:34 By Reitumetse L Pitso

The Khoi might have been using a natural anti-depressant for centuries. Traditional healer Richard Kutela, of the Kai Korana Western Cape, said: "We call it the kougoed (stuff to chew)."We chew the shrub or use it as snuff to enhance our mood."Ten years after discovering the effects of Sceletium tortuosum while extracting medicinally active ingredients from African flora, the CEO of Botanical Resource Holdings, Richard Davids, has announced that the herb is now available in capsule format.Said Davis: "I knew there was something different about Sceletium tortuosum when I licked some of the extract from my fingertips."There was an almost immediate reaction of euphoria and wellbeing and I knew that we had to look into the plant."The use of the plant by the Khoi goes back several generations and it is still in use today.Davis said Sceletium tortuosum had been documented as early as the 1600s as a fast-acting, natural mood-enhancer that has the ability to diminish anxiety.But trials of the plant had produced mixed results.Said Davis: "We later found that the plant was geographically unstable and how it would act depended on the conditions in which it had grown."After working with different types of the shrub, and adding other plant extracts to the mix, the company was finally able to produce a capsule with the desired anxiety-countering effect.

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