Let’s start off this post with a summarized side-by-side comparison:
|Kanna Extract||Magnolia Bark Extract|
|Botanical Name||Sceletium tortuosum.||Magnolia officinalis.|
|Main Uses||Mild mood booster, antidepressant, anti-stress and anxiolytic.||Anxiolytic and sleep aid.|
|Active Compounds||Mesembrine and Mesembrenone.||Magnolol and Honokiol.|
|Mechanism of Action||Serotonin reuptake inhibitor, monoamine releasing agent, PDE4 inhibitor. (ref.)(ref.)||Positive allosteric modulator of GABA(A) receptors. (ref.)|
|Euphoric High?||May cause mild euphoria but not very likely.||No.|
|Side Effects||None to mild side effects: headache, loss of appetite, depression (rare).||No significant side effects have been reported.|
|Legal Status||OTC supplement (unscheduled, unregulated).||OTC supplement (unscheduled, unregulated).|
|Where to Buy?||Buy Kanna Extract!||Buy Magnolia Bark Extract!|
Many herbs have psychoactive effects, and while some of them are quite damaging to brain function and mental well-being, others have been shown to possess potential therapeutic value.
Two of the lesser-known herbs that have modulatory effects on certain neurotransmitters in the brain are kanna and magnolia. Extracts of these two herbs are sold as over-the-counter supplements in powder and capsule form, and they are used for a few different reasons.
This article sheds light on the science behind the health claims relating to the mind-altering effects of these two supplements, and helps you understand the specific uses of each.
Kanna is the common name for the plant sceletium tortuosum. It is native to South Africa, where locals have traditionally used it as a euphoric herb and mood booster. It is also used to relieve anxiety, stress, depression and pain, as well as to suppress appetite.
This plant contains different alkaloids that possess potential psychoactive properties, the most notable of which are mesembrine and mesembrenone. Mesembrine acts as a serotonin reuptake inhibitor, which is thought to be the main reason behind the antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of the herb.
Only a few studies are available to support the therapeutic potential of kanna and its extracts. Although some positive results were reported, there is no conclusive evidence that this herb is an effective treatment for any health problem.
Lots of anecdotal reports claim it is effective against depression, anxiety, and some other mental disorders, but it does not seem to work for everyone.
No serious side effects have been associated with kanna, but there have been a few reported mild side effects, such as headaches, loss of appetite (this could be a positive for some people), and ironically, depression! Yes, although most people experience an antidepressant effect, for some, quite the opposite may happen. Even approved antidepressant medications are known to cause depression in some cases.
Magnolia Bark Extract
Magnolia officinalis is a small tree native to China. Its bark has been used in traditional Chinese medicine as a remedy for different health problems.
There are two main compounds found in magnolia bark that studies have focused on: magnolol and honokiol. These two compounds act on GABA(A) receptors and boost GABA activity in the brain. GABA is the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain. Low GABA levels cause anxiety, restlessness and insomnia, among other symptoms, and high GABA levels induce relaxation, calmness and restfulness.
Magnolia bark extracts standardized to magnolol and honokiol are commonly used to combat anxiety and promote better sleep. Honokiol in particular seems to have a more potent anxiolytic effect.
Kanna vs. Magnolia: Conclusion
Kanna and magnolia extracts affect the function of different neurotransmitters in the brain and may be useful for people suffering from certain mental problems.
Kanna extract (mesembrine) works by boosting the levels of serotonin in the brain by inhibiting its reuptake. For people who suffer from mild/moderate depression related to low serotonin levels, supplementing with kanna can provide a remarkable mood-boosting effect.
However, people with normal serotonin levels may notice little to no effect after consuming kanna raw herb or extract. In fact, some people may experience adverse effects since too much serotonin in the brain can lead to agitation, anxiety, headache, nausea, and other symptoms.
In short, kanna is a mild mood enhancer that can be useful for people with low serotonin levels, however, its efficacy varies from one individual to another and it may not be effective for everyone.
Magnolia bark extract (magnolol and honokiol) works by boosting the activity of GABA in the brain, which results in reduced anxiety and a calmer mind. It also helps induce sleepiness. This can be considered an herbal alternative to phenibut and other GABAergic drugs, although it is less potent.
People who suffer from mild anxiety or those having difficulty falling asleep due to having a very active and anxious mind may benefit from supplementing with magnolia bark extract.
While there is very limited scientific data to support the efficacy of either of these two herbs, there have been some encouraging studies suggesting they are worth considering as a milder and more natural alternative to some synthetic medications that share the same basic mechanism of action.
Neither kanna nor magnolia has been proven to treat any health condition, and results vary for each user from noticeable improvement to no significant effect. The only way to find out if either one will work for you is to give it a try yourself.
Both kanna and magnolia are sold as OTC supplements, and besides some mild side effects that have been reported in rare cases, there aren’t any major safety concerns regarding their use within normal doses.
If you are looking to get a euphoric “high” then save your money because neither of these substances will give you that!
Where to Buy Kanna and Magnolia Supplements?
These aren’t very popular supplements and not many brands offer them. They can be mostly found at smaller online stores that specialize in selling nootropics and herbal cognitive enhancers. One of these places that carries a variety of lab-tested kanna and magnolia bark extract is LiftMode. This is a reputable vendor of many brain-enhancing supplements offered in powder and capsule forms.