Zembrin, a special extract of kanna (sceletium tortuosum), is a new substance to me. I ordered it from Nootropics Depot after doing a quick read, and I loved it based on the 4 days I’ve tried it so far.
Apparently, it works as an anxiolytic of sorts yet it does not seem to sedate at the recommended dose. It also seems to serve as a serotonergic, picking up your mood. In this post I’ll detail my experience and what I know about it so far.
The components of kanna, namely mesembrine and mesembrenone, are said to affect the brain directly at the amygdala, a part of the brain known for controlling our automatic response to what we may perceive as threats. 1 (r/K selection theory nerds might like this!)
[Kanna] is known to influence the amygdala of the brain (a brain region central in emotional processing) and is known to also have inhibitory effects on both the serotonin transporter as well as an enzyme known as phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4); both of these proteins existing in the amygdala. 2
These are the primarily studied mechanisms of action, but based on a user post at a Longecity thread, there may be far, far more at play here in terms of receptors and neurotransmitters. 3
Zembrin in Action
As recommended on Reddit’s /r/Nootropics, I tried the Zembrin powder sublingually in the morning at the recommended dose of 25 milligrams (you will need a scale that can measure 0.001 grams). The powder tastes interesting, and has an herbal, almost spice-like flavor. It’s not amazing, but was pleasant enough compared to everything else I’ve tried before.
This powder seems to be extremely prone to clumping and getting sticky, so even if your jar comes with a silica gel dessicant packet, I would go above and beyond with dessicants for this stuff. Mine is still in sticky chunks.
In situations where I would normally feel an involuntary adrenaline rush, I simply shrugged it off. It was noticeable because of its stark absence. I can’t think of another time where I had experienced anything like it.
In social situations, I felt more at ease talking with people, simply because there was just an absence of tension or self-restriction. Others have noticed a more positive attitude.
I would not characterize this as an anxiolytic in the sense of the mono-GABAergics like Kava Kava, Phenibut or L-Theanine. It brings mood relief like 5-HTP, minus the drowsiness, thanks to its serotonin reuptake inhibition. For me, feeling tired can drag down any benefits these anxiety reducers may have. Zembrin however does not seem to feature that drawback.
Zembrin vs. Whole Kanna
I have not had the opportunity to compare the two yet. Based on subjective reports, they are notably different in terms of strength and type of effect. A lot of the properties attributed to Zembrin, especially those based on scientific research may be unique to it. Other varieties and processes may not confer the exact same beneficial effects.
Zembrin is a special fermented, processed extract of the kanna herb. Whole kanna itself is traditionally placed in the mouth like chewing tobacco. This may explain the suggestion to take Zembrin sublingually.
Zembrin is the real deal. It has a fairly noticeable effect which kicks in within minutes of dosing sublingually, it creates an underlying feeling of serenity and security. Unlike the GABAergics, it can make you calm without outright tranquilizing you. This makes it a possible contender as a regular staple in my stack rotation. Trying the whole kanna herb is on my to-do list.
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