Citation: Aztec. "The Gentle Uplifter: An Experience with Sceletium tortuosum (exp7166)". Erowid.org. Jun 5, 2001. erowid.org/exp/7166
Sceletium tortuosum, a member of Mesembryanthemaceae, is a cultural intoxicant used by pastoralists and hunter gatherers in the cape region of South Africa. Formerly it was a very significant intoxicant being in use for centuries if not longer. Its use is now rare owing to various factors including culture change and replacement by other substances such as alcohol and cannabis.
In the entheogenic and other literature Sceletium species have been speculated as being possibly hallucinogic-this I would disagree with from my own experiments with the plant. I would affirm however that it is indeed a special inebriant that has a characteristic feel with sedative and euphoric effects. It is a very gentle plant which can make one respond differently depending on ones pre-existing mood and motivation as well as setting. The plant is thus subtle and is open to the directive of the user. This can result in a null experience and disappointment or great mood upliftment.
The first time I tried Sceletium tortuosum it was the traditionally prepared form that looked like stringy twiggy brown shreds of plant matter. I will always remember the distinct smell of this prepared intoxicant-words fail me now-somewhat sweetish and fermenty-a strong odour. My dose was a pinch -my standard amount- which I kept in my mouth without swallowing the material but only swallowing the juice. I tried it quite accidentally-for the material was available for exhibition- with a girl friend. I wasnít expecting anything from the plant and the conversation was pleasant forgetting about the material in my mouth. This I believe set the comfortable and happy scene which the substance enhanced. After leaving the room I walked to my car feeling great-happy as a clam and very flirtatious. The rest of the evening was Ďniceí. I remember feeling very good and winking at the ladies which was also very funny.
My other experiences were with the same dose with different folk at a new-age type of party. Here I took the same if a little higher of a dose. What I remember-it was a long time ago-was feeling relaxed and also in a good mood. With a girl from that party I again took the plant some weeks later in an intimate situation. The higher than average dose resulted in a nauseous feeling and I nearly vomitted-but this passed quickly. Over a certain amount I think one becomes too sedated and looses the positive emotional adjustment and upliftment. The effects donít get better with an increased dose-there is a threshold for positive experience-I believe.
Itís not really stimulating and I must admit I donít think itís conducive for sexual stimulation either- it is more sedating and Ďconstantí-it doesnít lead to marked over excitement. I have had a few more experiments with the plant-always the same dose 1 large pinch (any more for me lead to nausea). What I found interesting was the other experiences were accompanied by tense feelings among friends and the club setting both of which drowned out the plants quiet nature and resulted in disappointment. Thus prior mood moulds the forthcoming experience in my cases. From my girlfriends (and other psychonauts) reports it is an enjoyable substance which is worth the occasional use.
The problem with it is that itís a feel good or mood uplifter which has abuse potential. I however think that there is a slight down the next day but this may be coincidental-if it has some downer side effects itís slight-but concerning nonetheless. What needs investigation is, if it's safe in the long and short term-just because people have used it for centuries doesnít mean its safe-traditional folk have used poisonous plants for centuries too including cancer inducing substances e.g. betel nut and tobacco. I suspect it may be dangerous based on the fact that it works somewhat like antidepressants i.e serotonin reuptake inhibition and well the concern is intuitive.
The most important aspect of this substance is the marked difference in quality between the bottled and traditionally prepared product. The plant has been marketed (to the dismay of traditional healers) by a company called Phytonova run by a number of prominent academics. I and a number of other psychonauts have tried a somewhat high dose of this packaged form-for intoxicating purposes and well the differences in the quality of the experience is prominent! Very much of the unique euphoria-good mood is lost. Itís dull and lifeless-energyless! Thus it seems as bad alchemy is in operation. This shows that some aspect has been changed and the pill is in no way representative of the plants healing and intoxicating potential. I say healing because I think that in raw form it can be used in a single or repeated dose to kickstart a person out of a depression e.g.
I would not recommend the pills for an experience. I think the raw material should not be searched out with visionary experiences in mind-but if one deems the trouble worthwhile, a positive experience can be had with the raw traditionally prepared form. The plant is rare-threatened species- so it would be to the plants detriment and our own, if folk went out to the cape and plundered whatís left of it.
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