Jump to Main Content
To ferment or not to ferment Sceletium tortuosum – Do our ancestors hold the answer?
- Chen, W., Viljoen, A.M.
- South African journal of botany 2019 v.122 pp. 543-546
- Sceletium tortuosum, alkaloids, ancestry, fermentation, mass spectrometry, ultra-performance liquid chromatography, Southern Africa
- The KhoiSan of southern Africa have used fermented Sceletium tortuosum preparations to induce psychoactive effects for centuries. It is claimed that the fermentation process changes the alkaloid composition, thereby increasing the potency of the psychoactive response. In this study, a validated ultra performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry method was used to quantify the content of alkaloids prior to, and after the controlled fermentation of samples of S. tortuosum. The results revealed that, despite only a slight change in the mesembrenol and mesembranol content during fermentation, the mesembrine content increased significantly from not detected – 1.6 μg/mL to 7.40–20.8 μg/mL. A corresponding decrease was found in the initial mesembrenone content of 8.00–33.0 μg/mL to 1.30–32.7 μg/mL after fermentation. The total alkaloid content also increased as a result of fermentation.