The effects of Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E. Br. extract fraction in the chick anxiety-depression model

J Ethnopharmacol. 2016 Dec 4;193:329-332. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.08.019. Epub 2016 Aug 20.


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E. Br. has been reported to elevate mood, reduce anxiety and stress and alleviate pain.

Aim of study: This study sought to examine the effects of an S. tortuosum alkaloid enriched fraction in the chick anxiety-depression model, a model that shows high predictive validity as a pharmacological screening assay.

Material and methods: Socially-raised male Silver Laced Wyandotte chicks (4-6 days old) were given IP vehicle, imipramine (10mg/kg), or S. tortuosum fraction (10, 20, 30mg/kg in Exp. 1 or 50, 75, 100mg/kg in Exp. 2) 15min prior to a 60min isolation test period in which distress vocalizations (DVoc) were continuously recorded.

Results: Vehicle chicks displayed high DVoc rates in the anxiety phase (first 3min). DVoc rates declined about 50% (i.e., behavioral despair) in the depression phase (30-60min). S. tortuosum fraction at 75 and 100mg/kg decreased DVoc rates during the anxiety phase indicative of an anxiolytic effect. Imipramine, but not S. tortuosum groups, increased DVoc rates in the depression phase indicative of an antidepressant effect.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that an alkaloid enriched S. tortuosum fraction may benefit some forms of stress-related disorders.

Keywords: Anxiety; Chick; Depression; Kanna; Kougoed; Sceletium tortuosum.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety / drug therapy*
  • Chickens
  • Depression / drug therapy*
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Imipramine / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Mesembryanthemum / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*


  • Antidepressive Agents
  • Plant Extracts
  • Imipramine