Sceletium for Managing Anxiety, Depression and Cognitive Impairment: A Traditional Herbal Medicine in Modern-Day Regulatory Systems

Curr Neuropharmacol. 2021;19(9):1384-1400. doi: 10.2174/1570159X19666210215124737.


Modern-day regulatory systems governing conditions for how health products enter national markets constitute a barrier of access for traditional herbal medicines on an international level. Regulatory intentions are focused on ensuring that consumers are being provided with safe, efficacious and high-quality products that, however, collaterally limit opportunities for traditional herbal medicinal products, especially those that do not already have a long-standing tradition of use established in the respective national marketplaces. This case study investigates and compares how a Southern African herbal medicine with great potential as an anxiolytic and mild antidepressant - Mesembryanthemum tortuosum L. [syn. Sceletium tortuosum (L.) N.E.Br.] aerial parts - fares internationally in today's regulatory environments. It is argued that inadvertent regulatory favoritism combined with the lack of means for adequate protection of intellectual property may obstruct innovation by creating an almost insurmountable economical hurdle for successful product development and introduction of botanicals from developing countries into most of the world's health product markets.

Keywords: Mesembryanthemum tortuosum; anxiety; depression; regulations.; sceletium.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Cognitive Dysfunction*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Herbal Medicine
  • Humans
  • Mesembryanthemum*
  • Plant Extracts


  • Plant Extracts