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Friday 25th May 2018

African herbal HIV treatment hope

29th September 2009

A traditional African medicinal remedy for AIDS has been showed to have some antiretroviral properties, according to microbiologists in South Africa.


The director of SANBio, a southern African network for life scientists, said laboratory tests on a healer's concoction of four plants had shown one of them to have antiretroviral capabilities.

Luke Mumba told a conference of microbiologists in Durban that further tests would be carried out on the milky brown drink at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, with the cooperation of the healer who developed it.

Speaking at the 6th annual Bio2Biz Conference, Mumba declined to publicise the name of the plant, owing to intellectual property concerns. But he said the work was at "a very exciting stage".

The announcement marks a new departure in the uneasy relationship between HIV/AIDS researchers and campaigners and traditional remedies which claim to cure the disease.

Scientists have long debated the usefulness of traditional African medicine practices in the fight against HIV, which affects an estimated 22 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.

The plant investigation project is one of SANBio's initiatives to encourage innovation in local science, and aims to show how there is a wealth of indigenous knowledge available in South Africa which might be made available to HIV researchers.

The new discovery has changed attitudes towards herbalists and other healers, according to Nceba Gqaleni, head of the traditional medicines programme at South Africa's University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Once more, Africa's traditional healers were being consulted in attempts to use their indigenous plant knowledge for commercial gain, he said, with the result that healers felt involved and rewarded rather than exploited.

He called on traditional healers to continue to share their indigenous knowledge, but to insist on using their native isiZulu, to avoid the misunderstandings that often occur when they speak English.

While some legislation exists in South Africa that protects indigenous knowledge systems, further legislation will be needed, health officials say.

A legal spokesman for the Department of Science and Technology says dedicated legislation covering all aspects of such research and collaboration was still in the planning phase.

Health experts also warned against making premature claims for traditional remedies, before rigorous testing was finished, as this could spark a fresh series of cure claims and quack remedies.

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Tuesday 29th September 2009 @ 15:08

Let's take note of the following, as a result of this article. Herbalists (n'angas), whether from Africa or other places, must be taken seriously. It will take us hundreds of years to understand all their herbs. Thus, it is important to acquire, analyse and apply the herbalists' knowledge, and modify it appropriately, as fast as we can. Equally important is the need to preserve our biodiversity.

Candida Oberholzer

Tuesday 29th September 2009 @ 15:22

It has been my experience that people with HIV that have been treated with certain indigenous medicinal plants have made a startling recovery and live normal lives after having been left to die at home by the medical profession. Whether or not indigenous medicinal plants can help in the fight against all disease is not the question but the true question is are we prepared to be responsible with the natural resource we have been given to the greater good of all and not just for a few wishing to make money to the detriment of other. Well trained phytotherapists be they of a oral nature or trained in a institution is what we need. People that are in touch with the land as well as the people.


Wednesday 30th September 2009 @ 20:53

Traditional healers demand respect!

more about Traditional healers in SA here: http://www.traditionalhealth.org.za/

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