South Africa Initiates Herbal Medicine Regulation

The Herbal Drugs Research Unit at Tshwane University of Technology has announced plans to research, analyze, and document the healing properties of these indigenous plants.

Professor Alvaro Viljoen, the Unit Director, said that South Africa is in a unique position to do this kind of research. “We have the plants,” Viljoen said, “and we have the indigenous knowledge systems that relate to traditional medicines.”

In South Africa, 70% of the population relies on traditional plant-sourced medicine.

The Medical Research Council has pledged a R1 Million funding boost to the research unit to investigate the chemical composition of these healing plants, and build a database of information and analysis to be used to standardize and regulate the production of medicinal extracts for sale in the commercial market.

“The Medicines Control Council has recommended that all herbal medicine, including traditional medicines, that are packaged and sold as dosage forms should be subjected to the regulated requirements that speak to efficacy, safety and quality,” said Viljoen.

The researchers will conduct investigations on herbal extracts such as African Wormwood (Artemisia Asteracae), known for helping to clear the respiratory tract, Sceletium tortuosum that helps to reduce anxiety and Umckaloabo (Bellagonium Cedoides), which helps to reduce symptoms of bronchitis.