VENTURES: Herbal Products To The Fore
Recent Western Cape Business News
Paarl-based Afriplex has signed a landmark agreement with the CSIR to commercially develop a range of herbal products from traditional medicinal plants that will be distributed to various markets through their network of global partners.
South Africa has a long tradition of medicinal use of plants with an estimated 70% of South Africans consulting one of more than 200 000 traditional healers. Despite the country’s rich biodiversity of more than 24 000 plants, there are few registered herbal medicines derived from the botanical specimens available in the country.
The CSIR’s ongoing collaboration with traditional health practitioners on the use of medicinal plants has led to the identification of a number of traditional remedies that includes the management of colds and flu; allergies; male pattern baldness; hair loss; and erectile dysfunction.
Afriplex CEO, Danie Nel, says; “The CSIR has done groundbreaking research and we are proud to be the partner that will take this research from Source to Shelf”. Afriplex’s reputation for innovative and costeffective product solutions is supported by more than 20 years of scientific research into the beneficial use of African plant species. The company has developed more than 120 final product solutions and is continuously conceptualising, testing and developing novel and commercially viable products for the food & beverage and pharmaceutical & healthcare industries.
Afriplex will in the first instance focus on the plant Elephantorrhiza elephantina. This plant, which is commonly known as Elandsboontjie (Afrikaans) and Intolwane (Nguni languages) can be found in grassland areas over large parts of the country. The extracts and compounds of Elephantorrhiza elephantina have been produced at the CSIR's Botanical and Clinical Supplies Unit and put into several formulations such as creams for topical application. The highest levels of analytical quality control standards such as HPLC MS/MS were used to show batch-to-batch reproducibility.
The underground rhizomes are commonly used by indigenous people for a wide range of ailments including diarrhoea and dysentery, stomach disorders, haemorrhoids and perforated ulcers and as emetics. It is also popular for the treatment of skin diseases and acne.
Both organisations believe that the preferred route to the commercialisation of products derived from the plant should be for the cosmetic market as it helps with hair loss and has potent anti-oxidant properties.
Afriplex is currently also developing a strategy to ensure the reliable supply of plant material for commercialisation purposes that will focus on maximum participation from local communities.
There has already been significant interest from renowned international healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, and the first product concepts will be on show at Vitafoods Europe in Geneva in May 2011.
“Through local collaboration a solid platform has been created to present a number of products typical of Africa in the international arena, which will greatly benefit local communities”, Nel adds.
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