Hoodia Bush Medicine
Bush Medicine Set to Deliver Breakthrough
Aug. 1, 2003
Bush medicine set to deliver breakthrough obesity
Gordonii cactus native to the Kalahari Desert region of southern Africa and used
by indigenous San bushmen to stave off hunger during long hunting expeditions is
to be developed into a remedy to fight obesity.
foot plant, called Hoodia, contains an active ingredient which research has
shown could reduce appetite by up to 2,000 calories a day. The obesity remedy
was originally patented by the South African Council for Scientific and
Industrial Research (CSIR), and licensed by British company Phytopharm. The
pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is now developing a pill based on the plant, also
known as P57, which they hope will banish food cravings and have a major impact
on the six billion euro global slimming aid market.
100 million people worldwide are thought to be at risk from conditions related
to obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes. Pfizer hopes that the obesity
remedy, which has already been tested on healthy volunteers in Britain, will be
available in pill form by 2007.
Phytopharm and the CSIR came in for criticism when it was revealed that
the two sides had made financial arrangements for development of the drug
without consulting the San tribe, who's traditional knowledge led to the
discovery of Hoodia's appetite-suppressing properties.
explanation offered by Phytopharm chief executive Richard Dixey was that he
thought the nomadic people had died out. Since discovering that around 100,000
San still populate regions of Angola, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, a
deal has been struck that will see the bushmen receive a proportion of the
profits from the sale of the drug hoodia.
existence of the San tribe had been in question, with a dispersed population and
lack of opportunities creating the very real threat of extinction. Under the new
deal, it is hoped that millions of euro could be generated each year to fund
education programmes, create jobs, and allow the San to buy land.
which should ensure a healthy future for the tribe, as well as those set to
benefit from the new wonder drug. In one way or another, the survival of the San
owes much to the special properties of the obesity curing Hoodia plant.