The Leaders in Natural Traditional
Sutherlandia frutescens is regarded as one of the most significant and multi-
The traditional Tswana name Phetola alludes to this: Phetola means it changes, meaning that the plant changes the course of many illnesses into a favourable outcome (similar to the European concept of an adaptogen).
The North Sotho name Lerumo-
The ancient Zulu name is Insiswa. This means the one who dispels darkness. This most probably refers to the plant’s anti-
The medicinal uses of Sutherlandia frutescens probably started with the Koi and Mana people. The plant was introduced to the early European settlers in the Cape. It gained popularity with the Afrikaans and English communities and has been used ever since as a Cape remedy for cancers and as a bitter tonic.
Recently, Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa widely recognised as the leader of the African traditional healer community, championed the Sutherlandia Frutescens as an herbal remedy for HIV/Aids patients. Subsequently, medical doctors and professors, who verified the plant’s extraordinary benefits for HIV/Aids patients, took up his cause.
Sutherlandia Frutescens is restricted to southern Africa and occurs in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.
Plant Parts Used:
Europeans use mainly the leaves and sometimes all aboveground parts are included. Not yet documented is the fact that indigenous traditional healers use the roots as well as leaves.
There is a well-
Sutherlandia Frutescens is an old Cape remedy for stomach problems and internal cancers. It is also used as bitter tonic. According to tradition, the virtues of the plant extends to include remedies for colds, influenza, chicken pox, diabetes, varicose veins, haemorrhoids, inflammations, liver problems, backache and rheumatism. Historically, strong teas were taken. When the Europeans arrived in the Cape, they introduced alcoholic tinctures. These tinctures are still sold today in the Cape Province.
Sutherlandia Frutescens is used as an adaptogen and as a tonic for:
Definition of an Adaptogen:
A substance that invigorates or strengthens the system (also called a tonic).
Sutherlandia Frutescens seeds contain canavanine, a non-
Canavanine has anti-
The presence of pinitol explains the traditional anti diabetic use.
Safety and Toxicity:
In keeping with World Health Organization guidelines for the assessment of herbal medicines, Sutherlandia Frutescens is generally regarded as safe on the basis of its long history of safe use in South Africa. It is one of the few medicinal plants on the world market that has been formally studied for safety, in this case in vervet monkeys.
The Medical Research Council of South Africa tested Sutherlandia Frutescens subsp. microphylla dried leaf powder for safety in 2001. The study was part of a Medical Research Council Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) process to establish a "clinical platform" to assess the safety and efficacy of promising South African indigenous medicinal plants. No toxicity was apparent in any variable studied by the Medical Research Council.
As with most natural medicines on the world market, there are no scientific studies or reports on drug interactions with Sutherlandia Frutescens.
As seen on BBC2 Alternative Medicine:
In South Africa, BBC 2 TV presenter, Professor Kathy Sykes learnt of the herb Sutherlandia, which is being touted as a new weapon in the fight against HIV and AIDS. Professor Sykes discovers Sutherlandia is a complex chemical cocktail that has medicinal properties modern pharmaceuticals simply cannot reproduce.
… This highly bio-
Vusamazulu Credo Mutwa’s aunt was the first person to advocate the Sutherlandia as a natural treatment for HIV/Aids. She attracted the attention of the apartheid authorities who saw her conduct as a threat to the state. She was warned to be silent and threatened with dire consequences if she declined. She refused to stay silent and was subsequently kidnapped and never seen again. Credo Mutwa took up the mantle of his aunt and carried on advocating the Sutherlandia as a natural, non-
This story was told by Credo to our researcher, Tr./Dr. Rui de Carvalho, and other alternative practitioners on one of his visits to Credo Mutwa’s farm. Credo Mutwa also presented Tr./Dr. Rui de Carvalho with a Sutherlandia plant as a gift of friendship.
Common names: kankerbos (Afrikaans); cancer bush (Eng.); Lerumo-
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