North meets South naturally

Starting with a $4.4-million, 4-year grant from the NIH’s National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines

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COLUMBIA, Mo.—Starting with a $4.4-million, 4-year grant from the NIH's National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines, researchers from the United States and South Africa will work together to examine the safety and efficacy of African folk medicines in treating a variety of diseases. The research will be done under the umbrella research collaborative The International Center for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies (TICIPS), which is co-directed by University of Missouri-Columbia's Dr. Bill Folk and University of the Western Cape's Dr. Quinton Johnson.
"The American and South African citzens have strong interests in complementary and alternative medicine practices, but little is known of their safety and effectiveness," Folk explains.
To address this knowledge gap, researchers from the University of Missouri-Kansas City and University of Kwazulu-Natal will investigate the anti-wasting activities of Sutherlandia or Lessertia frutescens for use in HIV-infected patients, a population that is growing rapidly throughout Africa. Other groups, meanwhile, will examine Artemisia afra for its potential to treat tuberculosis and as a possible preventative and treatment for cervical cancer.
"TICIPS is especially significant, since it presents the very first opportunity for medical doctors, scientists and traditional healers to internationally cooperate as equal partners in exploring indigenous African phytotherapies for AIDS, secondary infection and immune modulation," Johnson says. "Furthermore, TICIPS creates a unique bridge between Western and African medicine systems, with the aim of bringing hope, health and healing to all."

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