For several centuries now, the natives of South Africa have been chewing a plant found in the region to relieve hunger and diminish nervous tension. In addition, they claim that the plant is capable of sedating as well as elevating mood. What is, however, interesting is that now they have obtained an authorization to undertake research on this amazing plant and even market it. In fact, now these native South Africans intend to sell this plant as an over-the-counter product throughout the world.
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According to researchers, this amazing plant called sceletium tortuosum possesses immense probabilities of perking up the economy of the region. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical firms in the United States that are engaged in researching the plant said that they were not sure if the regulators in the US have granted permission for the sale of the plant. In addition, they also seemed to be unsure regarding the precise time when the plant can be availed in the market by the consumers.
Recently, the South African minister for environmental issues visited the arid regions of the nation's southwest provinces where the people are now said to be rejoicing the issuance of the first authorization of an indigenous plant to HGH Pharmaceuticals, a South African drug manufacturing company. However, HGH Pharmaceuticals is yet to register the product that they intend to market worldwide as a dietary supplement in any country. HGH Pharmaceuticals director (research) Nigel Gericke said that his company is still in the process of bringing together the scientific and technical records specific to the plant.
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Providing details regarding the proposed product made from the plant, Gericke said that his company intends to make it aimed at the common man who is enduring a life marred by tension and anxiety owing to their workload in office. The product will also be useful for people who are facing social concerns, stress as well as be beneficial for those who require uplifting their sullen mood.
The locals in South Africa call the plant by various names, such as 'Channa', 'Kanna' or 'Kougoed'. Members of the San tribe in South Africa have been using this plant for multiple purposes - to alleviate hunger, thirst and exhaustion. In addition, natives of South Africa claim that the use of the plant brings about tranquilizing, mesmerizing and inspiring consequences. Generally, people chew the plant. However, some people also prepare an herbal tea with the plant and drink it. In addition, people also smoke the plant. Using this plant in these different ways produces the same results.
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According to the professor of botany and plant biotechnology at the University of Johannesburg, Ben-Erik Van Wyk, he has researched this amazing plant comprehensively and did not find any evidence of adverse effects owing to the use of the plant. Neither did he find any instance of dependency on the plant, Van Wyk claimed. It may be mentioned here that Ben-Erik Van Wyk has already served as a researcher at the firm which will market the product made from the plant sceletium tortuosum, but is in no way associated with the current project. Van Wyk is hopeful that once the product hits the global market, it is sure to attract the attention of the people to the wisdom of the members of the San people, who are occasionally also known as the Bushmen of South Africa.
Since the plant possesses sedative properties, when it is chewed it brings in somewhat of an exhilaration or elation in the mind, much akin to the effects of smoking a cigarette. Van Wyk said that the product being manufactured with this amazing plant has vast potentials. According to him, any individual who has chewed the plant has also undergone the feeling caused by the plant. He or she feels that something is happening in their mind when they chew the plant. They actually get a sort of head rush when they chew or smoke the plant, Van Wyk said.
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Van Wyk lamented that in the present times people usually do not give much value to traditional medicinal systems, as they consider them to be out-dated or redundant. At the same time, he added that if the new product becomes a grand success, they will not only realize the worth of traditional medications, but also come to know about the wisdom of a new culture and begin to respect it. He is hopeful that the tradition and culture of the San people or Bushmen will be acknowledged worldwide once the new product is available in the market.
It is said that Gericke first became aware of this plant's existence way back in 1985 when he read about it in a botanical book he had brought from a public library while he was away in Australia. When Gericke returned to South Africa, he accompanied a psychiatrist to visit the places inhabited by the members of the San tribe to study the doses of the plant as well as if it produced any adverse aftereffects.
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Meanwhile, a spokeswoman of P. L. Thomas & Co, a firm based in Morristown in New Jersey, Paula Nurnberger has said that HGH Pharmaceuticals has a contract with her company and they intend to introduce the new product containing elements of the amazing plant sceletium tortuosum sometime next year. It has also been learnt it will still take some time before the customers can avail the new over-the-counter product which will be marketed as a pill containing the plant's extracts and named Zembrin. However, Nurnberger said she was not aware if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval for marketing the new drug.