Sutherlandia frutescens, an indigenous shrub commonly known as “Sutherlandia” or “Cancer Bush”, has repeatedly been illegally, indeed fraudulently hailed by it’s marketers, Phyto Nova Developments, as an “immune stimulant” for “improving the quality of life in cancer, HIV AIDS and TB patients” (;;;, without any substantiation and against all rationale to the contrary, as I have shown previously and now additionally.

The theme proceeds unrelentingly with statements to the media and off the record, inferences become even bolder. An associate member, Credo Mutwa, is quoted as claiming that it “might even offer hope of a cure for the virus” and that “I firmly believe that scientists will be able to create a cure for AIDS out of this plant”. One member/shareholder of Phyto Nova, Ben-Erik van Wyk is quoted as claiming that it has “promise as an AIDS antidote” and that it is “really significant in the treatment of AIDS”. Another member/shareholder, Nigel Gericke is quoted as claiming that it effects “decreases in viral load in patients”, and then ironically that: “the last thing we need is another virodene”. Another member/shareholder, Carl Albrecht, following my criticism, admitted that “there is only anecdotal evidence” and agreed that “long term (MCC approved) trials are essential to establish safety”, and yet after it was discovered that the company had secretly sold two million Rands worth of tablets to the Virodene researchers for illegal trials elsewhere in Africa, brushed these reservations aside and admitted: “we were not comfortable about dealing with these people, but we were a fledgling company and it was a substantial order”. The fourth member/shareholder, Isaac Mayeng, who was illegally the medicines control officer in charge of complementary medicines at the Medicines Control Council, a vested interest prohibited by law, when challenged by us, maintained a silence, but was eventually shifted to another position.

One does not need to be a professional detective to see the vested financial interests and rather serious fraud perpetrated by this company. Interestingly, the company members are all formal scientists, yet their science, it turns out, is even more atrocious than their business and medical ethics. I have earlier convincingly shown (, without serious rebuttal, that there is a pathetically negative immune system safety and efficacy profile for Sutherlandia, based on it’s claimed primary active ingredient, canavanine and in particular, its primary pharmacological action as a nitric oxide synthase inhibitor. My previous emphasis was largely on safety and I shall now focus on claimed efficacy, using the claim of “immune stimulant” to illustrate the total absence of scientific evidence for their main claimed immuno-efficacy for Sutherlandia.

According to researchers in the Department of Biomedical and Therapeutic Sciences, Section of Medical Sciences, University of Illinois College of Medicine, researching the plant Plantago major for its “immuno-‘enhancing’ properties” (under a grant from the HIH and FDA), “the mechanism of action associated with “boosting! the immune system” related to significant “increases! in nitric oxide production”, “increases of Tumor Necrosis Factor production in macrophages” and also “increased lymphoproliferation”, concluding that “the regulation of immune parameters induced may be clinically relevant in numerous diseases including chronic viral infections, tuberculosis, AIDS and cancer” (Gomez-Flores R, Phytother Res, 14(8), 2000). More recently, researchers at Graduate Institute of Medicine, Kaohsiung Medical University, Taiwan, confirmed these findings, adding: “strongly enhanced stimulation and secretion of interferon-gamma” as another parameter accompanying Plantago-induced “increased! nitric oxide production” and also characterised these activities as “immunostimulating in treatment of cancers and infectious diseases” (Chiang L et al, Planta Med, 69(7), 2003). How does Phyto Nova hope to achieve these same claimed effects with exactly the opposite Sutherlandia / canavanine induced pharmacological actions?

I argued earlier against Sutherlandia’s efficacy against cancer; in fact, quite the opposite pertains, since inducible nitric oxide synthase in host cells, accompanied by sufficient cellular antioxidant resources, directly inhibits tumor growth and metastasis without otherwise potential host toxicity and far greater host cancer risk in the absence of nitric oxide (as might happen under the pharmacological influence of Sutherlandia / canavanine (Leu R, et al, J Immunol, 147:1816, 1991); (Jiang H, et al, J Immunol, 149:2137, 1992); (Kurose I, et al, Cancer Res, 53: 2676, 1993); (Curley S, et al, J Leukoc Biol, 53:715-1993); (Kitajima I, et al, Biochem Biophys Res Commun, 204(1), 1994); (Xie K, et al, Cancer Res, 55(14), 1995); (Yim C, et al, J Immunol, 155:4382, 1995); (Xie K, et al, J Leukoc Biol, 59(6), 1996); (Fukumura D, et al, Hepatology, 24:141, 1996); (Xie K, et al, Clin Cancer Res, 3: 2189, 1997); (Juang S, et al, Cancer Biother Radiopharm, 12(3), 1997); (Wink D, et al, Biochem (Moscow), 63(7), 1998); (Xie K, Fidler I, Cancer Metastasis Rev, 17(1), 1998); (Juang S, et al, Hum Gene Ther, 9(6), 1998); (Xu L, et al, Hum Gene Ther, 9(18), 1998); (Kundu N, et al, Int J Cancer, 76(5), 1998); (Wink D, et al, Carcinogenesis, 19(5),1998); (Shi Q, et al, Cancer Res, 59(9), 1999), (Shi Q, et al, Cancer Res, 60(10), 2000); (Sun H, et al, J Immunother, 23(2), 2000); (Wang B, et al, Oncogene, 20(47), 2001); (Wang B, et al, Cancer Res, 61(1), 2001); (Ellies L, et al, Int J Cancer, 106(1), 2003); (Xu M, et al, World J Gastroenterol, 9(6), 2003); ( K, Huang S, Free Radic Biol Med, 34(8), 2003); (Wang B, et al, Oncogene, 22(12), 2003); (Choi S, et al, Cancer Invest, 21(5), 2003); (Wei D, et al, Cancer Res, 63(14), 2003).

Oxygen, including nitric oxide, can be a double-edged sword. Rather than suppress its production, natural levels should be allowed to express as the immune system deems fit, supported by nutrition, antioxidants and anti-oxidative enzyme capacity, so as to avoid both deficiencies and excesses. Rather let nature do it’s best, as only it knows how. Inducible NOS, which in humans is synthesized in challenged immune-competent cells, has not only tumoricidal, but also parasiticidal, microbiostatic and microbicidal activity against both intracellular and extracellular micro-organisms and hence is not only capable of defending against malignant growth and diverse pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, but is also crucial to innate cellular immune clearing of or limiting of pathogenic infection*. Sutherlandia lacks all these beneficial Nitric Oxide properties. Quite the opposite - it shuts down nitric oxide production and thereby all of these essential effects.

*References: (Nathan C, Hibbs J, Curr Opin Immunol, 3:65,1991); (Granger D, et al, J Immunol, 146:1294, 1991); (Hibbs J, Res Immunol, 142:565, 1991); (Mondaca S, Higgs A, NEJM, 329, 27, 1993); (Nathan C, Xie Q, Cell, 78:915, 1994); (Stenger S, et al, J Experiment Med, 180:783, 1994); (Nathan C, Cell, 82:873, 1995); (Mannick J, Res Immunol, 146:693, 1995); (Bukrinsky M, et al, J Exp Med, 181:735, 1995); (De Groote M and Fang F, Clin Infect Dis, 21:S162, 1995); (Groeneveld P, et al Scand J Infect Dis, 27:453-1995); (Melkova Z and Esteban M, J Immunol, 155:5711, 1995); (Torre D, Ferrario G, Med Hypotheses, 47(5), 1996); (Tucker P, et al, J Virol, 70:3972, 1996); (Kreil T and Eibl M, Virology, 219:304, 1996); (Bogdan C, Behring Inst Mitt, 99:58, 1997); (Macmicking J, et al, Annu Rev Immunol, 15:323, 1997); (Nathan C, J Clin Investig, 100:2417, 1997); (Fang F, J Clin Invest, 99:2818, 1997); (Zaragoza C, et al, J Clin Invest, 100(7), 1997); (McCann S, Exp Gerontol, 33(7-8), 1998); (Brune B et al, Biochem (Moscow), 63(7), 1998); (Torre D, et al, Infection, 27(3), 1999); (Eckmann L, et al, J Immunol, 164:1478, 2000); (Shinde U, et al, Indian J Exp Biol, 38(3), 2000); (Decker T, et al, J Clin Invest, 109(10), 2002); (Fang F Vazquez-Torres A, Am J Physiol Lung Cell Mol Physiol, 282: L941, 2002); (Torre D et al, Lancet Infectious Disease, 2: 273, 2002)

Inhibition of inducible NO synthase activity (the effect the canavanine would have in an active dose of Sutherlandia) would quickly produce dramatic increases in diverse microbial burden in infected individuals, in particular of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Nicholson S, J Exp Med, 183:2293, 1996); (Fang F, J Clin Invest, 99:2818, 1997); (Nathan C, J Clin Investig, 100:2417, 1997); (Gomez-Flores R, Phytother Res, 14(8), 2000); (Firmani A and Riley L, Infect & Immun, 70(7), 2002); (Smith I, Clin Microbiol Rev, 16(3), 2003), the most common opportunistic infection in AIDS patients (Mayanja-Kizza H, J Infect Dis, 183(12), 2001) and one disease claimed to be improved by Sutherlandia. In fact, nitric oxide and its products are the only molecules produced by mammalian cells that can effectively kill tubercule bacilli (Scanga C, et al, Infect & Immun, 69(12), 2001); (Nathan C, Amer J Respir Crit Care Med, 166:130, 2002). Chronic administration of iNOS inhibitors might even lead to recrudescence of latent tuberculosis (MacMicking J, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA, 94:5243, 1997); (Nathan C, J Clin Invest, 100(10), 1997). Increased levels of nitric oxide and associated immune activities are observed in infants with (what is supposedly) HIV infection who subsequently became seronegative during the first year of life (Torre D, et al, Clin Infect Dis, 22(4), 1996). In fact, nitric oxide is considered capable fine-tuning immune response to viruses and of inhibiting cellular processes necessary for all viruses to replicate (Zaragoza C, et al, J Clin Invest, 100(7), 1997); (Blesson S, et al, Intnl Immunol, 14(10), 2002). Phyto Nova’s ludicrous anecdote-based health claims are clearly not only fraudulent, they are criminally irresponsible in their high potential to induce real harm, including death!

I accept that inducible NO can cause adverse effects by the action of an excess of a potent oxidizing agent, peroxynitrite, that emerges from the reaction between NO and superoxide anion (Vanin A, Biochem (Moscow), 63(7), 1998); (Zhang H, et al, Med Hypotheses, 58(6), 2002), yet which activity is nevertheless also responsible for the ability of infections to resolve spontaneously (Evans, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA, 93:9553, 1996); (Wheeler A, et al, J Clin Invest, 99 (1), 1997). The canavanine in Sutherlandia can reduce peroxynitrite production, but it would do so by blocking nitric oxide production, thereby shutting down the critical immune response. Besides its indisputable essential immunological role, inducible nitric oxide synthase may also function as a “constitutive” enzyme for other critical physiological functions under certain conditions (Moncada S, Higgs A, N Engl J Med, 329:2002, 1993); (Guo F, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA, 92:7809, 1995); (Michel T, and Feron O, J Clin Invest, 100(9), 1997).

There is no advantage to indiscriminately chemically inhibiting nitric oxide. I would employ a far more rational strategy, namely that of utilising appropriate anti-oxidants, since excessive inducible NO and peroxynitrite can be effectively scavenged by antioxidants, thereby sparing the host’s cells whilst retaining essential immune activity (Keusch G, J Nutr Sci Vitaminol (Tokyo) 39: Suppl S23, 1993); (Peterhans E, Biol Trace Elem Res, 56(1), 1997); (McCann S, Exp Gerontol, 33(7-8), 1998); (Brüne B et al, Biochem (Moscow), 63(7), 1998). I can truly see no rationale for employing Sutherlandia other than that of perpetrating a fraud or possibly as a means to genocide. On the one hand, this is due to its canavanine-based potential to trigger an auto-immune condition that in many respects not only mirrors, but also seriously complicates AIDS diagnosis and treatment, ominously rendering both conditions concurrently untreatable and on the other hand, seriously exposes malnourished user’s in sub-Saharan Africa to significantly increased risk of death from infectious diseases such as TB and malaria, which are already massive problems.

The assumed good effect of Sutherlandia on wasting in AIDS is as a result of shutting-down of the immune response against their tuberculosis, pneumonia, malarial and enteric infections, a terrible trade-off (better thin than dead). The provision of nutritious food is all that is needed for these emaciated patients to gain weight and overcome their afflictions. The provision of canavanine via Sutherlandia is merely the substitution of one inappropriate drug for another and the consequences are devastating. I note from an internet report by Anne Hutchings, an associate of Phyto Nova, one of those ‘professionals’ who are illegally testing Sutherlandia on human guinea-pig AIDS patients, that in spite of her documented improvements in weight and observed increases in energy levels and general well being (the effects of resources previously used for immuno-defence), "some ‘clients’ showed significant weight losses, which could often be attributed to infection or re-infection with TB", obviously oblivious to Sutherlandia's direct causal role therein, as argued by me previously, given the immune system’s need to produce nitric oxide.

Canavanine is also an anti-nutrient, another significant complication that should not be inflicted upon unsuspecting malnourished and ill populations for either experimentation or profit. Canavanine is a "Vitamin B6 antagonist" (Bell E, Biochem J, 75:618, 1960); (Klosterman H, "Vitamin B6 antagonists of natural origin", J Agric Food Chem, 22(1), 1974); (H Klosterman, in R Ory (Ed), Anti-nutrients and Natural Toxicants in Foods, Chap 16, 1981); (Vitamin B6, Integrative Medical Arts Group, Inc, 2000); (Bielenberg J, Vitaminantagonisten in Nahrungsmitteln, ÖAZ Aktuell, Ausgabe 10, 2003); (Vitamin B6 Requirement, The Analyst, 8 March, 2004). Canavanine is also an "Arginine antagonist" (Rosenthal G, Q Rev Biol, 52(2), 1977); (M Hegarty, Toxic amino acids of plant origin, in: R Keeler et al (Eds): Effects of poisonous plants on livestock, Academic Publishers, 1978); (Kay D, Crop and Product Digest No. 3 - Food legumes, Tropical Products Institute, 1979);(Tyler V, et al, (Eds), Pharmacognosy, Lea and Febiger, 1988); (Rosenthal G, et al, J Biol Chem, 264(23), 1989); (Ames B, et al, Proc Natl Acad Sci, USA, July 17, 1990); (Makkar H & Becker K, Asian-Austral J Animal Sci, 12(3), 1999); (Siddhuraju P & Becker K, Nahrung, 45(4), 2001).

The Sutherlandia phenomenon’ is about largely hype in service of wealth, not health. How is this elevation of status from trash to treasure achieved? Sadly, mainly as a result of State/Public funding, not via any science driven imperative based on merit, but rather as a result of the abuse of position by office-bearer shareholders within and several associates outside Phyto Nova, most of who owe public funded salaried primary allegiance to several academic institutions and government departments, which has been the subject of my earlier reports and additionally hereunder. Phyto Nova has made millions of Rands selling illegal medicines, yet through such office-bearers and contacts, manages to con the State into not only turning a blind-eye to such criminal activities, but also to funding research into Phyto Nova’s proprietary product and even allowing such research to be conducted by State personnel and at State facilities. All of this is permitted on the basis of a clearly false premise, promise and foolish hope of a noteworthy validation of ancestral indigenous herbal healing wisdom and the lure of a African treatment or cure for AIDS. I have single-handedly shown, on the preponderance of scientific data and exposure of the misinformation emanating out of Phyto Nova and its allied accomplices, that Sutherlandia will far more likely cause harm than healing. I shall, by way of examples, illustrate the extent of the cheeky scientific opportunism, misinformation and outright fraud.

One of four Phyto Nova shareholders is Dr Carl Albrecht, from Stellenbosch University, who in this instance also credits himself as a Medical Research Council Associate and furthermore, Co-ordinator of Research, Cancer Association of South Africa. Albrecht, breaking the rules of several governing institutions and ignoring the provisions of several statutes, wears two hats, one of doctor and academic and the other of businessman, flagrantly illegally and unethically mixing the two persona to suit his pecuniary interests as a commercial manufacturer and marketer of Sutherlandia as a medicine, without professionally declaring said interest. Dated April 2003, Dr Albrecht, in a funding motivation, authored a document bearing the MRC logo and titled “Overview of the South African Oncology Research Environment as a Basis for a Potential Research Partnership”. How blatant is this? In this document, Albrecht asks: “Why develop a professional partnership with oncology researchers in South Africa”? As Reason No.8, he answers clearly in favour of his product (as if only it was worthy of consideration) as follows:

“Research and development of nutritional and botanical supplements for reducing the risk of cancer”.

“Large pharmaceutical companies are interested in developing cancer risk-reducing drugs but they are inhibited from trying because the FDA refuses to accept surrogate endpoints as a basis upon which claims can be made and patents last only 20 years. If it is assumed that the FDA will not change its position and that patents will not be extended for longer times, it follows that another route should be taken. This is the route of the non-prescription, or “Over the Counter” (OTC) drug.” In other words, to hell with regulatory consumer protection, he will just sell it anyway, which is precisely what he has always been doing and intends to continue doing, illegally on several counts, and he wants the State to pay for his marketing strategy. Then he plays the poverty card, stating: “South Africa is not a rich country and cannot afford State-of-the-Art chemotherapy for all cancer patients. Consequently a major effort needs to be made to develop affordable, efficacious and safe preventative products that could reduce morbidity”.

Next, Albrecht shows his hand, stating: “It can be predicted that during the next 10 years many Cancer Risk Reducing Products will be developed. This is considered to be an inevitable process and the challenge is to use good science to develop products that will reduce the impact of cancer and not harm the user. To this end, CANSA is forming a Consortium that will focus on optimal nutritional and botanical supplements to lower the risk of cancer”. Unbelievable, and it gets even more crass: “Specific projects in South Africa relating to this paradigm are the following:” This is in addition to an obligatory mention of Red Bush tea. Under the sub-heading “Indigenous plants”, Albrecht, without identifying his financial interests in Sutherlandia, either at that point or anywhere else in the document, continues thus:

“There are a number of initiatives in South Africa aimed at the ‘scientific evaluation’ of ‘safety’ and ‘efficacy’ of indigenous medicinal plants”. Inverted comma emphasis is mine in order to emphasise Albrecht’s propensity for lies, since none of the work on Sutherlandia satisfies these stated criteria, yet he claims just that, stating: “One such plant is Sutherlandia frutescens, (see (he even cheekily links out to his own website). He continues the free plug: “This plant has been on the local market as an ‘Adaptogenic tonic’ for the past 3 years and more than 200 000 units of 60 tablets have been sold without any advertising at all. There are at least 5 ongoing projects funded by the MRC, National Research Foundation and CANSA involving Sutherlandia in terms of safety, anti-diabetic potential, anti-HIV potential, anti-cachexia potential, anti-inflammatory potential and pro-apoptosis potential”. Interestingly, no evidence has emerged from any of these efforts for any of these properties for Sutherlandia. The hypothetical anti-cachexia and anti-inflammatory potential is so significantly associated with increased risk of death as to be untenable for such application and I have argued successfully against all but the apoptosis potential, which is a new angle and will soon receive my detailed critique and negating criticism. How blatant is this promotion of his pecuniary interests?

With these profits, one can only wonder why Albrecht’s company are too stingy to fund their own research, but rather steal both the consumer’s and taxpayer’s money to build their fraudulent house of cards, mirages and untold tally of suffering and death, amongst the very same deprived communities that they purport to wish to help. Regarding the 12 million tablets were supposedly “sold without any advertising at all”, how can Albrecht make such a fraudulent statement after having just advertised his product for free? Act 101 of 1965 defines “Advertisement” as “any written, pictorial, visual or other descriptive matter or verbal statement or reference, brought to the notice of members of the public in any manner whatsoever, which is intended to promote the sale of that medicine; and ‘advertise’ has a corresponding meaning”. This document clearly represents an advertisement and Albrecht shamefully unashamedly advertises his illegal medicine and attempts to elicit illicit funding to further said interests in his patently bogus product.

Albrecht then proceeds to cite the much publicised bogus MRC Animal Centre toxicity study, which I have critiqued and exposed as such elsewhere ( without successful rebuttal from any quarter and shown it to be scientifically untenable to reach the conclusion that Albrect is so fond of brandishing around as it having shown the non-toxicity/safety of Sutherlandia. No one other than an idiot or fraudster could conceive of such an irrelevant study on healthy monkeys for a substance that they have already sold in excess of 12 million tablets to experimental human guinea pigs, many with critical infection predisposing malnutrition and without their informed consent, which latter is, on several grounds a very serious offence indeed.

Albrecht further proceeds to motivate for continued research funding on the basis that “This plant contains flavonoids, which could be modulating the expression of phosphorylation genes in target cells. This is an emerging field of pharmacology concerning ligands from food and botanicals interacting with transcription factors on the DNA. There could be special combinations of these ligands that induce apoptosis in certain cancer cells”. Albrecht then proceeds to share a glimpse of his long-term master plan for Sutherlandia, stating: “This is an entirely different scenario compared to monomolecular chemotherapeutic ‘Golden Bullets’. Extracts of the plant were used as a tonic for cancer patients 105 years ago in Cape Town and it was claimed that this tonic enhanced the quality of life and prolonged survival”. The first half is clearly a case of “bullshit baffles brains” and the last is an attempt to classify its cancer use as “traditional”.

Phyto Nova Developments have, in debate with me, lamented the fact that there are no published scientific studies on Sutherlandia. It is interesting to note that they are now making no mention of the recent first such peer reviewed published study. This paper starts out enthusiastically enough, with the Phyto Nova generated hype-based introduction of the abstract probably having been written before the test results were known, but the conclusions give nothing to enthuse over and are sobering to say the least, vindicating my characterization of the company’s vested interest hype around the plant as just that. An interest in Sutherlandia has been artificially created and generated by its marketers for commercial gain for applications that in the real world of health consumers remains totally unfounded, being based on uneducated traditional uses as well as several contemporary assumed possible uses and pre-suggested anecdotal effects, fabricated and instigated by the commercial marketers themselves and ominously including illegal clinical trials, without informed consent or official authorisation, on unsuspecting human patients with serious medical conditions. My contention remains that if doses of Sutherlandia are going to be high enough to elicit biochemical reactions and physiological effects, then these are by far more likely to be harmful rather than helpful, potentially life-threateningly so.

The author’s of this published study themselves state clearly that: “According to the manufacturer, there is preliminary clinical evidence that Sutherlandia has a direct anticancer effect on some cancers, and also has “immunostimulant” properties”. I have above already exposed the blatant lie constituting the latter part of this statement (immunostimulant properties), so let me address the mythical anti-cancer potential that the plant is inappropriately named after (kankerbos). The conclusion abstracted in this first published study of Sutherlandia (Tai J et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 93: 9–19, 2004) is that: “Sutherlandia ethanolic extract showed a concentration dependent antiproliferative effect on several human tumor cell lines but did not show significant antioxidant effects”. The paper goes on to say that: “Despite the fact that Sutherlandia frutescens has enjoyed a long history of use by all cultures in Southern Africa, there are at present no reported studies in the peer-reviewed literature, of either in vitro or animal studies, its effects on cancer cells.” The purpose of this study was to investigate the in vitro activities of Sutherlandia including the antiproliferative, antioxidant, and differentiation inducing properties on several cancer cell lines. Findings were that: “Sutherlandia extract has differential antiproliferative property on the breast and leukemia cell lines”. But, wait for it…………………….

The authors of this study clearly state that: “Although our in vitro studies have demonstrated antiproliferative activity of Sutherlandia on human tumor cells, they were only observed at relatively high concentrations. While the manufacturer of Sutherlandia recommended the daily dose of two tablets (600 mg), three times a day, the plasma concentration is much less (176 times) than the concentration found to have antiproliferative effect in vitro. Compounds known to be efficacious cancer chemopreventive agents are potent inducers of HL60 cell. However, treatment of HL60 cells with Sutherlandia extract failed to induce cell differentiation along either macrophage/monocyte or granulocyte pathway, suggesting that the herbal preparation does not contain compounds that can induce HL60 differentiation.” An important observation of the South African researchers who treated HIV/AIDS patients with Sutherlandia was that it improved the appetite and body weight of these patients. Pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-_ and IL-1_ have been implicated in cachexia in these patients. It was suggested that pinitol, a major ingredient of Sutherlandia, may contribute to the positive effect. However, our in vitro data failed to demonstrate significant inhibition by Sutherlandia.”

“Even though Ostlund and Sherman previously suggested that pinitol may have clinical application in treating wasting in cancer and AIDS patients, direct evidence showing that the pinitol content in Sutherlandia actually improved wasting in HIV/AIDS patients is still lacking. GABA is present in Sutherlandia in levels up to 0.4mg/g dry weight. GABA if present in patients’ circulation at sufficiently high levels may potentially contributes to the improvement in mood and well being experienced by many patients, and indirectly contributes to the improved wasting in HIV/AIDS patients. Therefore it is possible that more than one ingredient in Sutherlandia or their metabolites contribute to the anti-wasting effects in HIV/AIDS patients. The present study is a survey of the possible activities of Sutherlandia frutescens. Our results have shown that Sutherlandia has significant antiproliferative activities in vitro on several human cancer cell lines (at 176 times the recommended dose). Its differentiation inducing and antioxidant properties, and effect on the inhibition of secretion of proinflammatory cytokine IL-1_ and TNF-_ mRNA in RAW 264.7 cells are not significant.”

I reiterate: the hype around Sutherlandia is fraudulent pseudo-science, sickeningly serving only profits, not patients.

Following on the heels of the above-mentioned first published scientific paper is another, this time allied to the Phyto Nova team. Whilst no mention is made of the negative results of this independent study, Phyto Nova have been extremely keen to sex-up the pseudo-scientific conclusions of their vested interest University of Pretoria team’s study. Three words are the keys to evaluating a recent article titled "Brew of local bush may help stress", by the Science and Health Editor of Business Day. The only objective words, in case you missed them amongst all the hype, are "suggests it may" and the utility of the report, in my opinion, ends there, though the following sobering statement: "there are no scientific studies showing their safety and efficacy in humans", ought also to help preserve the cautionary principle, but seldom does, even in supposedly intelligent persons, least of all scientists with direct pecuniary interests in Sutherlandia, incredibly, including well-known pathologist Dr Carl Albrect, leading me to wander just how low the science of ethnopharmacology is going to sink under the influence of such morally bankrupt individuals, before it, through guilt by association, joins the stinking ranks of pseudo-science. It appears that today, a so-called scientist, by virtue of his or her mere position or title can ensure publication and perpetrate clear commercial fraud in the name of science. The layman and apparently even some professionals, simply lack the ability to discern the truth from the lies.

Witness the extent of the pseudo-science, with the Business Day’s Science and Health editor stating, from a Phyto Nova press release no less, that "The latest research, published in the online edition of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, shows that a tea brewed from Sutherlandia leaves has strong antioxidant properties". Odd result and conclusion that, given that scientists from the Departments of Pathology and Pediatrics, Center for Complementary Medicine Research, at the University of British Columbia reported exactly the opposite in the same journal in July (Tai J, et al, J Ethnopharmacol, 93(1): 9-19, 2004), namely that: "Sutherlandia ethanolic extract did NOT show significant antioxidant effects", in spite of the fact that they tested Sutherlandia in several far more relevant models and at concentrations approximating those used by the University of Pretoria team, using material supplied by Phyto Nova.

Adding plant matter to boiling water usually reduces its antioxidant potential, whereas ethanolic extraction usually concentrates it. Of course the test models used in these studies could have been specifically chosen to maximise the demonstrable anti-oxidant effects, which models may or may not have relevance to real world usage of the plant. Whilst traditional healers tend to favour decoctions, westerners tend to favour tinctures and most commonly, tablets.

Interestingly, the Business Day report repeats a statement: "The plant has a reputation for helping to treat conditions ranging from depression to cancer and its proponents say its anti-inflammatory properties assist people infected with HIV", which is mere anecdotal propaganda, initiated virtually single handedly by Albrecht's marketing company, Phyto Nova Developments and blindly disseminated by the media, including scientists unsuccessfully attempting to sum up the plant's popular standing, entirely fabricated by Phyto Nova for obvious commercial gain. The statement, “assists people infected with HIV” is particularly disconcerting, since my own research has shown that Sutherlandia usage not only has the potential to make AIDS untreatable, but also to directly suppress the immune system’s infection control mechanisms, which in the case of TB, the largest killer in AIDS, is the only means by which TB infection is controlled.

I can understand why the Phyto Nova/Medical Research Council (MRC) affiliated University of Pretoria researchers would employ this strategy, but there is no reason for the independent Canadian researchers to engage in research manipulation, since unlike the former, the latter have no financially vested interests in the results of what should be an objective study, so I will unhesitantly put my faith in the Canadian study. Phyto Nova’s excitement over a non-event - antioxidant effects that the Canadian researchers do not consider to be at all significant - shows just how desperate they are to maintain their mirage of the medicinal potential of Sutherlandia to not only their MRC funder, but also the consuming public at large and so maintain their continued diabolical waste of taxpayer’s funds via MRC grants to so-called medical scientists who either don’t realise what fools they are keeping company with, or are in on the scam for the free ride. I am determined to see a thorough investigation undertaken of all aspects of this complex scam and all perpetrators, statutory, quasi-statutory and civil, punished for their contributory roles, in particular for the countless lives being lost as a result of this product being held up as safe and efficacious in AIDS, when in fact the reverse is true.

The SA and US researchers are all affiliated to each other through the MRC, which through long-term internal connections between Phyto Nova's Nigel Gericke and the MRC's Gilbert Matsabisa, which latter institution both directly funds studies of Sutherlandia and also allocates research grants for its study, with taxpayer's money, into a proprietary product that benefits only the manufacturer, who then unashamedly uses said data very selectively, indeed fraudulently, to promote its own product. This ought not to be how public/state funded research is carried out, especially considering what known shocking truths the public is not being told about the product, which is what incenses me enough to vigorously personally pursue this controversial subject in a public forum. The Pretoria team’s study, true to form, was funded by a grant from the MRC. Significantly, Albrect as a co-author, does not declare his conflict of interest as a quarter shareholder in Phyto Nova, which declaration is the norm in science publishing by today's standards, since it helps to keep the study in perspective, if not actually more honest. Albrecht and the Phyto Nova team are however very quick to make press releases to publicise the study and make further publicity for them.

Regarding the November Journal of Ethnopharmacology paper, how can the Business Day report characterise the researchers as "independent", when the author's include Professor Carl Albrecht, who is one of the four founding share-holder members in Phyto Nova, the major commercial manufacturer and marketer of Sutherlandia tablets and Jansen van Rensburg, his former doctoral student, who is also the corresponding author? The abstract to this article starts out stating: "One of the best-known multi-purpose medicinal plants in Southern Africa, Sutherlandia frutescens...........". The only reason that Sutherlandia is one of the best known medicinal plants in Southern Africa is because of the incessant promotion of the plant by its marketers, of which the author is one and the only reason that it purportedly possesses multi-purposes, is because its marketers, including the author, have repeatedly made such a claim to and via the media, least of all their two commercial websites and a series of self-serving botanical books. A mere five years ago, the name “Sutherlandia”, as far as the public was concerned, existed in near complete obscurity.

Significantly, the study abstract, a traditionally formal succinct summary of the paper, in no way characterises Sutherlandia as having ‘strong anti-oxidant properties’, it merely noted "superoxide as well as hydrogen peroxide scavenging activities at concentrations as low as 10µg/ml". All plants however, have anti-oxidant properties, many within this range - they could not otherwise survive, especially in harsh environmental conditions, without them, so the Business Day report and the journal paper represent, in reality, nothing more than a gentle breeze in a teacup, a non-event, yet stretching mundane and shrinking significant truths is what Phyto Nova does best with Sutherlandia. The study does claim “potent anti-oxidant activity”, but only “by scavenging neutrophil derived oxidants”, which insinuated benefit is seriously counter-productive in AIDS, since this effect, though it might ease some minor discomfort associated with a vigorous immune response, is likely to hasten the patient’s death as a result of increasingly uncontrolled proliferation of infectious organisms, courtesy of direct Sutherlandia suppressed immune function.

Back in March 2000, Gericke, still rather naïve and relatively honest about the potential of his investment admitted on the SA FM radio program “Pursuit of Health”: “we looked into the chemistry of the plant and found that it’s got incredibly high levels of a compound called Canavanine”, (but when I challenged later them on the safety of canavanine, Phyto Nova emphasised the exact reverse view, emphasizing incredibly low the canavanine levels are). Then a dose of reality from Gericke: “Canavanine, which is a well-known anti-cancer agent, but interestingly, not as promising as hoped because it’s a potentially toxic compound”. Unfortunately, to keep the investment on the boil, this is followed by another flight of fancy, which I shall record here, just to show how unscientific commercial considerations can be: “What’s very interesting about Sutherlandia is that it’s got a ‘faith analogue’ of that compound as well, so it may well be that the cancer cells are selectively taking up the toxic version, Canavanine, whereas the safe amino acid, Arginine, which is an analogue of Canavanine, also occurs in the plant.” Firstly, there is no such thing as a “faith analog” other than in the imagination of those that practice faith in the place of science in medicine. Secondly, canavanine is powerfully antagonistic to arginine, not vise versa and in this respect, canavanine and not arginine is the analog. Thirdly, Canavanine is not selectively toxic only to cancer cells. It is extremely toxic to normal cells, as has been proven in the extensive studies cited in my earlier papers in this series.

Apparently Phyto Nova thinks we are all gullible fools, content to be hoodwinked by the mere mention of the names of influential persons, positions and institutions. Witness Albrecht’s version of their so called “Sutherlandia Safety Study”, which is exactly what it was, being designed and executed in such a way as to test only safe doses in non-susceptible healthy animals, which in no way resembles real life usage for which this then poison is promoted, ie in malnourished ill individuals, in particular those suffering from cancer and AIDS, which latter are likely to be particularly vulnerable to canavanine toxicity and hence more likely to be harmed thereby, even perish from their AIDS defining infectious conditions a direct result of such repeatedly assured and hence presumably safe chronic use of Sutherlandia. Albrecht: “Last year, the MRC started becoming interested. So what this translated into eventually was the design and execution of a safety test for Sutherlandia. And I might just say, right from the word go, that none of these primates were harmed. The bottom line is that they could find not a single sign of toxicity.” Well now, one will rarely find toxicity under such deliberately selected neutral circumstances, which is why Albrecht is able to state: “none of these animals were harmed in any way”, which really is a ridiculous statement, since in a proper toxicological study, animals would have been harmed when establishing toxic doses and precipitating circumstances”. What should have been a toxicological study, using patient relevant circumstances, it turns out, was nothing but an elaborate ruse and promotional exercise.

Albrecht’s next promo: “The real question is...I think safety is no longer such a big issue, now that we've had the safety study done; the issue really is the design of the clinical trial.” I can’t wait to critique this next act, especially the scene set by Albrecht here: “And then the third thing is the whole thing about immune stimulation. Here we don't have a heck of a lot of information, and this is what the clinical study could actually inform us about. But we've had about a dozen or so reports from patients”. When Business Day asked Albrecht whether it was ethical to sell tablets that had not been tested in humans, he responded: "Is it ethical to withhold potentially useful medicinal material simply because the small people can't muster the millions of rands needed to bring a drug to market according to the schedules of the regulatory authorities?" This is a cute, yet serious criminal reply, on several counts, coming soon to a company near you.

Earlier, in March 2000, Gericke stated on the SA FM radio program “Pursuit of Health”, that his work was “frustrating because a lot of energy has to go into the research and a lot of time. And really, before we can say anything from a scientific and medical point of view about the application of a plant for a serious disease, it has to be clinically studied.” All and well, so how did they go about that? On the same program just over a year later, Albrecht revealed the double-speak: “in 1999, we took a plunge and actually decided to have tablets made out of the dried leaf powder of the plant. We felt we needed some way in which to be able to test the plants for safety and efficacy” and a few minutes later, revealed the means: “we decided to test it out on ourselves, and Nigel and I took the tablets on odd occasions”, as well as the first criminal act, disguised as an act of compassion: “A very good friend of ours, Anne Hutchings, who's a well-known expert in Zulu medicine, informed Nigel and I that she'd joined a voluntary group helping people living with AIDS, and they had absolutely nothing in the form of medicine. So Nigel rang me up and suggested we send them these tablets, and I think that was a moment of great decision-making.”

Great decision indeed - low cost illegal experimentation using ill human guinea pigs without ethical approval or informed consent! I intend to make Sutherlandia a test case for the Medicines Control Council’s new regulations. Phyto Nova must bear responsibility to ensure that they properly evaluate their product for safety and efficacy before selling it for the supposed treatment of serious medical conditions, which latter, for the most part, I have more than amply demonstrated will suffer the opposite of the beneficial claims made for Sutherlandia, including premature, if not unnecessary death. Phyto Nova has some big names on board, including the recent collaborating researchers and institutions. Suits me all the more, since the bigger they are, the harder they fall, one and all. Also, the more they squander and steal, human health and lives included, the more they will pay, not only monetarily and through dishonour, but possibly with their own lives, removed from society at large as is befitting such brash criminal elements.

CONGRATULATIONS you have reached the end of this page. Use either the back button to return to the previous page or navigate further using the links below

Gaia is copyright © 2006 Gaia all rights reserved
Designed by Webs The Way
eXTReMe Tracker

Page Counter as of January 2008