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Mizzou researchers study popular African herbal remedy

By Julie Bierach, KWMU

St. Louis – Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia are preparing to study a popular herbal remedy used in South Africa for ailments like depression and cancer.

Scientists say it's the first time an African traditional medicine will be the focus of a placebo-controlled clinical trial.

Along with researchers at the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, MU scientists will conduct a randomized clinical trial to study the safety of the plant Sutherlandia in HIV-infected adults in South Africa.

Dr. Bill Folk, associate dean for research at MU's School of Medicine, said the herbal remedy has been used for generations for a variety of conditions.

"People say that it improves your immune system, that it improves appetite, that it improves sense of well-being," Folk said. "But there's no scientific evidence."

During the trial 120 participants will take capsules of Sutherlandia or a placebo over a period of six months.