Developing quality assurance protocols for African herbal medicines.
In recent years consumers have taken greater interest and responsibility for their own health, both in terms of prevention and treatment, which has lead to an escalation in the use and development of herbal health and cosmetic products.
The cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry produce products fortified with extracts of natural origin known to have beneficial active ingredients. Despite the common believe that phytocompounds are safe, they all have inherent risks just like synthetic compounds.
In view of a suggested amendment to the general regulations made in terms of the medicines and related substances act, the Department of Health in South Africa has recommended that all herbal products are regulated in terms of safety, efficacy and quality.
Safety and efficacy depend largely on the quality of the raw materials used. Considering the above mentioned amendment, quality assurance protocols are urgently required for indigenous medicinal plants to ensure high value products both for the local and export market.
- To investigate the phytochemical variation within and between natural populations of the chosen indigenous plant species.
- To suggest superior harvesting sites for the raw materials based on the quality and quantity of the desirable phytochemicals as observed in the phytochemical profiles.
- To suggest harvesting procedures of the raw materials (e.g. time of year, plant part etc)
- To develop an efficient quality control protocol of the raw material used in product formulation.
- To develop a NIRS database of all commercially important indigenous plants to be used by industry for the quality control of raw materials used in herbal formulations.