Re: Potatoes, Poppycock and HIV/AIDS 1 February 2005
Previous Rapid Response Next Rapid Response Top
Anita L Allen,
David Allen & Associates, PO Box 65311, Benmore 2010, South Africa

Send response to journal:
Re: Re: Potatoes, Poppycock and HIV/AIDS

It is always dangerous to use newspaper articles as scientific proof on which to base opinions. In the same vein it is equally dangerous to base opinions on what newspapers say the South African Minister of Health Dr Manto Tshabalala-Msimang did or did not say about Hypoxis hemerocallidea and Sutherlandia frutescens in the treatment of chronic illness - and various of the plethora of diseases listed under the AIDS definition.

In regard to Hypoxis, aka African potato, an elementary acquaintance with this plant long in use in Africa, refer Ben-Erik van Wyk et al Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Briza Publications 2nd Edition 2000 pg 156. Under Active Ingredients Van Wyk et al state: "The activity of the drug against prostate adenoma is ascribed to phytosterol glycosides, mainly b-sitosterol (1)…anti-cancer, antiHIV and anti-inflammatory activity is ascribed to rooperol (the aglycone of hypoxoside, which is the 4,4'-diglucoside) (2) and the compound has showed promising results in clinical trails (3)"

Under Pharmacological effects, Van Wyk et al state:"The activity of sitosterols is ascribed to enzymatic effects (inhibition of 5a-reductase) or to decreased binding of dihydrotestosterone within the prostate (4). Rooperol was shown to have several biological activities. It is markedly antimutagenic and cytotoxic to cancer cells" (3).

Before anyone labels medicines long in use in Africa as 'poppycock" we should wait for published results in peer reviewed journals. Many traditional medicines are currently the subject of studies in South Africa as part of a government initiative to bring these medicines into line with western-style approvals.

1 Merck 1989. The Merck Index 11th edition. Merck, Rahway.

2. Drewes, SE etal 1984 Isolation of hypoxoside from Hypoxis rooperi and synthesis of (E)-1,5-bis(3',4'-dimethoxyphenyl)pent-4-en-1-yne. Phytochemistry 23 1313-1316

3. Albrecht, CF 1996. Hypoxoside as a putative non-toxic, multi- functional prodrug for the treatment of certain cancers, HIV-infection and inflammatory conditions. Lecture presented at the IOCD International Symposium, 25 to 28 February 1996, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe.

4. Bruneton, J 1995. Pharmacognosy, Phytochemistry, Medicinal Plants. Intercept. Hampshire.

Competing interests: None declared