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Sutherlandia and AIDS Patients - Summary of a field trip in South Africa... more...


Sutherlandia in the news:

- Business Day (RSA)
- NewScientist.Com
- BBC news (UK)
- Independent News (UK)
- The Cape Argus (RSA)
- The Sunday Times (RSA)
- The Daily Dispatch (RSA)
- Remarks by the chairman of
  The House of Traditional

Thesis: The influence of Sutherlandia frutescens on adrenalcytochrome P450 11ß-hydroxylase by Catherine Anne Sergeant


Sutherlandia and AIDS Patients - Summary of a Field Trip

Summary of Dr Gericke’s field trip of March 2001, that was published in the Australia Journal of Medical Herbalism. (Gericke, N. 2001. Sutherlandia and AIDS patients Update 13 March 2001. Aus J Med Herbalism 13 (1) 2001

I went up to KwaZulu/Natal from 5-9 March 2001 at the kind invitation of Anne Hutchings, an ethnobotanist at the University of Zululand.

  • To give a seminar to the Integrative Health Initiative group at the Nelson Mandela Medical School, University of Natal.
  • To give a seminar to interested doctors and nursing staff at Ngwelezane Hospital together with Anne Hutchings and other caregivers administering Sutherlandia to AIDS patients.
  • To meet with the various people administering Sutherlandia, to critically evaluate anecdotal evidence of safety and efficacy.
  • To see patients from the People Living With AIDS (PLWA) group.

A) Sr. Priscilla Dlamini, Emoyeni
Sr. Priscilla Dlamini, a nursing sister and nun, runs a community-based AIDS hospice at Emoyeni, which we visited. This was a follow-up visit a year after I was first introduced to Sr. Dlamini at Emoyeni by Anne Hutchings, when we had first made Sutherlandia available to Sr. Dlamini.

In the last 12 months, in addition to seeing outpatients, Sr Priscilla has admitted 71 AIDS patients for terminal hospice care. In addition to simple wholesome food, the patients get given a dilute cold-water infusion of Hypoxis sp. made by Sr. Priscilla from locally available plants, and Sutherlandia. Of the 71 AIDS patients admitted for terminal care in the last 12 months SR Priscilla was able to ultimately discharge 30 patients back into the community as healthy. Some have been lost to follow-up, but some come back for the Sutherlandia on a regular basis.

Sr. Priscilla confirms dramatic improvements in quality of life in patients taking Sutherlandia:

  • increased appetite
  • weight gain
  • improved exercise tolerance
  • improve sense of well-being and mood
  • and good sleep.

No adverse effects have been noted by SR Priscilla on specific questioning for this. I video-documented her impressions on my digital video camera.

One of the highlights was an AIDS patient brought to the Emoyeni hospice after being found lying in a cane-field with her young daughter. The patient had been found after being abandoned by her family. She spent six months in the hospice, and was discharged healthy with good weight-gain and has since even managed to get a job.

B). Sr. Lana Oatway
I videoed SR Lana Oatway’s presentation at the hospital seminar, and her approach impressed me because of its holistic nature, with an emphasis on diet, and vitamin and mineral supplementation in addition to Sutherlandia. Sr. Oatway is a Canadian-trained nursing sister, and because of the inpatient situation at the hospice, she has been able to monitor her patients well. The hospice is in Richards Bay, and is funded by the company ALUSAF.

Sr. Oatway has to date put 60 patients on Sutherlandia, and to quote her : “Initially we see a much better sense of well-being, then we see a gradual increase in energy, then we see that their appetites begin to return, and longer term we see that they begin to gain weight.” All medication is given after meals, crushed into live culture yoghurt, and in addition to Sutherlandia, a multivitamin tablet, and foliate and iron are also given (also crushed into the yoghurt). No adverse effects of Sutherlandia have been noted.

Sr. Oatway confirmed the efficacy of African Ginger (Siphonochilus) for oral and oesophageal thrush – it clears completely within two to three days - and also noted that it stops the spiking of temperatures often seen in AIDS in-patients. When they ran out of Africa Ginger for two weeks the temperature spiking of the patients reappeared, only to disappear when the African Ginger was restarted

C). PLWA group at Ngwelezane Hospital outpatients department
These AIDS patients from the group People Living With AIDS (PLWA) get seen once a month by Anne Hutchings, after being seen by a doctor from the hospital. The patients are also seen on occasion by the hospital superintendent, DR Peter Haslau. There are now a total of just over 170 PLWA patients being treated with Sutherlandia 25 ‘old’ patients were seen by Anne Hutchings and myself, and 8 new patients. Some of the ‘old’ patients have now been treated for 16 consecutive months with Sutherlandia.

All the ‘old’ patients seen felt the Sutherlandia was beneficial with improvements in quality of life : increased appetite, weight gain up to 10-15 kg in some patients, improved effort tolerance, improve sense of well-being and mood and good sleep pattern. In many patients who were not wasted to begin with there appears to generally be a stabilization of weight, but it is still too early to tell if this will be sustained. In some patients interpretation of weight charts has been complicated because there have been intercurrent infections with cholera and acute viral diarrheas, typical of impoverished rural communities without access to sanitation or clean water. One of the patients we saw had survived two episodes of cholera (treated for this as an inpatient in Ngwelezane Hospital ) in the last few months, and intercurrent acute viral diarrhea. The area is just recovering from a major cholera epidemic.

No adverse effects of Sutherlandia ingestion were noted on specific questioning for adverse reactions.

It was clear that the patients were really delighted to see Anne, and they have greatly benefited from Anne’s personal interest in their plight, and the hope that and encouragement that she gives them. This perception was confirmed by DR Haslau at the hospital seminar. Anne’s excellent homemade skin and wound creams from local available plants have helped many patients with itchy rashes, herpes and shingles.

Many from this group of patients are poverty-stricken, with very poor diet at home. We tried to encourage them to eat locally available wild spinach (Amaranthus spp; Bidens pilosa; Portulaca oleracea, and Centella asiatica) in addition to staples, and also to take advantage of the fruit of wild guava trees that are abundant in the area which are high in vitamin C. viral diarrheas are common.

In some cases the PLWA patients who are taking Sutherlandia are doing so well that they are given a follow-up appointment by the hospital superintendent for two months time, rather than the usual one month.

D). Sr. Ziphi Dldadla
Sr. Dladla is a nursing sister who sees HIV positive and AIDS patients who are municipal workers at a municipal clinic in Richards Bay. Sr. Dladla has treated 60 AIDS patients with Sutherlandia since October 2000, including AIDS children who get half the adult dose. No adverse effects were reported on specific questioning and Sr. Dlada is delighted with the results. To quote her : “They all come back with results like : I have energy now, I have good appetite, I feel well”.

One of the municipal workers on Sutherlandia from Sr. Dladla was also seen by a doctor, who told the patient that his CD4 count had gone up since taking Sutherlandia.

SR Dladla was also very happy with the efficacy of the Sutherlandia gel, reporting it rapidly removes the pain of acute Shingles, and facilitates healing of the skin eruption. To quote her : “For shingles, the new one, the gel, they are flocking for it. It makes it numb and takes away the pain” .


  • Sutherlandia is clearly having a very significant impact on the weight and quality of life of many patients with WHO stage 3 and 4 AIDS. The true impact is difficult to communicate in a written report – the actual patients’ expressions, and general condition has to be seen to be appreciated. All the caregivers were very positive about the benefits, and want to make more product available to meet the increasing word-of-mouth demand.
  • Many so-called ’terminal’ AIDS patients can clearly still be rescued with a holistic approach to healing and good nutrition, and with the addition of Sutherlandia. (This is obviously also the case with modern Highly Active Anti-retroviral Therapy (HAART), should it become available at an affordable price).
  • There is an urgent need for doctors and other health workers caring for HIV/AIDS patients to be educated about the need for appropriate nutrition and vitamin and mineral supplementation.
  • The anecdote of a raised CD4 count supports many other anecdotes that have been reported to Sutherlandia raises CD4 counts in AIDS patients. This needs to be verified in a controlled clinical trial as a matter of urgency.
  • No severe adverse reactions have been reported from ingestion in adults or children, including in very ill patients, and in patients who have been taking Sutherlandia on a daily basis for 16 to 18 months.
Excerpt of an email report from Dr. Jack Githae, Kenya

"My comments on the potential of the Sutherlandia tablets are as follows:-

I can confidently testify that:

  • Sutherlandia tablets have so far proved safe and useful at the dosages and for the conditions we used them for.
  • The tablets are also effective in prolonging the life of especially the HIV patients; they seem to improve the appetite, weight and general welfare of the patients. They also suppress and in some case cure opportunistic infections. They have also been very effective in tackling joint complaints.

We intend to continue with our observations so that, sooner or later we shall give you a more comprehensive report.

Dr. Githae is Kenya’s leading medical herbalist, and Director of the School of Alternative Medicine and Technology, SAMTECH and a World Health Organization expert advisor on traditional herbal medicines.


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