Medicinal plants and cancer

Dr. Mpho Choene

Developing countries have relied heavily on traditional medicine as a source of primary healthcare.

However, in the 20th century, there has been a tremendous expansion in the use of traditional medicine including in those countries where modern conventional medicine predominates. This renewed interest in traditional medicine has led to an increase in scientific studies that aim to explore some of the curative properties associated with medicinal plants. Acknowledgment of the active elements of plants by contemporary science has allowed for their inclusion in pharmacotherapy as a source of modern drugs. South Africa has a huge flora biodiversity of which about 3689 plants are used as medicinal plants and 350 are commonly used and traded. However, very few of these have been scientifically tested for safety and biological activity. Our lab thus aims to identify the relationship between the use of South African medicinal plant extracts and cancer therapy either through induction of apoptosis or inhibition of cell proliferation.