(NaturalNews) Sutherlandia frutescens, or Cancer Bush, is an attractive legume with delicate red flowers pictured on the South African national postage stamp. Long used by indigenous people in South Africa to treat cancer, tuberculosis, flu, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome and AIDS, researchers have recently done successful trials with this medicinal plant. Sutherlandia is known for its adaptogenic properties, its calming effect, and its ability to assist with weight gain when given to wasting patients. No toxicity or side effect has been noted.
Growing wild in the Western Cape and in the hills of Zululand, Sutherlandia assists the body in combating disease. Many cultures in South Africa have given this plant names that recognize its life changing properties. The San people, who use it as an energy booster and anti-depressant, call it insista meaning the one that dispels darkness. Zulu traditional healers, who used it during the 1918 influenza pandemic, named it Unwele or hair because it relieves distress that causes sufferers to pull out their hair. Another South African group familiar with the use of Sutherlandia is the Tswana who call it Mukakana and know its effectiveness with gonorrhoea and syphilis. Afrikaners call it Kankerbossie or cancer bush. Another name is "the spear for the blood" meaning a powerful blood purifier.
An article published in a Cape Town newspaper on September 5, 2001 titled, "Time to look to our heritage for AIDS cure" suggested that "cancer bush is the most profound tonic that Africa can offer AIDS sufferers." The article reported that a traditional healer named Credo Mutwa administered sutherlandia to a terminal AIDS patient, a dying woman who thereafter gained weight. Mutwa noted that sutherlandia contained canavanine and pinitol, both of which had been patented individually in the USA, but were a unique combination in the cancer bush. Since sutherlandia grew wild everywhere, it not only presented an affordable treatment option, but offered the potential for commerce and local job creation. In addition, Mutwa urged, Africans needed sufficient nutrition which they formerly obtained from food crops such as millet once known as Umaimbela Ukugula, or "The one that stops sickness."
Ethno-botanist and Zululand University Research Fellow Anne Hutchings has used Sutherlandia as well as other herbs to treat patients weekly at Ngwelezana Hospital's AIDS clinic in northern KwaZulu-Natal, and has 176 patients who claim Sutherlandia helped them. Health care workers report that Sutherlandia only works when taken in appropriate doses, and when used in conjunction with a healthy diet, avoiding alcoholic beverages, recreational drugs or anything that would damage the immune system. Importantly, while evidence indicates Sutherlandia has an anticancer effect, and stimulates the immune system, the plant should be seen as a 'quality of life tonic' rather than a cancer cure.
Tests show that the use of Sutherlandia improves appetite and weight gain, enhances sleep and exercise tolerance, reduces anxiety and creates an overall sense of well-being. In six weeks of treatment, wasted patients often show a weight gain of 10-15 kg. However, when taken by those who do not have an underlying condition, Sutherlandia does not cause weight gain.
It is recommended that Sutherlandia be used in consultation with a health care professional such as a nutritionist. Patients should have a holistic team consisting of a psychologist, a traditional healer or a spiritual guide, in addition to a health care professional, as support for the emotional, cultural or spiritual aspects of illness.