African remedy to curb obesity

The Independent reports on trials by a number of conglomerates in the pharmaceutical industries to find a way of cutting down on obesity which affects 300 million world wide. Top of the list is a cactus found in the Kalahari desert. It is known that the San people use it to curb their hunger on long hunting trips. Unilever will pay them a royalty for the its use.
“….at the head of the race to cash in on the £3bn worldwide market for dietary control products is Hoodia gordonii – a spiny cactus, which takes five years to mature in the Kalahari desert.
Hoodia contains a secret weapon – a compound known as P57 which has been isolated by a British bio-technology company, Phytopharm, and is now at the heart of a £21m research scheme funded by Unilever.
Phytopharm announced last month that it was making good progress in clinical trials of P57. The cucumber-like core of the Hoodia has been used for centuries by indigenous San tribesmen to stave off hunger pangs. They eat it on long hunting trips.
Unilever has struck a deal with the San to pay the tribe a royalty from the sales of any product containing P57 to be used in a social programme.”

(Source Independent 26/12/2006).


The San people are representative of Bush people across Southern Africa. The San people are divide principally across Botswana and Namibia. Clearly they are having a hard time with arrests for carrying out their lifestyle of hunting, loss of land where minerals are mined, health problems, including HIV/AIDS, lack of education available in indigenous languages etc.
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