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Medicinal plants in the spotlight


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On November 15, 2022, Professor Namrita Lall hosted an event at the University of Pretoria Plant Sciences Complex Auditorium to showcase the latest achievements of her research group. The event highlighted the recent publication of a book edited by Professor Lall titled Medicinal Plants for Cosmetics, Health and Diseases; the founding of a new society, the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS); and the commercialization of Limunone, a complementary medicine with liver-protective and immunostimulant properties, produced by Letago Pharmaceuticals, which contains a plant active developed by Professor Lall and her research team.

This event hosted numerous delegates from academic institutions, manufacturers and formulators from the natural products industry (BioMedical Emporium, Blyde Botanics, Botanica Natural Products/Timola, Zuplex, Kalahari Lifestyle, Private Label Brands, Botanichem, Dr. PHYTO Medicinal Plants, Letago Pharmaceuticals), government departments (Department of Trade and Industry, South African Industrial Development Corporation and the South African National Convention Bureau), funders (Water Research Commission and Department of Science and Innovation) and event sponsor The Scientific Group.

Medicinal plants for cosmetics, health and diseases, book edited by Professor Namrita Lallthe banner and logo of the African Scientific Society for Phytomedicine and Complementary Medicine, Limunone

The event began with a welcome address from Professor Nigel Barker, Head of the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, followed by an introduction from Professor Lall on her research interests and journey since the publication of her first book in 2018. until the publication of his most recent release, which is part of a series of four books focused on medicinal plants and their uses. This recent release was published by CRC Press (Taylor & Francis Group) and describes human diseases and how plant bioactives can aid in their prevention, treatment and management.

One of his books was recommended by Choice Reviews as course material for undergraduate and graduate students at Western Illinois University, USA. His books can be found in some national and international institutional libraries. She hopes to see her books used as study materials in many additional institutional libraries around the world, and she is also working to have these books sold in local commercial bookstores. The books are available for purchase from her directly through her administrative assistant and can also be found on the publishers’ websites.

The four-book series edited by Professor Lall, with contributions from national and international collaborators and her team of students and postdoctoral researchers.

During these presentations, Professor Lall took the opportunity to share three upcoming events she is involved in, including the Volkswagen Summer School 2023 from 6-10 March 2023, funded by the Society for Research on Medicinal Plants and Natural Products (GA) and the Volkswagen Stiftung Organization. the 23rdrd The International Congress of the International Society for Ethnopharmacology (ISE), which will take place from 23 to 26 October 2024 at the International Convention Center in Cape Town, is an event that she organizes in her capacity as president-elect of the society. . Lastly, the 1st The African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS) Annual Congress takes place in mid-September 2023. For the ISE and APPS conferences, Professor Lall hopes the event will provide wide exposure and result in funding bodies and sponsors. come forward to support these initiatives. .

Launch of the APSS

The launch of the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS) was a hot topic at the event, with Dr. Ibukun Michael Famuyide, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pretoria-Onderstepoort campus, highlighting the crucial role the society will play in the increased networking, collaboration and idea sharing on the African continent and is proud to offer to become its first member. The partnership will enable the sharing of research teams and transfer of skills through student exchange programs to produce quality scientific publications with commercial potential.

Left: Jonathan Seaman giving a presentation on the vision and mission of the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS). Middle: The new APSS banner and logo. Right: Dr. Ibukun Michael Famuyide speaking about the beneficial impacts of society for African researchers

Launch of Limunone

The program also included fascinating talks from manufacturers, formulators and entrepreneurs within the natural products industry who highlighted the need for safer and more effective ingredients from Africa to reach global markets. Another highlight of the event was the launch of the complementary medicine, Limunone. This product is being marketed by Letago Pharmaceuticals, under the leadership of CEO, Dr. Portia Hlako Matamela. Dr. Matamela mentioned her passion for indigenous knowledge associated with medicines developed from medicinal plants, which was sparked by her herbalist grandmother. Limunone, contains an extract of euclea natalensis, an active ingredient patented by the University of Pretoria and licensed to Letago Pharmaceuticals. This plant is traditionally used to treat symptoms associated with chest problems.

Speakers at the launch event (back row): Robyn Brown of Botanichem, who represented Kalahari Lifestyle, Jonathan Seaman, one of Professor Lall’s master’s students and founding member of the APSS society, Dr. Portia Hlako Matamela, CEO of Letago Pharmaceuticals. (Front row) Professor Namrita Lall, Gill Whittington-Banda, CEO of the makers of Zuplex and Muthi Futhi and Dr. Futhi Mkhize, founder of Dr. PHYTO Medicinal Plants
Dr. Judey Pretorius, CEO of BioMedical Emporium, a formulator, was also a speaker at the event.

Throughout the day, manufacturers and formulators had the opportunity to showcase and promote their products, and potentially identify partners or funders for the commercialization of their products.

Exhibitors at the event from Blyde Botanics, BioMedical Emporium, Zuplex, Dr PHYTO Medicinal Plants, Letago Pharmaceuticals and event sponsors The Scientific Group

Professor Lall was particularly excited to see that, in addition to the Limunone product, other active ingredients from her research were available in finished formulations and exhibited by BioMedical Emporium and Dr PHYTO Medicinal Plants. She hopes the event will encourage other formulators to purchase these actives that are available from Blyde Botanics and Botanica Natural Products/Timola, and also encourage other licensees to bring to market the technologies and prototypes that have been developed through the research of she. These include active or medicinal plant extracts with finished formulations for various applications including skin hyperpigmentation and hypopigmentation, acne, wrinkle reduction, skin hydration, sunscreen enhancing properties, and oral care.

Bianca Payne, founder of Blyde Botanics, who provided the active ingredients to Dr. Futhi Mkhize of Dr. PHYTO Medicinal Plants to formulate a mouthwash/mouthwash. Right: BioMedical Emporium sourced three active ingredients from Blyde Botanics and formulated a mouthwash, anti-acne and anti-wrinkle product
The exhibition table with the edited books of Professor Lall and the prototypes developed by her research team.

The event formally concluded with closing remarks and thanks followed by a book raffle, with five lucky winners taking home a copy of Professor Lall’s recent book.

The five lucky winners of Professor Lall’s recent book, Medicinal Plants for Cosmetics, Health and Diseases (Mabel Mabena, Professor Namrita Lall, Ivy Makena, Mamorake Moila, Professor Oleg Reva and Ntsiki Ottestrom)

networking lunch

The event was followed by a networking lunch on the rooftop garden of the Plant Science Complex, overall an exciting and successful event that left all attendees inspired by the potential of African medicinal plants.

A networking lunch followed the event programme, allowing all delegates to catch up and network.

You can contact Professor Lall here

For inquiries about the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS) network, please use the following links:

Twitter – @theAPSSnetwork

LinkedIn – The APSS Network

Gmail- [email protected]

This article was written by Dr. Marco Nuno De Canha and Samantha Rae Loggenberg.

About Professor Namrita Lall

Professor Namrita Lall is a National Research Foundation (NRF) Qualified Research Fellow in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences (DePSS) at the University of Pretoria (UP). She is the current NRF Research Chair/Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) for Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) Plant Health Products, which is part of NRF’s South African Research Chairs Initiative (SARChI). She is one of the founders of UP’s Medicinal Plant Sciences program and leads a research team of approximately 20 graduate students and three postdoctoral researchers. Her research team focuses on the scientific validation of traditionally used medicinal plants with the aim of developing cosmeceutical and pharmaceutical products for commercialization.

Professor Namrita Lall, NRF/DSI SARChI Chair for Indigenous Knowledge Systems Plant Protection Products at the University of Pretoria


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