South African alliance tries to unite “science and commerciality” with botanical extract

By Shane Starling

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chromatography, High performance liquid chromatography

Sceletium tortuosum
Sceletium tortuosum
South African based Dynamic Extractions and Formulations (DEF) is marketing the first commercially available herbal extract - Sceletium tortuosum - produced since uniting with extraction specialist, Green Cell Technologies (GCT).

The extract is backed by at least two in vivo ​trials linking it to stress and depression relief, said DEF production manager, Ruaan Genade, who emphasised the quality and purity of the GCT extraction method in highlighting broader quality control issues in the South African and global botanical extracts sector.

He said many extracts over-stated their active constituents or were produced with very little of those plant parts that may deliver documented benefits.

“Unfortunately science and commerciality often part ways when there is money to be made and we have seen that a lot,” ​Genade said, pointing to weight management African fruit, hoodia gordonii, as a classic example where many products were on-market that contained very little of the active hoodia constituent, known as P57.

“Manufacturers have been chasing down the cheapest hoodia they can find, be it from China, India or somewhere else, but there is little P57 in it.”

He said GCT’s Dynamic Cellular Disruption (DCD) method using High-Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) allowed active constituents to be easily identified and protected so that, in the case of sceletium tortuosum, a consistent 3% alkaloid extract can be produced.

Devil’s claw, which had shown strong anti-inflammatory potential, was another extract that was suffering from uneven quality on the market – at least in South Africa.

“If this trend is not immediately redressed, the bio-prospecting industry will suffer irreparable damage and no amount of anti-anxiety supplements will stop the ensuing stress,”​ Genade said.

DEF was in the process of forming partnerships with local peoples where its herbs were sourced that, in the case of sceletium, would see about 5% of revenues flow to indigenous populations under Biodiversity Act.

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