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Study of African traditional medicine will begin world-first clinical trial
Date:12/6/2007

COLUMBIA, Mo. Described as a hotspot of botanical diversity, there are more than 20,000 indigenous plant species in South Africa. Several thousand of them are used by traditional healers every day in that country for treating a range of problems from the common cold to serious diseases such as AIDS. How safe and effective these treatments are will be the focus of The International Center for Indigenous Phytotherapy Studies (TICIPS), a collaborative research effort between the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. The center will be funded by a $4.4 million, 4-year grant from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicines (NCCAM), a division of the National Institutes of Health.

The American and South African citzens have strong interests in complementary and alternative medicine practices, but little is known of their safety and effectiveness, said Bill Folk, senior associate dean for research in the School of Medicine, principal investigator of the grant and co-director of TICIPS.

Folk and U.S. research teams from MU, University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), Missouri Botanical Garden, University of Texas and Georgetown University will partner with Quinton Johnson, director of the South African Herbal Science and Medicine Institute and co-director of TICIPS at the University of the Western Cape, University of Cape Town, University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZ-N) in South Africa, and South African traditional healers. Together, they will study the medicinal properties, safety and effectiveness of several African plants in use today by traditional healers. South Africa is home to more than 200,000 traditional healers who care for more than 27 million people.

"TICIPS is especially significant, since it presents the very first opportunity for medical doctors, scientists and traditional healers to internationally cooperate as equal partners in exploring indigenous African phyto
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Contact: Christian Basi
BasiC@missouri.edu
573-882-4430
University of Missouri-Columbia
Source:Eurekalert

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