African Potato (Hypoxis rooperi)

The African Potato, an indigenous plant of Africa, is harvested by sangomas in the wilds of Kwa Zulu Natal and Pondoland. It is used to treat many illnesses including cancer.

The Hypoxis rooperi plant's healing powers have been scientifically studied and has been hailed as an important breakthrough in the western world's fight against cancer. Professor Ben Smith, head of the department of oncology at Cape Town's Tygerberg Hospital has treated patients suffering from advanced cancer and found it increased their life expectancy. Victims of cancer of the pancreas usually die within four to six months of diagnosis, but after plant sterol treatment they lived for a year or longer. Although as yet there is no scientific evidence that Hypoxis rooperi eliminates cancer tumors, it does seem to slow down the growth of certain types. "You Magazine - 10 July 1997. Cancer sufferers also find it lessons the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy as it boosts the immune system which is drastically lowered by chemotherapy treatment. New to the civilised western nations it could become the panacea of the future for all infections.

For generations Sangomas, the traditional healers of Africa, have used herbs to heal and cure the sick. They have knowledge of herbal medicines that help prevent arthritis, heart disease, cancer and many modern day illnesses. Natural and organically grown plants contain anti-oxidants that shield the body against disease such as arthritis, lung ailments, bronchitis, cancer and even chronic fatigue syndrome. Today, western doctors and scientists are finding that these natural herbs and secret preparations from Africa and other countries do indeed have incredible preventative, curative and rejuvenating qualities.

Traditional healers have used it as muti for treating a variety of ailments. Now the humble African Potato Plant has been found to be an amazing help in treating various modern diseases. This wonder plant boosts the body's immune system. Sterols and Sterolins are the active ingredients in this herbal product. These exist in all plants but are highly concentrated and especially abundant in the African potato. The African potato plant remedy developed by a research team led by Professor Bouic, of the University of Stellenbosch medical school, has been hailed as an important breakthrough in the fight against arthritis and as it increases the body's natural resistance to disease, it has given fresh hope to treatment of other illnesses from the common cold to cancer. Professor P. Bouic et immunopharmc 1996;(12)693-700 Arthritis sufferers have experienced increased mobility, a marked reduction of inflammation and pain with encouraging overall improvement in their well being after commencing the African Potato Plant treatment.

Further research on the plant extract has shown that the new remedy appears to alert the immune system to produce more C.D4 - T cells, lymphocytes which are then made available to destroy invading viruses and bacteria which cause bodily harm. Cancer : It is known that when an individual's immune system is low then this condition allows cancer cells to multiply. Arthritis : This is an auto-immune disease. Painful joints are caused by the malfunctioning of the immune system. The cause, instead of the symptoms, is now treated with plant sterols and sterolins which regulate the immune system. Stress : Mental and physical stress has a detrimental effect on the immune system. It is known that healthy marathon runners are prone to colds and influenza immediately following a marathon run. Sterols and sterolins have been shown to reverse this condition. H.I.V.. : "When Penelope was diagnosed HIV positive she thought her life was over. She immediately wrote a will and invested money for her baby daughter. That was two years ago. Today, the 28 year old single mother is the picture of health. She has renewed energy and new hope thanks to the plant which encourages the body's immune system to fight infection." - "You Magazine" 10th July 1997

All vegetables, especially the green and yellow varieties have fatty sterols that are concentrated in the seeds. These sterols are essential to proper immune system function. By Hybridizing plants the levels of these vital sterols is drastically reduced along with many other vital nutrients. The Hypoxis rooperi, or African Potatoe as it is usually called, has been found to be genetically over 300,000 years old. Because it has not been genetically modified or engineered in this millennia, the nutrient values are as high as 50,000 times greater than in modern vegetables. We harvest the tubers of this plant which are grown in their natural state and environment in South Africa. Our drying process is a special one which incorporates a more natural process that avoids extreme heat or dehydration such as occurs during freeze drying. The potency, type, and number of sterols in this tuber are exceptionally high.


Article from the "SA Retail Chemist" - August 1, 1997

Professor Piet van Jaarsveld, head of Pharmacology at the University of Stellenbosch's Medical School, and member of the research team, is quoted in an article in the popular magazine "YOU" July 10th, 1997 as saying: Its the remedy of the future. People will take it to prevent colds and infections, the way they now take vitamins. The headline on the front page of "YOU" reads "SA's Miracle Multi for Deadly Diseases".

We have already featured a news report on research on Hypoxis rooperi - its common European names, the African potatoe or Sterretjie. The article deals with an unnamed preparation made from the plant, hailed as an important breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. Sterols and sterols isolated from the plant are credited with the efficacy in treating AIDS, Cancer, and TB. The article in "You" also mentions Professor Patrict Bouic of the University of Stellenbosch's Medical School, who is conducting trials on Hypoxis rooperi, but significantly perhaps, the article does not quote him. It states that the preparation "increases the body's natural resistance to disease".

The plant was discovered by 78 year old RW Randburg, a businessman from Liebenberg, 40 years ago, when a relative made a miraculous recovery from prostate cancer after drinking a brew made from the Sterretjie. In 1967, RW says, the plant was analyzed at the University of Natal. In the 1980's research started, and in 1992 a trial on 200 HIV positive patients began. The article claims that the preparation was successful in "stabilizing the CD4-T cell count in both HIV+ and full blown AIDS subjects".

Another study, using cats with feline immune deficiency virus points to the same conclusions. It may well be that in the near future your patients and customers will be bombarded with information from newspapers, magazines and television. Freelance writer William Barker has reviewed some recent articles of medical, pharmaceutical, and scientific interest which may help you anticipate some of their questions and concerns on health matters regarding research and clinical studies with the Sterretjie.

The article is spiked with a series of anecdotal accounts such as that of an (unnamed) HIV-positive woman who feels she has benefited from treatment; a 72-year-old sufferer from cancer of the gall-bladder who says he owes his life to Hypoxis Rooperi; a woman with motor neuron disease, an arthritis sufferer, and others.

Perhaps to protect themselves from a flood of enquires, "YOU" states that "It's a natural extract so it has no potentially dangerous side effects. It's found in a plant which grows prolifically in Kwa Zulu Natal and the former Transkei and has dramatically changed the lives of people like Penelope. Last year "YOU" told the story of Penelopoe's horror after she discovered the businessman she'd been involved with for three years had left her with a terrifying legacy - the AIDS virus. She was one of four women he willingly and knowingly infected and she has started legal action against him. Mercifully, her two-year-old daughter from the union was tested negative for HIV. There was a time when Penelope constantly had chronic flu, lost a lot of weight and feared she'd soon fall victim to full-blown AIDS. Now she can't remember when last she had a cold and she's gained 5 kg. "The Treatment has given me oomph", she says.

The story of this latest South African medical breakthrough began with the Hypoxis plant that is a potatoe-like bulb, and the man with an unshakable belief that plants hold the secret to people's health. RW Liebenberg, founder of the pharmaceutical company which holds the patent rights to the treatment, is not a doctor. A relative's almost miraculous recovery from cancer made him look at the Hypoxis rooperi plant - more commonly known as the African potatoe - with new interest. Its an ordinary-looking plant, much like a lily, with a yellow flower which has earned it the name "little star". The potatoe has unpleasant taste but isn't poisonous. Traditional African healers know it as the "Muti" they use to treat a variety of ailments from virus infections and TB to sexually transmitted diseases. Yet Western researchers have only now discovered the properties of the plant that the Sangomas relied on for generations. At his home in Randburg, where the backyard is overgrown with Hypoxis plants, the 78 year old RW recalls the day some 40 years ago when a relative, Koos Louw, was discharged from hospital with advanced prostate cancer and sent home to die. His children were gathered around his deathbed in Pretoria North when a neighbor came over with a Hypoxis plant bulb. He told his family to make a brew from it and give it to Koos to drink. A week later Koos could sit up in bed and his appetite had returned. He lived for another 10 years to the age of 86. This aroused RW's interest in traditional remedies. "I discussed it with anyone who was prepared to listen", he says. One of those people was a German urologist to whom RW had sent some dried plant bulbs. The doctor made an extract from the bulbs and successfully treated patients with enlarged tumors and severe cancers. The patients immune systems improved and they recovered quickly from their infections. Professor Bouic of the medical school's department of medical microbiology established that the plant sterols and sterolins in the extract of the Hypoxis plant stimulated and regulated the immune system. With the permission of the Medicines Control Council and the medical school's ethics committee he's been treating about 200 HIV-positive patients with the remedy since 1992. Their CD4-T cells - the cells which keep the immune system alert to invaders in the body - usually drop every year by some 130 cells per 1000 says Professor Piet van Jaarsveld, head of department of pharmacology and a member of the research team. Even though the remedy is not a cure for AIDS, it seems it can increase HIV-positive patients' lifespans dramatically. Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French doctor who identified AIDS virus almost 20 years ago, has also shown interest in the treatment. He envisages giving patients anti-viral agents for a short while, followed by plant sterols to boost the body's defense mechanism. According to the article, treatments of plant sterols ( over 10,000 more abundant in the Hypoxis or African Potatoe) could help prevent in utera transmission of the HIV virus. Professor Ben Smiot, head of the Department of Oncology at Tygerberg, comes across as less enthusiastic saying only that the supplement does seem to slow down the growth of certain types of cancer.

While supplements containing sterols and sterolins are available over the counter, the concentrations of their active ingredients is no where concentrated more abundantly than in the hypoxis or African potatoe.

Excerpts from the "SA Retail Chemist" - August 1, 1997.

Excerpt from PM Plant Enzyme Research, CIM

Businessman RW Liebenberg became aware of the healing powers of the African potatoe when a cancer-stricken family member made an amazing discovery after drinking a brew made of it. For generations, traditional healers have used it as a multi. Now the humble African potatoe has been found to be an amazing medicine in the fight against various modern diseases . . .

In 1967 RW had the plant analyzed at the University of Natal and two active ingredients - plant sterols and sterolins - were identified. The exist in all plants but are highly concentrated in the African potatoe.

In the 1980's RW sponsored research at the University of Stellenbosch's medical school in the hope a cure for cancer would be found. When the plant extract was tested on patients with lung disease dramatic results were achieved.

Subsequent testing of AIDS patients led to additional discoveries. A normal person's average T-cell count is around 1000. When a patient's count drops below 200, full-blown AIDS has set in. A research team at the University of Stellenbosch's medical school lead by Professor Patrick Boulc developed the medicine which has been hailed as an important breakthrough in the fight against AIDS. This miracle medicine was produced from a plant extract of the Hypoxis rooperi. When tested on full-blown AIDS patients their T-cell counts stabilized. It's a vital break through because no remedy has ever been found to safely activate the body's T-cells, and as it increases the body's natural resistance to disease, it has given fresh hope to treatment of other diseases - from the common cold to cancer, TB, arthritis, psoriasis and chronic fatigue syndrome or "yuppie flu".

One problem with anti-viral treatments in HIV-positive patients is that the body gradually builds up resistance to them. And while the widely-used anti-viral treatment AZT costs around R2 500 a month, the plant sterol remedy sets patients back about R2 100 a month. This puts it within the means of health services and HIV-positive patients in disadvantaged communities.

Research on pregnant cats with feline AIDS (Feline Immune Deficiency Virus) also offers new hope for HIV-positive pregnant women. When a group of cats was tested with the plant remedy, only 26 percent of their kittens contracted the virus, compared to 82 percent in a similar group which wasn't treated. "Currently, there's an 80 percent chance that HIV-positive women will pass the disease on to their baby but this figure could drop after the plant sterol treatment" says Professor Van Jaarsveld.

While the plant - initially seen with some optimism as a cure for cancer - is making waves as an AIDS treatment, cancer patients are still benefiting from its properties. Professor Ben Smit, head of the department of oncology at Cape Town's Tygerberg Hospital, says there's no scientific evidence that the Hypoxis plant treatment eliminated cancer growths, but it does seem to slow down the growth of certain types of cancer. Dr. Smit has treated patients suffering from advanced cancer of the pancreas and found it increased their life expectancy. Victims of this kind of cancer usually die within four to six months of diagnosis but after plant sterol treatment they lived for a year or longer. Cancer sufferers also found it lessens the unpleasant side effects of chemotherapy such as nausea, and it boosts the immune system which takes a hammering from chemotherapy. Research on the effect of the remedy on cancer tumors which have been diagnosed relatively early is also in the pipeline. While medical experts are cautiously optimistic about the treatment, 72-year-old Willem Visser of Kraaifontein near Cape Town is convinced he owes his life to it. He suffered from chronic stomach pains and was diagnosed with cancer of the gall ducts. The growth situated between the liver and gall bladder and could not be removed so he was sent home with capsules containing the plant sterols and sterolins. Later he found that doctors had given him no more than three months to live. That was four years ago. Today, Willem says, "I have no pain and I eat like a horse." He remarried two years ago and weighs in at a healthy 80 kgs after he'd wasted away. When he was ill, two games of darts would leave him exhausted - now he's bursting with energy.

Further research on the plant extract shows it helps TB sufferers recover much better. Patients with the skin condition psoriasis have also responded well to the treatment, as have people with "yuppie flu". People with other health problems are also trying it out because, as Vivienne Zilberg of Cape Town says, they feel they have nothing to lose. Six years ago she was diagnosed with motor neuron disease, an incurable disease which attacks muscles and eventually leads to death. The 58 year old travel agent became so ill she often collapsed. Now she's so much better she doesn't need a walking stick to move around at home. "I'm much more stable and don't fall over any more", says Vivienne, who's been using the remedy for nine months. She realized she was improving when she could get through the day without an afternoon rest. Now she can once again indulge her love for cooking, puts curlers in her hair without her arms tiring, and clips her own nails. "It's not a cure, but has improved my quality of life," she ways. Michael Reed of Bellville looks so healthy it's difficult to believe he was bedridden only three months ago. "I wouldn't have been able to shake your hand," says the 26-year-old chemical engineer as he enters the room carrying a tea tray. For the past eight years he's suffered from a rare form of arthritis which caused such severe swelling in his wrists he could barely drag himself from the bedroom to the bathroom. He was in such agony he had to resign from his job. To make matters worse, the fingers in his right hand were also affected, so he couldn't write anymore. "Here I was, in the prime of life, carrying on like an old person," he says. "I needed help to walk, get out of the car or the bath, which took incredible effort." Michael had anti-inflammatory injections and took cortisone tablets, but after three months the only results were more stomach problems and a swollen face. He was in as much pain as before. Then a doctor friend told him about the new remedy. Gradually his wrists improved and today, three months later, he's so much better he's ready to apply for a new job again. The only reminder of the suffering he's been through is a slightly stiff shoulder. "Three months ago they had to help me up the stairs, now I run up," he says. "And I thought I'd have to suffer for the rest of my life." A rhumatologist who treated Michael says some of the most destructive forms of arthritis are caused by a defective immune system which forms antibodies that affect the joints. It seems the new remedy could modify the immune system, although more research has to be done. The active ingredient in the extract can also do wonders for healthy people. "It's the remedy of the future," says Professor Van Jaarsveld. "People will take it to prevent colds and infections, the way they now take vitamins." He regards it as a vital dietary supplement. The plant sterols in food are destroyed by cooking and in the treatment of the foodstuffs, he says. For example, plant sterols are removed from sunflower oil because they make the liquid appear murky. The supplement containing plant sterols and sterolins is available at most pharmacies.

The plant sterols and sterolins contained in the supplement are extracted from pine tree oil. A product containing Hypoxis plant extract is also available. One thing the treatment cannot do is help you commit suicide as one HIV-positive patient discovered after gulping down a month's supply of the capsules. The body absorbs only as much as it can and it isn't possible to overdose on it - no matter how hard you try.

End of quotations from the article

Article from: Aids Analysis Africa
Vol. 7 No. 4 - Dec.96/Jan.97

A Boost for the Immune System - by Virginia Curtin Knight

Doctors at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town say they have developed a cheap, non-toxic, three-times-a-day capsule that energizes the human immune defense system to an extent that the body can effectively combat the virus that causes AIDS. Clinical trials with humans have documented that the compound, made from a combination of plant extracts, can enable HIV-infected people to live long, stable lives.

Dr. Patrick Boule, an immunology specialist, helped direct the 15 member medical research team at Tygerberg Hospital. A family-owned South African pharmaceutical company financed the research and acquired a world patent for the compound recently. The company has begun selling capsules as a food supplement in health and nutrition stores in South Africa.

The price of three small capsules - one taken three times a day before meals - is about 40 US cents. MR. R.W. Liebenberg, head of the South African company, says he wants to keep the price low so HIV patients can afford the capsules. The company is currently negotiating with two international drug corporations to market the compound worldwide as therapy for HIV patients. Such distribution will depend on approval of the compound by government agencies that control medicines in different countries.

"It (the compound) does not affect viral replication at all, but it does help the patient's natural immune system to fight the virus. The immune parameters (found in the clinical trials) were stunning", Bouic said. "The compound increased T-cells by "several hundred per cent." In some patients who participated in the clinical trials, Bouic added that "the viral load tends to decrease" in patients who received the compound.

Doctors began the clinical trials in 1993 with almost 300 volunteer HIV patients. In double-blind placebo trials, half the patients got the compound in capsules and the other got capsules without the plant extracts. Neither the doctors nor the patients knew who was receiving the compound or the placebo. After six months the doctors disbanded the two groups and began giving the compound to all the patients. "By that time we knew what the effect would be, and we couldn't ethically continue on that basis", Bouic said.

The research team continues to give the compound to patients and to monitor their physical conditions. "There is no doubt that there is no progression (in the physical deterioration of patients)" he said. But "we are not saying we have a cure".

Patients who took the compound in the clinical trials testify that their physical conditions stabilized or improved. They said they experienced no side effects and feel like they gained a new lease on life. They reported a weight gain and reduction in skin irritations.

At about the same time three years ago, the researchers began testing cats infected with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). FIV is similar to HIV, but cannot be transmitted between cats and humans. The infected cats were treated with the compound and three were not. Within a year and a half, the three untreated cats had died, and today the three treated cats are all healthy. Two years ago, researchers began other tests with 15 cats treated and 15 untreated. About half of the untreated cats have died, "and the others are on the way out". The 15 treated cats "are totally healthy & stable", Bouic said.

The HIV project grew out of an earlier cancer research program at Tygerberg Hospital. In 1985, Liebenberg, head of Essential Sterolin Products, a family pharmaceutical company located in Midland, South Africa, began finding research into how extracts from the hypoxis plant could be used to treat cancer.

The bush-like plant with a large tuber root, known as an African potatoe, grows throughout South Africa. For centuries, traditional healers used extracts from hypoxis to combat tuberculosis, venereal diseases, and chronic viral infections. The hypoxis had been the source of extracts that Liebenberg's company has marketed successfully since the 1970's for treatment of prostate gland infections and swelling.

Not much emerged from the cancer research. But doctors became intrigued by the effect that the mixture (of two extracts) has on the human immune system. In extremely simplified terms, the compound is made up of a mixture of sterols and sterolins which are found in all plants. In the research the doctors abandoned use of the hypoxis because they found it easier to obtain the extracts from "tall oil" taken from pine trees in France. Bouic said Liebenberg's company invested more than $10 Million in medical research and the clinical trials.

"Nine years ago, a lot of colleagues were skeptical of us traditional healers at Tygerberg as they used to call us", Bouic said, but today, he said, "the medical fraternity is very, very excited about the compound.

Editorial from same issue:

It is not often that were able to report good new in Southern Africa's uneven struggle against HIV/AIDS. However, as our front-page article points out, South African medical practitioners have developed an affordable compound which apparently revitalizes the immune systems of HIV-infected patients and enables their bodies to fight the virus. Patients involved in clinical trials of the compound report having been given "a new lease on life". This is very good news for those infected with HIV every day in South Africa alone, and, as shown by the demographic model of the pandemic developed by the Actuarial Society of SA (p.3), without behavior change or effective treatment the country will suffer nearly three million AIDS deaths over the next 20 years. This points to two important issues. Firstly, there is no reason to feel that African-based research is inferior to Western research;

Africa may not enjoy the same access to funding and resources, but innovative skills and ingenuity are certainly present in the region. The second point we have mentioned ad nausea before; we need to look at the needs of those infected with HIV, especially in disadvantaged communities. The immunity-boosting compound developed in South Africa is admirably cheap but even so, who will pay for it? The cost of a years treatment for one patient would be over R650, which is unaffordable for many South Africans, especially those too ill to work; if applied to all the 1.5 million HIV-positive people in South Africa alone, total cost would be R 1 Billion per annum. The treatment is desirable if results are as encouraging as has been stated, - but finances will still be a constraint.

Sterols/Sterolins - the natural, non-toxic immunomodulators and their role in the control of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Prof. Patriick JD Bouic, Chief Specialist Scientist Head: Immunology, Tygerberg Hospital/Univ. of Stellenbosch

"It is a well known fact that all auto-immune diseases, of which Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) forms a large portion, are the result of the malfunction of the body's immune system which is activated by an unknown agent to attack and destroy the host's tissues. Many reasons for the dysfunction of the immune system have been postulated by medical researchers but the standard approach to the treatment of such patients has been to suppress the immune response with immunosuppressive drugs, notwithstanding their many damaging side effects. Other treatments offered are merely palliative and designed to relieve pain and symptoms linked to the inflammatory process.

Recent research conducted on the sterols and sterolins (plant fats) by our group at Tygerberg Hospital / University of Stellenbosch Medical Facility and published in the International Journal of Imununopharmacology, is providing an entirely new medical approach to the treatment of auto-immune diseases and other chronic diseases which only manifest themselves when the immune system of afflicted individuals is at cause. International medical and scientific interest in this breakthrough has been overwhelming and a number of clinical trials using sterols and sterolins for various conditions are far progressed and more are planned in the near future.

With millions of people suffering from RA (arthritus) and other auto-immune diseases in mind, any new information coming to light will be published at the earliest opportunity.

Professor Patriick JD Bouic


Role of phytosterols (sterols) in immune system functioning

Sterols occur in most plant species. Although green and yellow vegetables contain significant amounts, their seeds concentrate the sterols. Most of the research on these valuable phytonutrients has been done on the seeds of pumpkins, yams, soy, rice, and herbs. The latest research indicates that African potatoe (Hypoxis roopori) contains far greater concentrations, perhaps as much as 10,000 times more of these phytonutrients per ounce than other green and yellow vegetables.

Phytosterols compete with dietary cholesterol for uptake in the intestines. They have demonstrated the ability to block the uptake of cholesterol (to which they are structurally related) and facilitate its excretion from the body. Cholesterol has long been implicated as a significant risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Are other dietary factors important as well?

To answer this question, a research team in Los Angeles conducted a study to test the importance of other dietary factors in modifying the risks of cholesterol levels. They compared the diets of 169 Seventh Day Adventists - vegans, lacto-ovo and non-vegetarians-with general population non-vegetarians all living in Los Angeles in the mid 1980's. It was found that the ratio between dietary plant phytosterols and cholesterol was significantly lower in SDA vegetarians as compared to non-vegetarians. The importance of this study underlies the fact that cholesterol per se., is not the only marker of risk for cardiovascular disease and that its ratio with other modifying dietary components may be a better measure of risk.

Other investigations have revealed that phytosterols block the development of tumors in the colon, breast, and prostate glands. The mechanisms by which this occurs are not well understood, but we do know that phytosterols appear to alter cell membrane transfer in tumor growth and reduce inflammation.

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