Medical science has always drawn inspiration from indigenous knowledge and traditional medicine. Since the beginning of time, traditional medicine has been part of African culture. In South Africa, these traditional healers are referred to as Sangoma’s or Inyanga and are responsible for the spiritual and physical healing of community members. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 80% of the population living in rural areas in developing countries depend on traditional medicine for their healthcare needs. These kinds of estimations are an indication that traditional healers hold valuable insight into organic plant-based healing that can be explored by modern medical science.
Professor Keolebogile Motaung – a biomedical scientist and founder of Global Health Biotech – has always felt an enthusiastic drive for science and the musculoskeletal system. After setting up her research at the Tshwane University of Technology where she is also Assistant Dean, Prof. Motaung was convinced that medicinal plants can be used to heal musculoskeletal inflammation and injuries. Prof. Motaung was able to form a solid partnership with a traditional healer who was able to successfully induce bone regeneration using a combination of plants and tree barks. This was a very exciting discovery for Prof. Motaung, as the bone reconstruction method predominantly used today is autogenous bone grafts. Bone grafts come with limitations, especially in hospitals that have limited resources.
In search of a way to commercialise this scientific breakthrough, Global Health Biotech was incubated in Biopark@Gauteng at The Innovation Hub. During their incubation, Global Health Biotech was able to produce “La Africa Soother” – a preventative measure for joint and muscle pain, as well as a treatment for inflammation. The plant-based product has received many positive reviews for its ability to relieve muscle and joint pain from people who have a very active lifestyle. The company aims to produce more plant-based products that have healing properties to the musculoskeletal system, in the form of energy drinks and bars. They will also soon be launching supplements that promote muscle growth and regeneration.
Global Health Biotech is one of the many companies incubated at the Biopark@Gauteng that have been able to successfully connect traditional medical practices and pharmaceuticals. There is still much to learn as medicine is continuously evolving. However, what is definite is that the principals of indigenous knowledge have a huge role in the development of modern pharmaceutical solutions.