Buchu, a medicinal plant that only grows in the Western Cape, could replace antibiotics one day.
This is according to Professor Patrick Bouic, who is a researcher for Cape Kingdom Nutraceuticals.
He explained that Buchu is part of the fynbos in the Western Cape and the two main species are Agasthosma betulina and Agasthosma crenulata.
Read: The health benefits of buchu tea
"Buchu has been around for thousands of years and has the most incredible medicinal properties," he said in an interview with News24Live.
"One of the most pressing issues that we have in the world today is antibiotic resistance because as we are prescribing more antibiotics, the organisms are becoming more resistant".
Drug resistance is also driven by the misuse of antibiotics, which encourages "superbugs" to develop new ways of overcoming them.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has already warned that superbugs could lead to a deadly world where antibiotics are no longer effective. It further stated that very few countries are prepared to tackle superbug infections.
Superbug infections, including multi-drug-resistant forms of TB, already kill scores of people a year and the trend is growing.
Bouic said the ultimate aim of studying Buchu is to see whether researchers can identify a new molecule which can target antibiotic resistance.
The most potent property that Buchu possesses is that it is anti-inflammatory.
"If we are talking about inflammation, most of the chronic conditions today, be it cardiovascular problems, diabetes etc are all linked with underlying inflammation."
He added that it has hypotensive properties, which brings down high-blood pressure, and also has anti-infective properties so it kills bacteria.
"Now we understand why the Khoi San was using it to treat bladder infections because by using it you are cutting out the inflammation immediately so you feel better, but at the same time it is also getting rid of the bacteria causing the bladder issues."
Bouic pointed out while researchers are currently busy identifying the active molecules in the plant, they have more recently been looking at the properties of the plant to treat diabetes.
Although the study is still in the initial phase, he noted that it is showing signs that it can treat a pre-diabetic state.
"So if you are full-on diabetic needing insulin, you may be able to reduce the amount of insulin that you have to take to control your glycaemia," he said.
"It has huge potential," said Bouic.
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