A Pioneer in Plant-Based Medicine: Professor Namrita Lall’s Journey

17th March 2023

The most recent partnership between Boardroom and the South Africa National Convention Bureau places emphasis on Professor Namrita Lall, an innovator who is leading the charge in promoting the use of South African plants in medicine globally.

Words Remi Deve

Professor Namrita Lall is a Professor and NRF-Rated Researcher in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences at the University of Pretoria. She was born and raised in India, where she was introduced to the power of plant-based medicine. This led her to undertake a 10-year journey of studies into the world of Phytomedicine, focusing on the medicinal properties of South African plants. 

Her research on Medicinal Plants and Tuberculosis led to the discovery of a South African plant that not only killed bacteria but also helped with the level of toxicity in the body and boosted the immune system. This ultimately resulted in the development of Limunone, an African indigenous plant-based health supplement combined with vitamins to maintain liver health and boost the immune system. The work done by Professor Lall in this area led to her being awarded the Order of Mapungubwe in Bronze by the Presidency.

In addition to pharmaceuticals, Professor Lall and her team are now also working on products for different kinds of cancer and skin disorders, of which 16 different types of prototypes have been developed and a few have been commercialized and are on the shelf. The products include skin hyper-pigmentation by the Kalahari Company, Portia M Skin Solutions, Biomedical Emporium, Dr Phyto Medical Plants, and Limunone, the complementary medicine for liver protection and immune modulatory effect. There are 13 more products in the pipeline, set to be launched next year, focusing on skin ageing, hydration, acne, wrinkles, SPF boosting, oral rinse care, toothpaste, and more.

Professor Lall is one of the 10 women in the world to have been honoured with the L’Oréal-UNESCO Award for Women in Science. 

Her work has not only resulted in tangible products on the market, but it also gives individuals the option to have their own start-ups and gives communities something to get involved in that will generate income, alleviate poverty, and promote South African plants. This led her to launch the African Phytomedicine Scientific Society (APSS) to bring all medicinal plant researchers under the umbrella of the organization so they can network and help one another. The launch of APSS means increased networking, collaboration, and brainstorming efforts on the African continent, allowing for sharing of research equipment and skills transfer through student exchange programs to produce quality scientific publications with commercial potential.

South Africa National Convention Bureau (SANCB) will be assisting with much-needed funding and the bid support process for the International Society of Ethnopharmacology conference that will be held in collaboration with APSS on October 23, 2024, in Cape Town. This will be an opportunity for networking and knowledge sharing with international delegates and showcasing South African prototypes to the industry. Professor Lall’s work ensures students’ efforts go beyond attaining a degree; they have options to tap into an entire value chain.

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