Evaluating the antihypertensive effect of Tulbaghia acutiloba Harv, a medicinal plant used as a culinary herb in southern Africa was the focus of a doctoral thesis in Human Physiology by a young researcher in the School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, Dr Isaiah Kofi Arhin.
This was the first study of its kind to use this plant as a novel therapeutic agent.
The study showed that Tulbaghia acutiloba alleviates high blood pressure and its associated complications. It integrated the mechanisms of the renin-angiotensin system (RAS), the kallikrein-kinin system (KKS) and the haemtological system to provide insight into the therapeutic potential and validation of Tulbaghia acutiloba in the treatment of hypertension. This plant was shown to be more efficient than other plants investigated and hence could be a novel therapeutic agent in the fight against hypertension.
‘This achievement makes me feel honoured and humbled. It has really been an exciting yet challenging journey. These findings will enable me to impart new knowledge to the younger generation and the public at large,’ said Arhin. He added that when he encountered challenges in meeting deadlines, his supervisor, Professor Irene Mackraj motivated him, enabling him to graduate.
The 30-year-old is currently preparing manuscripts for publication and reviewing literature for his next research study. He would like to take up academia in his home country of Ghana, where he is engaged in voluntary work for research institutions.
‘My study experience was exciting and motivating. The academic and support staff were very helpful. The academic atmosphere was conducive for conducting research both in terms of infrastructure and other resources. In all, I would say UKZN is one of the leading institutions to be in if you really want to achieve your dreams.’
Words: Lihle Sosibo