Physiology Study Investigates African Plants with Antidiabetic Properties

Dr Bongani Alphonse Nkala’s PhD in Physiology investigated eight South African plants that are traditionally used for medical purposes but have not been scientifically validated.

Nkala found that certain plants used by traditional healers to manage diabetes have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory or antidiabetic properties.

‘I believe that African traditional medicine is a solution to treat and manage medical problems given the fact that conventional drugs have more side effects and antibiotic resistance keeps rising. African traditional medicine can be a less harmful alternative and has the potential to treat a number of ailments,’ said Nkala.

Born in Impendle, KwaZulu-Natal, Nkala serves as an internship manager and lecturer in the Faculty of Applied Science at Pearson Institute of Higher Education in Johannesburg.

Nkala experienced many challenges during his studies, including financial ones, forcing him to take up TV commercial freelancing jobs to generate extra income. He also had to study part-time as he had a full-time job. He said that he will forever be grateful to Foxstar Talent management for enabling him to supplement his income.

Nkala is passionate about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and encourages young men and women to pursue careers in these fields. The 43-year-old co-owns the non-profit ScienceCEO Academy based in Durban, which has been educating rural schools in KwaZulu-Natal about STEM over the past five years.

He completed a diploma; B-Tech degree at the Durban University of Technology and a Master’s degree in Medical Sciences before pursuing his PhD. He plans to study towards a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) but his immediate objective is to secure a position at a public university in order to advance his research.

‘I was very fortunate to have caring and accessible supervisors in Dr Hlengiwe Mbongwa and Dr Qwebani-Ogunleye who made my study journey a pleasant one. My family and friends made it easier for me and supported me throughout this journey – I’m grateful to them all,’ said Nkala.

Words: Lihle Sosibo

Photograph: Supplied