Article appearing in the South African Journal of Natural Medicine, Volume 1, 2000, pg 23 - 25.

- Prof. PJD Bouic
BSc, AEA Immunology, AEA Pathology, DERBH Immunology, Phd Immunology, Head of Immunology, University of Stellenbosch / Tygerberg Hospital

Sterols and sterolins are essential nutrients not produced by the body. They can only be obtained through natural sources. Shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-allergic and anti-cancer properties. They join the ranks of other essential nutrients like amino acids, essential fatty acids and Vitamin C.

Beta-sitosterol (BSS) is the major phytosterol in higher plants, and is found in the serum and tissue of healthy individuals at concentrations 800 - 1000 times lower than that of endogenous cholesterol.

Its glycoside, beta-sitosterol glycoside (BSSG), is also present in serum, but at even lower concentrations (1). Only plants can synthesize these molecules, while animals, including man, obtain them through their diets. Many epidemiological studies conducted in population groups consuming diets rich in vegetables and fruits have indicated a reduced incidence of various types of cancer, cardio-vascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic diseases. (2)

It has been shown that BSS can reduce carcinogen-induced cancer of the colon in rats; (3) it also shows anti-inflammatory, (4) antipyretic (5) and anticompliment activity, (6) as well as insulin-releasing effects. (7) Similar effects have been described for the glucoside of BSS. Many plant extracts described for their medicinal properties have BSSG as an obligatory component.

We have studied the effects of a BSS and BSSG mixture (Moducare) on the functioning of human immune cells, and have found this mixture to have profound immune-modulatory activities. From simple in vitro observations, we have moved on to clinical trials in patients with chronic infectious diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, human papilloma virus [HIV]) and even non-infectious conditions such as allergies and rheumatoid arthritis. To date, the importance of this natural plant mixture in the management of such conditions.

Sterols/sterolins as adjuvant therapy in the treatment of patients with pulmonary tuberculosis

The first clinical study conducted using Moducare looked at its adjuvant activity in culture-proven pulmonary tuberculosis. All patients were treated with the standard anti-tuberculosis regime.

Both groups became sputum negative at the same time. There was significant difference in the blood picture between the two groups with a remarkable weight gain over the 6 month period in the Moducare treated group. This was the first study to indicate that the intake of the plant sterol/sterolin mixture had a beneficial outcome in pulmonary tuberculosis.

Sterol/sterolin mixture in the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)-positive cat: a model of HIV

We were able to obtain domestic cats infected with the FIV retrovirus, considered the equivalent to HIV in that it induces the same pathogenic mechanism of CD4 cell loss and opportunistic infections. The infected cats finally succumbed to the immuno-suppressive state. We therefore considered this an ideal opportunity to study the immune-modulatory activity of Moducare before it is investigated in humans.

A group of 33 infected cats was divided into a treatment group (16 cats) and a placebo group receiving capsules containing the pharmaceutical carrier only. There were 17 cats in this group. (8)

The treated group maintained stable immune cells over a period of 168 weeks, whereas those that received the placebo capsules showed disease progression and the typical CD 4 cell loss over the same period of time. At present, cats treated with the BSS/BSSG mixture show only 22% mortality compared with 86% in the non-treated group.

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