Can An Ancient Hunger Cure Help the Modern World?
December 29, 2007
The San people of the Kalahari desert, also known as Bushmen, have long relied on a plant called hoodia to survive. Now, drug companies are betting millions that the knowledge of these bushmen can help the most advanced societies on earth.
A little hoodia can end hunger pains and quench thirst. Pfizer has invested $21 million dollars to turn hoodia into an appetite suppressant.
The active compound in the plant is called P57; it works by mimicking the effect glucose has on the nerve cells in the brain. It tells you that you’re full, even when you’re not.
The first company to patent P57 tried to do so without paying the bushmen any money. After a court challenge, the San now help cultivate the plant, and if the resulting diet aids are a market success, they stand to prosper.