Botanical Drugs, Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods: The context of Africa
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29 August 2022
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The involvement of developing countries in international food trade has transcended ideology from the traditional production of cash crops and raw materials to producing processed or semiprocessed food products. The African continent is endowed with a great variety of plant species and their use for achieving nutritional and therapeutic effects is strongly anchored in African culture. There is need for pharmacological, toxicological studies which complement the strict regulatory framework governing the sale, manufacture, packaging, labeling, importation, distribution, and storage of natural health products. For the products (botanical drugs, nutraceuticals and functional foods) emanating from the endemic plants, these important determinants anchor the supply chain and regulation of botanical drugs, nutraceuticals, and functional foods. The various factors that determine the supply of botanical drugs and functional nutraceuticals include bioprospecting for new products, low cost sources of existing products, standards that govern the introduction of new products, and enhancement of the acceptance of existing products, differentiating products based on the physicochemical properties of the products, product innovation (e.g. new additives to foods, drinks, and/or cosmetics). Functional foods have generally been defined to include products that influence specific functions in the body (thereby offering benefits for health, well-being or performance). Functional foods result from technological innovation (e.g. cholesterol lowering products, sweeteners in chewing gums, fermentation products, and genetically modified products).