South Africa's government on Friday handed a pharmaceutical company a permit to commercialise a plant used as a mood elevator by indigenous groups.
The permit allows Sceletium tortuosum, which has been used for centuries in the Western Cape, to be researched and commercialised by HGH Pharmaceutical, a South African company.
The company believes the plant possesses anti-stress, anti-anxiety and anti-depressive capabilities, and it has developed an extract product.
The plant, known locally as "kanna" or "kougoed", is used by the indigenous Khoi and San communities as a sedative, mood booster, and hunger and thirst suppressant.
"There's a huge range of traditional uses," Gericke said.
The license was granted last December but officially handed over on Friday at a ceremony in the Western Cape province, where the plant naturally occurs.
The permit gives the company -- which has researched and cultivated the plant for eight years -- the right to continue its research, export plant material and extract, and commercialise the product.