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Research Methods

Not exactly exciting, but important in what we do. The vast majority of our time and resources are spent doing research, something we did not really expect when we started. From patent reports to field work to lab work, we're constantly on the lookout for new plants to help you live a better life.


The research that Sutherlandia.Com undertakes encompasses a number of methodologies. Each one is a vital part of a philosophy: one that stresses a multi-mode approach to ensure that no stone is left unturned in ensuring that the most effective, natural remedies and supplements are brought to the wider world.

When we set out to form this company, we never imagined this would be how our company would work. Nevertheless, it is how it has happened and in our opinion, it is the best way to bring you the most effective natural supplements.

Below, you can get a basic appreciation of how our research process works.

1: Ailment Research
Here, we simply discover and examine ailments that are common in society: from diabetes and cancer to the flu and measles, we examine the various conditions that make our lives either less than pleasant or threaten our very existence. Our research here is quite simple, mainly using various online medical databases, specialist publications as well as the general media. By the start of 2003, we expect to work a little more closely with a small number of hospitals in developing countries to give us a more "coal face" approach to certain illnesses.

We look at all aspects of ailments: causes, symptoms, treatments, geography and a host of other factors of interest. One very interesting thing we find is that there is often a very significant level of disagreement among highly capable scientists, doctors and researchers as to numerous aspects of an illness. Debates can often become vitriolic on what, one would like to think, are unquestionable facts of science. This level of debate and what it concerns is one which the general public would do well to become more familiar with.

2: Patent Research
This is a time consuming, uninspiring yet absolutely critical component of our research methodology. This consists of poring through literally thousands of patent applications and awards over the years in the US, Europe and increasingly in other jurisdictions. We examine countless biochemical compounds and what they are supposedly able to do, the evidence presented for their effectiveness and the way the compounds were sourced / created...and we use the word "supposedly" with great intent.

It is vital to note that just because a chemical compound is patented to treat a certain condition, it does not necessarily guarantee that the chemical in question is able to do what is claimed. Patent awards in nutrition, health and medicine are a very controversial area: they are often awarded without "properly verifiable" (admittedly a very indistinct term) evidence as to their ability to work as claimed in the treatment of various conditions. By way of example, patent offices in the US issue patents for various machines which purport to be anti-gravity or perpetual motion devices: with many of them, even an individual with the most basic knowledge of physics can clearly see they are absolutely unable to do anything remotely as claimed.

Nevertheless, patents form a critical component of our research system. The patent registries of the world, despite their flaws, are the world's best depository of cutting edge knowledge that has, at least to some degree, satisfied generally acceptable standards of proof of effectiveness. When we find a substance patented that we find in plants, and both the plant and the patented substance have a similar use, we start our more advanced evaluation process.

4: Laboratory Analysis
Because of the considerable difficulties that exist in transporting many of these plant substances through various Customs Controls around the world, we tend to utilize laboratories within the country of origin, usually at Universities.

The initial research is always aimed at isolating and identifying all the bio-chemically active compounds in the plants and / or preparations. This is usually not too difficult a process. We then try and match what we find to any patents or reported research. However, we are also finding that we are establishing a huge database of complex chemical chains that are almost unknown to biochemists. They comprise complex molecule chains that will require many years of research and testing to determine what they actually do.

We compile all these results into our ever growing database for future analysis and study.

In terms of clinical trials, we do not carry these out ourselves, but always via other bodies who have the funding and the proper modalities to ensure effective provings. However, we are mindful that clinical trials are of limited value in terms of safety: we only accept that a plant is safe when these findings concur with what individuals who have been using the plants for countless generations say.

5: General Research
This is the process of going through the multitude of medical journals, botanical journals, internet sites and various news services throughout the world to make certain that any information that can be of use is within our reach. Here, we rely heavily on translation services as many sources of interest are in non-English languages.

During this process, we evaluate all the data we have found and decide if a product can be brought to market. We then go through the complex process of sourcing and packaging the product, along with negotiating with the inhabitants of the region we source from as to what their compensation will be.

The Challenges We Face
In addition to what we have mentioned above, there exist numerous issues that conspire to make our work that little bit harder, but, as always, we are determined to overcome them.

Perhaps the most frustrating thing about our work is the realization that we are only scratching the surface of what is out there: to do this work properly would require a team of hundreds of people - at least - working for over a decade. Many plants exist in regions that are uninhabited, or have been inhabited by civilizations that have been wiped out, often many generations ago, taking their knowledge with them. At best, scraps of documentation may exist that hint at plants which may or may not any longer be in existence.

We are finding that many plants possess health enhancing properties that are unknown to locals: by way of example, why should a culture that has not known Type 2 diabetes be aware that a plant which they use to treat diarrhea is also of interest to individuals who suffer the almost inevitable effect of obesity, age and over-consumption of sugars. Again, this highlights how complex is the process of matching potential treatment with the applicable ailment.

Initially, our research was carried out very openly. Of late, we have decided to undertake our work in a slightly more low key manner. Whilst we are under no illusions as to our own importance and do not expect to be "taken care of" by giant multinationals, a low key approach allows us not to create any unnecessary excitement or raise false hopes. We have found that, in some cases, local inhabitants, sensing an opportunity for benefit, embellish the effects of some plants and endow others with properties that do not exist. Whilst honesty by the majority of the locals always prevails in the end, we are always mindful of not being led astray.

So, that essentially gives you the idea of how we operate. It is certainly not a perfect system and will be refined as we gain more experience.

As we like to say, we can do it all much easier...but we cannot do it much better.

We are proud of how we do business - as proud as we are of our goal - giving you a better life.

Of Interest
The government may not do everything right all the time, but occasionally, tax dollars are well spent. The Medline website is a superb tool for anyone who wants to keep abreast of the latest health related research. Details here.


A fine institute in the Netherlands with world class research facilities that specializes in researching plants. One of the most respected bodies of its type in the world. Please click here.


Earthwatch performs crucial work to help ensure that many of the diverse plant species that are yet to be analyzed are not made extinct. Visit their site here.


The Missouri Botanical Garden website is one of the most comprehensive websites with regards to plants. Please visit their site here.


If you don't want to go to the plants, these people can make the plants come to you. One of the world's best sources for rare and unusual flora. Be careful to check about customs import laws if ordering from overseas. Visit Rare Exotics here.


It's not just rare and exotic plants that are proving to have remarkable health benefits for people. In this BBC report here, the humble avocado shows great potential for limiting liver damage caused by the Hepatitis C virus.


India is one country that we here are only beginning to look into for its remarkable plant life...and the stellar knowledge as to its healing properties possessed by its people. This BBC report shows the results of clinical trials on a remedy derived from the Keezhanali plant (also known as Phyllanthus Amarus) in treating Hepatitis B. Please click here.


Local inhabitants are sometimes quite hostile to outsiders coming in to study their medicinal ways, which they can regard as sacred as shown in this CNN report here. It sometimes takes over a year of negotiation to achieve the level of trust that ensures the support of local inhabitants.


Many individuals regard the thought of medicines coming from plants as a surefire sign of snakeoil, without realizing that many of today's most effective treatments come from plants. Please visit this ABCNews site >here for a very informative lecture.


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