Lessertia frutescens (L.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning (Fabaceae) previously known as Sutherlandia frutescens (L.) R.Br. is a small, soft-wooded shrublet, with spectacular red flowers. This species, widely known as cancer bush, is indigenous to South Africa, Lesotho, southern Namibia and south-eastern Botswana. Although extremely bitter, it has been used traditionally as a medicinal tea against internal cancers and also as a cancer prophylactic. Cancer bush is well known as an adaptogenic tonic, and commercial tablets are popular to counteract the muscle-wasting effects associated with HIV-AIDS in patients and to stimulate appetite. In vitro biological activities of the plant include anticancer, antidiabetic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects. Results of animal studies, as well as a phase I clinical study, have shown no indications of toxicity. Phytochemical studies of L. frutescens reported the presence of amino acids, pinitol, flavonoids and cycloartanol glycosides. The plant is unusual in having high levels of the non-protein amino acid l-canavanine in the leaves. Chemical profiles of L. frutescens aerial parts were obtained, using a semi-automated high-performance thin-layer chromatography (HPTLC) system and ultra-performance liquid chromatography coupled to mass spectrometry (UPLC–MS). The cycloartanol glycosides, sutherlandioside A and sutherlandioside B (SU1), were identified in the methanol extracts of the aerial parts.
The South African Herbal Pharmacopoeia Monographs of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants 2023, Pages 321-344,