11 January 2022

Pukka Herbs is the largest organic tea company in the UK, specialising in sustainable and environmentally friendly products. They have provided funding for three Westminster students: BSc Herbal Medicine student Urszula Nair, MSc Biomedical Science student Tanmayee Ranade, and PhD student Steve Woodley.

Urszula will receive approximately £300-£500, used as funding for consumables and samples. Her project looks at the quality of echinacea products available on the UK market, in particular she will look at the label claims and test the products against them using chromatographic analysis methods. Following the project, Urszula is also expected to co-author a paper for publication in a relevant academic journal, and present her results to the British Herbal Medicine Association. 

Tanmayee received £8,500 for her MSc research project in collaboration with the Pukka Herbs team which is based on the herb tulsi and its effect on type two diabetes. Tulsi (Holy Basil) is one of the popular herbs in Ayurveda, a traditional Indian medicine, predominantly used in herbal formulations in the management of type two diabetes. 

Her project will evaluate the therapeutic potency of tulsi in the chronic management of diabetes, and will also include a study of the biodiversity of the herb by analysis of physicochemical and organoleptic properties, and its effect on the anti-diabetic potency.

Steve received £114,120 for his PhD into how herbal tea affects mitochondrial function. The funding includes bench fees for the project, and a personal stipend, allowing Steve to devote himself to studying full time. The PhD study aims to provide important new learnings about how herbal compounds activate cellular elements leading to increases in mitochondrial health and well-being. 

Speaking about the funding, Tanmayee Ranade said: “Pukka Herbs team provided me with a great platform and shed a light on the path towards my career goal. I am thankful to the whole team from bottom of my heart.”

Steve Woodley said: “If it was not for Westminster's dedication to continued learning and support, even after my original Master’s was completed here, I would probably have never known about the sponsorship from Pukka. This funding from Pukka has given me the opportunity to achieve my life goal of obtaining a PhD, but that is only the beginning. Pukka has also connected me with some of their associated projects which may provide opportunities that last beyond the completion of my studies. I cannot thank them enough for providing me with this break.”

Senior Lecturer in Chinese Herbal Medicine and Medicinal Plant Science at Westminster, Dr Anthony Booker, said: “We have been working with Pukka herbs with some time now and they have been an ideal industrial partner, providing funding for a wide variety of exciting projects connected with herbal medicines and food supplements. In the summer of 2022, we are hoping to host a university-industry research conference bringing together all of the Pukka funded students and natural product researchers from the University of Westminster and other universities.” 

Head of Herbal Research at Pukka, Dr Viv Rolfe, added: “We’ve had the pleasure of working with Dr Booker and many high calibre students from Westminster for a number of years now. Our university partners and student collaborators are doing vital work to help expand our understanding of how herbs in teas or medicines can benefit human health. The more sustainable nature of plants as medicines, as well as the wider health choices that they offer, are important for society to explore. I’m really looking forward to hearing the outcomes of these three projects.”

To find out how you can support the next generation of researchers, please email [email protected].

Find out more about Pukka’s herbal research