Young scientist’s ambitious plan: Creating cough syrup from snail mucus

A great relief for Kenyans as a group of researchers from Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology (JKUAT) is set to come up with a cough syrup from snail slime locally. Snails being sold at Makola Market, Accra, Ghana. The researcher-led Paul Kinoti said the process was in its initial stages, but the concept had already been implemented in other countries in Africa. Waiting for the go-ahead from FDA Kinoti said the research will test the slime from the snails that are reared locally to determine whether it can be used as a cough syrup medically.

Dr. Paul Kinoti
Dr. Paul Kinoti

Kinoti, a Food Technologist at the University, said they are just waiting to be given the go-ahead in their research by the Food and Drug Authority (FDA). “The research is in its developmental stages. We realised that several countries use snail slime is used to make cough syrup, and we want to try it here,” he said. He explained that the research will involve processing the slime medically to process the drug. He said that once approved, they will help professionals in the medical field manufacture a local syrup from the snail mucus. Snail market growing Kinoti said that this would help reduce the cost of importing the drug since it can be manufactured locally. “Once we get approvals from FDA, we shall commence the research and come up with our locally made products,” Kinoti said.

The research is among several others that the university had conducted on snails, among them the value addition of snail meat for local consumption and export. He noted that the country is slowly developing a taste for snail meat due to its high protein and low cholesterol value since it has values of Potassium, Calcium, Sodium, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Iron and Zinc. The researcher said that a kilogram of snail meat goes for between KSh 2 500 and KSh 3 000 and is mostly sold in high-end hotels in the country. The huge returns from the business have made thousands of farmers adopt snail farming on a large scale, in collaboration with Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and they have received training and good practices on snail farming.

However, the researchers advocate for value addition of the meat through processing and preservation since it is quite perishable. “The demand for snail meat is gaining pace in the country due to its low cholesterol. Its market is high, particularly abroad, and most farmers have established networks for the lucrative external markets,” he said. Other snail products that the University produced through research using snail mucus include cosmetics and creams, which help to fight scars and skin blemishes and skin ageing.