According to the World Health Organization, WHO, 80% of Africans use traditional medicine for primary healthcare. Going by modern science, is this proper? Findings indicate that in Morocco, thousands of people queue up to see a man who claims he can cure any disease by an alternative means. And in Ghana, the Ministry of Health is regulating the practices of traditional healers. Gambia’s President, YahyaJammeh, is reported to be keen in promoting the benefits of traditional medicine in his country. But can ancient remedies really complete with modern day medicine?
Orthodox medical practitioners, on their own part, say that before any herb can be given the pass mark for the treatment of a particular ailment, there have to be laboratory tests before and after treatment. The outcome of the laboratory tests will then determine the efficacy of the herb. This is the view of a Lagos-based medical doctor who also insists that the issue of dosage must be taken seriously. He says dosage is required for these herbs when treating patients.
Most Nigerians are known to use herbs regularly and these work for them. Because of this widespread usage, regularization, testing and dosage become issues for serious consideration.
‘Agbo’is the traditional name for a variety of herbs and concoctions, an alternative medicine used by most Nigerians especially the native Yoruba people. It is the Yoruba name for herbs. In line with what is available in their various localities also, other Nigerians patronize what they call ‘local medicine’. ‘Agbo’ comes as liquid, pastries, syrups or crushed mixtures of different things such as the bark, leaves, stems and roots of particular trees. Agbocan be soaked in a transparent container for drinking as may be specified by the traditional medicine man. It can also be boiled for drinking or bathing depending on the prescription by the expert on the ailment that is being treated. Women who sell ‘agbo’ in its raw form are called ‘EleweOmo.
In the past, patients who patronized the local traditional medicine men are given prescriptions of the types of herbs oragbo to buy. However, it’s a common practice nowadays for women (young and old) popularly called ‘SisiAlagbo’ to hawk the already prepared stuff. They are seen all over the place with big plastic bowls which contain warmers and transparent plastics all used in hawking the herbs.
Theagbo already prepared and sold could be for the following health problems:
AgboIjede is used to treat pile and the herbs are soaked or boiled with water.
Malaria: This consist of tree bark, EboEgbesi (naucleaLatifolia)-, Awopa – tree bark, Dongoyaro (Azadiracthaindica) leaf and lemon grass. All are boiled with normal or fresh pap water.
Typhoid fever: EpoMongoro – mango bark, ginger, Abere (seed), lime- all boiled with fresh pap water
Gonorrhoea: Bara fruit, sapo (Anthodeistadiaglomensis) stem bark, sagre – root and asofeyeje (Rauvolfiavumitoria) root
Afato – Manpower: ogbolo root and water
Waist pain or Opaeyin: madumaro root and Adonetoro root.