The Effects And Side Effects Of Herbal medicine
Herbal medicine has long been a cultural feature of many communities in Nigeria and the world over. Herbs have been used for medical purposes since long before orthodox medicines were developed, and the use of herbal medicine is again becoming widespread throughout the world.
Indigenous cultures in Africa and around the world use herbs to reduce inflammation, control pain, relax muscles and improve digestion and elimination, as well as to boost appetite.
From the herbal bitter to the herbal soap, toothpaste, cream, and even tea, herbal medicine also includes all kinds of folk medicine, unconventional medicine and indeed any kind of therapeutic method that has been handed down by the tradition of a community or ethnic group.
Herbal medicines are sold as tablets, capsules, powders, teas, extracts, and fresh or dried plants. They are used for chronic illnesses such as back pain, or to treat stress-related conditions which may appear very difficult to manage.
Beyond the use of herbs to improve health, however, many now use herbs to solve sexual problems. However, this is not new in Nigerian society.
Body energizers or action pills have been with Nigerians from the time when women went about with calabash on their heads selling a powdery substance to enhance manhood, or when the Hausa/Fulani men went around with a particular root called Burantanshi or Ogun Aleko by the Yoruba herbal sellers of western Nigeria.
Sexual boosters are becoming increasingly popular among sexually active young adult men to boost their sexual powers. The growing influx of sellers indicates that the sale of libido enhancers is an emerging booming business in Nigeria, with users increasing in number every day.
While the targeted consumers of these hawked herbs are mostly fairly uneducated people from low income groups such as bus drivers, mechanics, and laborers, the packaged variants reach out to the elite and to upwardly mobile individuals across working class professional sections of society.
Herbal medicine, however natural it is, can cause serious illnesses such as allergic reactions, liver or kidney malfunction and cancer, and even death.
Most herbal products on the market today have not been subject to a drug-approval process to demonstrate their safety and effectiveness. Some of them contain mercury, lead, arsenic and corticoids and poisonous organic substances in harmful amounts.
Hepatic failure and even death following the ingestion of herbal medicine has been reported. Research has shown that 25% of the cases of childhood blindness in Nigeria and India is associated with the use of traditional eye medicines.
While the side effects of some medicinal plants have been reported, perhaps the biggest problem in Nigeria concerning herbal medicine is a lack of standardization and few safety regulations.
The standardization of a herbal medicine that may contain hundreds of chemical constituents, with little or no evidence indicating which might be responsible for the presumed or proven therapeutic effect, is not an easy matter.