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I have a thing about doctors: I don’t like them. I’ve had to visit the hospital a few times too many in my short life and each time this thing for doctors worsens. While I realize that doctors are important, I mean I run to them anytime anything aches, I think they’re doing us a disservice. Mbeef with them is really simple; why do they hate traditional medicine? Doctors spend the longest time inside the school walls just to get their BSc. Their books are as big as the Igbos traditional wedding bridal list, and they have to learn words even Hon Patrick Obahiagbon cannot pronounce. Their exams are rigorous and brutal… they do not have an easy life at all. Imagine then how they would respond if, after all these, a patient asked if they could eat Ewedu leaf to bring down their blood pressure? Probably Are you mad? Did I spend 9 years studying to be overtaken by Ewedu? Traditional medicine is not going anywhere. The number of buses carrying screaming loudspeakers asking you to buy a mixture to cure cancer will continue to increase; there will always be an old woman somewhere in Alaba that knows the right herbal concoction that’ll cure hypertension; a herbalist claiming to have cured 1,398 people of HIV, and there will always be people who patronize them no matter how much doom the situation spells. One doctor once tried to explain to me that using traditional medicine to cure any illness is dangerous since there’s no dosage or extensively researched pharmaceutical data to back it up. While I agree with this and do not encourage anyone to dabble into stuff they’re not sure of, especially when it’s a life or death matter, I wonder if the best way to deal with traditional medicine is to turn away. People have had proof of healing from the simplest natural products, so there is some evidence that some of our herbs and fruits have healing properties. Rather than get angry at patients who patronize traditional medicine, why not begin to campaign for our indigenous natural products to be used in our pharmaceutical sector? Why not research yourself and find out fruits that ease certain symptoms without piling on the processed meds on your patients. I met this one doctor who wouldn’t prescribe medicine for constipation or heartburn no matter how much I complained. She simply asked that I ate cucumber and the pulp of oranges which eventually worked. Why are most doctors not like her? We need to look more into the wealth of our traditional medicine and the materials are available in abundance. It is not all bad though, some indigenous pharmaceutical companies are beginning to realize this and are now manufacturing drugs from our natural products. According to Guardian the following companies are some of them:
  • NIPRD has developed globally accepted herbal sickle cell drug (NIPRISAN) and fixed dose combination drug (NIPRIBOL) for the treatment of Ebola Virus Disease
  • Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP) and Intercedd Health Products (IHP)
  • FIIRO makes giant strides in research and development on herbal products Paxherbals designed a clinical trial proposal for her malaria medicine called ‘Pax Malatreat’
  • NNMDA develops mosquito nets with herbal repellents
My point is this, not that western medicine is not important, come on, it has probably saved the whole of Africa from being wiped out by cholera or something, but that our indigenous African medicine is potent too. We also have testimonies of illnesses that have been cured by them. What we need is for the scientific world AKA Doctors and pharmacists to study and discover the remedial powers of these potent herbs, combine them with the western medicine and generate a hybrid that will work better than what exists presently. Also, they need to get our microphone wielding brothers off the street corners before they kill off the rest of our population. Happy African Traditional Medicine Day!

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This article was first published on 31st August 2017 and updated on July 5th, 2018 at 6:01 pm

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