The use of traditional medicines in Nigeria has always been viewed as an ancient and effective form of therapy long before the 21st century but with the advancement in technology and orthodox medicine the reliability and trust in traditional medicine have been shallowed and traditional medications have been regarded as an uncivilized local therapy that is not for the elite but that is a silly thought. With the emergence of the novel coronavirus which has boycotted most orthodox medication in respect to a cure, there is a very high possibility of an increase in the use and exploration of traditional medications and now individuals revert back to traditional medications without giving thought to dosage, safety or the drug interactions, the shock of COVID 19 has lifted the veil which has hovered over the nation due to psychological strain of fear which has gripped the nation so exploring alternative forms of therapy is not just an option but is now is a necessity. There have been major efforts to diversify the healthcare system in Nigeria through traditional medicine but it has had a slow reception due to various factors such as politics, license, registration, research testing e.t.c. Traditional medicine use has likely skyrocketed since December 2019 since the novel coronavirus which was first discovered in Wuhan China.
In an article published online on November 25th, 2011 by BMC complement alternative medicine, a study was aimed to assess the extent of use and the general knowledge of the benefits and safety herbal medicines among urban residents in Lagos, Nigeria. It involved 388 participants recruited y cluster and random sampling techniques. And the participants were interviewed with a structured open and close-ended questionnaire. The information gotten from the participants was based on the frequency of use, the type of traditional medication used and the effects of the medication used, a total of 12 herbal medications (crude or refined) where used by respondents, either singularly or in combination with others. Herbal medicines were reportedly used by 259(66.8%) respondents. Agbo Jedi- Jedi (35%) was the most frequently used herbal reparation, followed by Agbo – IBA (27.5%) and oroki herbal mixture which is a brand name, herbal medicines were considered safe by half of the participants. In a cross-sectional descriptive study carried out in Calabar metropolis, cross river state, Nigeria showed that out of 200 respondents, 128 (64.0%) reported having partaken in traditional therapy in a period of 12 months and within the group of the traditional therapy 78 (35.5%) respondents reported that the herbal medicines used were self-made, 55(25%) herbal vendors and 30(13.6) parents(non-millennials) constituted major sources of herbal medicine. Respondents emphasized that 44 (20.1%) treatment of diseases, 39 (17.8%) food supplements , 31 (14.1%) laxative and 24 (11.1%) skincare [ Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medical Research, 2017].
The most common and well known traditional medication is ‘’ AGBO’’ which is regarded as the ‘’all-purpose cure ‘’ that has had a possible increase in consumption rate since the world pandemic started. “AGBO” is made from diverse ingredients mostly from raw roots and barks of specific trees which are boiled and soaked, with respect to modern identifiable ingredients it can be said to contain; grated ginger, apple vinegar, honey, cinnamon powder, chopped fresh parsley, lemon. Everything needs to be cooked together and boiled at the same time then it is given some time to cool down and a little quantity of alcohol which helps reduce the symptoms of an illness and as a preservative “AGBO” has been used in the treatment of ailments such as malaria, chickenpox, measles, typhoid, hemorrhoid and constipation by various traditional practitioners, according to the recipes “AGBO” is a drink but can also be used in a person bath because it all depends on the type of ailment, the AGBO is just one of the various traditional medications and unorthodox therapy yet to be tapped and effectively harnessed.
The exploration of traditional immune boosters such as Turmeric (Curcuma Longa) from the family Zingiberaceae, Moringa( Moringa oleifera) from the family Moringaceae, Ginger( Zingiber officinale) from the family ( Zingiberaceae), Garlic(Allium sativum) from the family Amaryllidaceae, Onion (Allium Cepa) from the family Amaryllidaceae, Waterleaf called Gbure in Yoruba and dondo in Edo( Talinum triangulare) from the family Portulacaceae ad traditional antiviral agents which include; Bitter leaf( Vernonia amygdalina) from the family Asteraceae, African lettuce (Lactuca sativa) from the family Asteraceae and Almond leaves(Terminalia catappa), Extracting the tea of some of these materials is best done with hot water which can be sweetened with honey which is a natural sweetener but the presence of milk may reduce the efficacy.
Among various traditional medicines in circulation in Nigeria, only about twenty have been registered by the national agency for food and drug administration and control. To digress to another angle, most individuals do not disclose to their doctors and their health care practitioners that they are on traditional therapy; relaxation techniques, herbal medicine, spiritual healing, and medicinal tea. The traditional medication ‘’ AGBO’’ also known as the ‘’all-purpose cure should be adequately explored because it is a combination of various extracts which have diverse pharmacological effects and therapeutic efficacy such as analgesic, antimalarial, antipyretic, laxative and detoxifying properties but the main area of concentration should be the dosage and adverse effects which can best be communicated through the people who sell this medication, sufficient information can be provided by the distributors of the ‘’AGBO’’ so they can relate with research institutes so as to marry the traditional knowledge and scientific knowledge.
There should be appropriate frameworks in place to promote the exploration of various traditional medications by prioritizing the specified dose to be given, the side effects and the interactions, these frameworks should have the adequate backing from solid research which should not be dampened by political agendas and the bureaucracy of licensing, the traditional medicine exploration should be a priority with or without a particular government regime, traditional medicine exploration should be part of the constitution so as to guide against negligence and lack of sponsorship for research work. The ministry of health should liaise with the grassroots herbal practitioners “ Native doctors”, “Herbalists” in the rural areas for there to be adequate patient consideration for effective therapeutic efficacy of various traditional medications. The effectiveness of the dosage can be started with a little more level of certainty by the traditional herbal practitioners.