A clinical herbalist, Christiana Olapade-Ojo, says Nigerians should not be quick to dismiss the claims made by the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, on using natural herbs to fight COVID-19.
Olapade-Ojo, the Managing Director of Natural Resources Laboratories, NARL, spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria on Wednesday in Ibadan.
NAN reports that the monarch recently shared a video on his social media page where he explained how several traditional herbs could be used to treat the novel coronavirus.
This had resulted in online criticisms, with many questioning the safety and effectiveness of the herbs listed by the monarch.
Mrs Olapade-Ojo, however, said that viral diseases were not a new phenomenon and traditional medicines and herbs had helped to fight epidemics like smallpox in the past.
“The role of ethnomedicine in fighting epidemics in the past is underappreciated because unlike biomedicine, the experiences and knowledge are not written down but are passed by word of mouth from one generation to the other.
“Biomedicine prides itself in clinical experience and laboratory analysis, but that does not mean the experience of a people do not hold as much credibility.
“We cannot discredit the experience of a people during a particular civilisation in spite of lack of verifiable scientific evidence,” she said.
“Some orally reported ethnomedicinal information has it that during the smallpox epidemics, people were instructed to ensure that the leaves of Igi Akòko (Newbouldia Laevis) and fruits of Tàgíìrì (Laganaria Breviflorus) never left their household.
“It is still a very common traditional practice to see these plants under bed posts and around the houses of our folks in the villages.
“Many laboratory studies have now established that these two plants indeed have antiviral properties.
“Clinical application is also showing promises as to their potential to “ward” off the “evil”.
“Folks were also advised to increase their consumption of jute leaves (Corchorus Olitorius) popularly known as “Ewedu” during this epidemic to boost their immune system because of its antioxidant properties,” she said.
The clinical herbalist, however, advised people to source for information on natural medicines from certified professional herbalists or nutrtionists.
“When it comes to traditional or natural medicine, where you get your information from is very important so as not to endanger your life unnecessarily.
“Also, COVID 19 is a new viral disease, we do not have enough evidence to support these traditional remedies or cures that are being touted on social media.
“For instance, people have have been told to drink boiled garlic water to fight coronavirus.
” While garlic has proven medicinal benefits, an overdose of garlic can thin the blood thereby increasing risk of bleeding; it can also cause hypoglycemia or low blood sugar.
“The difference between medicine and poison is in the quantity, it is best to seek the help of professionals,” she said.
According to her, while there’s no guaranteed traditional or herbal cure for COVID-19, there are a variety of natural foods and herbs that can be taken to support the immune system.
“Herbal remedies are, however, capable of boosting the immune system to fight off the infection.
“In addition to standard precautions like regular hand washing and social distancing, you make your immunity strong.
“Studies have shown that persons with strong immune systems are more likely to fight off infections and survive a viral infection.
“Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant, this is a time to include vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, citrus, peppers, capsicum and hog plum in your diet.
“Replace your regular beverage with home-made anti-sickling teas and “agbo iba” to boost your immunity.
“There has been observation that antimalarial drugs and antimalaria herbal mixtures are showing promising potentials in alleviating the symptoms of infection.
“The NARL antimalaria mixture, “agbo iba,” include 200mg each fresh leaves of cashew, mango, mulberry, stoolwood, neem, almond and dry leaves of sorghum and lime.
“It is important to note that this is a dietary supplement with immune boosting properties and not a cure for COVID-19.
“Like all herbs and natural medicines, the recommended dosage should be adhered to responsibly,” she said.
NAN reports that the novel coronavirus has infected over 800, 000 persons globally with over 40, 000 deaths since it was identified in humans in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
As at time of filing this report, there has been a total of 139 COVID-19 reported cases with two deaths in Nigeria.
The World Health Organisation says there is currently no vaccine and no specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat COVID-19.
There are, however, treatments to manage symptoms in those infected with the virus, while possible vaccines are under investigation.