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Herbal Concoctions - How Safe Are They? - Health - Nairaland

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Herbal Concoctions - How Safe Are They? by ElMatteo(m): 2:21pm On Nov 24, 2014
If you are an African man and you have never taken herbal concoctions before, then you are an ‘Afri’ man without the ‘can’. This is because herbal medicine has been deeply rooted in our culture and it is difficult to do without it. As a child, I was given herbal concoctions several times and my concern was not even the safety then but the bitterness. Oh My! It was as if the more bitter the medicine, the more potent it is.

In the light of civilization in Africa, the practice of taking herbal medicine is still common place. You can find it everywhere you go – on the streets, in buses, in shops and some have even taken it online. Many are so addicted to taking it that they just have to consume it every morning. Some see it as an opportunity to take ‘healthy’ alcohol due to the fact that many herbal concoctions are prepared with alcohol and since it is medicine then it has to be a healthy preparation irrespective of the amount of alcohol it contains, or so they think. The question that should therefore be answered is whether or not these medicines are safe to consume and the answer I will give is as political as it is true – It all depends.

Traditional medicine is a field that is recognized all over the world and is practiced even in the western world. There are several researches that have gone into the field of traditional medicine and there are even more on-going ones. This is because herbal medicines, just like western medicines, have to go through several stages of analysis and testing, and must be deemed safe for consumption before they are sold at all. However, most of the herbal medicines that are found on the streets are neither tested nor approved for consumption. Their potency is only based on the experience of those that formulate them because the formula was handed over to them by their ancestors.

Before you crucify me, I am not trying to insinuate that herbal medicines do not work; a lot of them actually do. God has created many of them as a solution to many ailments and diseases. It however takes careful research to be able to separate those that are safe for consumption from those that are not. The point is that most of them you find on the streets do not pass through any process to verify that they are totally safe for consumption. Taking herbs like bitter leaf may actually help as it naturally has many beneficial attributes but you may be in danger if you consume a lot of herbal concoctions that have not passed through any scientific analysis. This means even if by chance they work to treat the ailment it has been prescribed for, it may leave other health problems behind that may even be harder to manage. Most don’t even have dosages and those that have dosages are just as a result of the discretion of the formulator and not based on any scientific research. You cannot also vouch for the hygiene of the preparations.

Another problem is that most herbal medicine suppliers make lots of bogus and extreme claims. For example, I have seen people advertise some herbal medicines that can cure several ailments – hypertension, diabetes, STDs, ulcer, impotence and even HIV. How possible is it that just one medication will solve all these health challenges. This has already shown that the medication is counterfeit.
Herbal concoctions can be very detrimental to your health. This is because some of them contain substances that are nephrotoxic and even hepatotoxic. Sorry for the medical jargon!! I mean they can be injurious to the kidneys and the liver. I have seen cases of individuals developing kidney failure due to the consumption of herbal concoctions. How sad!

This is not to say that there are no herbal medicines that are safe to consume. There are some licensed Traditional medicine practitioners that have been given the license to practice. This is because they do extensive research and adopt international best practices in the formulation and production of their medications. They therefore have the necessary registration with the appropriate health agencies.
It is however wise to see a doctor when you have any serious health problem and follow the doctor’s management thoroughly. Some conditions need thorough investigation before it is even diagnosed – a privilege traditional medicine may not be able to provide. Western medical knowledge is based on several decades of documented research and every management plan has been researched over the years and has been agreed upon by several experts to be the best line of treatment.

Do not follow bogus claims by some traditionalists that will tell you not to believe your doctor because they have some traditional medicine they want to give to you. Many have lost their lives for failing to heed their doctor’s advice and deciding instead to go for traditional management. Some being treated in hospitals even get discharged against medical advice to seek traditional help such as those with fractures that decided to turn to traditional bone setters with most of them coming back to the hospital with even more serious problems.

Make the right choice today and safeguard your health.


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