By Solomon Odeniyi
With 2,099 deaths recorded in Nigeria and 3,694,356 globally the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome(SARS) also known as COVID-19 is threatening human existence like never before.
Since SARS-CoV-2 was first identified, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), thousands of mutations have arisen which have paved wave deadly strains.
In December 2020, the world’s attention was drawn to a new variant, B 1.1.7, first discovered in the UK and was shown to be more transmissible. This B 1.1.7 variant according to reports is now the dominant SARS-CoV-2 variant circulating in the UK and has been documented in most countries, including Nigeria.
The threat has made the search for the cure more intense.
However, while some drugs had been touted as having the potential to cure the virus including chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, warnings were issued on its usage.
Also, some trado-medical practitioners in Nigeria came up with remedies claimed to be a cure for the lethal virus.
Claims of unconfirmed prescription that herb cure COVID-19
A Nigerian governor, Seyi Makinde of Oyo State was one of the fifth governors tested positive for Coronavirus in 2020, on March 30, Makinde. After spending five days in isolation, the governor tested negative twice and came out of the isolation center. He claimed to have taken a mixture of black-seed and honey.
“My body temperature is 36.4 degrees. My very good friend and brother, Dr Muyideen Olatunji. He is the one in charge of the Primary Healthcare for Oyo State. He came to me and said, look, I am going to send you this blackseed oil, it boosts immunity, so I mixed it with honey and took one teaspoon in the morning and one in the evening. So, there are local solutions to boost immunity. So, our people should not fret. They shouldn’t fret. Just as I have been able to get the virus out of my system, so will it be for the majority of our people,” he said in a radio interview transcribed on his official page on Facebook.
A popular monarch in Nigeria, Ooni of Ife, Adeyeye Ogunwusi in the two videos, 3 minutes 54 seconds video posted on his verified Twitter page prescribed some traditional remedy titled: “Corona virus solution – potential Yoruba herbs to help”.
The monarch prescribed Onion, Negro pepper, Sulfur, Bitter leaf, Forest anchomanes, boundary tree among others and announced his intention to work with a popular trado-medical company, YemKem to produce a Coronavirus drug.
In the thread of tweets with 1000 likes, 717 retweets and over 100 comments, Ooni started: “PLEASE DO NOT TAKE THIS FOR GRANTED. I challenge researchers both in Nigeria and the world to make these natural herbs into clinical medicine and extract the vaccines from it.
“I’m also currently working with Yem Kem International (Alternative Medicine Expert) pharmaceutical company for the packaging and distribution of these globally. It is about time to save the world now. Tomorrow may be too late. Let’s all keep safe. #Coronavirus #COVID19,” Ooni tweeted.
He went further to expiate in the tweets on his position, Ogunwusi maintained that his suggested cure has been tested and had been used for chronic coronavirus patients with testimonials.
Also a member of National Association of Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners, Musbaudeen Badmus with brand name, Dr Sekoni claimed to have produced remedies for Coronavirus.
Sekoni said, ” I have an herbal solution that can cure the coronavirus everyone has been shouting up and down about. I don’t just produce, I do that sometimes and give to people. A lot of those that have used it can testify. It is just that we don’t believe in what we have anymore. We have been bought over by Western culture.”
Another traditional medicine practitioner , Oseni Ademola said the effectiveness of traditional medicine should not be doubted in the cure of diseases including the coronavirus.
He explained that he produced a remedy for the virus in small quantities, adding that he could have done better in tandem with international standards.
He said, “There is clear evidence of how powerful and effective the plant is. During our secondary school life.
“Our Agric and Biology teachers made it known to us how important planted trees are in our environments., i.e the air that comes out of any tree is always natural. And secondly, let’s take a look at some ailments and their treatment in Orthodox and Natural Herbs. Let’s take a look at Piles and Dysentery.
“There is no way you can take an Orthodox medicine and work effectively for these two diseases. I wouldn’t like to mention names here as per the nature of my job. There is a man I treated in Osun. He’s a senior pharmacist who battled with Pile and Dysentery for 3-4 years. Immediately I was recommended to him, he glorified God and appreciated natural plants.
” Let’s also look at snake poison. If a snake should bite two persons now and they were to be treated in two different ways. All we need to do is to just apply Natural Herbal balm, herbal ointment or herbal powder all made from plants and then apply it to the affected area of the victim’s body. I can guarantee you that in the next five minutes, the person will be back on his feets and urinated out the poison.
” Herb can naturally cure coronavirus. There are people in Nigeria that are blessed with the knowledge of local science and uses of natural plants. Look at garlic, stone breakers and some other plants. They are all antibacterial.
“This is the most profitable investment for Chinese, Brazil, Cuba, Ghana, UAE and some other developing countries that see good things in natural plants .Why not? I have produced one but very small in quantity because we are financially handicapped. Although I had no access to any COVID-19 patient in Nigeria, it was used for similar ailments. If given the chance to treat COVID-19 today I will in accordance with international standards.
“My humble plea to the FG is to please establish an agency without bias that will look into our locally made herb. The current agency is a total threat to our local made herb. ”
Local remedy produced to fight COVID-19
On February 25, 2021 almost a year after the Ooni of Ife made a claim to cure some persons who had tested positive for Coronavirus, the popular monarch unveiled “herbs in solving health challenges such as COVID-19.
Ooni in partnership with another herbal producing company produced Verozil and created a marketing company called Organic Remedies to sell the herb.
He said, “In tandem with my unwavering commitment to harnessing the efficacy of our herbs in solving health challenges such as COVID-19 and other related issues, today, I launched the first indigenous network marketing company called Organic Remedies.
“They are significant treasures that our forebears passed down to us and we must be enthralled by such precious gifts and accord them maximum recognitions that they deserve in shaping our economy and bolstering the depth of our richness as people.
“It is crystal clear that the scourge of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone globally to think outside the box for ways in which to combat this grave virus…”
We also had Pax Herbals which according to checks has a presence in 26 out of 36 states.
The Director of the Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories Rev. Fr. Anslem Adodo was quoted to have said: “After a series of screening, spanning eight weeks, NAFDAC has today approved our Paxherbal COVID-19 herbal drug, Paxherbal Cugzin, for public use.
But the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), a federal agency under the Federal Ministry of Health which is responsible for regulating and controlling the manufacture, importation, exportation, advertisement, distribution, sale and use of food, drugs, cosmetics, medical devices, chemicals and packaged water in Nigeria, had over the time explained that the remedies were approved as an immune booster and listed as “Safe to use”.
Despite vigorous campaigns some residents of Osun state still find these remedies as a cure to the lethal virus.
Speaking with some of the people who used the drugs, Verozil , Pax and other local remedies, they strongly believed in their efficacy and saw no need for the vaccine.
Michael Ayorinde, claimed he had Coronavirus and used local herbs to cure himself.
He said, “Actually let me say I believe herb 80% more than vaccines. I trust herbs to cure Coronavirus rather than vaccines. The reason I said that is that there are many drugs that are made with local herbs which are only refined like Aloe vera, Ginger and stuff like that.
“Let us talk of China, they believe that moringa can cure blood pressure. In the olden days, if you have sore throat, you can use alligator pepper and alcohol to cure it but in the case of COVID-19 they said Catarrh, Cough, Sore throat are symptoms for COVID-19 .I believe ginger and garlic can also cure it.
“Before the invention of vaccines, there were massive death records and casualties. Let assume that 100 people are to be given the vaccine whereas there are 1000 people in the town for the present period, what will you do about it?
“I have tested the local herbs, and it yields positively. I took the herbs during the time there was overpopulation in the Isolation center. I have a very chronic one that I can’t taste or eat. If I eat it, I can’t taste it.
“After the disease, the doctor later confirmed that those are the low symptoms of COVID-19. So, there is another person with the same symptoms that went to the hospital and was tested and confirmed positive to be COVID-19 which I had survived with the help of local herbs ( Epo Ira for brushing, ginger, garlic, lemon was mixed together).
“The medical practitioners believe there is no measurement for local herbs which is not true. Local herbs have dosage, it has been refined and now there is tradomedical. There are many things that can cure it like Dongoyaro leaf e.t.c”
Adepegba Toba said the verozil worked for him when he suspected he had Covid-19.
He, narrated ” the drugs cured me when I had almost all the symptoms of Coronavirus and was afraid to call the authority for treatment.
“ I also recommended it to someone who had almost all the symptoms of COVID-19 and she used it. I am sure she must have tested positive if she goes for a test. The herb also helped her to regain her health.”
Obarayese Sikiru said “I took herb when I had a cough and all syrup did not work, I used the herb and the cough was treated. I also believe in the effectiveness of our traditional medicine. Tell me how many vaccines do we have in the country compared with the total population? Besides, the negative reports around the vaccine is discouraging enough for Africans not to use it.
There was a time it was said it would make one sterile and recently it is being said that when you take the vaccine a chip has been inserted in someone’s body. We were supposed to look inward and produce our cure. I don’t trust these Western countries. There was a time it was rumoured that herb at a point was used in isolation centres, we should have developed on that”
70 percent of Nigerians use traditional medicine
The Director General of the National Institute of Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD), Dr. Obi Adigwe said that the majority of Nigerians still have faith in the efficacy of traditional medicine, despite improvements made in the development of the modern healthcare system.
He was said to have stated this during an oversight visit by a delegation of the House of Representatives Adhoc committee on COVID-19 to NIPRD.
He said, “70 percent of Nigerians still use herbal medicines as a first port of call for treatment of illnesses and that is the situation.”
Also,Director-General, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, at an online interactive session with journalists while marking the African Traditional Medicine Day last year was quoted to have said although herbal medicine may be able to cure COVID-19, there is no herbal cure yet for the virus.
Adeyeye said: “When it comes to herbal medicine you cannot say this medicine can cure until you do clinical trials. You can only change the recommendation on the product to provide relief for this, or management of that. You cannot cure COVID-19 when you don’t do antiviral testing. You have to go to clinical trials and use so many people. Our herbal medicine may be able to cure COVID-19 but it depends on the stage.
“…There is no herbal cure yet for COVID-19. There are some companies that submitted applications for clinical trials to prove that their drugs work. We are reviewing their application as we speak”
Also according to a report by the World Health Organization, titled ‘Herbal medicine research and global health: an ethical analysis’, it stated that ,”Eighty percent of African populations use some form of traditional herbal medicine and the worldwide annual market for these products approaches US$ 60 billion.”
This further emphasised the belief of many Africans including Nigerians in traditional medicines.
Also, WHO in another report titled, ‘ WHO supports scientifically-proven traditional medicine’ said it welcomed innovations around the world including repurposing drugs, traditional medicines and developing new therapies in the search for potential treatments for COVID-19.
It however added that such must be tested for efficacy and adverse side effects.
When this reporter got a bottle of verozil, On the body of the container of the drug was a disclaimer which read: “These claims have not been evaluated by NAFDAC”. The drugs control agency has not examined the claim that the herb cure COVID-19.