Foreign medicine was part of the influence of the colonial masters on Nigeria in the 1800s during the British colonial rule. But before then, it was solely Nigerian made medicine that was used diversely across parts of the country and have been said to have great positive effects on the patients it is used on. Traditional Nigerian medicine is a universal discipline involving indigenous herbalism and spirituality, typically involving diviners, midwives, and herbalists. Practitioners of traditional Nigerian medicine cure various and diverse conditions such as cancers, psychiatric disorders, high blood pressure, cholera, most venereal diseases, epilepsy, asthma, eczema, fever, anxiety, depression, benign prostatic hyperplasia, urinary tract infections, gout, and healing of wounds and burns etc. traditional medicine involves the use of natural things(mostly plants) to cure various diseases.
There are no synthetic or artificial additives in traditional drugs. In Nigeria, trained pharmacists now make research on different herbs and their capability to cure specific illness. The result is that orthodox doctors now prescribe traditional drugs to their patients and the improvement has always been fast. Recently Antiulcer activity of four medicinal plants, Diodia sarmentosa (whole plant), Cassia nigricans (leaves), Ficus exasperata (leaves) and Synclisia scabrida (leaves), which are commonly used by the Nigerian traditional healers for the treatment of peptic ulcer were investigated. Acute toxicity tests were also carried out. The results revealed that the four extracts possess significant anti-ulcerogenic properties in a dose-dependent way. They protected rats from aspirin-induced ulcerogenesis, delayed intestinal transit, increased the pH, and decreased both the volume and acidity of gastric secretion. These results correlate with local use of the plants. Herbalists of traditional doctors use mainly herbs, that is, medicinal plants or parts of such plants-whole root, stem, leaves, stem bark or root bark, flowers, fruits, seeds, but sometimes animal parts, small whole animal like snails, snakes, chameleons, tortoises, lizards, etc; inorganic residues - alum, camphor, salt, etc and insects, bees, black ants etc. Such herbal preparations may be offered in the form of powder, which could be swallowed or taken with pap (cold or hot) or any drink, or rubbed into cuts made on any part of the body with a sharp knife. At times soaked for some time in water or local gin, decanted as required before drinking; the materials could also be boiled in water, cooled and strained or pounded with native soap and used for bathing; such "medicated soaps" are commonly used for skin diseases, or as pastes, pomades or ointments, in a medium of palm oil or shea butter, or even soup which is consumed by the patient. Herbal preparations may also be administered as enema. The herbalist cures mainly with plants which he gathers fresh. When seasonal plants have to be used, these plants are collected when available and are preserved usually by drying to eliminate moisture.
Herbs were the first medicines used by pre historic man. They are, therefore, part of every cultural tradition and have helped the development and growth of herbalism in Nigeria. These drugs are quite effective and affordable and recently undergoing something of a renaissance in Nigeria - there are several herbal and traditional medical companies who have expanded in the past few years and are starting to acquire NAFDAC licensing for their products, certifying its authenticity and safety for administration and prescription. Nigerians have been urged to patronize Nigerian herbal medicine, especially as it has been accepted globally and adopted by many countries of the world. Recently at a meeting in Netherlands, the Director General of WHO announced that the era of antibiotic has gone, so people should go back to their native medicine, He explained that because of the nation’s attitude towards accepting herbal medicine, Nigeria market s have been flooded with all manners of drugs from other nations of the world, adding that Nigeria is endowed with enough natural resources that can translate the nation to another level if properly harnessed.
Traditional medicine should be supported because unlike foreign medicine it doesn’t have side effects, and the end results of taking such foreign drugs that contain mineral content (synthetic) are terminal diseases like cancer, brain tumor and many others that can be avoided. Since traditional medicine comes only from the natural world, man should use it for both preventive and curative medicine. The future of traditional medicine needs that we be visionary global scientists. Innovative strategies employing all the associated sciences and technologies must be created in order that the natural product sciences including traditional medicine can help in the development in sustainable manner of foods and the health care products including drugs for a dramatically expanding population.
By Nnagoziem TheVyrus Udensi