A medical researcher at the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, Dr Aina Oluwagbemiga, has said that the institute was yet to see any herbal product that cures malaria in the country.
Aina, who is a Deputy Director of Research at the Centre for Research in Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Biochemistry and Nutrition Department at NIMR, said the herbal products so far seen can only suppress the parasite but did not cure it as chloroquine did.
The deputy director with over 25 years of experience in malaria research, said most of the herbal preparations for the treatment of malaria in the country with various claims by their manufacturers have no proof of efficacy.
From my experience as NIMR researcher, I have not seen any Nigerian herbal product that cures malaria
He urged Nigerians to go for tests and be sure that they have malaria before commencing treatment.
Malaria is a disease caused by a plasmodium parasite, transmitted by the bite of infected female mosquitoes; and the symptoms are chills, fever, and sweating. Treatment includes use of antimalarial drugs.
The researcher noted that NIMR had tested over 50 herbal products for the treatment of malaria in the last two years and that none was able to prove the claims of their manufacturers that they cure malaria.
He explained, “NIMR is yet to see any herbal product that cures malaria. We are yet to see one. We have not seen any for now. From my own experience, I have not seen any herbal product that cures malaria.
“What they do is just to lower the body temperature and the parasites will just be suppressed but after some time, they will come back. I have not seen anyone that cures it like chloroquine did.
“We are still looking for them. Although some people have been claiming that they cure malaria, I am yet to see anyone and I have told them to bring their products and let’s try them and see whether it is going to work.
“We believe that our herbal products do work in certain areas and we know that we cannot stop people from taking herbal products.”
According to him, that was why the Director General of NIMR, Prof. Babatunde Salako, established the Centre for Research in Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicine in the institute to verify those claims by subjecting the herbal medicines to clinical evaluation to ascertain their safety and efficacy.
This story first appeared in PUNCH Healthwise