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Survey shows lapses in herbal medicine research
A 35 year survey of medicinal plants and traditional medicines practices in Nigeria has shown that research was still lacking in vital areas such as hormones, anti-viral agents, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT), hemorrhoids and neurological disorder, a situation that is inimical to meeting the nation’s health challenges of the 21st century.
The survey, which spanned between 1970 and 2005, showed that the most researched areas were in the anti-infective drugs, gastro-intestinal tract drugs, analgesics, cardiovascular drugs, hypoglycemic and mollucicidal in that order.
The study which was entitled “An Overview of Herbal Medicine Research and Development in Nigeria”, was carried out by K.P. Osemene, A.A. Elujoba and M.O. Ilori.
With herbal medicine beginning to take the centre stage in the management of health-related problems in the Nigerian health care system, the researchers stated that Nigeria being home to approximately 5, 000 plant species and the 11th largest in terms of plant genetic diversity in Africa should be able to support the health of its citizens when the health benefits of its plants are fully tapped through research.
The researchers, who wrote in the 2011 edition of the Research Journal of Medical Sciences that intensification on isolation and characterisation of natural products from Nigerian medicinal plants would yield compounds of novel structure and constituents that could serve as precursors for the development of new drugs.
Meanwhile, itemised challenges against medicinal research include cost of acquiring information, distrust of researchers by practitioners, the desire to pass down information only to off springs, as well as restrictions due to cult/trade membership.
Currently, only 40 per cent of herbal medicines consumed in Nigeria are produced locally and the remaining 60 per cent are imported from foreign countries.
Again, the commercial interest to mass produce herbal medicine through research and development as well as to make them available for local and international use is lacking and it would probably take a longer time for this to improve and grow significantly.
In Nigeria, effort at local herbal medicine is yet to yield the desired benefits due to low funding of research and developmentactivities, lack of adequate infrastructural facilities, non-commercialisation of most research results, low demand that constraints research and development investment and problems faced by herbal medicine researchers.Share