By Dan-Maryam Zayamu
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has said that no herbal medicine has gone through the rigour of full clinical trial in Nigeria.
Clinical trials are a type of research that studies new tests and treatments and evaluates their effects on human health outcomes
The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, made the disclosure in a statement signed by NAFDAC’s Resident Media Consultant, Sayo Akintola, to mark the year 2021 Africa Traditional Medicine day, in Abuja.
While calling for caution in the use of herbal medicines in the country, she, however, called for collaboration between the herbal medicine practitioners and researchers in the country.
She, therefore called for collaboration between the researchers and the herbal medicine practitioners for the development of the herbal medicine industry in Nigeria.
She disclosed that no herbal medicine in Nigeria has gone through the rigorous process of full clinical trial.
‘’Right now, there is no single herbal medicine that has gone through full clinical trial the way clinical trial is supposed to be done.
“Of course, there could be herbal medicines that have been used to treat a symptom of COVID – 19 or whatever, but it has not been published. In which case it is not an official clinical trial,’’ she noted.
Prof Adeyeye said many of these herbal products are being subjected to review by different agencies of government in the country, stressing that: ‘’In terms of going through clinical trials and official protocols, none has come through yet. That doesn’t mean they will not because the process is still on. In the review process there are different organizations involved.”
She, however, recalled that NAFDAC set up a herbal medicine product committee in March, 2019 March before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, to advance research in herbal medicine.
‘’The goal for that was to make sure that the herbalist and the researcher are collaborating so that whatever the herbalist knows from ancestral history that does not have research to back it up, collaboration with researcher will enable that herbal medicine to be advanced to be listed by NAFDAC if it’s deemed safe’.
While warning against the simultaneous use of herbal medicines and conventional medicines, she explained that: ‘’If someone is using herbal medicine and a conventional medicine simultaneously, there may be a problem.
‘’Let’s say that a medicine is supposed to lower the blood pressure or lower sugar content for diabetes, and that person took conventional medicine and the sugar level is lower and he now takes a herbal remedy, that person may go into hypoglycemic shock. Meaning the level of sugar in the blood is too low because the two are now working synergistically.’’
Prof. Adeyeye, however, revealed that, sometimes a herbal medicine may actually reduce the effectiveness of the conventional medicine.
“That’s why studies need to be done. A lot of people use herbal medicine today. But if they now combine it with the conventional medicine that is supposed to be used for the same thing, it may harm them.
’There is drug-herbal medicine interaction that may cause a lot of harm. Whoever is taking herbal medicine should talk to their pharmacist and medical doctor for professional advice,’ she said.