USE OF HERBAL MEDICINES IN NIGERIA
O thou Agbo, How mighty are you!
Most dreaded Agbo, how highly you are
The sound of your name alone, sends shivers down our spine
Friend to the aged, foe to the infants
The strength of your effect surpasses your taste
I must say, your enmity to the tongue is far beyond imagination
How exactly do you do it?
Maintain Friendships and enmity between members of the same family
You slap those at the entrance yet so warm to those within
Agbo, Agbo! O thou Hypocrite!
Little wonder, they welcome you with a huge embrace,
Oblivous of how badly you treated us at the entrance
You have saved some and the same time destroyed some
Please who are you? Reveal your true self?
I don’t know what to believe.
Above is an ode to the African Herbal Medicine which among the Yorubas is popularly known as (Agbo) Growing up with my father, a typical Nigerian Christian, every sickness could be cured with anointing oil but with my mother, Agbo is the first and the best. It was so bad that even when you fart, you have to take agbo. I remember vividly now after a little cup of herbal medicine, I would drink several bottles of water. Abeg, that thing is bitter!
Herbal medicine is the first solution to any illness as far as a typical Nigerian is concerned. I must confess that I have seen its wonders too though. A certain woman who had an accident and had a very deep wound, got healed by eating garden egg leaf raw (Please who does that?) As much as the use of herbal medicine makes us feel like animals, we can’t deny its effectiveness. Also, it is much cheaper than orthodox drugs which will consume all your life savings.
Talking about the negative side of herbal medicine, let me share the story of how I was delivered. An aunt of mine who was accustomed to the use of herbal medicine had a terrible experience when her daughter fell ill and as usual welcomed the illness with ‘agbo’ herbal medicine. After some time, the child got better but strange bumps started appearing on her body, all her knowledge of herbs did not help her as she finally took her to the hospital ( where she swore she would never go) and it was discovered there that the child was reacting the herbal medicine that was given. When I heard this, I just said “Ntoor, This is the End!”. That was how I escaped the use of herbs.
An average Nigerian parent is an herbalist, by the time you see how they mix those things, the bark of one tree, outside of a fruit and and all the weird ingredients, they are enough to have a sleepless night as you would just imagine them standing up from the pot, Don’t even talk about the smell, it can make a pregnant woman vomit her foetus.
But forget ooo, come rain, come shine, Agbo still has its place, this does not mean we should depend totally on it. Ignore all my talk since morning, if I don’t have cash, I would take agbo ooo. Its our nature, it works but it’s not omnipotent!
By Pipe Ikuomola