Dr Oye Gbenga is a traditional medicine practitioner and a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile – Ife. In this interview, he speaks on the use of traditional herbs in treating the global COVID-19 pandemic. Excerpts:
Do you believe COVID -19 will be better treated with orthodox medicine or traditional medicine?
I believe the solution lies in the traditional medicine. Yes, we have home grown solution that will be very much better than orthodox medicines. I believe Nigeria has enough natural resources to combat the pandemic. Different people have said they have solution and they should be given the chance to showcase what they have.
The solution to COVID -19 does not lies in the orthodox medicine but on herbs. There are many infectious diseases that might have entered the body, and it is for the immune system to be fighting the virus. So, the first thing is to boost the immune system. It is the immunity boosting drug that will now help the body to fight the virus.
It is like if you have a security personnel in your compound and you don’t give them tools needed to do their job, they will be vulnerable; but when they are equipped, they will be able to repel any intruder. They will discretionally do the work; they will repel the attack. The immune system allows good things to enter the body and repel virus. There are many herbal medications that can boost immune system and the best thing is to first take this medication. Many people have called me; and I have helped them in terms of solving one or two problems through herbal medication.
What is your position on FG’s importation of Madagascar herb for cure of COVID-19?
Nigerians have valid therapy that can combat Coronavirus. I want to believe that the Madagascar medication is very effective, but it is not in our own interest to spend huge sum of money to import what we can easily produce in a better way. Even the denial by the Federal Government that the herb is not paid for is still shameful. Madagascar is an Island. We have better plants than Madagascar. We have many better herbs and traditional medicine practitioners than Madagascar.
We traditional medicine practitioners in Nigeria are ready to subject our herbs to clinical tests. Let the country give us the platform to subject what we have to laboratory test or trial. However, there are some herbal medication that can heal a man, but when you subject them to direct laboratory analysis, sometimes we may not get the same result. If you subject such medication to laboratory tests, it will look as if it will not work for the body; but it will fight the condition that is inhibiting immunity to work.
It is like you give a security man a gun, the gun itself cannot figh;t but when it in the hands of the man, the man will use it to repel the intruders. Such medicine, when it gets to the body will empower the body to resist the virus.
The attention been given to the traditional medicine by the Presidential Task Force on COVI-19 is an opportunity to get our medicine to be subjected to trial. We have more than enough solution to COVID-19, or rather we have solution to different diseases; but nobody has been given us the empowerment.
The Federal Government should open the window for us and monitor the utilization of indigenous medicine and Nigeria will be healthier. Many Nigerian traditional medicine practitioners have been exporting our herbs to different countries in West Africa. God will help our nation and allow us to use what we have to produce what we need. Government need to formally encourage indigenous solution to COVID-19.