By Femi Kusa
Unlike many other people, I am not shocked that only one (CUGZIN) of the 21 Nigeria herbal medicines presented and screened for COVID-19 cure has been accepted so far, not even as a killer of the new Coronavirus, but a possible cure of its symptoms through immune boosting. In the matter before their Lordships at the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), we should have expected that in the light of politics and power play, time and money constraints, and other Nigerian factors. First, Nigeria is a country governed by a quota system under which one region is not expected to rise beyond any of the other five. That means if one of the six regions produces 18 of 21 herbal immune boosters, many of the healing medicines would have to be swept under the carpet. This ensures that one of the regions is prevented from dominating the others. We are told that this “dragging down” levels the political and economic topography, and builds national unity!
In a matter like this, there could be a positive or negative verdict depending on who the arbiter is. We should have known that under The Law of Unattainable Trinity, time, money and skills produce maximum effect and that it is not always possible to warehouse all three in one project or endeavour. Accordingly, if you have all the money and all the skills in the world, you cannot build a 25-storey building in one day. Time would be a gross enemy of excellence in this equation. Also, you cannot build a 25-storey building in a thousand years if you have the money and time but not the skills. Only in the spirit world where thought, deed and effect occur simultaneously is it possible to not separate thought and deed by time and space. The cave man and Nethendal man didn’t build stone houses, let alone storey buildings or motor cars! NAFDAC is not financially supported for the work it is called upon to do in a short period of time. Even if all its staff are specialists in Alternative medicine and Traditional medicine, time and money barriers would still have led it to disqualify as many as 20 plant medicines which the producers say can kill the new coronavirus.
We probably underrated the influence of Establishment medicine in this matter. No doubt, there is probably no where on earth its easily cohabiting with Alternative medicine as it has done in Nigeria. For this, we must salute our doctors and consultants. For even where hospital protocols do not permit them to prescribe plant medicines, the personaly use them and give them to their private patients. In fact, some of them are leading figures and distributors of some marketing companies which sell plant medicines through network marketing. What we probably ignored was the fact that their lordships were pharmacists and that we were dealing with BIG PHARMA, that international system which moved mankind away from nature-based medicines to chemical drugs about 100 years ago. Its representatives are within the cycles of food and medicine-regulating bodies world-wide, and they design what medical students are taught in school and which ones doctors would give their patients in the wards.
The Pharmacist’s private practice must toe the line as well. It is against this background that Nigeria’s alternative medicine system presented 21 plant medicines to NAFDAC for validation as cures for COVID-19 infections. By dismissing 20 of them, I humbly believe NAFDAC made a glaring mistake. It had listed and registered some of them for sale to the public as “Immune Boosters”. NAFDAC may have been right when there was no public clamour for herbal medicines to be registered for any disease. It took its strides gently and did its work diligently. COVID-19 upset all that peace or tranquility. It was killing humans like flies in many countries, and Establishment medicine said it had no cure for it. The virus came to Nigeria, and death from it began to occur. The public wondered if Nigeria’s traditional medicine system had no cure. It said it had. NAFDAC was irresponsive. Then, Madagascar came out of the blue, thundering through Africa with COVID ORGANICS. President Muhammadu Buhari even directed that NAFDAC examine it.
But how would NAFDAC do this without sidelining Nigerian medicines and provoking public agitation against the government? The invitation to Nigerian plant medicine producers could, therefore, have arisen from this scenario, observed some industry watchers. In that screening, even COVID ORGANICS suffered a knock-out as a mere cough elixir. But if we may wonder, hasn’t the medical establishment admitted that it had no cure and was merely treating the symptoms of COVID-19? Is cough not a symptom? If COVID ORGANICS is a mere cough remedy, isn’t it worth the while of the cough sufferer in or outside COVID-19? What is a remedy for a disease or an infection if not a booster of immunity against that disease or infection?
As the World Health Organisation (WHO), not told us that without an anti-COVID-19 vaccine, our immunity is our best defence? And since Nigerians and other Africans have not died as woefully as Europeans and Americans have done, could not our environment, diet, lifestyle and immunity have made the difference? Aren’t all of these worth promoting in the prevention and treatment of COVID-19? I recall that the NAFDAC of the 1990s was well persuaded with laboratory evidence from the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) that Jobelyn was a rapid blood builder within 24hours. If COVID-19 causes blood coagulation and anaemia and a herbal medicine is the fastest blood builder world-wide, as shown in LUTH and other experiment centres, is it not worth trying for replacement of blood lost to COVID-19? If a diabetic former President of Nigeria managed his blood sugar with this product while in office, is it not worth trying for diabetics as an underlining ailment support in COVID-19 therapy? If the Nigerian military hospital at Ikoyi in Lagos found Jobelyn good for the well-being of it HIV patient and told a conference of world military hospitals so in America,if a Tunisian study claimed that 1,650 HIV patient on Jobelyn for six months turn negative, if other studies are claiming that Jobelyn rapidly elevates CD4 Blood Count more than any substance now in use, if,world-wide, anti-HIV drugs are now being used in COVID-19 therapes,is this Nigerian herbal product not worth investing and trying?
Rev. Fr. Adodo
We must salute Rev Father Anslem Gbenga Adodo, whose Pax Herbal Centre presented CUGZIN, the only plant medicine NAFDAC adopted, among the 21, for immune boosting. Fr. Adodo has been like a Florence Nightingale, a Mother Theresa or a Mary SlessorI first met him about 20 or 25 years ago. He was working quietly at the Ewu Catholic Monastery near Auchi, where for about three days as Editor-in-chief of The Comet Newspaper, I was privileged to be his guest. I was in the company of the likes of now late Bishop Magnus Atilade, who in his earth-life was an indefatigable fighter for recognition of Alternative Medicines worth by both the government and people of Nigeria. In our team of visitors were also Eno Asam and Mrs. Clara Oyibo who was the anchor, then, in Lagos, for Fr. Adodo’s plant medicines from Ewu. We were all members of the National Association of Physicians of Natural Medicine (NAPNM), which transformed into Complementary Medicine when some Orthodox Doctors began to join the association. It provided the platform for Bishop Atilade to become the Reprsentative of Alternative Medicine in the expanded Nigerian Dental and Medical Council (NDMC).
At the time of our visit, Rev. Adodo’s Pax Herbal Centre, as he named his operations platform, produced its products in near crude form. Fr Adodo’s did not appear to be interested in profit. The substances which needed to be extracted by boiling were produced by boiling plant roots, barks or leaves in the open. He organised the local folks, children especially, to gather the herbs from the wild. Although these aides soon began to charge him high fees for their labour, he kept his prices low. Only Catholic faithfuls like himself, who cared not much about Stomach Care, could do business with him. He had a large captive market in the congregation of Catholic Churches nationwide, a large market, which no single producer of plant medicine enjoyed in those days when the leveraging influence and power of social media were feeble. Perhaps the huge turn-over which arose from this accounted for the ridiculously low prices of Pax Herbal Centre products. Fr. Adodo wrote books, established a periodic Magazine he named The Nature Doctor and continued to set up Pax Herbal Centres in all Catholic Churches nationwide. He found time to visit many of them to give public lectures or to consult on health matters.
These activities soon caught the attention of the then Governor of Edo State, Lucky Igbenedion. He discovered that Pax Herbal Centre was rendering medical services in rural areas which were about 50 kilometers or more distant from the nearest government health centre. So, he pumped some money into Pax Herbal Centre’s activities. This had a transforming multiplier effect. The centre created jobs by employing microbiologists in the quality control department of the young company, while building modern research laboratories and production factories. More trucks were bought. The Lagos market was further penetrated and a herbal hospital was opened at Ikeja, GRA. The recognition by NAFDAC of CUGZIN as an immune booster is, therefore, only a crowning of the effort of this trail blazer, front-liner, gentleman and philanthropist. The pricing of his products had a human face vis-a-vis the reward he expects from his labour. In my view, Fr. Adodo is a Florence Nightingale, Mother Theresa or Mary Slessor.
Many people who know of my passion for Jobelyn have been calling me on the telephone to ask: what happened?”…… Honestly, apart from the reasons I gave above that make me feel no shock in such matters, I know of nothing else. I have been passionate about Jobelyn for two major reasons.
One: It is about the only most well researched Nigerian plant medicine.
Two: Its presentation in the modern texture of product presentations is about second to none in Nigeria’s plant medicine industry. The producers invest heavily every year in research on the content and biological effect of Jobelyn, using reputable laboratories in Nigeria, Europe, United States,and India. Some of the results of these studies have been published in reputable peer-reviewed journals appropriate for them. These publications are also published online and have attracted the interest of plant medicine consumers, international Public Health officials and researchers. As a layperson in these matters, I expected their Lordships as thorough professionals to be aware of these events and show interest in them for the benefit of public health in Nigeria and for Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings through the export of Jobelyn. Isn’t this what the Chinese, Malaysians, Indians, Pakistanis, etc. are doing all over the world? Is Ghana not all over Nigeria with her plant medicines?
If, for the sake of argument, we concede that it was humanly possible for their Lordships to not have smelled the aroma of what was burning under their noses since 1994, even when they settled a trade name and trade mark dispute between Jubi Blood Formula and Jobelyn, it sounds impossible that the application for Jobelyn’s recognition would have been tabled without is credentials. We can concede to their Lordships the right to distrust these credentials. If they do, the onus would be on them to verify the veracity of the claims in about 450 pages lying before them of documented studies and hospital trials in different countries. These studies and hospital trials where conducted by professionals who are as reputable as their lawships.I pity NAFDAC and their Lordships because, as stated earlier, they may have all the skills to do the job but definitely not all the money and the time within that short frame of space. Such thorough evaluation as we are made to believe has now been done should not be a one off thing. The investigative research should be ongoing, and not just a panic attack on a problem.
I witnessed one or two product presentations of Jobelyn , first in Accra (2002) and then in Senegal (2006). Following these presentations by Dr Abia Okon, a Nigerian medical doctor, Jobelyn made sales in road shows in both countries. In Accra Jobelyn dwarfed a national anti-malaria herbal product developed in Ghana by Dr. Ampofu, a medical doctor. At that time, Ghana was too poor to import western anti-malaria drugs. Doctor Ampofu had lived for a while in Nigeria. Back in Ghana, he organised herbalists, who told him of their malaria fighter herbs. He combined them into a formula, which he gave to Ghana’s equivalent of NAFDAC to check for efficacy and toxicity. That done, and with no adverse report, the herbal product was listed in the official drug list of Ghana and prescribed by doctors in government and private hospitals. Nevertheless Jobelyn was rated first product by that conference. NAFDAC and their Lordships should at that time have been aware of such an event and shown interest in it.
As I write, I am privileged to know someone in the Nigeria Presidency and a top notch in a state cabinet who have just witnessed beneficial effects of Jobelyn in respect of the matter at hand. No fewer than five Nigeria University medical establishments have researched Jobelyn in one respect or another and found it a respectable herbal medicine in all fields of their assessment. Jobelyn adjusted its marketing focus on the basis of every major study. When it began this course as a product for anaemia in sickle cell disease, it was a “powerful blood booster”. When a foreign study found its anti-oxidant potential higher than in some anti-oxidant plants in Europe and America, it added “anti- oxidant” to the chip.
Finally, it incorporated “energizer” and immune booster” to its personality. What may, therefore, be amazing to some people is why Jobelyn did not meet the mark of NAFDAC as an “immune booster” this time around, when, prior to this time, it was recognised as such by the regulatory body. May be they are in a hurry. May be the cat will soon be let out of the bag. May be NAFDAC hands are full, it’s resources in skills and Naira are unable to cope or it just hasn’t the time to scrutinise a whopping 21 plant formulas in the short period we all expect it to do a thorough job. What I say of Jobelyn, I say in respect of the other 20 plants products. I chose Jobelyn as an index product to discuss this subject merely because I am more familiar with it research and development since 1994 – that is for 26 years.
Perhaps I should add the thoughts of prime movers in Alternative Medicine that nature does not directly do battle with germs as do pharmaceutical or man-made drugs under GERM THEORY.This theory looks at the structure of a germ and develops a drug that will kill it at a dosage that will not kill the human body. Natural medicine does not directly fight the germ. Natural Medicine cleans the body up of toxins from diverse sources which inhibit immune sources. We can liken this to a nation state like Nigeria. If the mafias in various institutions do not aloud them to work properly,the nation will be a crawling nation. There will be no electricity. Water taps will be dried. The police will not be a friend of the people. The army will be unable to defeat a ragtag army. There will not be enough classroom for school children. Transport fares will be as arbitrary as food prices,hospital and electricity charges. But these problems may clear up over night when a purposeful government comes to town. The immune system is like the uniform forces of a nation. These forces,being composed of humans,are affected by the rot of the society. Similarly,immune cells are affected by the rot of other cells in the human body. When this human rot is cleared up,immune cells regain their natural capabilities and come on top in the war against invading germs. Herbal medicines help to bring this about.Such medicines oxygenate the body. The body loves oxygen and does well with it. Germs hate oxygen because it kills them. Plant medicines feed the immune system with the nutrients which each member of that system requires to do its job effectively and efficiently.
In other words, natural medicinal herbs empower or boost the immune system to do the work which Nature, standing in the WILL OF GOD, has assigned to it in the same way it has assigned other functions to other systems of the human body. In other words, every plant medicine is a tonic or a booster of either specific organs or systems or for a multitude of them. Our people should be encouraged to avail themselves of the support of those plant medicines, diet and lifestyle which have kept covid-19 infection and deaths relatively low in our country.