It is incontestable, that Nigeria is sitting on an herbal/natural medicine goldmine that is rich, if not richer than oil, and which has the potentialities of providing millions of jobs to the army of unemployed across the country. No country is as blessed and endowed as Nigeria in terms of its herbal, or what is now popularly referred to as complementary and Alternative medicine, CAM, potentials and rich natural resources. Yet, the country is not keying into this global herbal market that can generate Trillions of dollars into the country’s economy and provide multifarious forms of jobs to millions of Nigerians as well.

Herbal / CAM, also called botanical medicines or phytomedicines, refer to herbs, herbal materials, herbal preparations, and finished herbal products that contain parts of plants or other plant materials as active ingredients which also include seeds, berries, roots, leaves, bark or flowers. And since, herbal/ natural medicines are of plant origins, nature, surprisingly, has so much gifted the country with so many medicines infused in leaves, stalks and barks of plants.

Today, many drugs used in conventional medicine were originally derived from plants. For example, quinine andArtemesinin , on which a lot of anti-malarials are based on, is derived from Cinchona trees and is found to be effective in the treatment of malaria and remained so for decades. Though Quinine can be extracted directly from the plant, it was in the long run chemically synthesized in laboratories around the world and formed a basis for quinine-related medications.

Also, turmeric a member of the ginger family and a common ingredient in Nigerian or Asian fried rice is said to be having the potential to be used as an anti-cancer agent as well as having anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. While, castor oil is now being used in the treatment of arthritis, just like the Neem tree (Azadirachtaindica), widely known in Nigeria as ‘DogonYaro’ is thought to have antifungal, antibacterial, anti-micriobial, anti-oxidant and anti-malarial properties is still being used in the treatment of malaria related ailment.

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On the other hand, salicylic acid,a precursor of aspirin was originally derived from white willow bark, while the meadowsweet plant (Filipendulaulmaria), and Vincristine is an anti-cancer drug derived from periwinkle. Whereas, Morphine, codeine, and paregoric, are derived from the opium poppy, and used in the treatment of diarrhea and pain relief etc And, just as Nigerians, uses Rauwolfiavomitoria for the treatment of hypertension, stroke, insomnia and convulsion, so is the seeds of Citrus parasidi Macfad, used for treating urinary tract infections that are resistant to the conventional antibiotics.

In spite of sitting on a vast amount of plant-derived medications, Nigerians have not really tapped into the global herbal/natural medicine market. For example, the chemical components of the Neem tree are yet to be thoroughly explored, as practitioners needed to be encouraged to do more researches, send these medicinal plants to laboratories around the world that specializes in natural product synthesis. Therefore, by doing, we can as well learn a lot about the key components in the plants that are responsible for the efficacy observed in sick patients; learn the doses, the mechanism of action and in the end turning Nigerian herbal/natural medicines into another Pigenil, in Italy.

However, the question of standardization remains a crucial concern and challenge which must be addressed urgently, if herbal/complementary and Alternative medicine is to take its rightful place as far as healthcare is concerned in the country. According to Pharma Ben Amodu, of Halamin Herbals Products, a globally recognized herbal /complementary and Alternative medicine, practitioner once said that ‘’though there are a lot of potentials in herbal medicine, these products cannot be exported the way they are. We must look beyond local consumption and work assiduously to making the products meet international standards, so that it can be internationally accepted because the current trade worth of Herbal/Complementary Alternative medicine worldwide is over 200 billion dollars and Nigeria is not benefitting from this; because most of our products are not up to global standards.”


He added that since Nigeria has a hidden treasure of herbal/natural medicine, the earlier its practitioners starts to standardize their products, the better for the economy. The standardization therefore entails that any herbal product from the shores of Nigeria must have the right dosage, accurate measurement and calibration as obtained in other developed economies like China, India, Germany, and the US amongst many countries tapping into the potentials of the global herbal market.

But with the advancement in science and research, practitioners like Pharma Ben Amodu and Prof.OsmondOnyeka and many others are having their products not only being branded, but sold to consumers globally. And if they are encouraged the more, it will help to stop the frequent trip abroad for medication which these practitioners and others can provide, at a reasonable cost and with a far better treatment than what is obtainable elsewhere, and which in the long run brings in the needed foreign exchange in trillions of dollars as well as creating millions of jobs for Nigerians yearly.
Thus, it is a cheering news today that the works of some Nigerians like Ben Amodu and others, not only have Herbal products that have been globally tested and recommended by WHO for usage, but have herbal products that can cure as well as prevent Zika, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Sickle cell, Asthma, Ulcer and Arthritis, Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E, Eye diseases {cataract and Glaucoma] among other communicable and non-communicable diseases.
We therefore urge the government to key into the herbal renaissance blooming across the world with a view to enhancing our capacity for delivering a new herbal and agricultural products to the international markets especially the EU and the US market under the Africa growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), and in so doing, help to diversify the export base of the local economy.
And since most Nigerians have come to trust herbal medicine, as attested to by the World Health Organisation, WHO, and that between70 to 80percent of people in many of these countries uses some form of alternative or complementary medicine including Ayurvedic, homeopathic, naturopathic, traditional oriental, and Native American Indian medicine, the overall comparative advantage cannot be overemphasized. For instance, herbal/natural medicines today account for estimated annual revenues of about US$ 25 billion in Western Europe, about US$ 27billion in China, 2005, and US$ 470 million in Brazil.
Nigeria government must as a matter of urgently therefore tap into this blooming global herbal market, particularly against the backdrop of global usage of herbal or complementary Alternative medicines and their reported financial benefits.

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