11 best herbal medicine in Nigeria

What is the best herbal medicine in Nigeria?

Herbal medicine has been used for centuries in Nigeria, and it is still a popular alternative to traditional Western medicine due to its natural and holistic approach to health.

We’ll look at the best herbal medicines in Nigeria and the conditions they’re used to treat. We will also discuss the potential benefits and risks of using herbal remedies so that you can make an informed health decision.

What is herbal medicine?

According to the World Health Organization, herbal medicine is “ the knowledge, skills, and practices based on the theories, beliefs, and experiences indigenous to different cultures, used in the maintenance of health and in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness.”

From this definition, it is clear that herbal medicine is not limited to Nigeria. It means other countries practice herbal medicine. For instance, China is known to practice Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and it has been invoked thousands of years ago.

Although chemically synthesized drugs have changed the world’s perspective towards drug use in the health care sector in many parts of the world, some developing countries like Nigeria still have a large population that still heavily rely on traditional practitioners and herbal medicines for their primary care.

Herbal medicines are herbal products or botanical products produced from plants.

Benefits of using herbal medicine

Interestingly, a recent study clearly revealed that herbal medicine use is no longer limited to industrialized countries as previously thought because industrialized countries like the United States were recorded to have an adult population of 38% using some form of traditional medicine.

Even in the United Kingdom, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) has become an important part of medicinal investigation by healthcare professionals.

This also clearly reveals that using herbal medicine has some benefits and is not totally useless as some people may claim.

Some benefits of using herbal medicine include:

  • Herbal medicines are generally gentler on the body compared to prescription medications and result in fewer side effects when used as prescribed.
  • Herbal medicines are often used for health promotion and to treat chronic conditions.
  • Herbal medicine aims to return the body to a state of natural balance so that it can heal itself.
  • There are evidence-based goods in many herbal products. 
  • Herbal medicine can potentially boost the immune system, increase energy, aid in weight loss, enhance mood, and improve sleep

Risks of using herbal medicine

Many people believe that herbal medicines are safer and healthier than synthetic drugs but truthfully speaking, this is not always the case. Although herbal medicines are derived from natural resources, these supplements can also have serious side effects and/or when interacting with other medications.

The risks of using herbal medicine are often centered around the introduction of these products into the market without toxicological evaluation. Also, herbal medicines do not have appropriate dosages as it relates to the age, genetics, and concurrent drug use of their consumers.

  • Contamination
  • Asthma
  • Headaches
  • Adulteration
  • May contain toxic compounds.
  • Allergic reactions and rashes
  • Vomiting

These are some of the side effects of consuming herbal medicines if proper evaluation is not done by a healthcare professional.

11 Best Herbal Medicine for Infection in Nigeria

best herbal medicine in Nigeria

Getting the best herbal medicine in Nigeria is relative to the kind of infection or disease that you want to treat. So obviously, the best herbal medicine for malaria in Nigeria is definitely different from the best herbal medicine for waist pain in Nigeria.

Also based on our different experiences, ethnic groups, and different cultures the best herbal medicine in Nigeria is subject to differing opinions since a concrete scientific investigation has not been done to state these facts based on empirical evidence.

For example, in Lagos (partly Yoruba), Nigeria, a study revealed that Agbo jedi-jedi was the best herbal medicine used followed by agbo-iba. Without a doubt, this conclusion would be different from the Igbo or Hausa ethnic group.

But here is a general list of the 8 top herbal medicines in Nigeria and the types of infection they are used to treat.

  • Moringa oleifera
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Fever Nut
  • Garcinia kola
  • Vernonia amygdalina
  • Anacardium occidentale
  • Ocimum gratissimum
  • Citrus parasidi
  • Carica papaya
  • Rauwolfia vomitoria

Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-resistant tree species native to the southern foothills of the Himalayas in northwestern India. The tree has many different uses, from providing nutritious food to being used in traditional medicine, and is often referred to as a miracle plant. 

Moringa oleifera is being used for a variety of treatments and purposes, including water purification, immune system remediation, cell treatment, and stomach disorders such as constipation, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and prostate-related issues.

There is also a focus on the use of Moringa oleifera as a natural coagulant in water treatment. Moringa oleifera has certain properties which could help in the treatment of certain ailments. These properties are:

  • Anti-inflammatory properties 
  • Potential antiviral properties 
  • Possible anticataract potential 
  • Nutritious food source 
  • Potential benefits in treating diabetes

Other than the above-listed benefits of Moringa oleifera leaf and seed extract, it is known to prevent and treat cancer, make bones healthier, treat mood disorders, protect the cardiovascular system, help wounds to heal, treat asthma, protect against kidney disorders, and improving eye health.

1. Turmeric

Turmeric, also known as Curcuma longa, is a herb related to ginger. Turmeric has a long history in both cooking and medicine, and it has recently gained attention for its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Curcumin, the main active compound in turmeric, is used to treat a variety of conditions such as chronic inflammation, pain, metabolic syndrome, and anxiety.

Curcumin supplementation has been shown in studies to be as effective as some common anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, in relieving arthritis pain. Though turmeric and curcumin supplements are both considered safe, exceedingly high doses may cause diarrhea, headache, or skin irritation.

Turmeric can also be used in cooking, such as in curries, although the amount typically consumed in food is not likely to have a significant medicinal effect.

2. Ginger

Ginger is a popular ingredient and medicinal herb that can be purchased fresh or dried. It can be taken as a tea or in capsule form. Ginger is a rhizome, which is a type of underground stem.

It contains a variety of beneficial compounds and has been used in traditional and folk medicine to treat a variety of ailments such as colds, nausea, migraines, and high blood pressure. Its most well-studied modern application is to treat nausea caused by pregnancy, chemotherapy, and surgery.

While animal and test-tube studies have shown that ginger may have health benefits for preventing and treating diseases like heart disease and cancer, the evidence is mixed.

Although some small human studies have suggested that ginger may help reduce blood clot formation, it has not been proven to be more effective than standard treatments.

Negative side effects are rare; however, a large consumption may result in mild heartburn or diarrhea.

3. Fever Nut

Fever nut is also known as Caesalpinia bonducella. It is a popular plant species found in India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar.

Although it originates from India, it is found in Nigeria and it is known as Ayoo in Yoruba or African nutmeg. it is medicinally used to treat fever, inflammation, malaria, and even rheumatism. It also has the potential to treat polycystic ovary syndrome.

Caesalpinia bonducella is known to have antibacterial, antidiarrhoeal, and cytotoxic activities. The study further reveal that high concentrations of the methanol extract of this plant were effective against Staphylococcus aureus and P. aeruginosa.

4. Garcinia kola

Popularly known as bitter kola is a flowering plant used in traditional medicine in West Africa for centuries now. It has numerous health benefits including being a remedy for coughs, throat infections, diarrhea, and colds.

Other benefits of this plant carried out by a study revealed its potential to improve knee joint stiffness and reduce blood sugar levels (diabetes).

Kolaviron is a substance obtained from Kola that causes it to have the potential of reducing blood sugar levels. The seeds stem and leaves of this plant have medicinal value.

In some cases, this plant has been used for antiparasitic purposes. In other cases, it is chewed to fight against inflammatory conditions like arthritis.

5. Vernonia amygdalina

Vernonia amygdalina also known as a bitter leaf due to its bitter taste is a small shrub native to tropical Africa that has been domesticated in other parts of the continent.

It is a very important medicinal plant, and its fresh leaves are high in vitamins and minerals, which makes it useful in human nutrition. 

Plant extracts have also been used in alternative medicines for constipation, fever, high blood pressure, and other ailments. Vernonia amygdalina has also been shown in studies to have anti-cancer properties and may be a candidate for breast cancer treatment.

In a nutshell, vernonia amygdalina can do these:

  • Relieve stomach aches
  • Help protect against prostate cancer
  • Help enhance fertility
  • Helps relieve fever

6. Anacardium occidentale

Anacardium occidentale is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the fruit popularly known as the cashew nut. The tree is widely cultivated in tropical regions for its edible nuts and fruits, which contain a number of bioactive compounds known to have health benefits.

Traditional medicine practitioners have used cashew tree extracts to treat a variety of ailments, including asthma, colds, and congestion. Also, antimicrobial properties of Anacardium occidentale extracts have been demonstrated to have antimicrobial properties which makes them useful in the development of oral healthcare products.

7. Ocimum gratissimum

Popularly known as scent leaf in Nigeria. The plant is commonly used as a culinary herb and condiment in many parts of the world.

This plant is widely used for medical purposes because it has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects. It is notably known for treating diarrheal diseases.

8. Citrus parasidi

Popularly known as grape. The seeds of grapes are effective in treating urinary tract infections that are resistant to conventional antibiotics, oral antifungal therapy, anorexia, and other diseases.

9. Carica papaya

Carica papaya is known as pawpaw in Nigeria. It is used as an effective treatment for intestinal parasitosis. Some of the other potential benefits include anti-dengue fever effects, anti-inflammatory effects, and possible use as a traditional plant treatment for diabetes.

10. Rauwolfia vomitoria

In yoruba, it is known as Asofeyeje, wada in Hausa and akanta in Igbo. This miracle plant is used for treating hypertension, stroke, insomnia, and convulsion.

What next?

It is of utmost importance to note that herbal remedies should be used with caution since they have potential side effects as they mix up with other medications and it is necessary you seek the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider.

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Last Updated on September 9, 2023 by Our Editorial Team