Vegetable farmers on Thursday called for increased public awareness towards the use of medicinal plants as alternative to orthodox medicine.
Some of the farmers told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in separate interviews in Lagos, that the use of medicinal plants had become popular in developed countries, especially in Europe and Asia.
Mr David Iheanacho, a moringa farmer, said there were more than 6,000 medicinal plants, growing in different parts of Nigeria, which he said, were being under-utilised.
He observed that Nigerians had apathy towards the use of plants for medicinal purpose because they erroneously believe it is fetish.
“We have associated the use of medicinal plants to our native ‘voodoo or juju’ because we believe only herbalists use them.
“We have abandoned the resources bestowed on us by nature to help cure our ailments instead of using orthodox drugs that come with side-effects,’’ he said.
According to him, even though moringa oleifera plant originated from Asia, it is commonly cultivated in Nigeria today.
“The original moringa seeds were imported from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan but we now have it in abundant in Nigeria today.
“Our people are becoming aware of the medicinal uses of this plant and they have even nicknamed it ‘miracle plant.’
“This is because its leaves, back, flowers, fruit, seeds, and root are all used to make medicine,’’ he said.
According to him, oil from moringa seeds is used in preparation of foods, perfume, hair care products and as a machine lubricant.
Mr Layi Ayanleke, another vegetable farmer, however, warned against the arbitrary use of medicinal plants.
He noted that the plant should be used to treat specific ailment, for which they are known.
“Much as we clamour for the increased usage of medicinal plants, we must be careful about over-indulgence and wrong usages.
“Dongoyaro leave has been known to possess high medicinal value in the treatment of malaria but not necessarily headache, which is a symptom of malaria.
“The seeds of unripe guava fruit, when chewed, enhances high sperm count in men but excessive consumption can cause appendicitis,’’ he told NAN.
Mrs Sarah Whyte, a pharmacist, observed that many propagators of medicinal plants often failed to give adequate prescription of usage.
She pointed out that inadequate prescription could lead to drug abuse and overdose.
Whyte also warned that there were no miracle medicinal plants and that, even in medicine, specific drugs were used to treat specific ailments.
“We have to be wary of medicinal plants that are purportedly used in the treatment of all ailments.
“We should always go for proper medical screening to be sure of the type of illness we are suffering from.
“We should not be carried away with the sooth-saying marketing gimmicks of herbal medicine practitioners,’’ she said. (NAN)