‘Different strokes for different folks’ you may say when it comes to choices we make on various issues of life. But when it comes to one’s health, a second thought need be given as whatever decision we make has the potential to either make or mar us. CHALYA DUL in this piece writes on the local concoction popularly known as agbo hawked on the streets of Nigeria, especially at car parks, which many Nigerians consume at will without a comprehensive knowledge of its health implications.
It will amaze you to know that most people who consume this mixture lack a comprehensive knowledge of its contents, efficacy, accurate prescription or illness it is intended to treat. Some people consume it because they think it is more efficient than drugs prescribed at a standard health care centre or hospital.
Oloruntobi, a commercial bus driver who plies Abuja-Lagos route, said his preference of the concoction over standard drugs is that they are more effective and result oriented. “I have been consuming agbo for over 10 years that I have been driving and I have no reason to visit any hospital whatsoever over ill health.
I don’t think its health implications are as severe as people make them seem because they are roots and herbs our forefathers depended on before our dependence on those drugs we can’t truly accertain their genuinety. They were even healthier and lived longer than us,” he said.
The opinion of other consumers on the concoction were almost the same as they were very affirmative on the potency of the mixture which they believe should be given more prominence in order to provide a better care to the people.
Waheed, a petty trader at Utako Motor Park, said: “These mixtures are far better than the drugs prescribed at the hospitals because most times, these drugs are either fake or expired.
If not for the timely intervention of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) which cleared our markets of some of these drugs, only God knows the number of Nigerians that would have been suffering from ailments that would emanate from these drugs without them knowing it came from the drugs meant to cure them.
Agbo are herbs and roots handed down to us by our forefathers. Government should encourage their use because they are home-grown and their source can be ascertained.”
Yewande, a teenage girl testified to the effectiveness of agbo. “I derive much relief after its consumption. Although on days when I take agbo, I ensure I have nothing planned out for the day, because I visit the toilet all day but feel extremely relieved afterwards.
Similar to Yewande’s experience, Abubakar, a civil servant said he experiences body pains and weekness at first, but feels completely relieved afterwards.
Mama Sadiq, who hawks these local concoctions collaborated the position of the consumers, even as she also solicits the support of government at all levels. She cited the case of pile which most doctors according to her have lean knowledge about, have its solution in agbo.
“Most times when you visit hospitals to lodge complaints for dysentery, some doctors don’t know what prescription to give and in most cases it degenerates to pile which they might suggest you perform surgical operation on as a remedy.
These medical operations are not often successful as most patients die in the process. But you only need a little dose of agbo to flush whatever is responsible for the illness in the first place without allowing it to degenerate to pile,” Mama Sadiq stated.
A fruit seller at Wuse Market, Mama Sikina, said I take agbo everyday to safeguard against any ailment because I cannot afford standard healthcare from the hospital.
One of the concerns medical experts give on agbo consumption is that one cannot accertain the dosage and expiration of the mixture. Both the hawkers and consumers differ on the required dosage for each ailment.
Abuchi, who hawks the mixture in a kiosk adjacent Jabi Motor Park, said each mixture expires at the end of seven days, while Mama Sadiq thinks three days should be the maximum as anything beyond that is no longer potent.
Agbo which is a mixture of herbs and roots soaked in either alcohol or pap water are said to cause more harm than good, according to a medical expert, Doctor Etukumana Abiboro of the Ministry of Works hospital. He said it causes multi systemic complication that affects the kidney and liver which are the powerhouses of the body.
“Consumers of agbo are not aware of the appropriate dosage intake. Some might take too little or too much and excess of it can cause the liver to shut down.
Also, it might cause blood psychosis and other mild complications which include gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting diarrhea, aphasic anemia and in rare cases affects the bone marrow,” he said
Doctor Etuk went further to say that most drugs such as chloroquine are plant extracts but they have undergone scientific processes to make their consumption healthy. He advised consumers to avoid excess intake of agbo to avoid certain health implications.