New Book on Nigeria’s Healing Plants May Tickle Antidote for COVID-19

A new book on Nigeria’s healing plants authored by Rev Father Anselm Adodo and Prof Maurice Iwu, two renowned herbal medicine scholars, who are also spearheading the search for herbal remedies for COVID-19, popularly called Coronavirus, which has killed over 60,000 persons globally, is slated to be released this Wednesday

Titled “Healing Plants of Nigeria: Ethnomedicine and Therapeutic Applications,” the 310 page book published by Routledge, offers comprehensive information on the use of herbal medicines in West Africa and may provide recipe to tackle the deadly COVID-19 virus with cases spiking over one million across the world.

While the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (MIMR) is currently carrying out screening of a special herbal drug for COVID-19 manufactured by Pax Herbal Centre, Ewu Edo State where Adodo holds forte as director, Iwu has written the governments of Nigeria, China, US and the UN about his new drug which can also cure the virus.  

Combining an evidence-based, ethnobotanical perspective with a pharmacological and pharmaceutical approach to phytomedicine, the book bridges the gap between the study of herbal plants’ pharmacological properties and active compounds for the development of clinical drugs and community-oriented approaches, emphasising local use. It demonstrates how the framework of African traditional medicine can be preserved in a contemporary clinical context.

The book also outlines the history and beliefs surrounding the traditional use of herbs by the local population alongside their application in contemporary phytotherapy in Nigeria and West Africa. It features a critical assessment of the scientific rationale behind the use of these plants in ethnomedicine and offers a composite catalogue of phytotherapeutic and wellness agents, detailing the safety profile, efficacy, and scientific integrity of plants used to treat diseases and optimise health.

Chapter 10 of the book lists over 100 medicinal plants that have been scientifically evaluated for their antiviral activities. Some of the plants include. Kigella Sativa – Black Seed, The Bitter Melon Momordica Charantia- Black Seed, Garcinia Kola- Bitter Kola, Kigelia Africana – The Sausage Tree and Terminalia Sericea.

Although the book does not specifically mention COVID-19 because it predated outbreak of the virus, page 222 on Non-specific Antiviral and Immuno-Modulatory Agents says,

 ‘The exact mode of action of several plant-derived antiviral agents has not yet been determined but some of them have been shown to exhibit significant activity against HIV, a virus associated with AIDS. This category of antiviral agents was also considered important since they may provide additional insights into the possible biochemical mechanism of the treatment of AIDS.

“These compounds either interfere directly at various stages in the replication cycle of HIV or strengthen the patients’ immune system against the devastating effect of the infection.  Several plants of Nigerian origin contain compounds that have been shown both in laboratory and clinical outcome reports to have anti-HIV properties and/or are useful in ameliorating the effects of AIDS.

“Some of the traditional remedies used for the treatment of HIV/AIDS do not necessarily fit into the classical antiviral chemotherapeutic agents. Given the hybrid spreading mechanisms of the virus, the clinical benefits of these drugs can only be realized from information obtained from their outcomes in human use. 

“Many people with HIV take herbs to support the immune system and to help it repair the damage caused by the virus. This is one of the most important uses for herbs but it is also an area in which it may be difficult to find enough information to make informed choices. We know that the immune system works as a result of incredibly complicated interactions between immune cells and the proteins they use to communicate with each other. It’s often difficult to predict how drugs or herbs that target one part of the immune system will impact on another part.

“The cell-mediated immune system includes specialized immune cells, such as CD4+ cells, CD8+ cells and natural killer cells that work together with the immune proteins interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon gamma (IFN-gamma), tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) and many other proteins. Herbal therapies that may be useful for HIV-positive people usually enhance cell-mediated immunity. Although we say that AIDS is an immune deficiency syndrome, parts of the immune system of an HIV-positive person work very hard and may already be overstimulated by the demands of HIV infection.

“Some immune stimulants (or immune boosters) may actually worsen the health of HIV-positive people by stimulating the wrong parts of the immune system or by increasing the burden on the system. Immune therapies are often taken in cycles (a few days or weeks or followed by a few days or weeks off) to prevent the system from adapting to the treatment in such a way that the treatment’s effects are weakened. This point is important to consider when choosing herbal therapies for immune support,” it states.

The major features of the book include:

  • An ethnobotanical survey containing over 200 full-colour photographs of Nigerian and West African plants.
  • A unique combination of ethnobotany and pharmacognosy, bridging the divide between pharmaceutical and community-oriented approaches to herbal medicine research.
  • Contextual discussion of the therapeutic potential of Nigerian herbal medicine.
  • Offers a template which can be used to separate the superstitious aspects of ethnomedicine from culturally inherited deposits of knowledge.

A handbook for herbal and natural medicine practitioners, the book is aimed at African thinkers, scientists, healthcare providers and students of pharmacology and ethnomedicine.

The contents consist of 14 chapters, divided into two major parts, with part one focusing on

* The Practice of Medicine in Africa

* Medicine, Culture and Health Belief Systems

* Trees

* Shrubs

* Forbs and

* Grasses

Part Two deals with Application of Medicinal Plants for Specific Diseases

* Medicinal Plants for Malaria and Parasitic Infections

* Nigerian Plants with Application in the Treatment of

High Blood Pressure

  • Nigerian Healing Plants Used for Metabolic Syndrome,

Obesity, and Diabetes

  • Phytotherapy of HIV-AIDS and Opportunistic Infections

with Nigerian Plants

* Application of Nigerian Plants in Cancer Treatment

* Control of Oxidative Stress and Chronic Inflammation

with Nigerian Plants

  • Skin Care, Dental, Oral Care and Cosmeceuticals from

Nigerian Plants and

  • Nigerian Healing Plants in Global Trade

About the Authors

A specialist in Alternative and Complementary Medicine and in Phytomedicine Research, Father Anselm Adodo is the founder and Director of Nigeria’s foremost herbal research Institute, the Pax Herbal Clinic and Research Laboratories, popularly called Paxherbals based in Ewu, Edo State.

He is a prominent advocate of African herbal medicine research, indigenous knowledge systems, rural community development, health policy reform and transformation of education in Africa.

Adodo holds a BA in Religious Studies from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria; and Master’s degrees in Systematic Theology from Duquesne University, Pittsburgh USA; and in Medical Sociology from University of Benin, Nigeria. His two doctoral degrees are in Management of Technology and Innovation from Da Vinci Institute, South Africa and in Medical Sociology from University of Benin, Nigeria. He has 400 publications in national dailies, health magazines/journals and health blogs on diverse subjects ranging from Natural Health to Ethnobotany, Economics, Development, Religion, Politics and Education

Since his first outing titled, “Herbs for healing: Receiving God’s Healing Through Nature”  which debuted in 1997, Adodo, also a Visiting Lecturer on African Transformation Studies and African Traditional Medicine at the University of Ibadan, has published nine books.

He also co-authored “The Idea of The Communiversity: Releasing the Economic, Spiritual, Cultural and Innovation GENE-ius of Societies” published in 2019 with Lessem Ronnie and Bradley Tony. He has another forthcoming work, “Afrikology: Deconstructing and Reconstructing Knowledge and Value Out of Africa” slated to be released in December this year. 

Paxherbal where Adodo superintends as director has partnership with Howard University Hospital, USA, on Cancer Research and the University of Bonn, Germany on Public Health, Tuberculosis and Microbiology Faculty apart from various others in the UK and the US. It has also signed MOUs with the Federal Institute of Industrial Research. Oshodi (FIIRO), Nigeria Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos, Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) and the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN). It will soon sign an MOU with the Nigeria Pharmaceutical Research Institute (NIPRD)

Prof Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu was born on 21 April 1950 in Umuezeala, Umukabia, Ehime Mbano in Imo State. He attended Saint Pius X College, Bodo-Ogoni for his secondary education. He studied at the University of Bradford, England, receiving a Master of Pharmacy degree in 1976 and a Ph.D in 1978. He was WHO Visiting Scholar to Dyson Perrins Laboratory, University of Oxford (1980), Fulbright Senior Scholar, Ohio State University and won the U.S National Research International Prize for Ethnobiology in 1999. He was a Professor of Pharmacognosy at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (1984–1993).

Entering business, Iwu became Vice-President, Research and Development of Tom’s of Maine, a personal care manufacturing company, and member of the Board of Directors, Axxon Biopharm inc. He served on the Board of InterCEDD, Fund for Integrated Rural Development and Traditional Medicine, and Center for Economic and Social Justice. He was the United Nation’s Lead Consultant for the development of Nigeria’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan. Iwu has published more than 100 research articles and is the author of four books.

Prof Iwu was President, International Society of Ethnobiology (1996–2002), member and ex-President of the Nigerian Society of Pharmacognosy, Member of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene and Member of the International Society for Medicinal Plant Research. He was the Executive Director, Bioresources Development and Conservation Program and a Senior Research Associate at the Division of Experimental Therapeutics of Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington D.C

Appointed INEC commissioner for Imo State in August 2003 by President Olusegun Obasanjo, Iwu succeeded Abel Guobadia as Chairman of INEC in June 2005..

He has written four books which includes “Handbook of African Medicinal Plants” published in 1993. The “African ethnomedicine”, which is  based on a seminar delivered at the Nigerian Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Yaba, Lagos in February 10, 1982 was published in 1986 while another book, “Commercial production of indigenous plants as phytomedicines and cosmetics. Bio-resources Development and Conservation Programme Press” was published in 1997.

He also co-authored with Jacqueline C. Wootton  a book titled “Ethnomedicine and drug discovery” published in 2002

Iwu says he has produced a drug that has a very high potential to cure the deadly COVID-19. Reputed for his pedigree in pharmaceutical research, he also said he found a cure for Ebola virus during its outbreak in 2014.

Source: www.ndr.org.ng

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