By YUSUF MOHAMMED
The picture many people have in their head when they hear alternative or traditional medicine is one of uneducated people as practitioners. The story is different today, as professors and other academics are now interested in alternative and complementary medicine. Alternative medicine has evolved in Nigeria from uneducated practitioners, to educated practitioners leading the field.
Before the advent of orthodox medicine, traditional medicine was the only solution to any health problem.
“Our forefathers relied on herbal medicine for treatments. We are only going back to our roots,” said Dr. Toyin Joshua.
In the written record, the study of herbs dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Sumerians, who described well-established medicinal uses for plants. In Ancient Egyptian medicine, the Ebers Papyrus from c. 1552 BC records a list of folk remedies and magical medical practices. The Old Testament also mentions herb use and cultivation in regards to Kashrut.
While it is said that traditional medicine lacks biological plausibility, some scientists in orthodox medicine are crossing over to alternative medicine. In fact, some medical doctors, refer some of their patients to naturopathic doctors.
However, many medical doctors still try to discredit traditional medicine. One of the major complains is that these drugs are not measured properly. They complain of the dosage.
Practitioners of alternative doctors on the other hand argue that medical doctors administer conventional drugs to patients suffering from a symptom of a disease or ailment just to treat the symptom and not the cause of the symptom.
For instance, in traditional medicine, if a patient is complaining of high blood pressure, practitioners look for the root cause of the problem and treat it.
“In our field, we see high blood pressure as a symptom. In the orthodox medicine, they treat the symptom, while we treat the root Cause,” Dr. Ramond Tade Toyo said.
Tade Toyo is an alternative and complementary medicine practitioner. He told Business Hallmark that “everything about alternative medicine is natural, nothing synthetic. In orthodox medicine, they promote synthetic medication. In complementary and alternative medicine, we use everything natural and nothing artificial. Nothing like chemical compositions and nothing like chemical mixture. Everything is natural.”
In orthodox medicine, they say there is no cure to some ailments. In alternative, they give hope of a cure. For instance, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, HIV. They say they can cure it when it is not yet full blown Acquired Immune Disease, AIDS.
They also claim that they can reverse cancer when it is not yet stage 4. As far as it is stage 1 to 3, it can be reversed.
Tade Toyo said, “We have been able to reverse cancer between stage 1 and 3. In that regard, we have many success stories. But when it is stage 4, we can’t assure you of reversal.
“HIV is a minor disease for us. We have handled so many cases of HIV.” When asked how many, he said, “I can’t say unless I check through my files. We have cured so many. We reversed it completely. And the period is between the first and the fourth month. The fifth month I will just manage you. The six month I will ask you to go and do test and it will be negative. I am certain about it.”
Speaking of headache which pharmacists and doctors prescribe Paraceutamol or Panadol, he said, “Many things could cause headache. In some cases you may have what is called dehydration. Dehydration can cause headache. So if your headache is as a result of dehydration, you don’t need any analgesic to stop it. What you need is to hydrate yourself.
“Many of us don’t know this. What you need to do is to hydrate yourself. Like when you drink 50mm of water and after about 30 minutes you take two, if your headache is as a result of dehydration, it will subside immediately. But if you take analgesic, it will knock that process. It will knock your sensory organ so your brain will not be able to communicate to your body that your body needs something.
“You see headache is part of the language the body speaks. The body speaks to us. The body has its own language that it speaks to us. It communicates to us in the form of pain. Like the example I just gave about dehydration. If you are dehydrated, that is your body telling you that it needs water. It will come in form of a migraine and if you drink water, definitely that headache will go. If your headache is as a result of malaria, you will know that you have malaria because there are some other symptoms that come with it.”
Prof. Titi Oduye has a BS.C Honours in Chemistry from the University of Lagos in 1982 and also a Masters in Chemistry from the same University. She delved into alternative medicine when he mother had stroke. All efforts to heal her mother the conventional way failed. She realized at the time that there was something more than orthodox medicine.
Speaking to BusinessHallmark she said, “If you are having any symptom, you have to tackle it from the root. For instance, if the symptom is headache, Paracetamol makes the symptom go away not what is causing headache. The orthodox medicine is just a mask. The problem will be remain.
“Take for instance a car. If the engine of your car is faulty and you are not addressing that problem but just managing it with some by adding oil here and there, one day, the car may park up on the road. The same thing happens with the body. If you don’t address the root cause of what is causing pain and you just take analgesic, one day, the body will stop just like the car. For a car, you can change the engine or buy another car. Can you buy another body?
“Stop looking for quick fix. There is none,” she said.
There seems to be more demand for alternative treatment today. Why is it becoming so popular? Edzard Ernst who is a leading authority on scientific study of alternative treatments and diagnosis and the first university professor of Complementary and Alternative Medicine blames the providers, customers and the doctors whose neglect, he says, has created the opening into which alternative therapists have stepped.
Ernst does not believe in alternative medicine. He believes that practitioners are selling lies to make money.
“People are told lies,” he said. “There are 40 million websites and 39.9 million tell lies, sometimes outrageous lies. They mislead cancer patients, who are encouraged not only to pay their last penny but to be treated with something that shortens their lives.
“At the same time, people are gullible. It needs gullibility for the industry to succeed. It doesn’t make me popular with the public, but it’s the truth.”
Aliyu Yakubu who is medical doctor in a Kogi State hospital, in a telephone chat with Business Hallmark is of the view that herbal medicine should not be a substitute for conventional medicine because the former is not regulated. “Herbal medicine is complicated” he said. “It is highly risky in my opinion because they don’t tell the patient the dose to take. Unfortunately some people even take it every day regardless of the consequences. For instance the Agbo in Lagos may be different from that of another state. You are not sure of the mixture – how was it made?”
“Some of the sicknesses they claim herbal medicines cure are sicknesses that can go on their own. Sometimes all you need is a rest. Coincidentally when they take it and they feel better they think it is the herbal medicine that has healed them not knowing that with time, it would have gone. When one feels sick, the best for him or her to do is visit a hospital for a test to know what is really wrong so that the right drugs would be administered,” he opined.
Rotimi Akinpetide who had a health challenge and was healed by traditional medicine believes that there should be a synergy between Orthodox and alternative medicine. He said, “They need to work together because they don’t know it all. Medical doctors like to disagree with almost everything about traditional medicine. Let me tell you something. My right leg would have been amputated if not for a traditional healer. I had an accident last year. I went to Lagos State University Teaching Hospital LUTH. They told me I required surgery of N450,000. I was broke at the time. My friends and brothers were able to raise N200,000. They refused to start operation because the money was not complete. In fact they said if I delayed further, they would cut off the leg.”
“They said the operation was not even 100 per cent sure that my leg would be fine. Somehow, someone introduced me to Dauda, a bone healer. I didn’t even pay him up to N100,000. Today, my leg is perfect. He healed me.”
In a similar vein, 69 year-old Mazi Sony Allison believes in alternative medicine because of his terrible experience with orthodox medicine. In a health seminar organized by T-Gold Health and Wellness Centre, he spoke of how he took medication for High Blood Pressure for 20 years before he was introduced to Dr. Raymond Tade Toyo who is a naturopathic doctor.
He said, “I was on BP medication for life. My doctor told me to take it for ever. For 20 years, I was on it before I met Raymond.
“In 2014, opticians said I had to operate my eye before six weeks. They said it would cost N700, 000 for the operation. I have not done the operation today thanks to alternative medicine. As for the BP medicine, I am not longer on it.
“You see, part of the problem is ignorance. May people are not really aware. All they know is orthodox medicine.
“I introduced a friend of mine who had eye problem to the traditional healer. He stopped treatment because he did not have patience. Today, he is blind. In Alternative medicine, there is no quick fix. It is a gradual process.