|Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research|
|Official Journal of Pharmacotherpy Group|
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Journal of Pharmaceutical Research 2002; 1(2): 53-54
Herbal Medicines: Challenges
medicines are but one component of complementary and alternative medicine, which
includes acupuncture, chiropractic manipulation, meditation, homeopathy, and
other approaches. Since the
introduction of orthodox medicines in Africa, the use of herbal medicine in
treating various ailments has existed alongside western medicines.
Herbal medicines are playing major roles in the health of thousands of
people worldwide. In spite of the
vastly improved health and longevity in the United Sates and Europe, millions
are turning back to traditional herbal medicines in order to prevent or treat
many illnesses, and a reasonable proportion of drugs dispensed in community
pharmacies now contain drugs extracted from plants. The high demand for herbal medicines from traditional medical
practitioners in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa is a clear indication of the
attitude and beliefs of people about the medicines.
medicines have good values in treating many diseases including infectious
diseases, hypertension, etc. That
they can save lives of many, particularly in the developing countries, is
undisputable. The major challenges
of any pharmaceutical scientist are serious problems with the overall quality,
safety and efficacy of herbal products. Preservation and dosage measurement are
serious problems in developing countries. The
label claim and other information provided for the use of a herbal preparation
may be far from what is in the `bottle’.
Sharp practices such as the addition of orthodox medicines to herbal
preparations by some traditional medical practitioners have been reported.
Different orthodox medicines may be added to a herbal preparation with
the hope that one of the added drugs may cure the user’s ailment.
Just because an herb is natural does not mean that it is safe, and claims
of remarkable healing powers are often not supported by reliable evidence.
Unfortunately, most countries do not have regulatory polices that can
effectively protect their citizens from the identified problems. For example, herbal products are regulated as dietary
supplements in the United States, and are therefore not subject to most of the
requirement that proprietary drugs must meet before they can enter the
that some herbal medicines are contaminated, toxic or interfere with the
metabolism of drugs used to treat cancer or AIDS has reduced the enthusiasm of
United Sates consumers for herbal medicines.
As a result, the sale of herbal products in United States has reduced in
the last two years. The public now seeks more authoritative sources of
information in that country, and credible compendia and data on web sites are
available. However, the advertisement and sales of herbal medicines are on the
increase in Nigeria. Reasons for this increase include aggressive advertisement
on newspapers, radios and televisions, and unparallel enforcement of regulatory
guidelines. Other factors include cultural practices, religious beliefs, past
experiences, traditional beliefs and behaviours, influence of friends and
relatives, economic consideration and poorer health. The recognition of
supernatural causes of illness is at variance with western medicine but has a
great influence in the subscription to herbal medical practice.
their many challenges, herbal medicines afford clinical and research
opportunities that should not be neglected when greater regulation of these
Patrick O Erah, PhD, Editor
|@2002. TJPR Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria|
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|Last updated: January 15, 2003|