COVID-19: NAFDAC to assess herbal mixture as possible treatment

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The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has been directed to carry out necessary procedures for the assessment of a plant-based cough mixture as a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The permanent secretary in the ministry of health, Mashi Abdullahi, issued the directive in a memo with REF no. TCAM/077/I/65 addressed to the director-general of NAFDAC, Mojisola Adeyeye.

The memo, dated April 28, 2020, was titled ‘Formulation of a Phyto-Medicine-Based Cough Mixture/Syrup for the Management of COVID-19 Patients by Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine Department of the Ministry’.

Nigeria is not the first country to consider herbal medicine as an alternative treatment for COVID-19 patients.

Last Month, the Madagascan president, Andry Rajoelina, launched a herbal remedy that he said could prevent and cure patients infected with the virus. Countries like Tanzania, Comoros, Guinea-Bissau, and the Republic of Congo have indicated interest in the herbal remedy.

The minister of health, Osagie Ehanire, on Wednesday, said the local medicines in Nigeria had not been tested and could be poisonous.

He said all herbal medicines must go through the research cycle to ensure they are not toxic.

He noted that “no COVID-19 patients will be released to herbal practitioners to test the efficacy of their drugs, such drugs will first be tested on animals before it can be certified.”

Memo in full

“As you are aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is currently ravaging the world with no definite treatment or vaccine.

“This has necessitated countries to look for solutions from within and Nigeria is no exception. It is worthy to note that Nigeria is blessed with medicinal plants which could be exploited.

“It is heartwarming to note that the Department of TCAM has taken the pains to research into scientific materials to come up with a formulation intended for the management of cough in COVID-19 and other cough-related infections.”

“The formulation is a Cov-herbal cough mixture. Interestingly, all the ingredients that make up the formulations are medicinal plants that are widely used as food materials and medicines.

NAFDAC Director-General, Mojisola Adeyeye

“They include Allium sativa (garlic); Allium cepa (onions); Zingiber officinale (ginger): Piper guineense (West African Black Pepper); and Adansonia digitata (baobab fruit). The innovation here is the composition of the formulation.

“These medicinal plants have documented scientific evidence of long use for the management of cough and other respiratory infections, with medicinal properties of mucoIytic, antitussive, expectorant, soothing, demulcent, anti-inflammatory and antiviral effects.

“The ministry is determined to walk the talk in the promotion and integration of herbal medicine into the health care delivery system.

“In view of the foregoing and the desire of the ministry to showcase to the public a product that is 100 per cent sourced locally, you are requested to carry out the necessary procedures for listing.

“The ministry will contract the packaging of the product to some identified pharmaceutical companies. Find attached scientific pieces of evidence of the products end labelling for your information end necessary action,” he said.

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