Sunday, May 29, 2022

Herbalist healers: a danger to patients or providers of a service?

When flipping through the pages of our local newspapers, one cannot help but be appalled by the innumerable adverts of unthinkable remedies by people who profess to be doctors and qualified herbalists.

These unorthodox health professionals claim to be able to heal all kinds of ailments. While in the past we knew that it is the patient who visits the doctor, these health professionals are breaking the rule and taking the business right to the patient’s doorstep.

They don’t only advertise in newspapers, they also put up sign posts and distribute pamphlets throughout the city.

An experience with these charlatans in a street corner per se, is an item of comedy epitomizing a complete abuse of medical information. What is worrisome is that people are not suspicious of these people anymore; instead, they have become alternative medical practice for many with problems.
Their clientele is very amazing ÔÇô you find fine educated men and women as well as the illiterate village peasants, all consuming the ‘wonder herbs’, bathing with the wonder herb, eating the wonder leaves or following the wonder regimen in the face of overt and life threatening diseases.

They parade strange looking concoctions in old penicillin bottles. They market it as a wonder drug with an exaggerated possibility to treat as many as twenty different diseases: epilepsy, sickle cell disease, impotence, restoring lost lovers, women who can’t see period’s etc. These concoctions are home made from a mixture of different herbs and packaged under unhygienic conditions in makeshift local laboratories. These herbalists have herbs and grass of all sorts, confidently explaining the medical indication of each grass such that an unwary student of pharmacy will be stunned and awed.

In spite of all the stories that we are hearing of herbalists that have maimed and killed lots more, considering the vast number of people who have suffered serious disease complications due to total neglect in the hands of these quacks, people continue to flock to them.

People, do you have proof of authenticity of their products, the unhygienic nature, and lack of safety profiles, unproven efficacy and lack of a precise and harmonised dose? Isn’t it a source of worry?

In addition, have you ever considered their practice is shrouded in secrecy and superstition? One herbalist does not know the content of another herbalist’s medicine, making it difficult for knowledge to be shared, but you find yourself asking for their assistance.

Do you think the perception that use of herbs bordered on witchcraft is “misguided”? Tell you what, their activities border on witchcraft and their lists of cures are bizarre as some also claim to have remedies for non-medical problems like bad luck.

My question remains, why are you not afraid of these herbalist healers?

Watch out people as these people rely on communicating with spirits of ancestors who also died of sickness because they could not help themselves. Surely, they can’t possibly treat you?


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