Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Physician campaigns for the use of herbs

Herbal medicine remains largely an unproven and inexact science.

In fact, pharmaceutical practice and herbal practice have been, for decades, engaged in a tug of war over which is better than the other. Despite this, Dr. Nelson Mwaniki – a physician and Public Health Specialist at the Ministry of Health, believes in the power of herbs and goes out of his way to preach it to his patients.

Although he does not dispute the use of ‘western’ medicine, Dr. Mwaniki has his money on herbs because, unlike drugs, herbs help the body fight for itself while drugs “fight for the body”.
His drive is on the basis that herbs have no side effects that have been found or proved – thus he advises that people should take advantage of this virtue.

“As long as the herbs are obtained from reliable and traceable sources, I see only advantages in their usage. By reliable sources, I mean suppliers who should be able to deal with whichever adverse effects that may come with the use of the herbs,” he added.

He also asserts that, “herbs also fix one health problem and benefit other body systems while the “western” medicines generally fix one problem and damage other parts of the body, if not properly used”.

Herbs are no stranger to Dr. Mwaniki.

He might have spent years studying medicine but his other life as the grandson of a herbalist has instilled in him an urge to campaign for the use of herbs as is done in other countries.

He says that his grandfather’s skill had him renowned for treating skin conditions, arthritis, fevers, epilepsy and even madness.

The doctor cites herbs as being very important and beneficial and will vouch for Aloe Vera, Moringa and Neem Mosukojane and Kalahari Desert claw any day.
“The strength of these herbs lies in their anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects thus strengthening the body organs like the liver and the blood to carry out their functions,” he says.

Knowledge of the benefits of herbs and consequent usage of the same has in recent years been increased to high levels; in turn, herbal pharmacies and clinics have comfortably assumed their rightful market place in the health industry.

Advertisements and marketing strategies for herbal products and food supplements have taken the print and electronic media and information technology by storm taking advantage of the ever increasing number of people with non-communicable diseases and degenerative disorders. Bold statements are being assumed by the producers and manufacturers of the commercial herbs.

In the US alone, Americans spend $200 billion per year on prescription drugs and $20 billion on herbs and other dietary supplements.

When choosing the best remedy or preventive medicine, most of us simply want the safest, most effective option available, whether it’s food, herbs or a pharmaceutical drug. People often turn to supplements because they’re seen as more natural than drugs, can have fewer side effects and generally cost less.

Though herbal supplements are an attractive alternative to pharmaceuticals, the former actually receives less governmental regulation, so it’s important to be aware of how both industries are regulated, and to do your homework when deciding which treatment is right for you.
“I am an advocate for the use of the “all purpose herbs” like Moringa, Neem, and Aloe Vera. They normally strengthen the body systems and things like colds, flues, stomach upsets, headaches disappear. The effect is better when one takes a break from daily consumption for about 2-3 weeks after every 3 months. This does not however remove the need to undergo annual check-ups with a clinician just to be sure that one is free from the usual diseases which come with age and sex. People also react differently to different herbs and one therefore needs to be sure of their health status,” he said.

He also alluded to the monograph released by the World Health Organisation, which is accessible through the internet. He says the list shows commonly used herbs, which have, over time, been useful in effectively preventing and controlling blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and respiratory diseases, which are the four leading causes of death worldwide.

Dr Mwaniki has also worked on a herb called Carthamus Tinctorius or Safflower for the past 7 seven years. He says the herb can be used as a morogo, animal fodder, cut flower, herbal tea, oil crop, food colorant and chicken feed, among other uses. The multiple use plant can also be grown on a large scale in Botswana for commercial purposes as well as for clinical reasons. Presently, the crop’s agricultural potential and phyto-chemical properties are being investigated by the Botswana College of Agriculture and the University of Botswana.

Mwaniki has so far grown and prescribed the herb to some of his patients who are diabetic and hypertensive and asked them to take their prescribed medication at the same time.
He reports that all of them have reported marked improvement in their general health and in the control of their blood sugar and blood pressure.

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