Traditional medicine as defined by Wikipedia comprises medical aspect of traditional knowledge that has developed over generations within various societies before the era of modern medicine.
The world health organization also defines traditional medicine as the sum total of knowledge, skills and practices based on the theories , beliefs and experience indigenous to different culture whether explicable or not, used in the maintenance of health as well as in the prevention, diagnosis, improvement or treatment of physical and mental illness (WHO)
Traditional medicine dates back as as far as the paletholic age. It’s passed down orally from one generation to the next, we can’t actually put a specific date to it.
The preparation of herbal concoction, roots, leaves, stems and bark for the cure and treatment of illnesses dates back to generation old.
Stories abound of grandparents and great grandparents who used and prepared this concoction for their family use and also as practitioners.
It has been said that most Africans depend on traditional medicine practitioners for their primary health care. its not a thing of surprise to see bottles of concoctions or powders in folded paper or leaves in most Africans homes.
A large percentage of older Africans have more belief in traditional medicine than modern health care, we could also add a lower percentage of the youth who hold this belief too.
A trip to any Nigerian market wont be complete without a sight of a traditional herbal shop tucked by the corner with a banner if possible boldly declaring their cures, treatment and herbal solutions.
Advocates for traditional medicine hold the belief that it’s part of our culture as a people and should be relegated to the background due to advent of modern medicine. Some citizens agree with this, for which we can speculate by high patronage of traditional medicine practitioners even in the 21st century.
Arguments have gone back and forth on the pros and cons of traditional medicine.
One side to this argument is the prevalence of fake practitioners who are just bent on fleecing their ignorant customers hence the need for a registered body.
Another area of concern is the level of education of traditional medicine practitioners.
Most times what these individuals know are just the knowledge of herbs and roots passed down orally from the older generation without adequate information and knowledge of the working of the human body.
One major shortcoming of traditional medicine in Nigeria is when aspects of it’s spirituality are involved.
Most traditional medicine practitioners practice their trade in conjunction with African voodoo or spirituality.
Majority of Nigerians profess Christianity or Islam as a religion with a smaller percentage being traditionalists.
Clash of interest and belief do occur within religious lines.
The use of incantations and charms by most traditional medicine practitioners is a thing most citizens frown at based on their religious beliefs.
One other major issue arising too is the problem of safety of the use of these medicines.
Most medical practitioners dislike the idea of use of substances not medically verified and scientifically researched with clinical trials to show it’s effectiveness.
Others areas are standards of purity of these substances, dosage, proper prescription, presence of allergens and toxins, inadequate research and regulations and adverse effects.
Notwithstanding these numerous issues and concerns, traditional medicine has won a few points in the medical ring even on a global stage.
According to WHO, approximately 25% of modern drugs used in the United States have been derived from plants.
At least 7,000 medical compounds in the medical pharmacopoeia are derived from plants.
Most active compounds isolated from higher plants and widely used in modern medicine today show a correlation between their therapeutic use and traditional use of the plants from which they are derived.
Herbal products are being manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, consumer good