By Ovundah Nyeche.
He was referred to my hospital due to a long standing generalized body weakness and they also noticed he was passing coke-coloured urine as well. Indeed he was very weak and pale, a thirthy year old male and a graduate of a Nigerian university.
After interviewing and examining him; He admitted that He usually consumed herbal-based products and he was a habitual drinker. His pulse was racing and his heart was failing.
Over the next few days he had several blood transfusions and our fears were confirmed when our investigations showed that his kidneys had failed and he would require regular sessions of dialysis or have a renal transplant done to improve the quality of his life and increase life expectancy.
He is one of a number of young people with failed kidneys attended to last year, almost all of which was as a result of ingestion of herbal based products and supplements with spurious claims.
For the past few weeks, I have had several encounters with practitioners of Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM) ; they seem to be everywhere, even more in number than ants feasting on an open sugar container.
Just last week in Port Harcourt Nigeria, while getting some auto spare parts, they were advertising products which they claim flushes out candidiasis from the system; they even said that every discharge from the breast of a lady not pregnant was caused by the organism ‘candida’ and two sachets of this product will flush this organism out. They blamed candida for causing infertility in men and women. To further stamp on the authenticity of their product they dictated its NAFDAC number
Your’s truly if I did not know better, I would have have rushed to join the queue that had just assembled ; at the boot of their bus hung all kinds of scary pictures and all manner of packaged drug products, while one of the ‘trado guy’ was consulting, another was dispensing their products to their patients.. Sorry customers.
Well, they were thinking out of the box; at least they were giving it to another microorganism, after blaming ‘staphylococcus aureus’, ‘staph’ to death.
Just the other day while waiting to collect a consignment from someone, I was approached by two well-dressed young men who told me they had a wellness product to advertise to me.This product according to them could improve the blood sugar, blood pressure, improve libido, cause a long lasting and sustained erection
and had no side effects . I gave them a stern look after their talk, they were shocked I was not interested, I was more shocked people were bringing out their money to buy this product.
They are everywhere on TV ,radio and even on social media marketing products that at the long run causes more harm than good.
Many people use herbal products for the treatment of a wide range of diseases due to the claims of their efficacies by the manufacturers. However, there is little insight as to how they really work, no clear statement of content or medically related information on the package labels, their side effects and their interactions with food and other drugs.
5 years ago some researchers from the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos while experimenting on the safety of some popular herbal products indicated that herbal remedies such as ‘agyanom mixture’, ‘bolex bitters’ and ‘remedia mixture’ have adverse effects on the kidney and they might not be safe for human consumption.
Robert Heyka, MD, of Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Nephrology & Hypertension notes that certain herbs or nutritional supplements have been associated with kidney injury, even among healthy people. With such a wide variety of supplements available, the best way to get advice about a particular supplement is to ask your doctor to review all the ingredients to be sure it’s safe to use.
The US based National Kidney Foundation recently stated that some herbal supplements have aristolochic acid, which is harmful to kidneys and also that there are few studies to show if herbal supplements have real benefits and even less information in patients with kidney disease.
It is important to also know that Herbal supplements may interact with prescription medicines to either decrease or increase how the medicine works.
Most people with kidney disease don’t have any symptoms until they’re very sick, little wonder it is called a silent disease. Don’t be in a hurry to take medications you know nothing about; don’t be so reckless as to commit your life to people that don’t know better; don’t assume a drug is safe because you cited a NAFDAC number inscribed on the packet, don’t convert your body to a teapot of concoction all in the name of over zealous use of supplements.
Your kidneys and indeed your life is at stake.