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.


Any similarity with persons in the above story and any other person living, dead or in between is surely a coincidence.


It is very interesting to be contributing to the body of knowledge. God bless you Sir OVD

Thank you Akanimoh, the least we can do is to correctly educate our people.

Great write up. I hope abusers of kidney will see this. Renal failure is indeed a theif of good life and thankfully this particular cause can be prevented.
Keep up the good work sir.

Thank you so much Ma.

I really don’t understand how such products could still have NAFDAC numbers without any scientific research done on the herbs. I wonder how this will continue under the watch of the Medical council, Medical association and NAFDAC. Absolutely nothing is being done about it, but trust them to say “they’re on top the issue”, while people’s kidneys keep frying away!
There should be an inquiry into this, and a taskforce throwing all those hazardous materials into flames, after they must have been scientifically condemned

It is sad, hence the need for aggressive public enlightenment.

When you tell people herbal concoctions fry their kidneys, they tell you how your practice of Medicine does not negate all “our forefathers” took to get better .
We need to sound it deeper into their ears! Going to the bush to get and drink a few herbs is SOMEHOW even better than the bottled ones peddled commercially. They put in all sought of things(plus almost 100 % alcohol!), to get people hooked to their products. Herbs plus constant alcohol equals quadruple damage.

*all sorts of things*

Thank you for your comment Lois, and thank you for being a regular follower and commentator @

Very sad.
The government spend their energy where they are not while allowing these killers to infiltrate all comers of Nigeria.
Surprisingly even among educated men and women patronises them.
When they come to hospital they will tell u that “they just came to try…. If them no see quick result that they will dive trado.”

Our hospitals now look like places for last resort…

The doctor is the last measure of resort.I heard of a relative who because of infertility resorted to taking herbal medications for her womb.Apparently,her kidneys got damaged and then she passed.Ignorance is the main reason why people take herbal medications to cure everything.

The doctor should actually be the first point of call when anyone has any medical challenge. Ironically it is when options are few that people see last, who they should have seen first.

Well written Dr, I hope we learn #useftinkam#

Thank you Sir,for reading and commenting.

Here comes the regular question again. Where are the different regulatory bodies in this country??
Just last week I attended to a patient with life threatening complication of dental abcess ( ludwigs Angina) after using a herbal mouthwash for 1month!

Thanks to Dr OVD and his likes for educating the public. However we need great willingness and commitment from the part of government to curb this menace!

Thank you Sir, shout it out from the hilltop.

Nice read

Unfortunately they are everywhere (buses, roadside with very loud speakers). And have mastered the Art of Marketing.

The Government of the day needs to make laws to checkmate this practices.

Thank you so much Sir, I don’t think the laws are lacking but the enforcement. We also need to aggressively educate the masses…spread the news.

Truth be told, these people are not ghosts, on major and minor streets in cities you see them either in a cab hawking or in a rented shop with loud speakers selling these herbal products… Have we no enforcement or regulatory agencies anymore to clamp down on them and do the needful..??
Some of us even with warnings over the media play the IGNORAMUS to these warnings by patronizing them.. We need to do more on educating the public individually and collectively to see that people understand the dangers they expose themselves to in consuming these products. Thanks OVD for taking the time to educate us more with this post, more grace Bro..

Wise words Sir, nothing more to add.

Very enlightening as usual.
So sad dat our government is doing nothing about this. But must importantly the medical Institution needs to come out strongly against this.
Thanks Doc,.

Thank you so much Sir, we will keep doing our best.

I completely agree with you @ Kennedy.
Patronage of these products isn’t limited to the so called “illiterates”.
I was shocked to my bones when once,while in a salon making my hair,a good looking,educated woman brought our mint notes (thousands of naira)to buy a herbal product that was advertised to her by a lady who just walked into the salon.
I had to pinch myself several times to stop myself from screaming @ the woman and warning her about the consequences her action…….
It’s really sad,but with posts like this, the message will go viral!
Well done boss….?

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