Shortly after the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic across the world and in Nigeria, residents of Kano State resorted to the use of various herbs for preventing and treating the virus.
This is largely due to misinformation spread by figures who wield strong influence on the populace such as Imams who are the religious leaders of the predominantly Islamic state.
At first, many of such religious leaders violated all the Covid-19 protocols put in place by the government to curtail it’s spread in the state by holding congregational prayers without observing social distancing and in large numbers above the stipulated number of not more than 20 persons per prayer session.
The deviant attitudes of such Imams against official directives was made worse with their sermons that the virus is a hoax by the western world, created to prevent them from practicing their religion, which made many adherents not to believe in the existence of the virus.
Suddenly, the state began to witness unprecedented number of deaths where hundreds of persons were reported dead in less than 48hours due to the outbreak of a "strange disease" which forced many to abandon their places of worship.
The turn in event, led these leaders to begin a new phase of mis-information by prescribing a whole lot of traditional herbs as treatment for the virus. They also warned that any Covid-19 vaccine by the developed world must be avoided because ‘‘it’s a another form of birth control’’.
People were told to mix and take things like ginger, lemon grass, mustard seed, honey and a major ingredient is a local grass known as tazargade as well as other spices in their tea and drinks.
Mallam Nura Salihu Adam in the YouTube video link provided below claimed the Eucalyptus tree leaves known as Turare in the area and Neem tree leaves known as Darbejiya, when combined cure and prevent COVID-19.
Adam claimed that the virus does not survive in a hot environment and that the extracted oil of the two ingredients mentioned above when mixed with palm kernel oil, and applied on the palm, nostrils, ear and on the face has the power to destroy not only Coronavirus but other viruses as well.
Furthermore, that the Eucalyptus and Neem leaves treat not only Covid-19, but asthma, bronchitis and pneumonia as well as every other respiratory diseases. Here are more links to more videos:
Some persons who resorted to herbal treatment when they suffered Covid-19 share their experiences;
Ibrahim Nasiru Yusuf, who was diagnosed of coronavirus, though asymptomatic, said he lost his sense of smell to the virus and resorted to self-medication after his brother sent him one of the video clips making the round on how to treat Covid-19 using herbs.
According to him, the NCDC and the state Covid-19 Tasks Force did not provide him with any medications but only assured him that it will go away after some time, hence the need to explore other means of treatment as he was told they would boost his immune system.
Nasiru lists the following as ingredients used by him; Honey, Olive Oil, Neem, Habbatus Saids and the local grass, Tagargaji.
While a friend also brought him a mixture which he drank and steamed his whole body with it. He said he regained his sense of smell after three weeks of self-isolation at home.
Sanusi Muhammad, who also shared his experience stated that after several calls to the evacuation team proved abortive due to the overwhelming number of persons calling to be moved to isolation centres, he was given some medications mostly vitamin C and asked to self-isolate at
home, rest and eat well which are part of best ways to recover from Covid-19. He said, the absence of any health official around him made him use mustard seed and other local spicy ingredients in his drinks as directed by his Imam at the beginning of the outbreak.
Muhammad narrated that he got lucky and was eventually evacuated to one of the state government isolation centres where he was properly treated and fully recovered before he was discharged.
A father of 3, Sama’ila Sani, who had a near death experience after consuming one of the local herbs hawked as Covid-19 cure said he almost lost his life to diarrhea after consuming the drink.
In his words, "I took the drink as cure for the virus. You know initially we were made not to believe anything like that exists. Suddenly there was confusion everywhere, people began to die
in large numbers, we were all afraid and needed some sort of medication to stop us from getting the virus. So, we started taking all sort of things we heard and saw in some videos.
I almost lost my life in that process but thank God for the prompt intervention of my neighbor who happens to be a health practitioner. I guess they played on our ignorance”, he added.
The State Director, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Shaba Muhammed, when contacted simply stated that the Agency has not approved any herbal medicine for the treatment of Covid-19.
The Chairman, National Committee on Infectious Diseases, Nigeria Medical Association, Dr. Sanusi Muhammad Bala, when contacted said the fear and need for medication at the beginning of the outbreak of the virus due to sketchy information gave room for lots of speculations. He added that the situation caused people to look for any available medication to treat themselves.
He further stated that it was important to note that most herbal medicines unlike the orthodox medicines do not go into pre-clinical trial which are in phases before they are released for public use.
‘‘It is mostly concoction by someone who just comes up with it without approval and gives it to people for use. The gap, high mobility; mortality and high infectious nature of the disease provided a market for many herbal remedies’’, he said.
According to him, Covid-19 differs from other respiratory diseases which people have and can get cured without taking any treatment. He, however, maintained that the Coronavirus is highly infectious.
‘‘From what we have seen so far, the only effective treatment for Covid-19 is the vaccine. It is safe,
effective and the only way to stay safe. We have had ours as health workers and we are stronger, healthier and more confident to face the pandemic. We are calling on all Nigerians to accept the vaccine
like other parts of the world to avoid more lockdowns and restrictions and most importantly, people must avoid uncertified herbal medicines to prevent damages to their kidneys, liver and other vital organs,” he said.
This publication was produced as part of IWPR’s Africa Resilience Network (ARN)programme, administered in partnership with the Centre for Information Resilience(CIR), the International Centre for Investigative Reporting (ICIR) and Africa Uncensored. For more information on ARN, please visit the ARN site