ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE IN NIGERIA – Herbal Drugs for Epilepsy and Schizophrenia

It is possible to treat epilepsy and schizophrenia using a herbal drug discovered, says a Nigerian Scholar  of  Pharmacology and Toxicology of Kaduna state University (KASU), Prof. Ben Chindo.


A progress in the breakthrough research and development of the herbal drug was made known during the 2nd Professorial Inaugural Lecture of Kaduna State University (KASU), delivered by Prof. Chindo, who is the Dean of Pharmaceutical studies of KASU, at the Lecture Theatre of Faculty of Science, KASU, Kaduna.

Speaking on the topic: “Herbal Medicine: Panacea or Agents of Mass Destruction,”  Chindo said,  “we have studied on a considerable number of medicinal plants that revealed Central Nervous System (CNS)  activities including:  Ficus platyphylla , Newboldia leavis , Hibiscus sabdariffa,” he told the audience.

Of much interest to him was a herbal plant that had been used in the management of Central Nervous System disorders traditionally in some parts of Northern Nigeria for ages: a plant he described as  “Gamji” (Ficus platyphylla) plant in Hausa.

“Ficus platyphylla Del.-Holl (Family: Moraceae) is a deciduous plant that is found mainly in the savanna regions of the West African coast,” He said, “It is used in folk medicine to manage epilepsy, depression, insomnia, psychosis, pain, inflammation and gastrointestinal disorders.”

Prof. Chindo alongside Scientist overseas worked in this historic discovery, which they evaluated the CNS activity of the methanol extract to provide scientific evidence supporting the use of this herbal medicine for the management of psychiatric and neurological disorders.”

The active ingredients of the “Gamji” plant were identified, isolated and clinical trials carried out on rodents with similar CNS disorders like humans..

Result showed that epilepsy and schizophrenia can be well treated and cured when the drug is effectively administered over a period of time.

The don who carried out his research in Germany, New  Zealand and the United state also went into Stem Cells research
“ I would like to pursue in the future, the use of these modern molecular techniques to explore the properties of herbal medicines and their applications for the treatment of diseases.” Prof. Chindo.

“I will seek for functional collaborations with laboratories that utilized these modern techniques, with the goal of developing novel therapies from herbal medicines for management of disorders and  diseases,” the professor added.

“Research has proven that quite a number of herbal medicines are important and effective therapeutic regimens in the management of broad spectrum of diseases, making herbal medicines ‘panaceas’ for primary health care delivery. Appropriate use of these herbal medicines should be allowed for the promotion of public health and the treatment of disease.” he added.

“These medicinal plants are important sources of therapeutic agents with considerable degree of safety and minimal adverse effects and should not be seen as ‘agents of destruction,”

Prof. Chindo cautioned the public against patronising herbal medicines hawked in the open street, saying their efficacy and safety for human use could not be ascertained.

Speaking to the Press after the lecture, Chindo said, the government and pharmaceutical firms in Nigeria are not investing in the research development and production of scientifically derived herbal medicines.

Prof. Mohammed Tanko, vice Chancellor of KASU, praised the research works of Chindo and hailed him for the inaugural lecture. He encouraged those present to emulate him. Luka Binniyat.

When asked if he was applying for a patent for the production of the epilepsy curing drug, he said, “it is an area I am looking into, though I have published parts of my work. But I have not published much of the work, so the possibility of procuring a patent is still there.”

“This is a gold mine which China has tapped into, and we have already finished research on many other herbal drugs. Professor Chindo (Dean of Pharmaceutical studies, KASU).



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