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Doctors, researchers brainstorm on integrating natural products into clinical medicine, healthcare

By Collins Osuji, Owerri
08 November 2019   |   3:30 am
As part of efforts toward translating results of studies and clinical trials on natural products from the laboratory into clinical medicine, healthcare delivery and the market place

Participants at the high level dialogue on Phytomedicine and Natural Medicine in Clinical Practice

As part of efforts toward translating results of studies and clinical trials on natural products from the laboratory into clinical medicine, healthcare delivery and the market place, a high-level dialogue on Natural Products in Clinical Medicine and Health Care was held at Protea Hotel in Owerri, Imo State.

The dialogue was a follow-up to the Herbfest, which promotes the use of natural products, herbal medicine, complementary and alternative medicine. It brings together, manufacturers, researchers, physicians, pharmacists, growers, producers, investors, distributors and wholesalers and of course the general public.

A group of medical doctors under the auspices of the Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) and scientists and healthcare practitioners as well as representatives from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and various federal regulatory bodies including the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Nigerian Institute for Pharmaceutical Research and Development (NIPRD) Abuja discussed extensively on the process of inculcating natural medicine with evidence of clinical trial investigations into orthodox medicine.

The participants, at the high-level dialogue on Phytomedicine and Natural Medicine in Clinical Practice, appreciated the holistic approach in the use of medicinal plants in health care treatment than the existing focus of symptomatic diseases in orthodox medicine.

Over 100 medical doctors and healthcare professionals attended the dialogue, championed by Bioresources Development Group (BDG) in collaboration with the NMA, Imo State Branch.

They discussed the role of natural products in what has been described as “The Next Frontier for Growth & Revolution in Clinical Medicine and HealthCare”. It was stated that the interactive section should be treated as being beyond dialogue and further explored as an avenue for medical practitioners to review and interrogate the information and increasing scientific facts on the therapeutic value of phytomedicines, nutraceuticals, and functional foods in clinical practice for greater clinical outcome and general patients’ well-being.

Presentations were made on the case studies/clinical trials investigations of Ciklavit formulation (used for management of sickle cell anemia) by Nemeith Pharmaceuticals International, Syferol (used for treatment of stomach ulcers) by medical doctors from Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NAU), Awka, Anambra State, and the use of functional foods and nutraceuticals in ageing management by Chairman, Bioresources Development Group (BDG), Prof. Maurice Iwu.

Syferol-IHP (produced by Bioresource Development Group, Abuja, Nigeria) is a special blend of virgin coconut oil (VCO) and cold-pressed Ocimum sanctum oil, which reportedly have been shown to be very effective in the treatment of peptic ulcer disease (PUD).

The leader of the team of researchers and Vice-Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof. Charles Okechukwu Esimone presented the study at the dialogue.

Esimone said the potential antibacterial property of Syferol-IHP is made possible based on the fact that the coconut oil is made up of saturated fatty acids of the medium-chain variety mostly lauric acid. Lauric acid has been demonstrated to be bactericidal in its activity without exerting undue adverse side effects as humans easily metabolize it. Also, the medium-chain fatty acids of VCO are easily digestible.

At the end of the eight-hour extensive discussions, it was resolved that the dialogue process be sustained as it is a welcomed development in the health sector to imitate what other countries like China and India have done by creating a professional platform for both practitioners of natural medicine and conventional medicine to dialogue.

The participants said more collaborations will be solicited for sponsorship of clinical trials on some renowned natural and herbal medicines. The medical doctors were advised to collaborate with the traditional healers on ethnomedical information for synergistic management of health issues, considering the enormous potentials in African Traditional Medicine (ATM).

Iwu, who is also a professor of pharmacognosy, during his presentation, highlighted the achievement of the SON in standards development for some of the medicinal plants. The doctors were amazed by the ongoing project by SON and encouraged it to be sustained. Iwu said similar high-level dialogues and roundtable discussions would be facilitated by BDG in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Benin City, and Kano.

In conclusion, the three-day stretch of two very successfully executed dynamic events provided the window of opportunity to showcase what is happening in the natural medicine and nutraceutical sectors, the research and scientific journeys thus far, the investment perspective, job creation, and revenue potentials and the tourism opportunities.

Iwu said HERBFEST 2020 is set to be dynamite in the waiting to project more “Food As Medicine” discoveries, welcome visitors and stimulate the economy.