There is no ailment that herbal medicines cannot cure- Okubena
Olajuwon Okubena is the Managing Director of Health Forever, based in Lagos. Born and raised in Ilese-Ijebu in Ogun State, he trained as an accountant and worked in several top companies such as UAC Nigeria, KPMG and Guinness Nigeria Plc. before retiring to farming. An assassination attempt on his life in his farm and a chance encounter with an herbalist led him to the world of natural herbs, which he pursued vigorously till he founded Jobelyn and Health Forever. He tells TOBI AWODIPE of his journey, benefits of herbal medicine and the future of herbal medicine in Nigeria
Why Did You Foray Into Herbal Medicine?
It wasnít planned at all; it was a total coincidence. I was living on my farm at Ilese, Ijebu after retiring, which was around 1992-93. I had a farmhouse where I lived and grew day old chicks for sale. One fateful day, I was attacked on my farm and shot but I managed to escape. Whilst seeking treatment, I was introduced to an herbalist and later discovered that he had vast knowledge on spiritual, physical and religious things. I was fascinated and decided to apprentice myself to him. During my apprenticeship, I found out that the herbalist used one single product to cure several things and I was baffled. He ran a clinic then and believe it or not; this was the only thing he gave to his patients, but not in large quantity. Whether you came with sickle cell ailment, anemia, stroke or even cancer, the concoction did not differ.
I travelled from Lagos to Ibadan twice weekly during my apprenticeship to attend ëlecturesí. He did some little tricks to change the colour, at times giving different patients the same concoction in green, red or yellow colours. I was there with this man, when a former minister of health in Nigeria (I wont mention his name) received treatment for leukemia, which was at a critical stage and within a few months, made a full recovery. I went to confront the herbalist to know about the tricks he does, and that was when he revealed the secrets of plants and herbs to me. He showed me different herbs and assured me that they could cure almost anything. Still skeptical, I went back to Lagos and prepared my own version of the concoction and the first person I gave it to was a 26-year-old boy working on my farm who was afflicted with sickle cell anemia. I gave him the mixture and within a week, his health transformed to my amazement and others around. I then took it to a doctor for medical analysis.
Was Your Mixture Properly Certified At That Time?
No, I was still making it as a herbal concoction at that stage. I went to that doctor with the preparation and narrated my experience, he took a sample of it but I never knew he was going to take it himself. When I came back for results, he told me what I had was magical because he was diabetic and it had made him urinate freely and given him lots of energy. He later said he was going to try it on a sickle cell patient so I gave him more of the sample, which he used on a year old child who was at the point of death. After about two weeks, the mother came back with the child who showed a marked improvement. Encouraged, we started the process of testing and my interest was greatly aroused because I was curious to find out how a single product could be so effective.
So have you had the product tested and certified medically?
It has been certified and registered by NAFDAC and it is called Jobelyn. Before this, we started from LUTH where we did animal studies and the same tests were repeated in UNIBEN. The antioxidants tests were done in Germany and the United States of America. We came back to Nigeria and did two clinical trials on HIV, one was at Military Hospital, Ikoyi and the second one was at Falomo Police Hospital in Lagos, the two results were published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, published in the USA. We also did a clinical study in the USA by a renowned laboratory, the National Renew System (NRS).
They were the first to discover that our product has all the components to cure most illnesses; it was an elaborate study and was published in the journal of medicinal food in the USA. There were other studies that were done apart from that; we then came back to Nigeria to focus on human study. At the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), we first did a study on sickle cell anemia and during the three months of the trial using our herbal product, none of the patients had any complaint and needed no blood transfusion, which was contrary to what obtained in the past.
We then proceeded to test it on humans based on the aspect of blood generation and it was a success. The University of Ibadan has carried out several studies relating to herbs efficacy in this regard and specifically to our productís claims. For both trials in LASUTH, we tested 200 sickle cell patients and also 200 anaemic women who were undergoing operation and the results were published in several journals.
Why do you think many people still shun herbal products and prefer western medicines instead?
The colonial mentality is still with most of us. The foreigners came and brought in their drugs and called ours fetish and unrefined and we believed this lie and abandoned our natural herbs and plants. To be sincere, the only thing that is capable of taking care of the body is something natural, it mustnít be synthetic and until most people come to this realization, we would continue to have problems health-wise.
How can we integrate herbal medicine into our healthcare system in Nigeria?
There shouldnít be an issue because medicine is medicine. Our products have already been integrated without any fanfare in most hospitals. The fact is that doctors are very careful because they have a huge responsibility. No doctor would just give any concoction to anybody, because if anything happens the doctor will be held responsible. So, if a doctor goes through your research and finds your product is good and youíve done clinical trial, they will recommend it for patients. Jobelyn for instance is used in the treatment of cancer patients in most Nigerian hospitals and it is completely herbal and natural, which is far better than chemotherapy.
Are you saying there is no sickness herbal medicines cannot cure?
I am saying it categorically that there is no sickness they cannot cure. Our products have been used, not only in Nigeria, but also all over the world and there has been nothing but positive reviews and praises. It has been used in the treatment of sickle cell anemia, cancer, Alzheimer and most neurological problems. If we all can embrace herbal medicine in treating sicknesses, we would get rid of these western concoctions that are doing more harm than good for Nigerians.