Herbal weight loss mix makes wave in Europe
BDCP, NNMDA, FIIRO plan Natural Products Expo for October 2016 in Owerri
A herbal weight loss product developed by a Nigerian firm, the International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development (InterCEDD), makers of Intercedd Health Products (IHP), with its international partners is making waves in Europe.
The product simple called Flat Belly and made of some local herbs such as Moringa, Pigeon pea and cocoa promises a flat belly within three months of use.
InterCEDD is a subsidiary of Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), which is a non-governmental non-profit organization.
Also, with a view to help stimulate the natural products and bio-business industrial sub-sector and improve the health sector in Nigeria and the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS0 sub region, BDCP in collaboration with the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA) Victoria Island, Lagos, a parastatal of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, the Fedral Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) Lagos, and the InterCEDD, a private research and development centre, seek to organize a natural products expo, HerbFEST 2016 from October 11 to 13 in Owerri, Imo State.
The focus of HerbFEST 2016 will be on functional foods, their use, processing and manufacturing in Africa.
A consultant pharmacognocist and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Chairman of BDCP, Prof. Maurice Iwu, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian said the product was developed with a European partner and has been introduced in Europe.
Iwu explained: “Because of certain cultural issues, the formulation is quit different, theirs is liquid but ours is powder that means one has to dissolve in water before drinking. We had to wait for approval from the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) to introduce our own but with time it will be out in the market.
“We hope to introduce it online so that people can see it and get to buy if they are interested. Though many think that we are withholding for an international market but the fact is that we have not gotten the approval to start selling it.”
The pharmacognocist said port belly is actually a symptom of general obesity and more serious disease but sometimes people see it as a very simple thing. “It is advised that people watch out for what they do and how they do it. The port belly person is always identified by a lot of fat.
“Because of this we are looking at making a product; a mixture spices and herbs that can help reduce and burn off those fats and interestingly they call it flat belly. The whole idea is that over time it will be able to help people reduce that amount of weight they are carrying. Pot belly also puts a lot of pressure on the physique of the body of an individual.”
What is the advantage of Flat Belly over the conventional ones in pursuit of the flat belly?
The advantage is that this went through a rigorous scientific process even though people once accused us that we have not sold it in the country. This is the reason we have not brought it in. There is very well known agent that is called African bush mango (Irvingia gabonensis, Ogbono in Ibo). One of the saddest things that are happening is the scarcity of this agent.
The African bush mango is so scarce that globally people are faking it. And as for the Ogbono, the issue is that we have not been able to get a steady source for manufacturing process like the industrial farm and because it is not a tree that grows over night. Also, the scarcity is one reason. In the market for instance there are many products that claim to be African mango in the American and British market like the Bush mango while they are not so. To use it, there has to be a lot of guarantees attached to it before producing.
You earlier said that your medicine is made up of spices, what are those spices?
It is listed on the body of the packet, what is not listed is the ratio of the drug.
Are they local spices?
Yes there are local spices. Though they do not grow here normally, we grow them ourselves.
What do you mean by smart foods?
The whole concept of smart food when we decided to look at our food items that can be packaged to help someone that is not able to eat normally and when one takes it, the person gets the whole component of nutrient that one needs as an additive and not as a supplement. It becomes easy therefore for one that does not have time to go out and eat; we are not saying that it is an alternative to eating normally.
We now have smart food for diabetic patients, old people and children who are malnourished. These are the categories we are coming out with and then others will follow. We are so excited that we re building a whole factory just to make these medicines available.
What kind of cereals were you talking about?
We are looking at Bambara nuts, it grows very well in Nigeria, we are also looking at Pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan, Fiofio in Ibo), and other ones as a base.
The most exciting aspect though is that of Cocoa. We are also using it as a base. Also Moringa is part of it. We have also made it to be in liquid form so that children too can take it. It is available but not for the market till NAFDAC renders its approval.
Why do we have this hype about weight loss products?
The issue of weight loss is actually the consequence of life style that people have adopted over the last couple of decades and then based on that people are not living healthy and has caused one disease called obesity. Once one has an obesed body, it leads to all sorts of things to the extent that medical professionals now calls it ‘metabolic syndrome.’ Concerning metabolic syndrome, obesity drags along with diabetes, from diabetes comes hypertension and then cardiovascular disease and even shortness of life.
Based on that people are now more conscious of weight loss, not as a cosmetic thing to look good but as a way of saving their own life and living a healthier life.
What are the solutions?
The solution first and foremost is to eat well and do a whole lot of exercise. These two phrases capture everything. If one eats well and does a lot of exercise, it is recommended. But luckily for us there are lots of food substances that play functional roles, which implies that they act beyond their normal role of satiation and they can really make one healthy that is capable of making one full. But sometimes these foods are now becoming in vogue and when we look at certain food substances, we talk about therapeutic foods; they are of very much interest and luckily for us in Africa, we have a lot of our food substances that are therapeutic in nature. But what has also happened to us as a people is that over the years we left our natural protective foods though not all are good but the neglect of the good ones for the Western ones is a the cause of our problem.
In essence, we are a population in transition, that is why apart from the metabolic syndrome disease we have diseases that has to do with cancer, the sugar disease and non communicable diseases that are just on the rise.