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Natural cures for narcotic substances’ abuse, ill effects


Several reports have alerted to the rising cases of narcotic substances’ abuse in the country. Top on the list is the codeine crisis. There is also the opioids crisis in the United States (U.S.) that led to thousands of deaths.

Codeine is an opioid used to treat pain, as a cough medicine, and for diarrhoea. It is typically used to treat mild to moderate degrees of pain.

Greater benefit may occur when combined with paracetamol (acetaminophen) or a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) such as aspirin or ibuprofen. Evidence does not support its use for acute cough suppression in children or adults.


Common adverse effects associated with the use of codeine include drowsiness and constipation. Less common are itching, nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, miosis (excessive constriction of the pupil of the eye), orthostatic hypotension, urinary retention, euphoria, dysphoria (a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life), and coughing.

Orthostatic hypotension is defined as a decrease in systolic blood pressure of 20 mm Hg or a decrease in diastolic blood pressure of 10 mm Hg within three minutes of standing when compared with blood pressure from the sitting or supine position.

Rare adverse effects include anaphylaxis, seizure, acute pancreatitis, and respiratory depression. As with all opiates, longer-term effects can vary, but can include diminished libido, apathy, and memory loss. Some people may have allergic reactions to codeine, such as the swelling of skin and rashes.

Tolerance to many of the effects of codeine, including its therapeutic effects, develops with prolonged use. This occurs at different rates for different effects, with tolerance to the constipation-inducing effects developing particularly slowly for instance.

Little wonder the Federal Government had last week banned the use of codeine in Nigeria and on Tuesday shut three local pharmaceutical firms for unethical practices in the marketing of products containing codeine.

Besides codeine, alcohol and cigarettes, another commonly abused drug is methamphetamine.

Methamphetamine is a highly addictive and illegal drug that is known for its euphoric effects. It is the second highest illicit drug used worldwide. It increases attention and reduces fatigue, but it can also trigger aggressive behaviour, and there is a risk of addiction.

A potentially serious adverse drug reaction, as with other opioids, is respiratory depression. This depression is dose-related and is a mechanism for the potentially fatal consequences of overdose.

As codeine is metabolized to morphine, morphine can be passed through breast milk in potentially lethal amounts, fatally depressing the respiration of a breastfed baby.

In August 2012, the United States Federal Drug Administration issued a warning about deaths in pediatric patients less than six years old after ingesting “normal” doses of paracetamol with codeine after tonsillectomy; this warning was upgraded to a black box warning in February 2013.

Some patients are very effective converters of codeine to its active form, morphine, resulting in lethal blood levels.

As with other opiate-based painkillers, chronic use of codeine can cause physical dependence. When physical dependence has developed, withdrawal symptoms may occur if a person suddenly stops the medication.

Withdrawal symptoms include: drug craving, runny nose, yawning, sweating, insomnia, weakness, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle spasms, chills, irritability, and pain.

However, scientists have identified some local herbs that could be used to manage narcotic substance abuse and the adverse health effects.
Neuro-protective effects of bitter kola against methamphetamine-induced neurotoxicity

A recent study has demonstrated how one of the active ingredients in bitter kola, kolaviron could prevent the neuro-destructive effects of methamphetamine on hippocampal neurons and its ability to negatively affect behavior.

The study published in Macedonian Journal of Medical Sciences is titled “Neuro-protective Effects of Kolaviron, a Biflavonoid Complex of Garcinia kola, on Rats Hippocampus against Methamphetamine-Induced Neurotoxicity.”

The researchers from the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State, include: Omamuyovwi M. Ijomone; Polycarp U. Nwoha; Olayemi K. Olaibi, Augustine U. Obi, and Margaret O. Alese.

They investigated the protective effects of kolaviron on brain weight and behavioural performance and the histology of the hippocampus of adult Wistar rats following methamphetamine challenge.

Twenty four adult Wistar rats weighing between 150-200 g, randomly assigned into four groups of six each (Groups A, B, C, D) were used for this research.

Group A served as control, while groups B and C were given single dose methamphetamine (10 mg/kg) intraperitoneally after group C was pre-treated with kolaviron (200 mg/kg) for 7 days and group D received corn oil (vehicle for kolaviron) only.

High level of methamphetamine-induced stereotypic movement was observed, and the onset was delayed by kolaviron administration. Animals administered methamphetamine only, showed significantly poor behavioural performance on the water maze after treatment when compared to the other groups (P<0.05). Histological analysis revealed neuronal destruction of the pyramidal layer of the hippocampus following methamphetamine administration. Kolaviron to some extent prevented destruction of pyramidal cells of the hippocampus in pre-treated rats. Flavonoids are rich sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants in the body protect brain cells and provide numerous other functions important to health. They have the ability to scavenge free radicals, making them harmless. Flavonoids have been proposed to play a useful role in protecting the central nervous system against oxidative and excito-toxic stress. Nutritional supplements of the antioxidants come from plants sources. Garcinia kola (GK) is one of such plants. Garcinia kola Heckel (family Guittiferae) is an herb grown in Nigeria and has a characteristic astringent bitter and resinous taste. The plant has been referred to as a “wonder plant” because every part of it has been found to be of medicinal importance. Garcinia kola is used in folklore remedies for the treatment of ailments such as liver disorders, hepatitis, diarrhoea, laryngitis, bronchitis and gonorrhoea. The seed is masticatory and also used to prevent and relieve colic, chest colds, and cough and can as well be used to treat headache. Studies have also reported the use of this plant for the treatment of jaundice, high fever, purgative and as chewing stick. The plant also found usefulness in the treatment of stomachache and gastritis. The phytochemical compounds isolated from G. kola include oleoresin, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, and cardiac glycosides. Other phytochemical compounds so far isolated from G. kola seeds are biflavonoids such as kolaflavone and 2-hydroxybi-flavonols. Two new chromanols, garcioic and garcinal, together with ä=tocotrienol were reportedly isolated from G. kola. Garcinia kola is also used in folklore remedies for the treatment of various infections caused by pathogens. Kolaviron (KV), the predominant constituent in G. kola, contains biflavanones (GB1, GB2 and kolaflavanone) and has been reported to prevent hepatotoxicity mediated by several toxins. Likewise, kolaviron exhibited hypoglycemic effects in normal and alloxan- and streptozotocin-induced diabetic animals. Also, kolaviron has been reported to elicit strong antioxidant activity, both in vivo and in vitro experimental models. Due to the antioxidant properties of kolaviron, it has the potential to protect the neurons of the brain from toxic damage. A recent study has shown kolaviron to protect the neurons against gamma radiation induced oxidative stress in brain of exposed rats. Methamphetamine (METH) is known to induce neurotoxicity in animal models, by the production of reactive species thus resulting in oxidative stress. METH has been shown to cause neuro-degeneration in various parts of the brain including the striatum, parietal cortex, thalamus and hippocampus. Most neurodegenerative diseases result in memory impairment. The hippocampus has been shown to play an important role in both long-term and short-term memory as well as spatial navigation. This study was designed to investigate the protective effects of kolaviron on the hippocampus following METH-induced neuronal damage, as the need for the search for neuro-protective substances continues to be necessity in the bid to curtail the consequences of neurodegenerative disorders. Date palm as a potential novel anti-oxidant in treating major opioid toxicity Botanically called Phoenix dactylifera, Date palm belongs to the plant family Palmae. It is called dabino in Hausa. Date palm is a native to North Africa has been extensively cultivated in Arabia and Persian Gulf. A study published in Journal of Applied Pharmaceutical Science demonstrated how date palm (Phoenix dactylifera) could be used as a potential novel anti-oxidant in treating major opioid toxicity. The Malaysian researchers noted: “The use of opioids has gain popularity in the field of medicine especially in treating chronic terminally ill patients. Unfortunately, several adverse effects in relation to its use have been reported… This brief article focuses on the corresponding neuro-protective, hepato-protective, anti-inflammatory, ulcero-protective and nephron-protective functions of (Phoenix dactylifera) to elaborate on evidences, mechanisms, modulatory and pharmacological significance to counteract adverse effects of opioid treatment and provide insight on the underlying mechanisms of addiction.” Until now, various parts of date palm are widely used as remedies for numerous disorders; they include memory disturbances, fever, inflammation, paralysis, loss of consciousness, nervous disorders, etc. Phoenix dactylifera contains 44-88 per cent carbohydrates, 6.4-11.5 per cent dietary fibre, 2.3-5.6 per cent protein, 0.2-0.5 percent fat, 15 different mineral salts and vitamins. Details essentiality of dietary contents found in dates led to its consideration as an ideal food and a balanced diet. Date fruit is a good source of energy and rich in nutrients that constitute a significant part of a balanced diet to meet the body need. Most of the carbohydrates in dates exist in the form of fructose and glucose, which are easily absorbed by the human body. The dietary fibre content of dates enhances their suitability as ingredients for preparation of fibre-based foods and dietary supplements. Dietary fibers have important therapeutic application and protective effect against conditions such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, obesity, hyperlipidemia and diabetes. It also possesses anticancer, antioxidant, hepato-protective, anti-ulcerative, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, anti-mutagenic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral potentials. [ad unit=2]

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