On Jedi Jedi, Agbo and Herbal Remedies

Fola just had a baby after 5 years of waiting, she wants to do everything right and she has decided that she would practice exclusive breast feeding. From experienced people’s observation, the baby has oka (a pulsating ‘space’ in the head of a new born) and so they brewed herbs and made concoction for this…

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Fola just had a baby after 5 years of waiting, she wants to do everything right and she has decided that she would practice exclusive breast feeding. From experienced people’s observation, the baby has oka (a pulsating ‘space’ in the head of a new born) and so they brewed herbs and made concoction for this ‘disease’. The baby loses weight and the oka does not go away. The baby passes away and they blame the step mother, the witch. If only they knew, that the baby was malnourished because he was not getting enough breast milk, and thus the weight loss made the oka more pronounced, if only they knew, they would have bought baby food instead of herbs.

Kehinde has fever, he has boiled neem leaves, and he takes sips in the morning and night, he feels better, but later feels worse. At the hospital, they say it is Typhoid, but it is too late, they couldn’t save him. He is an only child and he has just gotten a job four years post NYSC, it was blamed on the old woman in their compound.

My friend often takes Erythromycin when he has a cough, he used to take Septrin, then stops when it is gone, it has stopped working, so he moved to Erythromycin, that too doesn’t work as it used to. Sometimes, I see him take ginger to remedy a cough. The other day, I found a round melon looking fruit in his house, he said it is called tagir and that it prevents fever. I wonder how a melon looking fruit would ward off fever or malaria. Does it have mystical powers? Talking about mystical powers, I had menstrual cramps the other day, my neighbour handed me a bottle of a herbal concoction, says I should use it. I like to read labels, I like to know the content of what I am taking. I do not see what it contains but instead I see what it cures: cough, erectile dysfunction, menstrual cramps, malaria, typhoid, jedi jedi, hypertension etc. How does one concoction, taken orally, work for virtually all the systems and organs of the body? It even has NAFDAC number.

An acquaintance has decided to stop using nylon to make moi moi, but instead uses milk tins, something that is prone to rust, something that you could get metal poisoning from. When I asked why nylon is bad, he simply said he read it somewhere that it is bad, no logical reason given. We don’t ask a lot of questions in our society and thus we do not seek answers to things we should be informed about. I don’t know if this is because we are superstitious or because we use culture- a lazy excuse not to question things, as justification for our actions.

It is sallah period and Moji has taken a lot of sweet of drinks, her cousin tells her to make a herbal mixture- from the dried herbs contained in the plastic bottle in the store. She asks how much should be taken, a cup should do. In the night, she goes to the toilet like six times and she feels like her intestine will come out. He says that’s good, it is working. Agbo makes things worse before it is better? Is that what the holy book was talking about when it said “Verily, after hardship, comes ease”? She swears never to do this again.

At times when I am downing a bottle of coke, I get cautioned, of the possibility of jedi jedi and my lack of indulgence in agbo jedi. God help me if I complain of stomach ache or back pain, sugar is always blamed and I am also prescribed agbo jedi. Apart from my dislike of bitter things, I am also wary of the safety of these concoctions. Acquaintances have tried to make a case for this concoctions, they say it is natural, better than synthetic drugs, but natural does not necessarily mean safe.

What is Jedi Jedi?

  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Immature ejaculation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Passing mucoid and/or watery stool
  • Itchy anus

All of these are said to be caused by the BIG BAD GUY – SUGAR! And the cure?- AGBO (herbal concoction).

Jedi Jedi is translated into English as Pile (a.k.a haemorrhoid), haemorrhoids are swollen veins in the anus, so pile presents in the anus, not as a reproductive or abdominal disorder.

Nigerians have trust issues, really. And I can relate. With our inadequate health care, incompetent medical staffs (have you ever been insulted or felt judged by a nurse?) and all these fake drugs they keep warning us about (I receive a lot of Whatsapp BCs about fake edibles), and with the heartbreak we keep receiving from our government, we should have trust issues.

I can relate to wanting safer things, with all these stories we hear about chemicals and synthetic things (what will people not accuse of being carcinogenic-noodles, seasoning cubes, soft drinks etc.). Even though life is basically a chemical process, people also hide under the guise of natural is safe (snake venom is natural but not safe; Mushroom (Amanita phalloides) is natural but poisonous; tobacco is natural).

I cannot conclusively say herbal concoctions are bad, some people swear by it. In most instances if not all where agbo is taken, self diagnosis is usually made, which means diagnosis could be wrong and hence a problem could be unknowingly getting worse. It absolutely annoys me when I see people subject babies to herbal remedies, the other day I read an article which talked about a baby brought into the ER with a burnt scalp. A corrosive thing had apparently been applied to the baby’s head to cure oka.

With inconsistent and different recipes and dosage, I really do not trust herbal concoctions, and I think we need to be more inquisitive about the knowledge we absorb and adopt, and careful with our herbal remedies. Lest we start taking the toxins we claim to be trying to avoid from oyinbo drugs.

Photo Credit: OPENEYEMAG

Responses

  1. Tobi
    Nice article. I don’t particularly feel safe taking concoctions too. Well done Lateefah for stringing the varied experiences together neatly.
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  2. Fatade Oluwatosin
    If we would take time to standardize our local preps – herbs to scientific methods, a lot will be achieved. We would have dealt with the problems of dosage, active component and the myth of one drug for all.
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    1. Mojisola Salaudeen Post author
      Yeah, some of the drugs we use are from the active compounds in herbs. Thing is, there’s a lot of research going on in the plant’s phytochemicals area, though I’m yet to come across one that gives a definitive dosage of herbs. I think it’s going to be difficult to make the average Nigerian understand standardization, how do you tell them to get X gram of a herb, when some even take overdose of drugs believing the more you take, the quicker you are healed.
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  3. S.T DAIRO
    Lol .
    Interesting Topic Mojirade and Dr.Tosin Fatade, you make quite an interesting point.
    Some of these herbal concortions are fine; but one does not really know when you are overdosing or how many dosage it takes to work.
    We take most of them out of Societal superstitions.
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  4. Larz
    Back to the topic, I am amazed by the way you write .
    I am beginning to look forward to your post. In fact I rush to read them. You write great, well thought out articles and have unique way of having me see things from a perspective I never thought to look at. Thank you.
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  5. Bkd
    Yeah, we call them “gbogbinishe”. Have you ever encountered the ones they in luxury buses. They list cures for every disease on planet earth. And then there’s the mustard seed and blackstones from Jerusalem. And for some reason, these medicines always taste bitter. I wonder why. I see it to counter the popular notion that our ailments are caused by sugar?
    I’m glad you wrote this piece
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  6. Twisted
    You’re a great writer. I really loved this.
    I recall my aunt forcing me to drink some bitter concoction for menstrual pains.
    I almost threw up my intestines. I kept vomiting till I vomited bile. And the pain didn’t stop.
    Since then I vowed never to be coerced into drinking rubbish.
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  7. Tunde
    Thanks for the wrote up. Herbs are sometimes a blessing of taken properly cause have been battling with pile for 4 years and it’s only herbs that makes it go away

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