Check out Global Voices' special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.
The new coronavirus, which causes COVID-19, is shaking the world like a massive earthquake.
According to John Hopkins Hospital, the coronavirus has infected more than 900,000 people worldwide; As of April 1, 2020, Nigeria has 174 cases.
While researchers and scientists are working hard to produce a vaccine that can serve as a cure to the pandemic, traditional herbalists also offer solutions.
In Nigeria, Adni Adéyẹyẹ̀ Ẹniìtàn Ògúnwùsì, Ọ̀jájá II, the Àdìmúlà Ifẹ̀ the king of the Yorubas, believes that natural herbs can cure COVID-19.
In collaboration with YemKem International, an alternative medicine company, the Ọọ̀ni (king) is working to create an herbal therapy to mass-produce and package for sale to the public.
The concoction is based on a mixture of bitter leaves, leaves and seeds of Indian lilac, sulfur, black pepper and cloves that is traditionally used in Yorùbáland as a powerful antioxidant to cleanse the system of harmful viruses.
The Ọọ̀ni, who is also vice chairman of the Nigerian National Council of Traditional Rulers (NCTRN), posted on Twitter a series of tweets to announce his discovery, and stated that has tried his unique blend of herbs with him and others affected by the coronavirus. In the tweets on March 30, Ọọ̀ni urges researchers to use natural herbs to produce a vaccine.
I'm also currently working with Yem Kem International (Alternative Medicine Expert) pharmaceutical company for the packaging and distribution of these globally.
It is about time to save the world now. Tomorrow may be too late.
– Ọọ̀ni Ẹniìtàn Ògúnwùsì (@OoniAdimulaIfe) March 30, 2020
I am ready to work with them and give them broad access to the herbs. I have a lot already gathered for the use of humanity.
I am currently also working with the pharmaceutical company Yem Kem International (Alternative Medicine Experts) for the packaging and global distribution of these (medicines).
And time to save the world. Tomorrow may be too late.
Let's all stay safe. Coronavirus. COVID19.
The tweets contain two videos with detailed instructions on herbal home remedies, including using onions to cure viral infections and using incense to drive out “negative energy.”
Traditional beliefs versus scientific process
Traditional herbal medicine plays an important role in Yoruba culture.
Every June – the beginning of a new calendar year on Yoruba land – the followers of the God of Wisdom (Ifá) in Yoruba cosmology gather for this festival in Òkè Ìtasẹ̀ where Ifá speaks and predicts the future.
On June 6, 2019, the Global Ifá Festival, Òtúrá Méjì de Ifá predicted the “imminent fury of an invisible pandemic war”. Now I know believe that this prediction is COVID-19.
A divine proclamation came out to the world last year June 6th 2019, during the World Ifa Festival – Otura Meji. We foretold about the impending rage of this invisible pandemic war, but few heard us.
Please note that Efod / Urim and Thurim are in the holy Books.
– Ọọ̀ni Ẹniìtàn Ògúnwùsì (@OoniAdimulaIfe) March 30, 2020
A divine proclamation went out to the world on June 6, 2019, during the World Ifa Festival – Otura Meji. We predicted the impending fury of this invisible pandemic war, but few listened to us.
Please note that Ephod / Urim and Thurim are in the holy books.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has supported traditional medicine as part of primary healthcare and published a newsletter on the ethical analysis of herbal medicine for global health.
However, the WHO has also made clear that there is no known cure or vaccine for the new coronavirus. Making claims about herbal remedies that have not been verified through careful scientific research can be misleading to the public.
Dr. Olúwatómidé Adéoyè, a pharmaceutical chemist living in Lisbon, Portugal, refutes the king's natural herbal remedy for coronavirus.
In an email to Global Voices, the doctor wrote:
There is no way that (the Ọọ̀ni) could know for certain that his ‘medicine’ (concoction) can cure the coronavirus. The proper protocol to test such medicine will be to (i) isolate the virus and test the medicine in 'petri dishes,' if effective, (ii) test in animals (models) and eventually in (iii) Humans (safety and efficacy) .
There is no way the king can know for sure that his “medicine” (concoction) can cure the coronavirus. The proper protocol to test this medicine will be (i) isolate the virus and test the medicine in the “Petri dishes”, if it is effective, (ii) test in animals (models) and finally in (iii) humans (safety and efficacy ).
The pharmacologist states:
Even if we assume they jumped straight to human trials, there is no evidence that Ọọ̀ni has test kits with which he diagnosed people for COVID-19 in order to evaluate the clinical efficacy of the purported medicine.
Although we assume that they went directly to human testing, there is no evidence that the king tests with which he diagnosed people for COVID-19 in order to assess the clinical efficacy of the alleged medicine.
In the mail, Dr. Adéoyè also debunks several myths about traditional remedies that the king promotes in his videos.
For example, the king claims that onions they kill negative energy and keep positive energy. Chopped onions placed underfoot can neutralize and eliminate the virus, and strengthen the immune system.
Dr. Adéoyè says that the academic papers supporting these claims “are often scientifically poor” in terms of experimental designs, controls, and robust data. And that “more than 90% of these statements fail the efficacy and safety tests in human trials”:
Even if we assume that onions are effective viral neutralizers – if they can't get into the body or get into the lungs (in the right dose / concentration), there's no way for them to act and be effective.
Even though we assume that onions are effective viral neutralizers – if they can't get into the body or lungs (in the correct dosage / concentration), there is no way that they work and are effective.
Dr. Adéoyè also denied the king's claim that burn incense It is effective.
Considering the breathing difficulties observed in COVID-19 patients, it will be an extremely stupid thing to reduce the air quality (oxygen) of someone whose lungs are under-performing.
Considering the respiratory difficulties observed in COVID-19 patients, it will be extremely stupid to reduce the air (oxygen) quality of someone whose lungs are underperforming.
While burning incense is an important part of popular culture in Nigeria, incense itself is not an “effective disinfectant,” the doctor told Global Voices.
As for the implications of the king's claims for public health, the doctor noted that those who market “their own snake oil as a medicine against the coronavirus … will only lead to more deaths.”
He also warned that herbal concoctions “are at risk of acute and chronic toxicities.”