Stakeholders at the ongoing 33rd Annual General Meeting and 17th Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Society of Pharmacognosy have emphasised the crucial role of natural remedies (products) in promoting human health and reducing the burden of disease.
The four-day event is hosted by Pharmacognosists at the Faculty of Pharmacy, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ife, Osun State.
In his address, the Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke, represented by the Commissioner for Health, Jola Akintola, stated that it was important to reconsider and appreciate the inherent benefits of natural products in the promotion of well-being and improving healthcare outcomes.
He said, “Natural products play a multifaceted role in human health. They serve as sources of medicines, nutraceuticals, and dietary supplements, presenting a holistic approach to wellness.
“Unlike synthetic drugs, these natural remedies often boast fewer side effects, making them safer and more appealing to patients and healthcare professionals alike. Furthermore, they have the potential to enhance preventive strategies, promoting overall well-being and reducing the burden of disease.”
The commissioner further emphasised the need to strike a balance between preserving biodiversity and utilising natural resources responsibly.
Akintola also said the “collaboration between researchers, pharmacists, botanists, and indigenous communities is essential in stimulating a harmonious relationship between science, nature, and society,” stating that natural products could transform the landscape of human health.
The institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Prof Simeon Bamire, during a courtesy visit by the organisers of the conference, stressed the need for the academia and the industry to work together.
The VC said, “As our students go in for our various projects, the research topic should emanate from the industries.
“If the research problem is focused on the industries, the industries would be interested in taking the outputs that come out of that research. That would be a good means for us to do some other things, to have that network and collaboration amongst ourselves.”
Speaking on Monday at the pre-conference workshop titled, “The convergence between traditional herbal practitioners and pharmacognosists” the President of the National Society of Pharmacognosy, Prof. Olukemi Odukoya, stated that a synergy of natural product chemists, pharmacognosists and pharmacologists with increasing technological advancements gave scientific explanation to natural products, consequently leading to the promotion of health.
The NSP president further noted that health started from “what we eat, drink, the amount of and the time we sleep, the baths we take and the natural herbs we take.”
The don said, “Natural products will undergo continual use toward meeting the urgent need to develop effective drugs and they will play a leading role in the discovery of drugs for treating human diseases, especially critical diseases.”
Odukoya further exposed the traditional herbal practitioners to the hygienic preparation, packaging and exploitation of local resources to validate the traditional uses of herbs in the scientific world.
Odukoya urged the practitioners to be truthful and refrain from the unhealthy combination of orthodox medicines and herbs.
Speaking with PUNCH Healthwise on the sidelines of the event, a Pharmacognosist, Ifeoluwa Ogunlowo, explained that herbal medicines were not magic.
He warned against the abuse and consumption of unprescribed medicinal plants and fruits.
Ogunlowo said, “People need to know what they are taking, they need to be informed about the effects and side effects of the medications.
“We also recommend lifestyle modification and urge people to be conscious of what they eat and wear.”
He urged the government to support pharmacognosists to fund the mass production of their researched and produced herbal medicines.