Not everyone visits a doctor when they are ill. In Nigeria and in some other parts of the world, people depend on herbs and other natural remedies for sicknesses.
Some of these home remedies have been known to work for the treatment of common illnesses like aches and pains, malaria, cough and many others.
People often use these remedies not just for the treatment of illnesses but to maintain a quality and a healthy life.
Below are some of the remedies:
Treatment of Malaria:
Malaria is one of the most important killer diseases in Africa causing more than 1 million deaths every year.
Lemon grass and lime is used for the treatment of malaria. The lemon grass is boiled together with the lime. After it cools, the water can be drunk, a cup twice a day could do the magic.
Another multi-herbal combination is the mixture of paw paw leaves, lemon grass and cashew leaf which is boiled in a big pot and then the patient is covered with a thick blanket and made to inhale the vapour from the cooking pot.
A herbal preparation made predominantly with garlic, ginger, onions, scent leaf, lemon grass, unripe pawpaw, lime/lemon, African pepper (Uda in Igbo), clove, Gongronema latifolium (Utazi in Ibo, arokeke in Yoruba) and West African Black pepper (Uziza in Igbo) has been effectively used to stop malaria.
Treatment of cough:
You can’t cure colds or the flu, but you can relieve the cough and sore throat that sometimes comes with them.
Use cough drops or hard candy. Menthol and certain herbal cough drops can slightly numb and soothe your sore throat. But sucking on plain hard candy may work just as well.
Try a teaspoon of honey. This traditional remedy for sore throat may help soothe coughs, too. Try adding a spoonful to your tea, but don’t give honey to kids under 1 year old.
Drink up. Sipping on drinks will keep your throat moist and comfortable. When your throat doesn’t hurt, you may not cough. Just about any drink is OK except alcohol or caffeinated drinks. Those can dry you out. Also avoid orange juice and other citrus drinks if they bother your throat.
Heat up that drink. Sip some warm tea or chicken soup to heat up your airways. Not only will it hydrate you, but the warmth helps break up mucus and makes it easier to cough up.
Thyme is used by some for respiratory illnesses. One study suggests that the essence extracted from thyme leaves mixed with ivy can help relieve coughing as well as short-term bronchitis. The leaves contain compounds called flavonoids that relax the throat muscles involved in coughing and lessen inflammation.
You can make thyme tea at home using 2 teaspoons of crushed thyme leaves and 1 cup of boiling water. Cover the cup, steep for 10 minutes, and strain.
You don’t usually think of pineapple as a cough remedy, but that’s probably because you’ve never heard of bromelain. There’s evidence to suggest that bromelain — an enzyme found only in the stem and fruit of pineapples — can help suppress coughs as well as loosen the mucus in your throat. To enjoy the most benefits of pineapple and bromelain, eat a slice of pineapple or drink 3.5 ounces of fresh pineapple juice three times a day.
Peppermint leaves are well known for their healing properties. Menthol in peppermint soothes the throat and acts as a decongestant, helping to break down mucus. You can benefit by drinking peppermint tea or by inhaling peppermint vapors from a steam bath. To make a steam bath, add 3 or 4 drops of peppermint oil for every 150 milliliters of hot water. Drape a towel over your head, and take deep breaths directly above the water.
Chewing bitter kola relieves coughs, hoarseness, bronchial and throat troubles. The chemical Saponin in bitter kola is responsible for its cleansing effect.
Treatment of Mumps in children:
Mumps is a contagious viral infection common in children and is most recognisable by the painful swellings at the side of the face under the ears (the parotid glands), giving a person with mumps a distinctive “hamster face” appearance.
People use bitter kola for the treatment of mumps. The bitter kola is chewed and then applied the mump.
When one looks pale and is lacking blood, rather than take the blood capsules, some resort to home remedy of vegetable.
Vegetable (popularly called ugwu) is washed thoroughly and then blended with a lot of water. It is then sieved and the water is taken as a blood tonic.
Swallowing Poisonous substance:
Often times when a child swallows a poisonous substance in the home, the child is given a teaspoon of palm oil to drink to neutralize the effect of the poison.
Treatment of Ringworm:
Raw papaya (paw paw) is one of the most effective home remedies for ringworm. The water from the stem is applied on the ringworm patches. Also, paste is made from dried paw paw seeds and can be applied beneficially on the ringworm patches.
It could be said that the use of medicinal herbs to cure common ailments would continue to be a major part of the health care system in many societies. This may be related not only to cost and difficulty in obtaining modern orthodox medical care but also the proven efficacy and tolerability of these remedies which has been for ages.