Olufunsho Awodele, Kennedy I. Amagon, Noel N. Wannang and John C. Aguiyi
Department of Pharmacology, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, PMB 12003, Lagos, Nigeria.
Background: The requirements and methods for research and evaluation of the safety and efficacy of herbal medicines are more complex than those for conventional pharmaceuticals. In addition to the aforementioned and contrary to the general belief that herbal medicines are safe and despite the profound therapeutic advantages possessed by medicinal plants, some of their constituents have been shown to be potentially toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic. Thus, traditional medicine policy and regulation have been made an integral part of the WHO proposed critical determinants of herbal medicine safety.
Objective: Therefore, this study is designed to assess the policy and regulation guiding herbal medicine in Nigeria as this information may form a safety index of herbal medicine use in Nigeria.
Methodology: Structured questionnaire adopted from WHO was used to obtain the opinions of relevant stakeholders in the field of herbal medicine on the policy and regulation of herbal medicine in Nigeria.
Results: The results show that 68.8% of respondents agreed that there is a national policy on TM with 31.2% disagreeing on this issue. 75% of respondents agreed that implementation of the manufacturing requirements of herbal medicines is ensured by control mechanisms while 25% disagreed. Only 25% said herbal medicines are sold by licensed practitioners, with 75% believing that herbal medicines are sold by non-licensed practitioners. 87.5% said support from the WHO is needed and should be in the form of workshops on national capacity building on safety monitoring of herbal medicines.
Conclusion: There is need for the Federal Ministry of Health to harmonize the varying opinions on traditional medicine and policy as documented in this study through collaboration and workshops on traditional medicine. These proposed approaches may guarantee the safety and regulation of herbal medicine use in Nigeria.