EFFECTS OF HERBAL CONCOCTIONS (Agbo) ON HEALTH

“Agbo” is a Yoruba name for local herbs for medication. Agbo is a concoction made from variety of herbs (plants or plant parts) and taken for various ailments especially by native Yoruba people in Nigeria.  These herbal medicines are sometimes considered as safe by people because they are natural products. However, they are not free from adverse effects which can be caused by:

  1. Misidentification: A mistake made in identification of medicinal plants, products or mixture can lead to a serious adverse effect in the body’s system.
  2. Adulteration: In order to maximize profit and quantity, inferior (less valuable) substances may be added to these herbal mixtures during preparation to increase the quantity while reducing the quality.
  3. Contamination: Microorganisms or foreign objects can easily be transferred from plants, water and air during concoction preparation.
  4. Lack of standardization: Mostly, there are no standard protocols to follow in confirmation of these concoction’s identity, safety, efficacy, quality and purity by the country’s drug regulatory body.
  5. Incorrect preparation and dosage: Many of the substances used in preparing these mixtures are not accurately quantified. Also, there are no precautionary measures that are guided by policies in the making of these herbal medicines. This poses a lot of danger on human’s health.

Taking herbal concoctions can affect and damage various organs and systems in the human body. Below are some adverse effects of herbal concoctions in the body:

Effects of Herbal Concoctions on Kidneys

The kidneys are a pair of bean-shaped organ that are located retroperitoneally. That is, located on either side of the spine, below the ribs and behind the abdomen. The functions of the two kidneys include:

  1. Removal of waste products from the body in form of urine
  2. Removal of drugs and other toxins from the body
  3. Control the production of red blood cells
  4. Regulation of blood pressure through the release of some hormones
  5. Balance the body’s fluids
  6. Production of an active form of Vitamin D that helps to maintain healthy bones.

The use of herbal concoctions can cause nephrotoxicity or renal toxicity. Nephrotoxicity is the rapid deterioration in kidney functions which can be due to the toxic effects of medications and chemicals. Nephrotoxicity is the poisonous effects of some substances on kidney function which includes decreased urination, high blood pressure, swelling from fluid retention, etc. If prompt medical actions are not taken, this will eventually lead to kidney injury, kidney failure or even death of individual.

Effects of Herbal Concoctions on Liver

The liver is a dark reddish-brown organ that is located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdomen, below the diaphragm, and on top of the stomach, right kidneys and intestines. The function of the liver include:

  1. The liver helps in metabolizing drugs into forms that are nontoxic or forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body. Also helps in metabolism of fats, protein and carbohydrates.
  2. Helps in storage of glycogen, vitamins and minerals
  3. Helps in protein synthesis
  4. The liver helps in bile production and excretion
  5. Helps in blood detoxification and purification
  6. Enzyme activation

Hepatotoxicity or toxic liver disease is a damage to the liver and this can be caused by the intake of herbal supplements, concoctions or chemicals because some of these herbal products contain toxic chemicals or heavy metals. Symptoms of hepatotoxicity include: jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), dark-colored urine, abdominal pain, body rash, fatigue, loss of appetite, and fever. If prompt medical actions are not taken when an individual is experiencing hepatotoxicity, a permanent damage to the liver can occur leading to liver cirrhosis (irreversible damage of liver tissue), or liver failure.

Effects of Herbal Concoctions on Gastrointestinal System

The organs that make up the gastrointestinal system are mouth, pharynx (throat), esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, rectum and anus. The major function of the gastrointestinal system is to digest and absorb food (nutrients) taken in through the mouth and also, to excrete waste products of digestion through the anus.

The effects of herbal concoctions on the gastrointestinal system can lead to:

  1. Severe vomiting
  2. Diarrhea
  3. Nausea
  4. Abdominal discomfort (bloating or pain)
  5. Heartburn
  6. Constipation
  7. Loss of appetite
  8. Unintentional weight loss

Effects of Herbal Concoctions on Skin

The skin is the largest organ of the body and it covers the entire body. The functions of the skin include:

  1. To provide protection against mechanical, thermal, hazardous substance and physical injury
  2. Helps in regulation of body temperature
  3. Acts as an immune organ to fight against infection
  4. Helps in production of Vitamin D
  5. Acts as a sensory organ

Some people rub herbal mixtures on their skin or have herbal baths. Most of their reasons are likened to driving away evil spirits, to promote body relaxation, to moisturize the skin, to heal wounds, lift bad moods, etc., but these herbal concoctions have adverse effects on the skin which includes:

  1. Skin irritation which may be redness, itching, blisters, pain, etc.
  2. Rashes
  3. Eczema
  4. Skin lesions
  5. Open wounds or sores on skin
  6. Pale skin

Effects of Herbal Concoctions on Cardiovascular System

The heart is a muscular organ about the size of an individual’s fist, located in the mid-line of the thoracic cavity. The heart is responsible for blood circulation throughout the body, and maintenance of blood pressure.

Some of the active ingredients used in making some herbal concoctions or substances may cause an individual to suffer cardiac arrhythmia (improper beating of the heart), leading to stroke, heart attack, seizures or even death.

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