An investigation of reasons for packaged herbal medicinal product use and safety in Lagos State, Nigeria.

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Department of Cell Biology and Genetics, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, Lagos, Nigeria

2 Department of Science Laboratory Technology, College of Basic and Applied Science, Lagos State Polytechnic, Nigeria

Abstract

Background and aims: Herbal medicine is of great importance to man and has been increasingly acceptable worldwide during the last decades as the main form of health care. With this increase, the safety of its products have become a major concern in public health. Hence, the study was aimed to elucidate the reasons for its increased patronage and ascertain the safety of the commonly preferred herbal medicinal product in Lagos State.
Methods: Questionnaires were administered to 200 herbal users randomly selected among the populace of Lagos State. Microbial load and heavy metal analysis were evaluated on 15 most preferred herbal medicinal products for safety evaluation. Results were then compared with WHO permissive limits.
Results: Natural nature (48.5%), effectiveness (17.6%) and affordability (10.3%) were cited as the major reason for the increased preference for herbal medicinal products. These were supported by family (32%) and media (22%) influences. Microbial load of the 15 most preferred herbal medicinal products evaluated were below WHO permissive level while some of them had cadmium, nickel and zinc beyond WHO permissive level. Baccillus sp. was observed to be the predominant bacteria (100%) while Aspergillus niger was the highest observed fungi (33.33%) among sampled products.
Conclusion: The study revealed that although, the herbal products evaluated in the study had low microbial loads, the presence of cadmium, nickel and zinc beyond permissible limits constitute a major toxic concern to the users.

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