A professor of pharmacognosy and founder Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP) and International Centre for Ethnomedicine and Drug Development (IntCEDD), Maurice Iwu, has warned against the consumption of foreign and imported food products even as he linked them with the proliferation of chronic diseases and sudden deaths.
Iwu, however, recommends locally prepared and traditional foods as medicines to reverse the damage caused by processed meals. Iwu disclosed how he stumbled upon the so-called Bitter Kola remedy for the dreaded Ebola viral infection, which he said has been authenticated by the United States Institute for Health (NIH) and the drug is presently undergoing further development.
He clarified that he never said Garcinia kola cures Ebola but that there is an active compound in it that is an effective treatment for Ebola. Contrary to views propagated by the Western media that palm oil is not good for health, he said that locally produced palm oil is better than imported vegetable oils, very rich in nutrients and has more vitamin A than carrots.
Some know you as the former Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) Chairman. Some know you because of the Bitter Kola ‘cure’ for Ebola, while others know you for your involvement with herbal products and as professor of pharmacognosy. Who is professor Iwu?
“First and foremost I am a professor of Pharmacognosy. I used to teach at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. I taught pharmacognosy as the Head of Pharmacognosy. Pharmacognosy, as you know, is a study of natural product medicine. It is a science that is based on that whole concept of using nature as a treatment modality.
“In terms of Ebola as you rightly captured in some of your stories, we worked on it in 1999 way before Ebola became a household name and it was part of a general concept of trying to find a treatment for orphan diseases or diseases that don’t have treatment or for tropical diseases like Malaria, Leishmaniasis and Trypanosomiasis.
“We are actually studying those areas that don’t lend themselves to easy and quick answers.
“By the time the Ebola epidemic came up again people were surprised and shocked that such a disease could kill like that and they did not know much about it.
“So the statements we made were not controversial. They were based on facts because people did not know much about it.
“About Garcinia kola, which is a whole different story, we worked on Garcinia in 1985. We were able to show the properties of the product by observing what the traditional healers used it for. Everybody you meet in Nigeria has his or her own story, his or her own anecdote about the Bitter Kola. Like most things like that… people get surprised at the activities we ascribe to it.
(Azoma Chikwe, DAILY SUN)