Mrs Quincy Olasumbo Ayodele.is a licensed Natural Health Practitioner, and the CEO of Quincy Herbals Naturopathic and Wellness Centre.
She pioneered weight loss with natural herbs in Nigeria in 1996. Married to Engr. John Ayodele with three wonderful children and four amazing grandchildren, the World Health Organization (WHO) licensed expert on Natural Medicine speaks on how effective herbal medicine can effectively diminish the potency of the novel Coronavirus Pandemic aka COVID-19 ravaging the world in this interview.
Do you think the government should give more recognition to natural medicine?
While I do think the government has given some recognition to herbal medicine, it can surely be better.
Before I began raising public awareness about medicinal properties, benefits and the scientific potency of herbal medicine, people were negatively stigmatizing herbal medicine mainly because of religious beliefs.
Back in the 90s, when I started talking about the efficacy of medicinal plants on TV, and having a healthy lifestyle, I was called all sorts of names, as anything green or from nature was considered “fetish” or “old school”. We were still in the colonial mentality of downgrading our native ways, and idolizing the West. The Scripture says that “my people perish for lack of knowledge.”
Luckily, God and my wonderful husband didn’t allow all that to discourage me; rather the Almighty God of Nature Himself used the media to advertise the works of my hands and the wonders and medicinal benefits of nature.
Also, I went all out through the media to keep raising awareness, proving the efficacy and potency of medicinal plants in our country. Separating healing using medicinal plants from healing with traditional beliefs and rituals. I went all out proving that herbal remedies indeed have effective doses and that they are purely for medicinal and healing purposes. Thanks also to NTA and the press for featuring me talking and proving all these on a weekly basis for several years on their television (Aerobics with Quincy, Healthy Living with Quincy, One on One, Good Morning Africa, Today’s Woman with Quincy, etc).
Thank God also for people like Chief Dele Momodu, who took it upon himself at that time. He produced my very first print media advertisement and covered it in his Ovation Magazine for over 6 months free of charge.
I also believe that Nigeria’s former president, His Excellency, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, was instrumental in supporting and mainstreaming the herbal medicine industry in Nigeria. One of his platforms was all about supporting our indigenous cultures, and he gave some legitimacy and government recognition to the herbal medicine industry, that was highly instrumental.
Through all the above challenges and to the glory of God, today I am happy to inform you that people now recognize and embrace herbal and natural medicine in Nigeria. It is now a thing of pride for everyone to go back to nature. Nature is now accepted globally.
Thanks also to all the forward-thinking Nigerian pressmen and women whom God used together with me in creating awareness on the usage and efficacy of Natural Medicine. May the Almighty God continue to advertise the works of their hands.
But what about real government recognition of some of your activities?
On the part of the government, I believe that the reason the government didn’t give proper recognition to herbal medicine at first was probably because of the fact that many traditional medicine practitioners were making a lot of spurious claims about their products and there was no standardization of herbal medicine at that time.
At that time, the Federal Ministry of Health came on board and made our practitioners to form an umbrella body for the practice of traditional medicine in Nigeria of which I was elected as the pioneer Secretary General of the National Association of Nigerian Traditional Medicine Practitioners (NANTMP).
As a prominent stakeholder in the industry, what were your own observations then?
NAFDAC came out with regulations on standardization, advertisement, dosage, packaging, etc.There was a Presidential Initiative Committee on Commercialization of Herbal Medicine in Nigeria of which I was a member. This Committee was inaugurated by former President Olusegun Obasanjo and we were sworn in by him then. We actually did a lot of work in that Committee on herbal medicine. The government has also created a full Division of Traditional, Complimentary and Alternative Medicine in the Federal Ministry of Health currently headed by Hajia Zainab Sharif.
What were the roles you played for World Health Organization to recognise herbal medicine practice?
The West African Health Organization (WAHO) in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Health did a tremendous job of publishing the first edition of West African Encyclopædia on Medicinal Plants, of which I was a member of the committee that worked on it.
We are currently working on the second edition of the West African Encyclopædia on Medicinal Plants – a committeẹ coordinated by the Federal Ministry of Health.
The government has given proper recognition to herbal medicine, practice, practitioners and products in Nigeria, and surely I believe this is just the beginning.
We are looking to the eastern countries like China and India, who have taken great strides in popularizing their indigenous medicines and expenses and exporting them globally.
Lagos State has even gone ahead by establishing a code of conduct for the practice of traditional medicine. Lagos State also has periodic training for Traditional Medicine Practitioners for improved healthcare delivery in the state.
While I believe that Nigerians now have confidence in natural medicine and remedies, the government needs to put more efforts into standardization and further propagation of natural health awareness, especially in the light of a global pandemic.
Do you still provide expertise for the World Health Organisation?
Yes, I am a W.H.O Expert Committee Member on Development of African Traditional Medicine.
The W.H.O Expert Committee arrived at a lot of communiques to enhance the development, collaboration and integration of Traditional Health into the existing healthcare delivery systems in member African States. The West African Health Organization (W.A.H.O) and United Nations also did a lot of work with our W.H.O Expert Committee.
To the glory of God, we were also able to separate medicinal plants for the purposes of healing from the traditional fetish practice.
Our W.H.O Expert Committee went further to pass a communique to integrate traditional medicine into the existing Healthcare systems of African member states. The Federal Ministry of Health has already started discussion on methods of the integration.
Thanks to our participation and discussions, we now have herbal medicine formulations in various categories in capsule forms, tablets, syrups, herbal soaps, herbal toothpaste etc globally.
I thank the Almighty God for using me to separate the fetish practice and develop African Traditional Medicine using medicinal plants.
What did you develop interest in slimming products?
I always say “Everything in moderation”. Too much of anything, as we know, causes sickness and disease.
Back in the days, I used to be excessively fat and sick at a time.
While I was in the village, where I grew up with my grandmother (My grandmother was a great inspiration), she used to give me herbal treatments to treat me for so many sicknesses I was suffering from because of lack of access to western medicine. I needed to trust the one thing my grandmother thought could help me, which with all honesty, did.
So, when I grew older and moved to Lagos because of marriage, I became fat and sickly, no thanks to my lack of knowledge about the negative effects. Then I decided to take it upon myself to take my grandmother’s herbs that she used to heal me in the village and I also helped others with this knowledge.
During that period, I discovered that a lot of people out there needed this treatment. So, I went back to the college to study natural medicine and thereafter I started practicing herbal medicine specializing in slimming with natural herbs.
What do you think about the outbreak of COVID-19 Pandemic?
The outbreak of COVID-19 is so sudden, sad and very unfortunate.
I will call it a wicked and cruel virus that snuffs lives out of human beings within a short time. Coronavirus is an evil storm.
It is not a good thing, but at the same time we have to talk about it. I give kudos to our healthcare workers out there. They are the ‘REAL HEROES’, because they are at the front lines fighting this deadly virus on our behalf.
The sad thing is that nobody actually saw this coming, and we are now globally fighting something we can not see or touch. It will take the ‘GRACE OF GOD’ for us as a country to come out of this Pandemic and we will by God’s grace.
Some people on a normal day feed hand to mouth and now with this whole lockdown, they have changed a lot. So, right now, I am not trying to be judgemental, the government is trying on feeding the citizens daily.
Churches are praying and the entire universe is praying in one accord. But we have to stand together to fight this virus; stay home in order to be safe. On the other hand, it will forever remain in history and will never be forgotten. I want people to take this opportunity to develop their skills, be a better version of yourself and also be safe.
Can herbal medicine cure COVID-19?
Oh yes. Obviously, globally, orthodox medicine has not been proving so effective for now in the treatment of this wicked virus because W.H.O has said that there is no cure for it as at now.
Even though we are not allowed in our practice to use the word “cure” but yes I know that herbal medicine can be used for prevention, to remedy the symptoms and to manage the attack of the virus in collaboration with orthodox medicine in emergency cases.
Together with the stipulated hygiene instructions on washing of hands and using hand sanitizers plus wearing nose masks, herbal medicine is very potent, it can be used to curb the spread, manage the symptoms at the onset and collaborate with orthodox medicine in emergency cases. Our beliefs in the herbal medicine practice is that to every disease, there is a healing in nature.
There are lots of potent medicinal plants with strong anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties in Nigeria. We have practitioners who have the knowledge of the medicinal plants to use in this case.
Already some African nations like Madagascar and Senegal have come out with herbal remedies to manage affected patients and their governments say they are effective.
What role can traditional medicine practitioners play in COVID-19 treatment centres ?
Of course, we do have roles to play at the COVID-19 Centres if given the chance. If some African States are already coming out with herbal formulations to manage their infected citizens, I believe Nigerian government should also collaborate with Herbal Medicine Practitioners to fight this pandemic. Even if it is to manage symptoms at the onset or at preventative level this will help to reduce mortality rates in Nigeria.
Though, I am against prescription of herbal medicines online, I have noticed that Natural Health Practitioners are coming out on the social media to prescribe herbal medicines to remedy common cold or flu at this time. Some people have confirmed that they have been using them to manage the symptoms and they claim it worked for them. A good example is the recently infected Governor Rotimi Makinde of Oyo State, who confirmed that he took herbal medicines which worked for him and he is healed of Coronavirus.
So, we are ready to collaborate if we are invited. The medicinal plants are here in Nigeria and they are very potent for that matter. The Government knows about some of us and our confirmed knowledge of the usage of medicinal plants for the management of some common diseases.
This pandemic is a serious one, which I believe we should attack with everything at our disposal and of course involve the Almighty God in all that we do. This is the time for all of us in the healthcare field; both orthodox and natural to come together as one to fight it out of our nation and immediately too.
How can herbal medicine be made to pass scientific tests?
I will say that this question is no longer applicable in Nigeria, we have passed that stage.
There are a lot of government agencies that are already in place for scientific testing of herbal medicines in Nigeria. We have government agencies like NAFDAC, FIIRO, Natural Medicine Medicine Development Agency, NIPRI etc and other designated laboratories to scientifically test herbal medicine formulations.
If a formulation is discovered, and the oractitioner is sure of his claim in the management of a particular disease with that formula, all it takes is to take it to NAFDAC and get it scientifically tested. If the formulation passes NAFDAC test, then you go on to the next process until packaging and ready to be prescribed by practitioners.
What stage is the Traditional Medicine Bill?
We spoke, we wrote articles and sent them to the National Assembly on Traditional Medicine Bill in accordance with our recommendations at the W.H.O Expert Committee on development of African Traditional Medicine and up till now the bill has not been passed. But some other African nations like Ghana, Senegal and others have passed the bill for the development of the practice, practitioners and products and have moved on to commercialization.
The only disturbing thing in the full take off of commercialization, collaboration and integration of herbal medicine is the passing of Traditional Medicine Bill, which isnpending in the National Assembly till date.
I can assure you that once this is done and commercialization takes off, Nigeria will bounce back economically and we will make more money than we make from oil.