Expert Warns Pregnant, Nursing Mothers on Intake of Zobo Drink

A Professor of Physiology, Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello, has cautioned pregnant and nursing mothers on the intake of zobo drink saying that studies in animals had found that it can cause delay in puberty and body weight gain.

Olatunji-Bello, in a 2018 Ibadan College of Medicine Alumni Association distinguished lecture entitled ‘Use of Medicinal Plants: Myths and Facts,’ stated that there is also no scientific evidence to show that it is safe to be taken by pregnant and nursing mothers.

The don, a former acting vice-chancellor, Lagos State University College of Medicine, said despite zobo’s medicinal uses, it is a misconception to think all medicinal plants, including zobo, are natural and therefore harmless and safe.

According to her, “all the fruits and vegetables we eat are obtained from nature, but does this mean they cannot cause harm to our body? Even an onion can upset your stomach if you eat it in excess. The fact is that it is natural does not mean or guarantee safety.

“Aloe Vera is potentially carcinogenic; it may cause abdominal pain, diarrhoea and severe allergic reactions. Since it causes diarrhoea that is why people use it to lose weight.

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”Also ginseng most commonly causes trouble sleeping and headache. Less commonly, side effects such as vaginal bleeding, breast pain and allergic reactions may be experienced.”

While moringa is possibly safe when taken by mouth and used appropriately, she stated that its roots and its extracts should be avoided because they contain a toxic substance that can cause paralysis and death.

Professor Olatunji-Bello, who remarked that every part of a plant is food to all creatures, including man, said in animals, scientific investigations have also shown that uziza or iyere used for making pepper soup could also have a negative effect on fertility.

The expert on reproductive endocrinology stated that water extract of mango leaves, okra and cannabis could have negative effects on fertility.

According to her, okra may be associated with a reversible reduction in the fertility, adding “it significantly reduces sperm motility, count and viability as well as an increased percentage of abnormal sperms in rats.”

Also, Professor Olatunji-Bello declared that marijuana may be bad for the reproductive health of men and women.

“A study found that cannabis leads to a decrease in the level of LH hormone, a hormone that regulates the menstrual cycle and egg production by as much as 80 per cent. This can cause inhibition of the process of ovulation thus preventing pregnancy.

“Marijuana, in the few cases where fertilisation occurs, delays implantation leading to early miscarriage. Marijuana use is common and may be contributing to recent reports of poor semen quality.”

Professor Olatunji-Bello said that the concept that a medicinal plant can cure many diseases should not be contentious considering that medicinal plants can contain multiple active constituents, unlike orthodox medicines.

“However, the problem arises when some overstate the claim of the potency of the herbal product without scientific evidence. For safety and awareness, therefore, marketers of herbal medicines must stick to claims that are supported by scientific research,” she declared.

Professor Olatunji-Bello urged manufacturers to tell the truth when publicizing and promoting herbal drugs, stressing “the fact is that any medication, including herbal medications, can have adverse effects from an overdose, herb-drug interaction, adulteration or contamination of the herbal product and irrational use.”

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