Many people experience dietary and health difficulties. Probably because of their ages and past lifestyle, they become afflicted with ailments that require them to avoid certain meals and to take certain medications.
One of such persons is Mrs Iyekelpolo Amadasun (not real name), a former banker, who trades at the Vegetable Market in Benin City. In 2001, she was examined and found to have high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, ailments that prevented her from working regular routines. Her doctors advised her to avoid meat, sugary substances and for her to reduce intake of salt. Mrs Amadasun told WADONOR (a general interest publication) that she reacted to the medications that her doctors gave to her for high blood pressure and diabetes and, therefore, began a search for a plant-based or organic remedy to her ailment.
But Mrs Amadasun is not the only one with this kind of problem. Many Nigerians in their mid to late 50s share similar health conditions.
A former governor of Edo state was diagnosed with similar ailment as Mrs Amadasun. Seeking treatment, he travelled to the United States. WADONOR learnt that while he was there, friends and relatives offered him a plant-based medication from a monastery located in Ewu (in the same state, where he had been governor).
After the former governor applied this medication, he reported significant improvement in his condition. He therefore discarded the treatment he had been looking for in the US and returned home. He has recovered considerably. WADONOR learnt that since coming back home to Nigeria, this former governor has visited the Ewu Monastery and has made significant contributions to the development of the Herbal Clinic at the monastery.
Based on this story of the remarkable recovery of the former governor, WADONOR visited the Ewu Monastery in Edo State in 2022. It is located on a hill, in a monastery, in Ewu. While there for three days, we found Benedictine Monks offering prayers round the clock. The prayers were accompanied by very poignant music from locally made harps.
Apart from offering prayers and playing good soulful music, the monks have set up a herbal clinic, Pax Herbal Clinic, from where they carry out research and produce organic medicines which take care of the kinds of ailments peculiar to an African environment (such as prostate cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, malaria and hypertension). WADONOR learnt that after significant improvement in his health condition, the former governor visited the monastery and assisted with building a world class laboratory and research centre at the Benedictine Monastery.
Rev. Father Anselm Adodo is director of the Pax Herbal Clinic. In an interview he granted WADONOR, he said that just as there are English, Chinese, Russian and American medicine and drugs, there are African medicine and drugs. “For decades, our people have harnessed the power of leaves and herbs for the successful treatment of some of the conditions that orthodox medicine has not been able to handle”, he said.
The bane of African medicine has been the inability of the local practitioners to document their work, successes, prescriptions and dosages. He said that the existence of the Pax Herbal Clinic is to correct that problem and establish African medicine as an important sector in the healthcare sector in Nigeria and Africa.
To say that the Pax Herbal Clinic is a wonder to behold is an understatement. Rev. Father Adodo granted WADONOR unfettered access to the facility, where we found the research, production, packaging, distribution and marketing of herbal medicines in one of the cleanest, safest and most hygienic conditions as could compare with any facility anywhere in the world. Together with four other herbal medicine practitioners, the reverend father also runs consultant clinics as well.
“We don’t just make prescriptions. Most of the patients we see. carry out tests in regular hospitals to determine what exactly is their ailment. From the tests that they have carried out in a regular laboratory, we prescribe our herbal products. Most of the patients that have taken our products often get well and there is a lot of evidence from the tests that they have carried out after they have used our herbal products”, Father Adodo told WADONOR.
But apart from the production of herbal medicines, Rev. Father Adodo has carried out extensive work in research and publication. Till date, he has published no less than five volumes of work, given numerous lectures locally and internationally and granted interviews to international media organisations. For WADONOR, cultural voice of Nigeria, what probably is the greatest selling point of the research institution of Pax Herbal Clinic is its mushroom culture section.
For people like Mrs Amadasun who can no longer eat meat, the Pax Herbal Clinic has a laboratory that provides an alternative: mushrooms. While most of the materials for organic medications are sourced from nearby plants such as pawpaw and cashew and bitter leaves, others are very difficult to get, like mushrooms (mushrooms are delicate, sensitive and take a very long time to mature). However, not all mushrooms are edible, or can be used for the preparation of medicines. Of the two types that are not readily available, only the portobellos are edible.
There are two reports in The Guardian of Nigeria newspaper about mushrooms. The one of August 2020 with the title Plant Scientist Advises Nigerians to eat Mushrooms to Prevent Cancer and the other of July 2015 has a title Eating Wrong Wild Mushroom can Destroy Liver. While the first report of August 2020 says that mushrooms lower blood pressure and prevent diabetes and heart related ailments, the other warns of the dangers of indiscriminate collection and consumption of the plant.
The Pax Herbal Clinic in Ewu also has a mushroom culture lab. The monks at the Ewu Herbal Clinic told WADONOR that part of plans for setting up the clinic was to make mushrooms easily available for basic ingredients needed for the production of herbal medicines against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. They are hard to get and in the large-scale quantities needed. The mushrooms are also needed to provide alternatives for people with dietary preferences.
Mr. Festus runs the mushroom lab. WADONOR learnt that even though Mr. Festus does not have a degree in Microbiology, he has run the facility based on knowledge handed down to him from his forebears and contemporary trends in mushroom cultivation. Students and lecturers from Microbiology departments of over 20 universities in Nigeria are said to visit the lab in Ewu, to take lectures and tutorials under the supervision of Mr. Festus.
Considering the crucial role of this mushroom cultivation lab to dietary and public health considerations, Father Adodo told WADONOR that the Pax Herbal Clinic has undertaken to pay stipends to interns who are willing to come to Ewu to take up the science of herbal medicine and mushroom cultivation. Since 2010, the Pax Herbal Centre has trained nearly two thousand interns and students in herbal medicine and mushroom cultivation.
When WADONOR visited the mushroom cultivation lab, Mr. Festus and his assistants were dressed in the traditional uniform of scientists – white lab coats, gloves and headgears. We found several shelves with white bottles containing several substances. Mr. Festus told WADONOR that the Pax Herbal Clinic has a very large farm for the growing of the mushrooms
According to him, “When you consider mushroom in the wild and the time it takes for them to grow to maturity for use, we cultivate mushrooms in a neat and hygienic way. We operate under the best of hygienic conditions known to man. We specialize in the cultivation of two types of mushrooms here in this organisation.
“The first is the Oyster, the edible one for cooking meals, because of its health benefits. The second type of mushroom we cultivate is not edible and is purely for medical use. What you see in this lab and in these containers represent the ‘intermediary’ stages in the cultivation of mushrooms. We parboil, sterilize and inoculate the raw materials in what we refer to here as ‘mother culture’ – duplicating it to get more of the product. Intermediary stage in the cultivation of mushrooms in a lab is very sensitive. Everything at that stage is done to avoid getting the materials exposed to contamination”, Mr Festus told WADONOR.
Even though WADONOR was unable to see the mushroom farm in full operation, we were to learn that several government officials had visited the Pax Herbal Centre and were very satisfied with the high standards by which the facility operated.
On May 29 2023, just after being sworn in as President of Nigeria, Bola Ahmed Tinubu suspended the payment of fuel subsidy. He said the payment of fuel subsidy in trillions of naira robs Nigeria of the much-needed funds for development of basic infrastructure and manpower in health, transport and power. The Pax Herbal Clinic has records and records of the efficacy of herbal drugs that have been manufactured locally in Nigeria.
There is the case of the former governor of Edo state (cited above), who did not know of the existence of a world-class herbal medicine facility in the state he governed for eight years! It was not until he had fallen seriously ill and was flown overseas for treatment, that he eventually found out about Pax Herbal Centre, by using the locally-produced drugs from Nigeria, which had found their way to the United States of America.
WADONOR calls on the president, therefore, to first suspend all medical trips abroad by public officials. Medical tourism by public officials contributes to the underdevelopment of the health sector in Nigeria. It also takes away a lot of money from Nigeria to other lands. Like Rev. Father Anselm Adodo has said, there is Chinese, medicine, Indian medicine, Arabian medicine and Western medicine. If the government contributes to the development of the mushroom factory at Ewu, Edo state, Nigeria will have the capacity to export mushrooms and herbal medicines to the world.