We can create local COVID-19 cure using phytomedicine — Ishola

Dr. Ismail Ishola

Adam Adegoke

Dr. Ismail Ishola, a lecturer at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), has called for government funding to support the creation of a COVID-19 cure using phytomedicine.

He explained that ‘phytomedicine is the use of naturally available medicinal plants which have also been used in the management of disease, and passed on from generation to generation."

According to him, some medicinal plants have been proven to “have antiviral effects — that is, they can reduce viral load and eliminate the major symptoms of COVID, such as fever and cough." 

Ishola made these claims in an interview with UNILAG Sun on February 11th, 2020.

Dr. Ishola, along with ACEDHARS UNILAG COVID-19 Response Team members, had published a research article titled "COVID-19:A Case for Phytomedicines", in November last year.

In the article, the researchers made the case for phytomedicinal techniques as a potential source for a remedy to the COVID-19 virus.

Explaining that phytomedicine could be of immense benefit in managing COVID-19 in Nigeria, the don asked for increased adoption of local herbs that can bolster immunity.

“As a way to combat the virus, we should establish our indigenous plants to further improve one's immunity to potential infections," he declared.

The erstwhile researcher described acute lack of infrastructure and funds as the two biggest obstacles facing the team from developing a potential COVID-19 solution.

According to him, "lack of funds is the reason why infrastructure is not in place", making their work difficult.

Asked if the organization has gotten sponsorship or offers for collaboration, Ishola said:

"No, but the center was able to get grants from the state of Lagos to test some potential medicinal plants."

He stressed the costly nature of drug development, explaining that processes like drug trials require huge budgetary outlay.

Speaking on the contribution of Nigeria to the global vaccine race, Ishola expressed disappointment that Nigeria was not well-positioned to discover a vaccine, adding that the country lacked the enabling environment.

He claimed that "the vaccine is not just a political statement" and said the government must put in work if it wants a vaccine.

Addressing the surprisingly low rates of COVID-19 infections in Africa, the doctor explained that the “virulent nature of the virus is lessened because the air [in Africa] is dry and this inhibits the virus' ability to travel for long."

"Our hot and dry climate may be an advantage," he added.

But Ishola later slammed the government's encouragement of mass gatherings through its order on NIN registration.

He also called for more sensitization and knowledge about the dangers of the virus.

He also spoke concerning the prospect of an international recognition of a herb-based cure, using Madagascar as a case study.

According to him, there was no scientific data supporting the efficacy of the Madagascar COVID organics, which led to its general rejection by the international public.

He reiterated ACEDHARS’ goal of providing a drug that would be “scientifically validated and that can pass quality assurance anywhere in the world”.

He reaffirmed ACEDHARS' efforts to create a potential COVID-19 vaccine and revealed that the organisation has made efforts to secure research grants.

"Their [ACEDHARS] machinery will be put in place once they are fully funded," he finished.

Ishola is a member of the African Center of Excellence for Drug Research, Development of Herbal Medicine and Regulatory Science (ACEDHARS).

ACEDHARS is an organization dedicated to the discovery and development and regulation of herbal medicine in Africa.

He also belongs to the local ACEDHARS arm in the university, the ACEDHARS UNILAG COVID-19 Response Team formed to direct the university's efforts at combating the virus.


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