Traditional Health Practices In Nigeria
Health is a precious commodity to any society as no society can work if its members are unhealthy. Despite the desire for a healthy society, it is not unlikely for individuals to fall ill; and they turn to health practitioners.
Despite derision of its effectiveness and reliability, traditional medicine continues to thrive among the Nigerian populace. Traditional medicine relies on practical knowledge and observation passed down from generation to generation in the diagnosis, prevention and elimination of physical and mental imbalance. There are different categories of traditional health practitioners such as bonesetters, herbalists, traditional birth attendants, traditional surgeons, practitioners of therapeutic occultism, etc.
These traditional healers make use of herbs, that is, medicinal plants or parts of such plants, sometimes, small whole animals like snails, snakes, chameleons, etc; and inorganic residues like salt, alum, camphor, and insects like bees, black ants etc. in the treatment of maladies.
Whatever the case may be, there is always a reliance on natural ingredients. Some traditional practices are listed below:
Palm oil as an efficacy for poison and itching
Traditionally, palm oil is administered for poison ingestion to induce vomiting with the belief that the palm oil kills the potency of the poison and detoxifies the body of the poisonous substance ingested.
Palm oil is also used to treat itching and rashes. The patient is made to take a bath and palm oil is administered all over the body as an ointment.
Incisions to get rid of ‘bad blood’
When some patients visit traditional health practitioners, the incision of blades on the affected areas by the native doctor is a common practice. The belief behind this is that the sickness could be because of ‘bad blood’ especially in cases of swollen body parts and the incisions allow the bad blood to seep out. They then treat the incisions and the patient regains sound health.
Urine for treatment of Apollo (Conjunctivitis)
Another age-long traditional health practice is the use of urine to wash the face when a patient has Apollo. They believe the composition of the urine helps to reduce the swelling and clear the eyes.
Herbal concoctions (Agbo) for many maladies
People go to traditional herb sellers who diagnose them and then give them concoctions to treat them based on the symptoms described. They use these concoctions to treat ailments like malaria, fever, typhoid and body pains. They also prepare some of these concoctions to help fertility, boost sexual drive and the immune system.
Salt and water for stomach disorders and infections
A mixture of salt and water is used for stomach related maladies to reduce pain or discomfort.
Divination and spiritual solutions
Some traditional health practitioners rely on spiritual methods to cure maladies and consult with ancestral forces to seek solutions especially for ailments perceived to be unnatural.