A professor of Biochemical Pharmacology and Toxicity has stated that Nigeria should adopt a deliberate strategy of leveraging on the neurochemical properties of medicinal plants in the treatment and curtailing of the prevalence and incidences of several neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Kidney failure, strokes, and depression ravaging the country and the world at large. Professor Afolabi Akinmoladun made this submission while delivering the 159th inaugural lecture of the Federal University of Technology Akure, FUTA with the title: Phytoactives: Ubiquitous Vanguards of Wellness that Tame Aberrant Neurochemistry of Misfiring brains on Tuesday September 19, 2023.
The don said medicinal plants are plants that can be used for therapeutic purposes and these plants contain phytoactive also called phytochemicals that exert beneficial effects in human or animal body. He pointed out that epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression and stroke and other brain diseases are on the increase and expensive to manage with conventional drugs especially in developing countries. Thus, there is the urgent need to harness the potentials of plants as part of efforts to reduce the cost of treatment of these neurological diseases. He said a lot of advancement has been made in phytomedicine as many effective plant-based products for some diseases are now available.
Professor Akinmoladun said, “Phytomedicine is an indispensable part of the medicine of the future as plants contain a vast library of phytoactives that can address major health challenges, tame neurological disorders improve brain health and foster sustained wellness.” According to him the phytoactives present in medicinal plants have great prophylactic and therapeutic potentials in combating different neurological disorders.
The don advised that since a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can combat these cardiovascular and neurological disorders, people should make it a habit to ensure they form part of their daily intakes of food. He highlighted other medicinal plants to include Aloe Vera, Neem Turmeric, Garlic, Hibiscus, Gingko Biloba, cocoa, kolanut and eucalyptus oil adding that “There is a remedy for any diseases lying locked up in the world of medicinal plants and their phytoactive waiting to be discovered and that carefully designed studies are necessary to discover the right remedies.”
The lecturer said plants are a great natural resource for wellness and that Nigeria is blessed with a wonderful biodiversity that must be jealously guarded and judiciously utilized. To this end he recommended a systemic approach to drug prospecting from medicinal plants and a robust regulatory framework for the use of plant resources for the commercial production of Phyto drugs.
He encouraged the government to set up institutions like a Central Botanical and Drug Research Institute and National Brain Research Centre to drive research in neurological diseases and the utilization of botanicals for the production of novel drugs for the country.
While bringing the lecture to a close, the don lamented that “Our universities have been seriously drained of crucial manpower in the last few years and this is inimical to the realization of thriving, globally competitive educational institutions.” He therefore urged the government to as a matter of urgency fund institutions of higher learning and research to provide an enabling environment and commensurate reward system to ensure and enhance wellness and productivity.
In her capacity as chairman of the occasion, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Adenike Oladiji described the lecturer as an erudite scholar who has contributed immensely to research and academic development in his field of specialization. She commended him on the cerebral delivery of the lecture saying that the topic was apt given the prevalence of debilitating neurological diseases and the urgent need for research into discovering lasting cures in order to limit their corrosive effects on mankind’s wellness.