Herbal medicine is perceived to be much more superior in treating chronic diseases, a belief that has fueled many Kenyans to seek healing in the ways of their ancestors. However, researchers at the Ministry of Health are advising Kenyans to cut down on the consumption of herbal medicines as it is dangerous to their healths particularly chronic kidney disease.
In a study carried out by a team from the Ministry of Health, Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi University in Eldoret, among 306 patients admitted at Kenyatta National Hospital with various ailments, up to 39 per cent could unknowingly be suffering from kidney problems. 118 of the study patients were identified with chronic kidney disease. Other factors identified as causative agents include older age, anaemia, hypertension, bloody urine and use of alcohol or tobacco.
“This health facility-based study revealed a high burden of Chronic Kidney Disease in the inpatient population, with a prevalence of approximately 4 out of 10 inpatients,” read the study published in Pan African Medical Journal.
Direct poisoning of the kidney through toxic herbs and use of contaminated or adulterated remedies, was highlighted as the possible outcome after consuming the drugs, together with inappropriate preparations.
In 2018, the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) reported that most herbal medicines sold in major towns in are highly contaminated and dangerous for human consumption some with untreatable germs, resistant to a number of antibiotics. 90% of herbal powders, tablets, capsules, oils and liquids purchased from herbal clinics, nutrition stores, herbal product manufacturers, local retailers and from hawkers and street vendors in major towns were found to be contaminated.
More than two-thirds of Kenyans depend on these herbal medicines for their primary health care needs. The study has recommended that public education on the dangers of herbal medications should be carried out at the national level, to create awareness of the effect of overdependence on these drugs.