This is an article that is long overdue, considering the amount of comments we have had on our article on local fertility concoctions.
So, sometime last week, Nicole “commissioned” me to do a piece on it. I was excited to start and had a few ideas of the people I thought were knowledgeable about herbs, so I got some pictures off the internet of these herbs. My plan B was my Dad, as if all else failed, I knew he would surely know some names.
First on my list was my children’s hair dresser, whom, from my interactions with her, I knew had knowledge of herbs. I had seen her being called several times to help out the woman who sells herbs in the local market around my area, whenever she wasn’t around. When I explained to her what I wanted, she said a better person would be a traditional birth attendant, not even someone who sells herbs. So that was how I went off in search of a traditional birth attendant around my area.
I finally found him, or rather I found his elder brother, who was more educated, and I thank God I did, else, this article would still be undone. He told me categorically that what I wanted to do was best done with the State Board of Traditional Medicine, and if I do find someone willing to give out for free “knowledge of what they use to eat” then I had better make sure the practitioner was registered with the Government agency.
I still asked him to direct me to a few places, he did and one of the places even looked more dingy than his, so I did not bother. The regulatory board was where I decided to head to, but I decided to do a more extensive search online first.
I hit gold, when I stumbled on a blog, which talked extensively about fertility according to the Yoruba culture and even gave names, both botanical and Yoruba. Upon closer inspection, I realised it was a new post written by a biochemist and herbal fertility practitioner, Afolabi Adeosun. And that was when this piece really started. I called him up and he was amazingly open to talking to me and didn’t mind mentioning the names of the herbs.
I got his book, Easy Pregnancy, and that literally made my life easy. It’s a treasure trove, I must say. But here we go to the gist of the matter.
According to the author in his book, Yorubic female fertility herbal medicine revolves around regulating menstrual cycle, removing obstructions in fallopian tube, shrinking growths in the uterus, regulating ovulation cycle, cleansing the uterus, eliminating infertility worms, stopping pathological vaginal discharges, balancing hormones, healing wounds in the uterus, and preventing spontaneous abortions (miscarriages).
This simply means that most of the herbs are multipurpose.
Beyond the known medical reasons for miscarriages, traditional medical practitioners belief that there are more reasons why miscarriages happen, and they range from anti fertility worms (aran aboyunje), which are three in number to internal heat (hot womb), which the Yorubas call “Oru inu”, which is known to kill sperm and when an embryo manages to implant, it would most likely lead to a miscarriage.
The herbs that are used to treat the worm infestation and “hot” womb condition range from Epin, (Ficus Exerspirata), Amunututu (Indian spinach) to Epaikun (curculigo pilosa), Jokoje (Cissampelos owariensis) and Abere (picrima nitida)
In orthodox medicine, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome comes with lots of symptoms, but it’s still a hormonal condition. Two of the herbs recommended include Tude, (Calliandra portoricensis) and Akoigun, (Aristolochia repens).
Problems with menstruation (Irregular, heavy or abnormal flow):
According to my research, there are a lot of issues surrounding menstruation that could hinder a woman from getting pregnant. Some of them, orthodox medicine does not recognise as an issue, however, traditional medicine practitioners lay emphasis on them.
Irregular menstruation: practitioners of Yorubic Medicine use herbs such as Bara (Citrulus lonatis), Egbo Tude (caltiandra portoricensis), Labelabe, etc. to successfully treat this condition.
Watery or Too Light Flow: Atale (zingiber officanale), Epin (ficus exasparata) are used.
Heavy Menstrual Flow: Herbs such as Asunwon Oyinbo (Cassia alata), Agbado (Zee mays), etc. are used when treating this condition. Another offshoot of a heavy period is when the same period begins to have blood clots in menstruation (eje didi nin uase).
According to Adeosun, excess clotted blood in menstruation is a sign of reproductive disorder in female. “We believe that if a woman has good reproductive health, her blood should be clean and must be liquid throughout. Occasionally, clotted blood can come out but when it becomes usual, then attention must be paid to it. Some women with unknown/idiopathic infertility often experience this situation during their menstrual period, so can use such herbs as karandafi (Sorghum bicolor), lime (Citrus arantifoli).”
Other herbs that can used to treat menstrual issues is the African Cucumber or Bitter Melon ((Momordica charantia).
Fibroids: (Asunwon, Cassia alata) is one of the herbs used to treat this condition.
Sperm leakage/Involuntary emission of sperm (Eda):
This is regarded as normal in modern medicine, but according to Yorubic Medicine, if the sperm emitted by the woman is too much, fertilization will not take place. There must be a certain quantity of sperm cells in the semen but in a case where much of the seminal fluid is wasted away, the sperm cells will not be enough to fertilize the woman’s egg.
Herbs like Asuwon Oyinbo (Cassia alala), Kaun (Trona), etc. have been used to treat this condition successfully
Egbesi (Nauclea Latifolia)
Sperm Count Boosting: Egbo Osunsun, (Carpolobia lutea)
The combination of cowhage or velvet bean(Mucuna pruriens) is known as Werepe in Yoruba and Agbala or Agboloko in Ibo. Zingiber officinale is commonly called ginger, and Ipomoea digitata, commonly called sweet potato can help with boosting sperm count.
Walnut leaf (African walnut or Tetracarpidium conophorus) known in Yoruba as Awusa or Asala is known to improve fertility generally.
Other herbs which are generally good for fertility treatment include:
Fertility Plant or Indian Cork Tree (Newbouldia laevis): This plant is a popular and potent fertility herb that is used to treat all female reproductive disorders including infertility as the name implies.
Conditions such as menstrual disorders, hormonal imbalance, uterine tumors, uterine weakness, miscarriages, endometriosis, etc., are well treated with this herb.
Put 1 teaspoon of the dried and powdered bark or root of this herb in a cup of water and bring to boil. Drink 1 cup twice daily.
It is called Akoko in Yoruba, Ogilisi/Ogirisi in Igbo, and Aduruku in Hausa.
Day flower, or Small Blue Flower, (Comelina diffusa): Is used to treat female infertility. It promotes pregnancy, and is called Itopere or Godogbo-Odo in Yoruba, Obogi in Igbo, and Balasa in Hausa
Indian Kamila (Mallotus oppositifolius): This promotes conception in women. It is called Oju-eja, Jeja, Iya-Dudu or Orokoro in Yoruba; Kpokokwa in Igbo; K’afar Mutuwa in Hausa.
Hogweed (Boerhavia Diffusa): This plant is used to treat female infertility and menstrual pain. Its main action is to normalize hormones in the body. The leaf is prepared like vegetable soup and eaten. You can also pound the leaves with pepper (Capsicum annuum) and add little salt. Take it orally. It is called Etiponla in Yoruba, Azeigwe in Igbo and Babba-Juju in Hausa.
Consumption Weed (Cleome Viscose): This plant is used to treat many kinds of female infertility. It is called Ekuya in Yoruba.
Coconut (Cocos nucifera): The root of this plant is used to treat uterine diseases generally. It is Agbon in Yoruba, Kwakwar in Igbo, and Ake Babe in Hausa
Chinese bar (Triumfetta rhomoboidea): This plant is used among Esan people of South-South Nigeria, to induce fertility and make the womb receptive to implantation of foetus. The herb is called Ako Bolobolo in Yoruba, Obo in Igbo and Yanka-Dafi in Hausa
I hope that this will go a long way in helping one TTC momma for now. Since this list is not exhaustive, expect to be updated as new knowledge on herbal fertility medicine comes to light.
Below is short email interview I had with Mr. Adeosun Afolabi Moses.
Please tell us about yourself and education?
My name is Dr. Adeosun Afolabi Moses from Oyan town, Osun State. I am an herbal practitioner, specializing in infertility treatment, and I am a graduate of biochemistry from the University of Ilorin, Unilorin.
How did you discover your passion for herbal treatment, considering you are conventionally educated?
It started while I was in Primary Cchool, in class three precisely. A woman died of breast cancer after surgery and I remembered that my Grandpa treated a case like that successfully.
On the day this woman died, I decided that I would become a medical doctor, not to sit down in the office to attend to patients or prescribe drugs for them but to become a medical researcher with interest in herbs that can cure diseases that medical science cannot help.
From that day, whenever a teacher entered our class and asked “Who wants to become a Governor, President, Lawyer, Accountant, etc.?”, you would never see my hand up until Doctor or Pharmacist was mentioned. My interested was boosted when I treated my sister with PID and it left her, and also when I treated a friend of my mum’s with fibroid successfully, after I left secondary school. I started helping my grandpa in the preparation of herbs and people started calling me omo baba alagunmu. When I finished secondary school, I started learning from others also and I chose to study Biochemistry when I discovered that biochemists work on herbs more than other fields, at the biomolecular levels (metabolism).
How long have you been practising and why are you more interested in female infertility?
Since 2007, I have been practicing herbal medicine at home before I later got my office. Prior to that, I was involved in helping my grandpa who died in the same year 2007, to treat some of his cases and I was also helping some of my trainers among whom some are late today.
My interest in female fertility started when I discovered that women are often blamed for inability to get pregnant without considering male factor. I am a man with a very soft heart; I always feel what people around me feel.
An aunt of mine was once suffering from an isolated case of infertility and she even sold her land to take care of herself. She was feeling a strange sound and movement in her tummy especially at midnight, and she couldn’t get pregnant. She went to hospitals; they did not see anything wrong with her. She went to some herbal practitioners, they gave her medicines to no avail and she consulted pastors and alfas, some said it was a spiritual attack while some said it was a child they didn’t want her to give birth to.
I was called for her treatment and I remembered that one of my late trainers once described such a situation to me and told me that it is a pathological problem in Yorubic Medicine that can prevent pregnancy and can be easily treated with herbs, that it is not a spiritual problem but that many herbal practitioners do not understand this case. I treated her and she got pregnant.
Later, I started receiving such cases and other infertility cases. Female infertility took my time entirely from other treatments because of referrals I got from some of my patients that I have treated before.
What have you seen to be the most common causes of infertility in women nowadays?
Fallopian tube blockage as a result of untreated or partially treated sexually transmitted infections, and Hyperprolactinemia.
How does one recognise a Certified Herbal Practitioner from the dubious ones out there?
We have associations and State Ministry of Health also gives us license to practice. A certified herbal practitioner must possess the license and/or also belong to one or more of the associations. Apart from these, people around him and his neighbourhood must recognize him as an herbal practitioner. Another thing is that he must be a man of sound knowledge in herbal medicine.
- Would you mention some of the herbs that are able to treat, some of the conditions below:
Miscarriage: Epin (Ficus Exerspirata)
PCOS: Tude (Calliandra portoricensis)
Irregular menstruation: Labelabe
Hot Womb: Jokoje (Cissampelos owariensis)
Fibroids: Asunwon (Cassia alata)
Endometriosis: Egbesi (Nauclea Latifolia)
Hormone Balancing in the body: Akoigun (Aristolochia repens)
Sperm Count Boosting: Egbo osunsun (Carpolobia lutea)
Godspeed and babydust to you mommas!
Join the conversation with any of our TTC and Pregnancy Groups here
Dr. Afolabi Adeosun can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org