Pharmacists warn against treating snakebites with charcoal, bitter kola

Her reaction came in the wake of a snakebite that killed a Nigerian Air Force woman, Lance Corporal Bercy Ogah, in Abuja.
Pharmacists warn against treating snakebites with charcoal, bitter kola

Dubawa

As the price of typical anti-venom continues to spike, Nigerians have called on stakeholders and policymakers to explore herbs and local antidotes such as active charcoal, bitter kola and black stones.

Clinical pharmacists in the country have, however, cautioned against resorting to herbs, activated charcoal and bitter kola to treat snakebites.

A social commentator, Daniella Udo-Egbu Ugokwe, had drummed up support for activated charcoal on her Facebook account.

Her reaction came in the wake of a snakebite that killed a Nigerian Air Force woman, Lance Corporal Bercy Ogah, in Abuja.

“People keep saying ‘go to the hospital’ as if you will get immediate and professional help there. Just see the ‘yama-yama’ that happened there.

"Meanwhile, activated charcoal remains a must for every home,” she said.

Her view was also supported by an Ibadan-based businessman, Babalola Falobi, who urged Nigerians not to allow Western education to blind them to the benefits of traditional methods.

“I come from a rural community and have seen my late father save several farmers bitten by snakes, using traditional methods and applying a particular type of plant on the wound.

“The nearest hospital to my village was 30 minutes drive away. So, the issue of”rushing” anybody to the hospital did not arise, except you wanted to rush a dead person,” he said.

Much as their individual testimony might sound pleasing to the ears, experts have cautioned against their use.

According to National Chairman of Clinical Pharmacists Association of Nigeria, Dr. Joseph Madu, the use of activated charcoal should not be encouraged because anti-snake venom is usually injected directly into the blood and may take a few seconds to minutes before it circulated in the body.

“It mainly acts locally in the alimentary canal and may not be absorbed into the circulation to stop the venom from having deleterious effects on the victim.

“Although there are testimonials and local research to support potency of bitter kola, there is no extensive documentation on its use in orthodox medicine.

“The golden advice is that anyone bitten by a snake should immediately visit a hospital or anti-snake centre,” he canvassed.

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