NIGERIA can make over $200 billion (N44 trillion) yearly by developing its rich natural products into nutraceuticals and functional foods. Experts say it could in fact, overtake India and China as a hub for traditional medicine utilisation.
Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition. Proponents of functional foods say they promote optimal health and help reduce the risk of disease.
Nutraceuticals is a broad term that is used to describe any product derived from food sources with extra health benefits in addition to the basic nutritional value found in foods. They can be considered non-specific biological therapies used to promote general well being, control symptoms and prevent malignant processes.
The Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO) has also developed a new herbal-based sickle cell product that has been shown to be effective in treating patients with the disorder.
Stakeholders in natural medicine including the Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme (BDCP), FIIRO, and the Nigeria Natural Medicine Development Agency (NNMDA), yesterday, at a press conference ahead of the “HerbFEST 2015: The Leading African Herbal, Health Foods and Natural Products Expo in Abuja” scheduled for October 6 to 8, 2015, also warned that all imported food products are poisonous and Nigerians should eat only foods produced in the country.
Chairman BDCP and professor of pharmacognosy, Maurice Iwu, said: “In the light of the dwindling economic fortunes in the nation, herbal medicine can boost Nigeria’s economy.
“In fact the United States reported last month that it makes $200 billion yearly from the marketing of functional foods and we are more endowed than they are in terms of bio-resources and natural products. We can make more than that here in Nigeria if only we develop natural medicine.
“All we need is a ribbon to tie these developments in traditional and indigenous medicine together. We need to have a platform to sit on to debate these issue, encourage one another and move forward. What we need is HerbFEST.
Director General of FIIRO, Dr. Gloria Elemo, said: “There is no way you get food imported into this country without importing toxins. All foods should be home grown and sourced.
“We are working on a nutraceuticals that can handle sickle cell. By the time it comes out it will be able to help treat the disease, create jobs. We have to use what is made in Nigeria for the country to grow.”
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