Funmi Lawrence Ogidan, the chairperson of Global New Herbal Life, is passionate about her trade, herbal practice, which she says is the trend at the moment. In this chanced interview, the beautiful mother of two from Ile-Ife in Osun State, Nigeria, tells all about her journey to becoming an expert in alternative medicine practice. Enjoy…
When and how did you begin this herbal journey?
I started about twenty years ago. It was because of a personal experience that I had to get into it and I realized there are so many things we have in our communities in terms of herbal cure but are neglected. I decided to look into it, did my due diligence and I realized it was something very good, very effective and its efficacy very high, so I decided to get into it and make a living out of it.
You don’t look like someone who is cut out for herbal practice. Tell us more.
Like I said earlier, it was a personal experience that took me into it. I had fertility challenges and I did every single thing every woman would do. I did IVF, went to hospitals for solution, yet but I couldn’t get anything out it. Even with the injections and drugs they gave me, I developed hormonal “lacosters’. So at a time, I was like, let me just go home and see what can be done since the orthodox medicines are not giving me the expected result. So, I started thinking of getting my body back to shape, I started doing a whole lot of readings and research, and at that point, I just wanted to get my body back to normal and I was not even bothered about having child anymore. In the process, I started drinking different herbs which I prepared myself. Amazingly, I found out that I was pregnant, and I had the baby. Even after then, I found out everything was going the way they were supposed to be. So I had to do so much diggings and like our forefathers, our parents in those days, these were the things they used and the thought of refining them and make them attractive to the people of today came to mind. I thought of making it better and up to the standard. That was what gave birth to Global New Herbal Life.
What are the things you did to become an expert in it?
I did a couple of trainings in herbal science and drug technology in “Serialic Herbal School”. I also did Advance Diploma in Herbal Medicine in University of Lagos. I also did “Nichoroparty” with the African/American University, among other trainings and workshops. I also had trainings with the local fathers, the Babas, being the custodians of the herbal heritage. The Babas are so knowledgeable in herbs. I got trained by about four of them, even with the Iyalojas. I was able to sit with them to learn identification of herbs and things like that. We might say there are things we know that they don’t know, but I tell you, there are so many things they know. I tried to gain as much as I could from them in term of experience and I later returned to my books. I basically didn’t limit myself to the classroom, I went to the field for the practicals.
Despite the awareness, many are still skeptical about the safety of herbal medicine. Do you think herbal medicine can be compared with the orthodox?
While I was in UNILAG, I am still there anyways; the pharmacognosists mentioned that the World Health Organisation was trying to bring herbal medicine up to the standard with orthordox medicine, which is one of the bills being sponsored at the National Assembly. And you won’t really blame the people for their reservation about herbal organic medicine because one, probably because of the level of awareness about it; especially the controversy about the dosage, among other issues. The toxicology report is not well done. Maybe they just mix one or two things, not considering what the liver can carry and all that. So it’s just for people like myself and other people to come out and try to see how we can give our people the kind of confidence required that herbal medicine can actually be done in prim and proper way, and that it can help them put their body back in the right form.
Tell us about your products and your specialization at Global New Herbal Life.
We have various drugs but I also want you to know that, both the orthodox and herbal medicines do not heal, they do not cure. What the orthodox medicine does is to suppress the ailment and tricks the body as if the body is actually getting better, but what the herbal medicine does is to return the body to how it is supposed to be so that the body can heal itself. So what we have done is to produce different kinds of drugs that can return the body back to the way its supposed to be in the category that it’s needed. Be it in the area of blood sugar, blood pressure or sleep. It returns the body to ‘factory setting’, the natural state. We have products that deal with different ailments and diseases because we aim at returning the body to its healthy form. We also do skin care. We want it the natural way. For instance, what I use on my skin are the products we make. I also try to be an advocate; I don’t encourage people to tone their skin. So I don’t go out and buy cream or body oil. As you are looking after the outside, it is also very important to look after the inside. The cars are actually modified after our body, because like every three months, you know you have to service your car, change the oil and all that. How many times do you check your kidneys? How many times do you check your liver, the flow of your blood and the rest? So, at Global New Herbal Life, we intend to just make you whole, both inside and outside.
What are the things that stand your company out?
We are NAFDAC approved. We have our farm and factory. Also, we are the first company around here to get the ECOWAS Trade Liberation Scheme, that means our products can be anywhere in West Africa and we do not have to pay a duty. The ministry of foreign affairs, Customs, NDLEA verify and ensure that what we claim to be doing is exactly the way it is. Our production is of international standard and we ensure our quality control meets the standard set by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria. So these are part of the things that stand us out.
Most herbal practitioners claim to have products that enlarge the breasts, butts and the male organ. Are these claims real?
I will talk on this, based on my personal point of view. I think everybody should leave their body the way it is. Of course, they will tell you they can do it, they use Pandoro, but do they tell you the aftermath, the side effect? If I do the boobs right now for example, by the time I am 60, 70; because the metabolism, the cells, the way they are actually wired, the way they function, it will then mean I am giving them a foreign body to feed on or something like that. That means the workings of my body is going to change a little bit. I think everyone should just remain as original as they can be, because they all have side effects.
Another one that is prevalent among young people especially is bleaching, and toning of the skin. Is there a safer way to do this?
Those who do it are actually digging their grave. Your skin is one of the largest organs and there is hardly anything you put on it that does not penetrate. People just want to be white. They forget there is after effect. You find out that people are using these creams in UK, Korea and so on, because of the humidity of their weather, the effect is different even though it will still affect them because everything go down to your kidney because you have mercury and a whole lot of other things in the material. Ours is even worse because of the sun, the ozone layer, the environmental pollution is way high. So if you are dark, be dark and beautiful, if you are fair, keep your skin, there is nothing like I am just toning up and all that. There are essential herbal oils that we can use and we will be fine. Of course, when they use these creams, at a point you will see them so beautiful but over time, it all become a mess. That is why you see the alarming rate at which cancer is rising here. Normally, our body is wired in a way that the cells are expected to die in every one hundred and fifteen days, and after that new cells rejuvenate. Now, during that cause of one hundred and fifteen days, if one cell fails to perform the function it is expected to perform based on the cream you use or whatever you have been using, then the problem starts from there. Then you see people being diagnosed with cancer. It didn’t start that day, it must have started about ten years earlier.
What do you think can be done to really make strong the foundation of the alternative medicine?
It really is a good thing for the government to have actually created the traditional medicine board. But there is need for more. I think a school should be created where we will be taught herbal medicine so we can be following the due processes. For now, it is not really regulated even though they claim some kind of regulations are being put together. You can’t be an accountant without going to school to learn it but you can be a herbalist by simply developing the passion. Even to be a mechanic, you need to train for it. So, I think a school should actually be put up for the development of herbal medicine.