ALABUKUN: NIGERIA’S FIRST LOCALLY-PRODUCED MODERN DRUG
May 9, 2020
If you were born in the 70s or grew up in the 80s, you will be sure to remember the calls of women as they carry local ‘agbo’ medicine from street to street.
Intertwined between their wares was the famous Alabukun powder in a white and red packet, as they play the role of both a traditional healer and a pharmacist. Not just that, when you go to any chemist nationwide then, you are sure to find this medication.
It is very interesting to find that at a point Nigerians take Alabukun regularly for major ailments like pain, headaches, irritation etc, thereby making it one of the most abused drugs at that time.
So, what exactly is the drug Alabukun and what is the use?
Alabukun was produced in 1918 by Jacob Sogboyega Odulate,a Nigerian Pharmacist. With a determination not to just make a name for himself but put Nigeria on the map as a medicine producing nation, Odulate went ahead to produce and package the famous Alabukun powder.
Just like the popular Andrew liver salt, Alabukun was largely used to treat migraine headache, fever, pain and even arthritis. Yes, the drug has the potential to do a lot of these.
Alabukun Powder contains Acetylsalicylic Acid and Caffeine as active ingredients with mixture of herbal and European ingredients.
There were claims that it treats myocardial infarction ( medical language for heart attack). It may because it contains acetylsalicylic acid. However, any medical professional knows that the acetylsalicylic which is also an active ingredient in Aspirin is better used for preventive purposes and not as a cure (meaning it can reduce the risk for heart attack).
So why would Nigerians go crazy after this medication?
It’s simply because it did work!
Just as the American Aspirin would work, Alabukun did work. Alabukun is still being used till date by some people
However, there is a huge difference between medicine over a century ago and now.
Yes! Alabukun is that old and I think Nigerians needs to celebrate this drug.
However, we need to know this fact: It cannot just be consumed as a regular herbal medication without a doctor’s prescription. This is because the major component acetylsalicylic can inhibit platelet aggregation acting as a blood thinner. In other words, there is increased bleeding with this medication and shouldn’t be consumed or taken as a daily pain management medication without a doctor’s knowledge; especially for women who are of child bearing age and children. Too much consumption can cause ringing in the ears ( known as tinnitus), liver toxicity or in some cases constipation.
So the next time you see a package of Alabukun, celebrate the creativity of a Nigerian legend but don’t be too quick to take this without letting your physician know about it.