Traditional medicine may be harmful for people, too, when the exact effects and side-effects of the herbs used are not known appropriatelyAfrican potato has been used for some time now in treating patients with HIV/AIDS because a regular intake of the vegetable showed results in slowing down the progression of the horrible disease. But a South African expert in HIV/AIDS who spoke at the 21st Biannual Nutrition Congress which took place in Port Elizabeth last week suggested that African potato may be dangerous when consumed on a regular basis, because it may have side effects.
"While some extracts of the African potato, in purified forms, are helpful, some are harmful as it suppresses the bone marrow. In some cases this traditional potato has the potential to interfere with certain types of antiretrovirals, lowering the treatment's effectiveness by up to 80%," said Dr. Kas Kasongo, who is an HIV Educator at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the coordinator of the HIV Clinician Society.
The HIV expert also pinpointed the fact that most of the South African medicine is based on traditional methods and techniques, meaning that most of the population treat their disorders and diseases by resorting to various herbs and plants known to have beneficial effects in reversing conditions' symptoms. It is a good thing to do because in this way one can avoid severe side effects of radiation or chemotherapy used by Western medicine. But people should know more about the plants they are using before trusting 100% in their miraculous effects.
"What is needed is proper research into traditional medicine, so that it can bridge the knowledge gap to conventional medicine. One problem now with traditional medicine is that there are no specific guidelines as to choice, safety, efficacy and usage for the protection of the public.
As 80% of Africa's people culturally prefer traditional medicine as they view it as holistic, personalised, affordable and easily available, we need more reliable information as to its healing powers and nutrition, so it can be used with confidence," suggested Dr. Kasongo.