Toxins in herbal medicines cause of kidney diseases — Researcher

The toxins in the natural plants used in the preparation of herbal medicines have been identified as the cause of the increase in Chronic Kidney Diseases (CKD) among Ghanaians.

Madam Evelyn Biriwaa Ofei, Deputy General Manager of Entrance Pharmaceutical and Research Centre, said the herbal medicines in the country contain unextracted components and toxins, which affect the kidney either by making it weak or reducing its functionality in the breakdowns of medicines into the body.

She said there was an urgent need to research more into herbs and natural plants to ensure that only the needed components in a natural plant were extracted to cure specific illness.

Madam Ofei was speaking at the opening of the 3rd biennial scientific conference of the College of Health Sciences of the University of Ghana (UG) held in Accra on Wednesday.

The three-day conference was on the theme: ‘Genetics, Hypertension, Diabetes and Herbal Remedies in Kidney Diseases’.

The conference, which marks the climax of activities undertaken by the College of Health Sciences to celebrate the UG at 70, is being attended by policy makers, industry players and the academia to discuss and find solutions to the rise in CKD in the country.

It is expected to generate new ideas for research, set the stage for networking in research and propagate research findings that may be helpful for the future development of good health policies.

Herbal medicines, according to Madam Ofei, had side effects on the kidney, as most of them being consumed by the public have not been properly researched into, stressing the need for the herbal medicine regulatory agencies to bring all players in the herbal industry under strict control, to ensure that herbal medicine products were standardised.

Research has shown that alcohol, smoking, high intake of salt, regular use of analgesics, coupled with modernisation and sedentary lifestyles have contributed to kidney infections.

“Diabetes, hypertension and CKD have become common in every nook and cranny of Ghana, as a country, we need to be frightened because these diseases are affecting both young and old, particularly those between 25 and 50 years, who are supposed to be economically active,” she said.

Professor Ferdinand Ayeh-Kumi, Provost of the UG College of Health Sciences, said the conference would update the knowledge of health professionals, particularly those working in districts and regions to improve their practice.

He said the conference would also disseminate reports that would contribute to public debate on the challenges and contributions in healthcare delivery in Ghana.

He was positive that the conference would harness research findings in a manner that was easily understood for immediate application to help reduce the burden of chronic kidney disease.

Presently only five out of the 10 regions in Ghana have dialysis units to attend to the 4,000 Ghanaians who need dialysis every year.

According to the Ghana Kidney Association, only 686 of individuals were on renal replacement for dialysis last year, while the remaining 3,314 are unable to undergo dialysis due to the high cost of dialysis sessions.

The kidney performs essential functions of removing waste products from the blood and regulates water fluid levels in the body.

Kidney infections occur when bacteria’s infects the kidney. Symptoms of kidney infections are fever, chills, generalised weakness, a burning sensation in urination, dehydration, a dull pain on the side or in the lower back, among others.

Ways to prevent kidney infections include drinking plenty water to flash out bacteria from the body.

By Linda Naa Deide Aryeetey

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