Did you know, that Ibuprofen can cause someone to have a “crazy” episode? That pink pill we pop for headaches, menstrual cramps, leg pain…that one, can actually make a person psychotic. And it is one of many. Rest easy though, because chances of that happening, of a prescribed medication causing an episode, are underwhelmingly slim. You would sooner get an ulcer from Ibuprofen.
That said, it is still quite fascinating that the human mind, beautifully formed as it is, can be so affected by prescribed medication meant to relieve pain, that someone can have a mental issue from it.
It is also not the only pill capable of doing this. Mention five commonly prescribed medicines, and one of them is sure to be on the list. Medication goes through the most stringent of trials, years of testing and re-testing, assessments and retrials, before being approved for use by the general public. Even after all that, a large portion of these medicines has the potential to cause psychological/psychiatric issues.
I do not mention this to scare people into becoming naturalists. For one, these instances are superbly rare. And, secondly, medication works!
I only bring this up in response to the villainizing of African traditional medicine, especially but not exclusively by African health care workers. Many come across the use of traditional medication only in the hospital setting, when said medication has badly affected the individual. They do not see the many other times when the therapy of our ancestors has worked, thus nullifying the need for hospitalisation.
Am I trying to understate the very real danger that comes with intoxication from traditional herbs? Not at all. Indeed, many a child has died from an overdose of the medication. However, can the same not be said about the overdose of Panado, a pill that is sold over the counter to anyone with money or medical aid? Of course, anything in this world taken in excess can be dangerous, and sometimes fatal.
My chat here is, there is potential for undesirable effects in any and all drugs – prescribed, illicit, misunderstood, or other. This potential increases with increasing quantity. Why, then, have we vilified traditional herbs, and not attempted to understand, and collaborate with, traditional herbalists, to make the medicines of our foremothers safer? A world wherein a mother can come in to the clinic or hospital, be free to discuss, with her nurse or doctor, the treatment her child received from the community healer a month ago – without fear of judgement or belittling – is a world wherein I would be eager to live. But, this is work.
Or perhaps the Ibuprofen I took 3 days ago for my cramps has gone to my head. Who is to say?