Qualitative laboratory analysis for the detection of conventional drugs in herbal preparations supplied by healers in major towns of Ethiopia


  • Asfaw Debella
  • Dawit Abebe
  • Kissi Mudie
  • Ashenif Tadele
  • Awot Gebreegziabher


Abstract Background: There has always been an air of uncertainty whether or not traditional healers, especially those in the urban areas, supplied herbal remedies adulterated with modern drugs. Objectives: This study aims to analyze herbal preparations prescribed by healers against malaria, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, etc. for the presence of conventional drugs, with emphasis on anti-microbial pharmaceutical ingredients. Methods: Patient simulated convenience based survey method was employed to collect samples of remedies supplied by healers along with other pertinent information on quality of services provided in 60 traditional health care establishments. Presence or absence of conventional drug ingredients in the collected samples of herbal preparations was tested using a validated analytical laboratory method. Result: Active pharmaceutical ingredients were detected in 39 or 51% of the 76 samples of traditional remedies tested. The average price that healers charge for herbal preparations adulterated with modern drugs was higher than the full dose of conventional drugs sold in retail pharmacies. Even the unadulterated preparations were found to be more expensive than the latter. Documentation of patient history, diagnostic techniques, dispensing practices of the remedies, etc. as observed in the traditional health service delivery outlets/clinics were generally less satisfactory. Conclusion: Supplying herbal preparations adulterated with modern drugs, particularly with anti-microbial agents entails a number of untoward effects including increased emergence of resistant pathogenic strains. Sustained effort in creating awareness among the communities by health workers and authorities is, therefore, crucial to curb the looming danger to public health. While existing legal frameworks may be sufficient to consider punitive measures against perpetrators of such inappropriate and unauthorized use of anti-microbial agents, new ones that particularly govern the activities of traditional healers need to be put in place. [Ethiop.J.Health Dev. 2008;22(1):55-62]




How to Cite

Debella, A., Abebe, D., Mudie, K., Tadele, A., & Gebreegziabher, A. (2016). Qualitative laboratory analysis for the detection of conventional drugs in herbal preparations supplied by healers in major towns of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Journal of Health Development, 22(1). Retrieved from https://ejhd.org/index.php/ejhd/article/view/470

Most read articles by the same author(s)

1 2 > >>