I FEAR and hate snakes, and would rather have someone else kill them. But i was excited, though with some caution, when i heard the news last week that snake oil was now available for sale in Nigeria…in commercial quantity. The excitement was because snake oil has wonderful healing properties. The caution was because, hundreds of years ago, snake oil became so adulterated and ineffective in many cases that these two words were used to described fakery in sphere of business.

Snake oil is made from snake fat, well known for essential fatty acids and their ant inflammatory health benefits. I was exposed to Snake oil in 1966 for the treatment of a swallow knee joint and pains in a fractured, healing femur (thigh bone) after a taxi knocked me down in Ibadan. The snake fat which I massaged into the joint and femur, came from a PYTHON slain for its medicinal fat. Some scientific evidence suggest that Python fat is the best snake fat for human health purposes.
My story shows that Nigeria is not a stranger to snake fat. All over the country, folk medicine appreciates python fat. In South- western Nigeria, the Yorubas call it ORA ERE (d:m-r:d). The Ibibio of Southern Nigeria call it Adana Asabou. ( m:d-m:r:d).

Worldwide, the Chinese are probably the people most associated with snake oil which they make from the fat of the Chinese water snake. I guess this is the snake the Yorubas call EJO JOMI JOKE ( r:d-r:r:d:d), a snake which lives both in water and on land. When researchers investigate the Chinese snake oil from the specie of snakes, they found it contained large amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids. As we know these acids are good for treating such ailments as inflammation and the pain they cause, bursitis, arthritis and many if not all, of the ailments which end in…. it is. Over many centuries, however, Chinese snake oil brands would appear to have lost their reputation for effectiveness because of many factors. One of these is that the quantity of the original snake fat many have been reduced in proprietary brands sold world- wide. It is possible, also, says many market critics, that all sorts of dilutions may be going on. In some cases, it is said products with no Chinese reliable snake fat is sold to unsuspecting buyers. Some people who distrust the Chinese turn to the Japanese who make their own snake oil from ERABU snakes, the same specie as the Chinese water snake oil.
We are re- assured of efficacy of the original snake oil by a 2007 German study which confirms that mice fed on original snake oil performed better than those fed lard alone. Another problem which a proprietary snake oil may suffer from these days of the commercialization of medicine and large scale consumption is the sources and quality of the raw material… about this decades ago when a Nigerian network marketing company introduced SEA CUCUMBER to the Nigerian market. The sea cucumber is not a plant but a small sea animal whose contributions to human health are immeasurable. I wondered in those days how the Malaysians company managed to obtain sea cucumbers from their natural habitats for not only the whole of Asia but the entire world. It turn out that the sea animals were farmed in artificial ponds.

Snake oil benefits

Irrespective of these possible draw backs in any proprietary formula,snake oil will continue to excite some of us for many reasons, including….


It reduces irritation, moistureise, shield the skin from a hostile environment and irritants which may cause infections, cracking,drying or damage.


This has to do with receptivity and ability of brain to classify, store and retrive information. Eicosapentaenoic acid,an EFAs, a component of snake oil, is associated with improved brain function and a decrease in nervous system disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, Alzheimer’s and dementia.


Researchers are still checking snake oil for immune boosting factors. None would appear to have popped up. But there are obvious effects that microbial strain on the immune system tends to be less or even disappear in snake oil users, especially the elderly.


For women who may be seeking on addition for their hair care wardrobe, snake oil goes well with hemp oil and orange peel powder. They improve the health of the scalp, hair follicles, prevent hair breaking, bring the shrine on hair and elongate it.
Like the Omega-3 oils from fish and plants, some factors in snake oils lower blood pressure, clean up the blood vessels and lower risks of heart attacks and strokes.


These are growing questions in Nigeria today. Also of growing concern to physicians and their patients alike are changing hormonal profiles which affect just about anything from fertility and anxiety to unnecessary anger or misplaced aggression. It is suggesting that anger spells can be quietened by rubbing some snake oil on the temples or on the chest.


There is an analgesic factor in snake oil which may be of interest to pain sufferers. This applies to surgery patients as well. The anti- inflammatory potentials in snake oil ease pain, and the healing factors help injuries or wound to heal fast and well.


Our thanks go to those researchers who have revived our confidence in snake oil medicine. Gone would appear to be those days in which thriving vendors sold rock oil in the United State and in Europe, passing it for snake oil. Gone should be those days, as well, when a district call jailed Clark Stanley for deception. In south Western Nigeria, snake fat is still as popular as in the 1960s when I first new about it. It is sold almost in every market. And this makes me wounder where the puruaveyors get many pythons to kill for their fat that ORA ERE is never out of circulation. This leads me to an ethical question.

Ethical question

The python is a loving and protective snake. So, why do we kill it for its fat? There are many stories of women who lost their way in the forests and have been protected by this snake until they were found by hunters who killed the snake. The fat of this snake is less in demand than its tails which traditional Nigeria medicine men would pay anything for because of the primordial and magical power it is said to possess.

About 40 years ago, my younger sister went to the bush with other women in the village to fetch firewood for cooking. When she became tired, she folded her shawl, placed it on the “ground” and sat on it, unknown to her that she placed it on the head of a python. The python is said to be not annoyed by whatever you do it, provided you do not touch the tail which it hides in the soil. When the women were ready to head home and my sister rose and picked her shawl,her eyes met with those of the python. She began to scream. But the python did not move. Rather, it continued to stare at her. Then, she fled, as fast as she could homeward, still screaming, wasting valuable energy she could have saved for her leg muscles. Back home, the men asked if her shawl was still beside the snake. It was. Yoruba elders believe the python would not leave the location, whatever the danger to it, because it would believe it had been asked to protect both the firewood and the shawl. Sure enough, the snake was still there waiting for my sister to despatch it.The men killed the python and took its tail home!

You are welcome to Nigeria, snake oil from Asia.

Sweet Prayer Plant, 3,000 times Sweeter than Sugar

I guessed last Thursday that we would be back today to Traumtococcus Daniellii. This plants goes by other names, one of which is sweet prayer plant. My friends who read my comments last week thought there must still be more to say about it. Who would not want to learn more about the medicinal uses of a leaf in which his grandmother and mother cooked MOI MOi and AGIDI for him or her?

Last week, I explained to some of them,the medicinal uses of this leaf after my first exposure in 1994, to its healing effects on the liver. In 2002, I was privileged to attend a natural medicine products conference in Accra, Ghana, co- coordinated by some universities in South Africa and in the United States. Mr Olajuwon Okubena, who makes Jobelyn, Nigeria’s leading herbal medicine formula, invited me and I informed many Nigerians in alternative medicine business and practice. No fewer than 20 of us Nigerians were at that conference to give Nigeria the single largest contingent among participating African countries. Taumatococcus Daniellii was presented to the conference. I took not much interest in it, even when we were told its fruits was the sweetest thing on this planet, about 2,000 to 3,000 times sweeter than Sucrose or table sugar. What made the sweetness interesting was that the taste could linger on the tongue for days. Besides, the calories were so small that it many not bother the diabetic’s blood sugar balance mechanism. Before I proceed, I would like to return to the mention I made of this plant last Thursday I wrote…

“THAUMATOCOCCUS DANIELLII. Calm down, as young people say in stressful conditions. This name is not a thunder clap. I will unmask the masquerade in a short while. I first heard of the medicinal properties of this leaf in 1994 when my wife had our last child at Duro Solaye Hospital, on Allen Avenue, Lagos. Like his brothers, he came with neonatal jaundice, the traditional management of which I had become some what aware of . I removed all beverages and glucose formulas from the new mother’s side table in the ward and replaced them with flasks filled with marigold tea and mild Aloe vera powder tea. Both stimulate the liver. From the breast milk, the baby picked it up.

In neonatal jaundice, the baby’s liver is too weak to conjugate bilirubin, the yellow component of red blood cells breaking up. An abnormally high level of biilrubin may cross into the brain and damage it, making the baby become a ” vegetable” for life. If the baby’s tummy ran on the Aloe vera and Marigold teas from the mother’s breast milk, a dilution is advisable. Soon, my son’s jaundice cleared. But I could not offer the recipe, for understandable reasons in an hospital environment, to a mother in the opposite bed whose baby had three Exchange Blood Transfusions ( EBTs). In an EBT, some of the blood is removed and replaced with some of someone else’s blood. People who know the spiritual consequence of this do not approve of it. This woman obtained the voluntary discharge of her baby and herself. No – one expected to see them at the first post- natal clinic weeks after. Meanwhile, she took the baby to her village in Epe, Lagos State of Nigeria where the leaf of Thaumatococcus Daniellii was routinely boiled and the water extract fed to the baby . At the first post- natal clinic for babies born that time, this baby was one of the most developed and healthest! Since that time, I advised the use of the water extract of this leaf by any one who complained about jaundice or sickcle cell crises which involved the liver. I suggest it for Ebola prevention and management because the liver is one of the organs easily damaged, and, as we know, there is no life without the liver. When I was confronted with a recent case of jaundice, I remembered this leaf and suggested use of the powder of the whole leaf. And to the amazement of every-one who followed the case, the jaundice wasted no time in disappearing. Ladies and gentlemen, Thaumatococcus Daniellii is the leaf in which our grandmother’s and mothers cooked moi moi and eko (Yoruba) or Agidi (lbo) we all remember the sweet fragrance this lot gave moi moi and agidi. We ate the stuff ravenously and almost ate the leaves. When we through it away, goats ravanously devour it, anywhere. They probably know what we no longer know about this leaf …it medicinal value. Our women of today are killing us. They have replaced moi moi leaf ( ewe- ran, Yoruba) with cellophane wraps which inject not only xeno- estrogens into food but petroleum residues as well. The few studies I have checked on Thaumatococcus Daniellii say it prevents and reverses oxidative damage in the liver and in the kidneys”.

Additional information today

Everypart of the plant is useful. The fruit, also called MIRACULOUS BERRY is used in traditional medicine as an emetic, relaxant, pulmonary challenges. The seed is used as an emetic and for pulmonary (lung) challenges.

The leaf sap is useful as an antidote for the venoms, bites and stings. It is used as a sedative and as treatment for insanity.

The seed is chewable raw. It keeps the mouth sweet even when sour food is eaten about one hour later, or longer. It is in this regard that it is used in some countries to sweeten bread, fruit, tea and foods such as corn pap.