Agbo’, the Yoruba name for herbal medicines, is a concoction prepared from a variety of herbs and; it is one of the most popular herbal preparations taken for various ailments, especially by the native Yoruba people.

It has also seen a lot of patronage and acceptance by other tribes too. Agbo can be soaked in water, alcohol or even palmwine before one drink it.


World Health Organization estimates that about 80 per cent of the population in developing countries still depends on traditional medicine for their Primary Healthcare (PHC) needs; however, this percentage may vary from country to country.

Herbal concoctions are largely used in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

In Nigeria, many people, especially in the South-West region, believe and rely on local herbs for medication.

Other names of Agbo

Agbo have been called different names by different authors,  people, tribes, cultures, ethnic groups and races.

The other common names of agbo are:

  • Concoction
  • Herbal concoctions
  • Herbal mixture
  • Alternative medicine
  • Natural cure
  • Yoruba herbs
  • Unorthodox medicine
  • Traditional medicine
  • Herbs
  • Native medicine
  • Tradomedical
  • Nature
  • Yoruba tea
  • Yoruba medicine
  • Yoruba cure

Preparation and Recipes for Agbo

One of the Agbo ingredients is the root of specific trees. It’s usually provided in the rural areas of Yoruba tribe.

The herbs can be different from one tribe to another. Only the local elders know the whole recipe of how to prepare Agbo Jedi Jedi.

Agbo Jedi Jedi can be made from various ingredients. The purest root and barks of specific trees are used to be boiled and soaked. One of the recent “modern” recipes for Agbo can look like this:

  • Grated ginger
  • Honey
  • Apple Vinegar
  • Cinnamon powder
  • Chopped fresh parsley
  • Lemon
  • Dogoyaro
  • Turmeric
  • Baking powder
  • Alum
  • Avocado pear
  • Pineapple
  • Lemon grass
  • Hibiscus flower (subo)
  • Pawpaw fruit, seeds and leaves
  • Mango bark,  fruit, seeds and root
  • Bitterleaf
  • Scent leave
  • Moringa
  • Awolowo leaves
  • Indian hemp
  • Garlic
  • Cocoyam leaves and root
  • Beet roots
  • Grape fruit
  • Lime
  • Guava leaves
  • Potato leaves
  • Pumpkin
  • Sorghum
  • Salt
  • Fenugreek seeds
  • Alligator pepper
  • Dates
  • Mustard
  • Black stone
  • Palm wine
  • Water
  • Alcohol
  • Dry gin
  • Paraga
  • Beer
  • Small stout
  • Charcoal
  • Edible mushrooms

These list of recipes above was gotten from interviews of people from different tribes in Nigeria.

Types of agbo

There are different types or brews of agbo. These herbal medicines are named based on the ailment they are used to cure.  The various brews are:

  • agbo iba for malaria,
  • agbo iba ponto for typhoid fever,
  • agbo jedi jedi for dysentery,
  • agbo ara riro for body aches
  •  agbo atosi touted to cure sexually transmitted infections.
  • agbo inarun for  rashes and severe body itching
  • Agunmu Atosi
  • Ito Sugar
  • Jedi
  • Afato (for low sperm count)
  • Eje Ruru
  • Burantashi gives strong erection and cures erectile dysfunction
  • Babeje
  • Opa Eyin
  • Ale
  • Eda
  • Agunmu Inarun
  • Kokoro Inueje
  • Pelorie
  • Iba
  • there’s even a brew rocking the market as an aphrodisiac.

Why do people take Agbo?  Benefits people claim they get from use of herbal concoctions

People take Agbor for the following reasons based on my interviews:

  • It is the first point of access to users.
  • Cheap and affordable
  • Less side effects
  • It is natural
  • Ancestral reasons
  • Agbo has miraculous healing effect
  • It cannot be faked
  • No expiry date
  • A gift from nature
  • Cultural beliefs
  • Maybe ignorance

Diseases Agbo is claimed to cure

  • Rheumatism
  • Gonorrhea
  • Syphilis
  • Chlamydia
  • Weak erection
  • Internal heat
  • Staphylococcus
  • Detox
  • Sickle cell anemia
  • Cleans the system
  • Headaches
  • Back pain
  • Malaria
  • Eye problem
  • Typhoid
  • Dysentery
  • Blood infection
  • Yellow fever
  • Arthritis
  • Hemorrhoids or piles
  • Low sperm count
  • Body odour
  • Tubal blockage
  • Infertility
  • Watery sperm
  • Quick ejaculation
  • Ringworm
  • Eczema
  • Hypertension
  • Running stomach
  • Body pains
  • Body weakness or fatigue
  • Short of blood
  • Lapalapa
  • Diabetes
  • HIV
  • Labour pains
  • Scorpion bites
  • Snake bite
  • Fibroids
  • Crawcraw
  • Scabies
  • Low libido
  • Waist pain
  • Fractures
  • Stomach pain
  • Stomach ulcer
  • Heavy menstrual  bleeding
  • Menstrual pains
  • Worm crawling in the body
  • Vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease (PID)
  • Anemia
  • Hepatitis B and C (all forms of hepatitis)
  • Toothache
  • Mouth odour
  • Hernia
  • Toilet infection
  • Yeast infection or candidiasis
  • Vaginal itching
  • Cancer
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Pain on urination
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Prostate diseases
  • Breast cancer

This list is endless.

How agbo is taken

Agbo is administered through the following means or routes:

  • Orally
  • Steam bathing
  • Bathing
  • Intravaginally
  • Rectally
  • Topically
  • Inhalation

The packaging of Agbo

Agbo comes as liquid, pastries, syrups or crushed mixtures of different things such as the bark, leaves, stems and roots of particular trees. Agbo can be soaked in a transparent container for drinking as may be specified by the traditional medicine man. It can also be boiled for drinking or bathing depending on the prescription by the expert on the ailment that is being treated. Women who sell ‘agbo’ in its raw form are called ‘EleweOmo’.

In the past, patients who patronized the local traditional medicine men are given prescriptions of the types of herbs oragbo to buy. However, it’s a common practice nowadays for women (young and old) popularly called ‘SisiAlagbo’ to hawk the already prepared stuff.

They are seen all over the place with big plastic bowls which contain warmers and transparent plastics all used in hawking the herbs.

AgboIjede, which is used to treat pile and the herbs are soaked or boiled with water, the most commonly consumed ‘agbo’ in Lagos and other Southwestern state.

Medical experts speak on the concerns and dangers of Agbo use

That agbo is natural and nature is a big claim. It is not in doubt. Many drugs dispensed in hospitals have their origins in plants.


Medical personnel share their perspectives below.

Dr Nkem told NAN that one of the major concerns in consuming Agbo is that one cannot ascertain the dosage and expiration of the mixture, hence the tendency to either under-dose or over-dose.

“People who take Agbo do not know when it becomes under dose or over dose and this can affect the multisystem functions of the kidney and liver, which are critical to the functioning of the body.

“Also, it can lead to blood poisoning, gastrointestinal challenges, vomiting, diarrhea, anemia and even death, if mismanaged or not detected early.

“However, one is not ruling out the efficacy of these herbs, but it is worthy to emphasise that if it is to be taken, it should be after thorough scientific research and approval.

“Also, the preparation has to follow standard supervised procedure under hygienic circumstances with appropriate dosage requirements spelt out and expiration date written.

“If these are not adhered to, people will continue to take Agbo indiscriminately; some may get lucky and be healed but a majority will come down with more debilitating and chronic situations which may be too late for hospitals to handle.’’ She said

Dr. Ebun Bamgbose of the Dialysis/Transplant Unit and Clinical Director of St. Nicholas Hospital, Lagos, in an interview by the NATION said that most of the kidney failures, also known as renal failure or end stage renal disease, could be linked to indiscriminate use of these concoctions.

This is because the herbs are mixed with all sorts, including local gin and there are toxic substances in the unprocessed materials and fermentation.

A research was conducted by Akande IS, Adewoyin OA, Njoku UF and Awosika SO of the Department of Biochemistry, College of Medicine, University of Lagos, Akoka, Yaba, Nigeria.

The research, “Biochemical Evaluation of Some Locally Prepared Herbal Remedies (Agbo) Currently on High Demand in Lagos Metropolis, Nigeria’’, was published in the Journal of Drug Metabolism & Toxicology, affirmed the negative effects of Agbo on the body.

It said: “Based on these findings, we conclude that though these preparations are potential sources of natural antioxidants, but majority of those being hawked on Lagos metropolis may be harmful to human health.

“This is because many of the hawkers are likely to be quacks. There is also a need for standardisation of dosage regimens and close scrutiny of pedigree of the peddlers of these herbal remedies by appropriate government agencies,’’ the research prescribed.

What do you think?  Please leave a comment.

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