Herbal medicine is an important age-long resource for healthcare. The aim of this study was to determine the development of herbal medicine in relation to compliance to regulatory guidelines and product development in pursuance of the integration of herbal medicine into the healthcare system in Nigeria. Using Imo State as a case study, a cross-sectional investigation was conducted among the Traditional Medicine Practitioners (TMPs) using questionnaires. One Hundred TMPs were administered with questionnaires to determine relevant demographic details, information relating to regulatory guidelines and the quality of finished products. Ninety-eight of the questionnaires were returned completed. Of these, 72% of the TMPs were male. The dominant age of the TMPs was between 25 to 65 years. Over 80% of the TMPs were literate having a minimum of secondary school education. About 86% of the TMPs are herbal medicine practitioners. All the TMPs claimed knowledge of the existence of National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) as the regulatory authority for herbal medicine. Only 5% had any contact with the agency in relation to product registration, while only 1% of the products owned by the TMPs had NAFDAC registration number. Also, 97% of the TMPs produced only extemporaneous products for their patients, and only 6% have any knowledge on the formulation of some conventional dosage forms. Of the 300 herbal medicines owned by the TMPs, only 8% were presented in conventional dosage forms with appropriate packaging. The few number of herbal medicines registered with NAFDAC reflects the low level of development of herbal medicine in Nigeria. This makes the products unsafe for integration into the healthcare system at the present stage.
Key words: Traditional medicine practitioners, herbal medicine development, regulation.
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