So much has been said about the strange and funny names you come across at shepe joints – where local herbs and spirit are sold.

Taking a trip to some of these spots in Lagos to find how their names originated and the medicinal purposes attributed to each one, we realized how much danger is attached to consuming them.

This is not to say that herbal medicine is bad but facts have shown that it is mostly abused on the streets and this poses great danger.

Mrs Olabisi is a Medical Doctor in a Lagos State General Hospital and she spoke to Bounce News.

She tells us in simple terms why you should stop drinking all those jedi, opa eyin, ale, afato and other variants you love so much...or at least exercise some caution.


First, let’s talk about the processes and quality control. They wash, they cook in pots, they bottle and then serve you in cups or nylons. These can all be contaminated.

We tend to overlook this especially when it’s herb mixed with alcohol because we believe alcohol is a chemical that can disinfect some of these contaminants.

“We cannot overlook the fact that there are contaminants like spores for instance that can survive all these spirits. So, ingestion of contaminants is also a problem for us,” she said.

Chemical Interaction

One thing we all need to know, particularly shepe drinkers, is that these herbs, although they are plants, also have chemical constituents.

We are not certain of what the interaction is between the alcohol and the chemical composition of these herbs.

Dr Olabisi admitted that asides from the synthetic ones, many of the medications from the hospitals are also gotten from herbs, but they are processed.


“Quantity is known, chemical composition is gotten before they are constituted with other materials and packaged into that tablet, syrup that are administered.

“And they are certain that there is no interaction that has led to a change in the quality of product that was added.

“But when you put alcohol in something you don’t even know what the constituent is; you don’t know if you’re adding base to base or adding acid to acid or acid to base.”


How do you know the quantity of each of all the components in that 20ml cup of agbo that you have been taking?

Dr. Olabisi warns: “Most of these concoctions don’t have prescriptions.  The people that make them don’t actually know what the chemical constituents are.

“So, they cannot accurately tell us ‘use 50ml of this within a particular duration’ because they have not been pharmaceutically tested. They will tell you ‘take one cup’ but that cup may have an adverse effect on your body.

“The herbs are good but maybe you need only 5ml and they say, ‘take one cup’ which is about 50ml and then you come down with all sorts of medical problems.”


We have realized that many people are drawn to these shepe joints because of their insatiable appetite for alcohol which the herbs help them to justify.

They are quick to say, “after all I am taking a medicine”.

But there is no quicker way to be lost in addiction than when you have a justification for it. Going back becomes difficult.

Dr Ojediran is a Nigerian Psychiatrist with ample experience working on the African continent and he has a major warning for habitual abusers of alcohol.


“I see them in my specialty when they eventually try to stop and realize they have lost the power to do so willingly. It gets really bad once the addiction threshold is crossed,” he warned.

Liver and Kidney

Lastly, like every other thing you eat or drink, the liver needs to metabolize – digest the alcohol before it can be stored or used in the body and then the toxic waste is also gotten rid of by the kidney.

Now, when you take alcohol, you put more stress on your liver because it has to digest it and your kidney that has to excrete it.

“There is a problem with alcohol use and misuse in this part of the country. In the first-place alcohol is a chemical that has effects on your liver.

“Your liver can then become overworked or inflamed as a result of that alcohol that you’re ingesting. This is why some people come down with hepatitis, liver cirrhosis and other things,” Dr Olabisi said.

She added that even when you take your herbs without alcohol, you are equally at risk.

“Some people also drink herbs generally, not necessarily the shepe and they come down with kidney failure as a result of the stress on the kidney,” she said.