#BounceExclusive: Why 'Paraga' Hawkers Are On The Increase
They usually have a basin of plastic bottles containing several mixtures of herbal drinks balanced on their heads.
These ladies walk along streets and motor parks looking for established and potential customers.
They attract all kinds of people, from men with white collar jobs to commercial bus drivers and artisans.
The herbs they hawk are blended in local gin popularly known as Paraga which have several roots used to cure common ailments.
Some others come in branded names - Ogidiga, Alomo.
In the informal market the concoctions are vary - Jedi, Monkey tail, Opaeyin.
Demand And Supply
Despite the scarcity of the herbs used in making these drinks as revealed by a seasoned seller, Mama Jebure to Bounce News, more people are going into the business.
Her herbal concoctions store is located at Oju Irin, Agege Bus stop in Lagos sate.
It is from here she supplies varieties of herbal mixtures to both retailers and final consumers across the city.
She said the increase is as a result of higher demand for the products as most customers see the herbal products as an alternative to orthodox medicine.
"Many people cannot afford going to the hospitals to get treated for several illnesses especially sex-related ones, so they prefer to take herbal drinks.
"A cup goes for N100 only depending on the amount you want. You cannot go to the hospital and get cured for N100. Consultancy fee alone will scare you away.
Baba Tawa, a commercial bus driver who was taking a gulp of the herbal drink when Bounce News walked into Mama Jebure’s shop, said he takes local gin mixed in hot drinks because his job is physically tasking;
“I can’t do without taking the one that is meant for back-pain before embarking on any journey otherwise that day would be miserable for me.”
Another commercial bus driver, simply known as Yellow by his colleagues, perhaps because of his very fair complexion, is also of the opinion that it is good for its preventive qualities.
“I drink it for preventive measures because I find it to be very effective and I have observed that it boosts my immune system for my sex life as well,” he said.
Despite the increased patronage of these herbal drinks, it has been established that an abuse of it could prove deadly.
Dr Akinlolu Ajani of the Federal Medical Centre, Abeokuta, warned the public on the dangers inherent in the abuse of herbal medicine.
“The major complication in the consumption of herbal medication is that some of the herbal medicines do not have dosage like the orthodox medicine.
“Taking overdose medicine is harmful and some people go ahead doing it. This is dangerous and suicidal because vital organs like the liver and kidney are harmfully affected,’’ he said.
He said it can also lead to mental and psychological breakdown if it it is taken habitually.
Perhaps the government needs to formulate some form of regulation on the sale and consumption of these quite effective herbal drinks.