Every once in awhile a beautiful initiative comes along with the power to change the course of things. And so it is with this innovative Nigerian health care facility that is bridging the divide between allopathic and herbal medicine, and setting a powerful precedent for the true potential of integrative medicine. As the paradigm shift in medicine continues to evolve away from doctor-centered, reductionist philosophies, and towards patient-centered, holistic protocols, it is quite heartening to witness a caliber of integrative care that we have yet to adopt in the West. I’m excited to share with you the story of the world’s very first herbal hospital: Pax Herbals.
Pax Herbal Hospital is the innovation of Rev. Anselm Adodo; anthropologist, ethnobotanist, medical sociologist, and health visionary – a true herbal scholar in every sense. Rev. Adodo is an outspoken and inspiring pioneer of integrative medicine. He has worked extensively with alternative and scientific communities to bridge the divide between traditional and modern medicine. I am thankful to have reached Rev. Adodo by email to receive insights on how this unique hospital operates. Rev. Adodo believes that “what separates this body of knowledge referred to as ‘traditional medicine’ (TM) for lack of a better term from ‘modern medicine’ is the fact that the latter is anchored in ‘science’, while the former in practical experience. As long as science continues to be narrowly defined, traditional medicine will remain largely unnoticed. The aspect of traditional medicine which we practice at pax herbals is rationale medicine, that is, a scientific, rational, holistic, research oriented and evidence-based approach to herbal medicine.”
Pax Herbal Hospital is an unprecedented integrative client treatment facility that offers a unique multi-disciplinary team of medical specialists – Gynecologists, Oncologists, General practitioners, Hematologists, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Botanists, Homeopaths, Acupuncturists, and Chiropractors – all working along side one another to help bring patients back to health, and all trained in the same modality of medical herbalism through Pax Herbals. All medical specialists adhere to Pax treatment protocols, and all are proficient in treating patients with Pax herbal medicines. It is a true hospital with an admissions area, a spacious waiting hall, multiple wards for different diseases, and specialized diagnostic treatment laboratories. Resident nurses and staff are at the hospital 24hours a day, and medical professionals are contacted based on the need of the patient.
Abiding by the understanding that “plants have served as the reservoirs of medicine since the beginning of human civilization,” Pax Hospital has developed a comprehensive scientific research complex geared towards the identification, conservation, utilization and development of African medicinal plants. This scientific complex boasts a research laboratory; an herbarium that catalogues Nigerian medicinal plants for proper identification and conservation; and a pharmacovigilance center that allows patients to report possible adverse reactions to any herbs prescribed.
Pax Herbal Hospital was first established in 1996 as a two room clinic operating out of a monastery; it now boasts 150 full time staff and 50 part time employees, and is the largest employer in Edo State, Nigeria. In a country that is still an impoverished third world nation, this is no small matter. The hospital continues to be self-funded and autonomous, and anticipates to move into a bigger location where they will be starting a graduate school of Herbal Medicine – thus upgrading the current herbal hospital to the status of a teaching hospital.
The existence of this hospital serves as a beacon of hope for those involved in the creation of a new paradigm of health based on using nature’s medicine in it’s pure unadulterated form. It shows that it is possible to run a multi-disciplinary hospital that is entirely sustained by herbal medicine. And it shows that, with the right combination of vision and perseverance, truly remarkable endeavors can be achieved; endeavors that not only succeed, but thrive. When I asked Rev. Adodo if he had any advice for those looking to develop similar initiatives in other parts of the world, he suggested that interested parties first begin by visiting other existing integrative hospitals. But, “remember,” he said “it’s not going to be easy considering the domineering status of conventional medical practice, and its tendency to suppress natural medicine. It was not meant to be easy anyway.” Starting a revolution rarely is.