By Lawong Kendra Yaah, cohort 8 #AFFCameroon
No scientific evidence backs Lady Chicoupes Facebook claims that cassava leaves can be used to cure cancer, infertility, stroke and hepatitis B. These claims are not backed by any available scientific or medical evidence (s)
“Lady Chicoupes”a facebook page with 34000followersclaimsin a video that cassava leaves can be used to cure cancer, infertility, stroke and hepatitis B.The post made on July 5th, 2023 has shared 3400 times, liked 7400 and has 218 comments.
In another post, “Dr Ebenezer Martey” a facebook page with 69,000 followers claims that a “ study which has been conducted by an experts shows that the cassava leaves helps to treat stroke because the cassava leaves possess isollavon which is an effective substance”https://web.facebook.com/drebenezermartey/posts/health-benefits-of-cassava-leavesread-and-shareafrica-we-are-blessedcassava-leav/166022791553307/?_rdc=1&_rdr
There are also other claims on the use of cassava leaves in treating cancer, infertility, stroke and Hepatitis Bwith the major difference in the mode of preparations.https://www.facebook.com/CoachLinfairLewis/photos/a.2802472976447415/2810383695656343/?type=3&app=fbl
FACT CHECKING PROCESS
In the course of fact checking the claims, we discovered that, there is no scientific backing to the claims; we interviewed researchers, medical doctors and herbalists who confirmed that no scientific or medical evidence exist yet to support the claim that cassava leaves can be used to cure cancer, infertility, stroke and Hepatitis B.
In the course of fact checking the claims we contacted the author of the post and we did not get any response from her after six days.
Through direct calls and WhatsApp text messages, Dr. Mogo Amos a researcher in Biotechnology and plant protection who defended his PhD thesis in 2022 on the topic “Effect of varieties, site fertilization and endophytes on diseases of cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) in the Eastern and Southern Regions of Cameroon.” In his thesis, he mentioned the food and health benefits of cassava and curing cancer, infertility, Hepatitis B and stroke are not among them.
Through a recorded call with Doctor Ngum Joel Mbigha, a medical practitioner/physician and Director of the Nkwen District Hospital, he affirmed that “at the moment, there is no scientific study which presents cassava leaves as a cure for cancer, stroke, infertility and hepatitis B.
Professor N.A Fotso is the Head of Department for Biology at Ecole Normale Superieure at the University of Bamenda, he is also a researcher on plant biotechnology who has written more than 70 scientific publications in National and International journals. Through a face to face interview with him, He said that “cassava leaves is capable of treating other diseases such as anemia and hypertension because it contains too much iron and not cancer, infertility, stroke and hepatitis B”
Also, through text messages and direct calls with Doctor Mofor Harrison Abili, a herbalist in Bamenda who also specializes in the treatment of cancer using herbs said that cassava leaf is not part of his combination in his research because different researchers work on different line of medicines and in this case, his research has been tilted to other plants which he has been using for cancer and cassava leaf is not part of it.
In a face to face interview with Doctor Ngong Isidor Ghane, a holistic herbalist said that a single leaf cannot be used in curing many diseases except it is used in combination with other ingredients or items.
Furthermore, Imane Boukhers, Frederic Boudard, Sylvie Morel, Adrien Servent, Karine Portet, Caroline Guzman, Manon Vitou, Joelle Kongolo, Alain Michel and Patrick Poucheret published an article with the National Library of Medicine in the United States of America on the 8th of July 2022. Edited by Maria Eduarda Machado Araujo. The article on Nutrition, Health Benefits and Phytochemical Properties of cassava leaves sourced from three countries mentioned that “cassava leaves have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory activities that may contribute to the prophylaxis and/or reduction of the incidence of non-communicable metabolic diseases”. This is to say that cassava leaves contain antioxidants which can only help in the reduction of certain diseases such as stroke, heart attack, asthma etc but cannot cure them.
Despite the many nutritive benefits of cassava leaves, it cannot cure hepatitis B, cancer, Stroke, and infertility as the diseases are managed differently by health care deliverers. It should be noted that, health misinformation can be detrimental to health care delivery especially in a developing country like ours plagued by unemployment and self-medication, especially prescribed medications online. Therefore, it is important to rely on medically approved treatments and follow the advice of healthcare professionals for the management of diseases rather than self-medicate with concoctions which are not scientifically proven to be effective.