Alabukun is a Nigerian indigenous analgesic brand that has persevered for a century in a sector with very few indigenous players. The brand is very popular and has gained acceptance and widespread use without any considerable adverts in Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, Benin, and the Uk.
Many users and vendor call it gbogbonise (a Yoruba word that translates to “cure-all drug”), believing it can be used for a long list of ailments while there are many who see the drug as a mere painkiller and nothing more. Some even see the use of the drug for anything other than pain as drug abuse and a sign of ignorance. If you think Alabukun powder is just a mere over-the-counter painkiller, you are wrong. Alabukun powder may not be a drug that cures all ailments but its constituents make it a Wonder Drug useful in treating a wide range of ailments ranging from minor to chronic.
Abukun powder falls in a category of old drugs that are more useful than they were when they were first discovered. It is an Aspirin-caffeine formula originally called the Headache powder. Alabukun powder and other Headache powders that popped into the market few years after acetylsalicylic acid was discovered as a painkiller in 1853 by Charles Gerhardt. Acetysalicyclic acid was later marketed and sold as by Feliz Hoffman of the German company, Bayer as Aspirin in 1889.
It was later discovered that Aspirin becomes more potent when taken with caffeine, and as such became a prescription for severe headaches. This gave birth to the headache powders in the early 1900s. It was during this period the Alabukun powder was established by Blessed Jacob Odulate who produced his own headache Powder from both local materials and imported Aspirin and caffeine from the United Kingdom. He combined 760 mg of acetylsalicylic acid (Aspirin) and 60 mg of caffeine.
As it was common even in the early 1900s local pharmacist buy raw materials and make their own prescriptions and because pills were harder for them to make then, they sold their drugs in powder form, even Aspirin the major constituents of the headache powders were sold as powder till 1915 when tablets came along, as such Aspirin-caffeine drugs including Alabukun are in powder form.
Some of the earliest headache powders are: BC Headache Powder by Germain Bernard and Commodore Council created in 1906 (USA), Stanback Headache Powder by Thomas Stanback in 1911 (USA), Alabukun Powder by Jacob “Alabukun” Odulate in 1918 (Nigeria), Goody’s Headache Powder by Martin “Goody” Goodman in 1932 (UK), and Beecham’s Powders by Beecham Co. in 1939 (UK).
Over the years it has been discovered Aspirin is a wonder drug, not just like other painkillers. While common analgesics such as Paracetamol can only be used to treat mild pain and fever, and other Nonsteroidal analgesics can only be used to treat pain, fever, and inflammation, Aspirin can be used to treat strong pain, fever, inflammation and blood clotting. Aspirin works by inhibiting the production of prostaglandins, the body chemical responsible for inducing pain, fever and inflammation; and thromboxane, the chemical responsible for blood clotting in the body. It has been observed that blocking the synthesis of prostaglandins prevented blood platelets from aggregating, one of the initial steps in the formation of blood clots.
In higher doses, Aspirin can help treat inflammation associated with conditions such as a migraine, rheumatism and arthritis. On the treatment of migraine headaches, researchers speculate that acetylsalicylic acid affects levels of the brain chemical serotonin, which alters the constriction and dilation of blood vessels in the head.
While pain relief has long been aspirin’s star benefit, the drug has been hailed in recent years as useful in the treatment and prevention of heart disease, stroke, and certain cancers. Studies suggest that aspirin can play a protective role in certain cancers. A major study of 635,031 men and women sponsored by the American Cancer Society suggested that the risk of dying from cancer of the colon, stomach, oesophagus, and rectum was 40 per cent lower among people who took aspirin a minimum of 16 times a month for at least a year, compared with people who did not use aspirin. Scientists suspect that aspirin interferes with the synthesis of prostaglandins that fuel the growth of certain tumours.
Subsequent studies on aspirin’s anti-clotting effects have suggested that half a tablet per day may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke in some persons. The American Heart Association has recommended that everyone who has survived or has a family history of heart disease and stroke should follow an aspirin regimen. Aspirin use may also be helpful in preventing or treating diseases and conditions such as diabetes, adult asthma, and prostate enlargement.
Other studies suggest a link between regular use of aspirin and lower rates of gallstones, cataracts, and Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists caution that further research is necessary to confirm whether the drug indeed plays a protective role in these disorders.
Caffeine, on the other hand, increases the potency of Aspirin, increases the blood pressure, stimulates the central nervous system, promotes urine formation, and stimulates the action of the heart and lungs. Caffeine is used in treating migraine because it constricts the dilated blood vessels and thereby reduces the pain and it can somewhat relieve asthma attacks by widening the bronchial airways.
In conclusion, Alabukun can be used to treat pain, fever, headache gallstone, cataract, inflammation, cancer, stroke, heart disease, asthma, migraine, Alzheimer’s disease, rheumatism and arthritis.
Now, do you still think Alabukun is just an over-the-counter painkiller?