A deadly combination, which is a blend of cow urine and herbs with bogus claims to cure several diseases, is openly sold in markets, shops and streets without regulation. PUNCH Healthwise highlights the addictive nature of the ‘hard’ drug known as Adimenu, which leaves most of its users weak, severely dehydrated, unconscious and in a few instances, dead
For 25-year-old Ibukun Ayodele, his mother’s love is deeply rooted in his heart. His desire, which he prayerfully mouths daily, is for God to bless her with longevity. But according to him, her constant usage of a particular herbal mixture might hasten her journey to the grave.
The young man revealed that his mother is dangerously addicted to an herbal mixture popularly known as Adimenu (meaning to hold under the tongue in Yoruba Language) to relieve her back pain.
The herbal cocktail is locally produced and is promoted as a cure for several ailments.
While speaking with PUNCH Healthwise about his mother’s love for the concoction, Ayodele said whenever he sees her gargling any liquid, he automatically knows she is at it again.
As a young graduate, Ayodele understands the implications of using medications not prescribed by a medical practitioner and fears for his mother’s health.
But he said his hands are tied and cannot do anything because of her attachment to the herbal cocktail.
“My mother still used the medication earlier today. I have been trying to talk her out of it even though she takes it once every two months. The underlying damage it causes is more severe than its advantages,” he lamented.
Ayodele also said he once tried to take the concoction but ended up with a bitter experience he would not forget in a hurry.
He recounted, “I have tried it a couple of times, but the last time I did, I couldn’t hold it in my mouth for more than five minutes. For about three weeks after, I couldn’t breathe properly. I felt very weak.”
‘No sleep until Adimenu is taken’
Some users and relatives of those who have consumed the herbal concoction also recounted their experiences, confirming its addictive nature.
A middle-aged man, who chose to be identified as Alimi, told our correspondent that his mother started using the herbal concoction five years ago and has become addicted.
With a pained expression, he told our correspondent that without using the medication, she would be unable to sleep.
Alimi said, “Adimenu is widely used and cow urine is one of the ingredients in it. When my mother got sick about five years ago and was unable to sleep, she was given the herbal mixture, which made her sleep soundly. Now, anytime she doesn’t use it, she won’t be able to sleep.”
The young man said he is now at a loss on how to make her stop using the cocktail.
My brother became unconscious
Also recalling his brother’s ugly experience with Adimenu, Alimi said he became unconscious as soon as the mixture touched his mouth.
“After my brother was resuscitated, he vowed never to have anything to do with it again,” he said laughing.
Getting high on the cocktail
Not until his friend died from complications arising from the use of Adimenu, a commercial bus driver, Rafiu Adebowale’s life is incomplete without using the cocktail after a long, stressful day of plying Lagos roads.
According to the man in his 40s, it cures his cold bouts, chest congestion and body pains.
The father of four affirmed that the herbal cocktail is powerful and can knock out anyone who uses it but it remains his preferred ‘soothing’ medication.
He is, however, unhappy that it attracts negative criticism due to its abuse by youth.
Adebowale said, “Adimenu is a good and effective medicine and I learnt that it is made from cow urine, which might be why it is very strong.
“I have been taking it for seven months now and I have not experienced any negative effects. It’s the only drug that I use for now but some boys have started abusing it by using it as a replacement for tramadol and other hard drugs that intoxicate.
“They use it to get ‘high’. Normally, when you want to use it to treat a sickness, you will put it in your mouth, gargle it for three minutes and spit it out. This is enough for it to do its work and you can repeat it later.
“But when you put it in your mouth for too long, it begins to get you intoxicated. So these boys now allow it to stay for long in their mouth so that they can get ‘high’ before spitting it out. They do it repeatedly and they are intoxicated.”
‘He died after mistakenly swallowing Adimenu’
Speaking on the death of his co-driver, he said, “You don’t drink it and that was what killed one of us. He came to work when he had not eaten and used the drug to clean his mouth. He also gargled and swallowed part of it.
“The effect was too much on him. After some time, he became very weak and later died. It wasn’t his first time to use Adimenu.
“Some other people also died after using it and that was when people started saying that it kills. People started running away from it and those that sell it started hiding to sell.
“Apart from the person I know that died after taking it, I heard that about two other persons have died as well.
Deadly and addictive
Adimenu, although an old local herbal mixture reportedly loved by the elderly and a few young adults, became a viral topic on the internet when a doctor with the handle, @the_beardedsina, posted on X, formerly Twitter, how persons who suffered complications from the consumption of the liquid mixture, died.
A trader identified as Adetomiwa, who commented on the post, revealed that the drug was highly addictive.
“It was introduced to me by someone. Thank God I quit after taking it for two years. People should stop taking it. It is highly addictive,” he warned..
Another acclaimed previous user of the mixture, Adeyemi Adeniyi, responding to the post said his taste buds had yet to recover from the herbal mixture’s effect even though he used it four months ago.
He, however, noted. “My friend was addicted to this one and I can’t fathom its usefulness as I have not recovered my taste bud…This will destabilise your brain and body for like 30 minutes after five minutes of holding it in your mouth.”
Checks on Facebook also brought up several sellers of the product and those who complained bitterly of its adverse side effects.
In a video shared on X, by Richard @richardchidi27, a young man in his 20s, with a toothache and swollen gum was seen given an unspecified dose of the herbal mixture and told to keep it in his mouth for five minutes before spitting it out.
But before the five minutes would elapse, the man, who was seen lying on his back with eyes tightly shut, started muttering incoherently.
Richard later explained that the man did not die and was only given the medication to cure his toothache.
Used as sex booster
Findings by PUNCH Healthwise revealed that Adimenu, aside from spurious claims about having the cure for all ailments, is used as a libido booster by some men.
While speaking to three young men who claimed to regularly use the drug, they confirmed that it helps them to last longer during sex and that there is another brand known as Adimedu.
A cleric simply identified as Ibrahim who confirmed its efficacy as a sex enhancer, claimed he has been using it for five years but admitted it has side effects.
“Alahu Lateef or any other brand that is Adimenu increases sexual drive. I also discovered that someone must not be too addicted to it. When you are too addicted to it, it has a lot of side effects. It is also very hard for people addicted to stop using it,” he said.
A woman’s experience as observed
When our correspondent visited the popular Oshodi Market in search of the herbal cocktail, he was directed to a petty trader, Mrs. Susan Fajuyi, who is also a Point-of-Sale operator.
She took time to scrutinise our correspondent before finally bringing out the medication from a pile of goods where it was hidden.
While still making inquiries on the usage and right dosage, a woman, who appeared sick, came by and requested for the herbal cocktail.
The buyer, whom our correspondent later identified as Mrs Blessing Oke, as soon as she was handed a tiny bottle, emptied the content into her mouth.
Not long after, she started sweating profusely and almost lost her balance and was immediately guided to a chair to sit, after which another woman volunteered to pour cold sachet water on her head.
20 minutes later, when our correspondent asked if she felt better, the woman only managed to utter, “I am very weak. I feel like sleeping. My eyes and my stomach are turning.”
Mixture multiplies tumour cells – Research
This herbal cocktail is touted as a cure for several diseases including toothache, rheumatism, malaria, typhoid, Jaundice, backache, and sleeplessness.
It is also advertised as having the ability to blast stomach fat and as a body cleanser.
A Facebook search for the drug brought up several brands and containers of the drugs, however, only three had its active ingredients listed.
Some of the ingredients are roots, ginger, Zingiber offinale, Biccolor and H2O.
However, PUNCH Healthwise discovered an ugly side to the herbal cocktail based on research carried out by Raji Abdullateef and Hajarat Abdullahi.
In the study titled, “Herbal Mixture (Adimenu) Toxicological Evaluations Using the Allium cepa L Assay,” published in the East African Scholars Journal of Biotechnology and Genetics in October 2023, it was concluded that the herbal mixture was hazardous, “hence should be classified as a hard drug and thus proscribed.”
The researchers mentioned that users become dizzy, adding that there have been cases of sudden collapses and hospitalisation, headaches and stomach disorders.
An evaluation of the toxicity of the drug showed that as the herbal concentration increased, it heightened the multiplicity of tumour cells, adding that it is a “cancer agent.”
In April, The PUNCH reported that the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency burst a factory in Adamawa State supplying Akuskura psychoactive substances to Chad, Cameroon and the Niger Republic.
NDLEA’s Director for Media and Advocacy, Mr Femi Babafemi, stated that at the time of the raid, production was ongoing and large quantities of the drugs were intercepted.
Checks by PUNCH Healthwise showed that Akuskura, which is a Hausa word that meant to gargle or rinse, was declared a deadly psychoactive substance by the NDLEA in September 2022.
The drug, which is made of herbs laced with tobacco and cannabis, is presented in liquid and powdered form and is commonly used in the northern and southwestern parts of the country.
However, a Facebook search of Adimenu brought up an announcement by an Ibadan-based herbal mixture company (name withheld) that claimed their brand of Adimenu was also known as Akuskura, and it is made from roots and leaves.
The company referred to the NDLEA and NAFDAC raids and “gave thanks”, claiming that the regulatory agencies later approved the continuation of its operations.
Meanwhile, when PUNCH Healthwise tracked the brand of Adimenu produced by the said company, it discovered that no active ingredients were listed on its bottle but it was boldly indicated that it can be used to treat back pain and pile and as an immune booster.
Deadly combo fuelling addiction
According to the research by Abdulateef et al, the composition of the herbal mixture included tobacco (1 per cent); Ginger (7 per cent); Negro pepper (6 per cent), eeru alamo or erinje in Yoruba, Uda in Igbo and Chimba in Hausa, Aidan fruit also known as Prekese or Uhio in Igbo and Aridan in Yoruba; and Water (80 per cent).
In another research published in the 2020 Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacognosy by Faoziyat Sulaiman et al, it was revealed that tobacco extracted with cow urine was the mixture called Adimenu.
Further investigation by the researchers indicated that the mixture causes impaired kidney function and hypertension, which led to the recommendation that consumers of Adimenu should be conscious of its intake
PUNCH Healthwise gathered that due to the high nicotine content in tobacco, direct and indirect users battle with addiction and experience withdrawal syndrome when intake is stopped.
According to the National Institute of Health, withdrawal syndrome is the physical and mental symptoms that occur after stopping or reducing the intake of a drug.
Health implications addiction
The National Institute of Health noted that people with addiction often have one or more associated health issues, which could include lung or heart disease, stroke, cancer, or mental health conditions.
It stated that imaging scans, chest X-rays, and blood tests can show the damaging effects of long-term drug use throughout the body.
“For example, it is now well-known that tobacco smoke can cause many cancers, methamphetamine can cause severe dental problems, known as meth mouth, and opioids can lead to overdose and death,” the institute added.
Speaking with Punch Healthwise, the doctor who shared the post on X, Olusina Ajidahun, said that the tobacco content in Adimenu was the cause of the addiction.
According to the doctor of Internal Medicine and the Chief Executive Officer of Lifebox Labs, “One of the components of Adimenu is tobacco and the nicotine component in tobacco makes it addictive.
“A lot of the people who interacted with the post stated that their parents were sick and they kept asking for it, which shows that Adimenu is addictive.
“My contact with someone who takes the medication also showed that it was addictive. For some reason, she would just wake up around 2 am asking for Adimenu, and she can go crazy if it is not given to her.
A lot of people also testified that their relatives, who took the concoction would always beg for it. The way addiction works is that people will develop a tolerance to some of the hard drugs. There is also the possibility that there was more to the Adimenu.”
Ajidahun confirmed the death of two patients who developed complications after taking the herbal cocktail.
“I did not know it was a serious thing until a patient who was addicted to Adimenu was brought into the hospital and he eventually died.
“I researched and found out it was a big issue. It is something people have lost loved ones to. Sadly, people who came to the hospital after being addicted to it are dead,” he lamented.
The physician noted that Adimenu can be easily found in marketplaces, especially where menial jobs are going on.
He told our correspondent that his research into the drugs showed that cow urine and tobacco are among the ingredients used for production.
Our drug not dangerous –
When PUNCH Healthwise reached out to one of the numbers printed on one of the Adimenu bottles purchased, claiming to be interested in marketing the product, a man, who said he is the manufacturer, claimed the drug is an anti-stroke mixture that can as well be used to cure different ailments.
The man, who later identified himself as Taofeeq and a resident of Abeokuta in Ogun, said the medication is highly recommended for those that want to improve their sexual performance.
“It is a good product, and you can be rest assured it is something that would not give you any problem.
“If you buy in bulk, I can authoritatively tell you that a lot of people would patronize you. Adimenu is very common in Abeokuta, especially among youths.
“It can be used for many things, it is cheaper and more effective. That is why a lot of people are buying it,” he boasted.
When asked if the drug is addictive, Taofeeq said, “It is not but you know the way a lot of people use it can make them become something else.
“It is also not good to swallow it. That is why we always tell people to only put it in their mouth and not swallow.”