Opinion

Chioma, the coronavirus drug: Combining traditional medicine with science

….Interview with Fr Arazu, Part 2

We published the first part of our interview with Rev. Fr Raymond Arazu, C.S.Sp, in June 7-13, 2020 edition of Fides, where he claimed that his team developed a drug, Chioma, for the cure of coronavirus. Among Fr Arazu’s team, is his nephew, Mr Reginal J.C. Arazu, who hails from the same village and kindred as Fr. Arazu. Mr Arazu said he too comes from the Ezedibia clan in Ihembosi. He is a traditional medicine practitioner, a chartered Chemist, and a fellow of the Chemical Society of Nigeria as well as the Institute of Chartered Chemists of Nigeria.

He was a consultant with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), and was the Head of Quality Control at Mercedes Benz, ANAMCO, Enugu.

He sat down with Fides in the company of his uncle, Rev. Fr Arazu, to speak on their claimed drug, Chioma, for the cure of coronavirus.

Fides: Chemistry and then traditional medicine: how did you get to combine the two?

Mr Arazu: Well, my uncle, Fr Arazu, and I, we are from Ezedibia clan in Otukwe village, Ihembosi. A whole lot of us are Dibia. I was the head of Quality Control at Mercedes Benz, ANAMCO, Enugu. And I was a consultant with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). I had to come back. If you watch, you will see the grey hair on my uncle, you will notice it is so much. So, I had to come back to go into this.

Fides: Coronavirus has killed thousands of people in countries with sophisticated medical equipment, practitioners and practices, and here we are in Nigeria, in Awka precisely with a cure for coronavirus. Can you tell us about it?

Mr Arazu: Our traditional medicine, we call it Chioma, is a very good anti viral. We fortified it. We normally have antiviral generally but we fortified this to take care of this. That’s what we did. And we have the advantage of combining traditional medicine with science. When this thing started last year, my colleagues and I were listening. Some of them, my colleagues, are physicians abroad, we have a forum.

The details were coming in on what was happening. So, it became clear that there are these: dry cough, breathlessness, fever: these are normal indications. Then, they started checking further: what was happening, and it was clear that this particular virus is very fragile; at more than 27 degree centigrade, it is gone, it is dead. And that was very interesting. And because it stays so long before it manifests, the so-called asymptomatic situation.

So, we looked at what science is saying about it and when we sat down and looked at it, we found that this is what we can use our traditional system, the basic thing we have, and deal with it. And one of the things we found out also was that it is not so much of the virus that is doing the killing.

The virus simply incapacitates the immune system of the person. Therefore, the underlying factors will now not be controlled, and they will kill the person involved. That is why it is more pronounced with the elderly, because any elderly person will either have hypertension, diabetes, ulcer, or cancer; all that stuff.

So, in our formulation, we thought of these underlying factors, brought herbs that will deal with them, so that if one has the virus, while we try to get immuno-modulatory to keep this immune strong, and not getting to overdrive and start destroying things, then the underlying factors are still being attended to.
That’s the whole idea of this treatment. And we got herbs and put them together and they are good. But you know of course, that you have NCDC protocol. That is, if you have coronavirus, you go to NCDC, you go to isolation camp. There are other viral infections that are not coronavirus which are even more deadly, so we deal with it, we deal with this coronavirus.

Fides: How did you determine the dosage a patient should take that will effectively deal with symptoms that could be said to be coronavirus symptoms, or symptoms of other viral diseases? Also, do you want to talk about the individual components, the herbs you brought together to make this cure for coronavirus?

Mr Arazu: Well, the individual components, there are about five herbs and two additional ones on the side. Like I told you, the underlying factors of this disease is normally the same underlying factors with every old person. As you age, certain things will start not functioning well. You have to treat them.

These are the so-called underlying factors. The primary thing is this virus that came in. So, we took care of this underlying factors, because for instance, in our treatment, in this product, you have anti-malaria, anti-cough, anti-diabetic, anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, and a few other things, and immuno-modulatory are there. So, these are the things we brought together to make this cure fortified.

Dosage? They talk a lot of nonsense about traditional medicine. I am a Chemist professionally and I know we use beakers and test tubes and all of that. What is it? You just want to use something that standardizes the stuff. For instance, if you pick the small Eva water bottle, the small one is 75 cl; the large one is 1.5 litres.

All you need to do, you don’t need to tell the traditional man to use 75 cl; just take that Eva, if you fill up this, you have what you want. And if you maintain it consistently, take it to anywhere in the world and you get the same thing. We had an incident where one professor came and he was just talking.

I did not talk. When he finished, I said, excuse me. It was a federal government organised event some years back. And I said, “Professor, I am a Chemist. We use beakers, test tubes and all that; what you need is standardization; it is not to go and buy a beaker”. You get a bucket, use your beaker to fill fifteen litres. Puncture it; that is what we used for our people that did not go to school.

Puncture it and once you start pouring the thing there, it gets to that point and levels. Measure it and you get fifteen litres. That is standardization. So, let nobody come and talk nonsense. We standardize things. We have grown beyond the issue of continue to add and you don’t know what you’re adding. We know what we are adding. In this product, anywhere you go and use the same thing that we used, you’ll get the same result in the world, that is standardization.

In our traditional society, you know that if you add too much salt in the soup, you won’t be able to eat it. If you add too much salt, you have trouble. So, we do what we do in medicine, because we know the body. It is a natural product, there are no synthetic chemicals in it, so the body will take it naturally like our forefathers did and they went on well. So, for purposes of helping people, we will say, use one teaspoon, fill in tea cup. If you tell them 150 ml, they may not understand.

So, it’s teacup or half tumbler. They say which is half tumbler? On the average, it’s not going to be more than 200 ml. So, if you bring the standard glasses, bring the tea cup, you get the same thing. The difference is not substantial, statistically speaking. So, the dosage is very clear.

Fides: It seems this drug does not take care of only coronavirus, but also the underlying factors. Is that it?

Mr Arazu: Yes, it takes care of the underlying factors.

Fides: Now that you have a drug, do you have plans about showcasing your results when it receives so much attention?

Mr Arazu: Father Arazu is the Chairman of Traditional Medicine Board. When we finished this and discussed it with him, we were just talking about it and one journalist just called him on the phone, we did not even know who he was and we were talking, we said we have done something. The thing is already moving and I did not even know. Before I could drive to my house from town, I had two calls, asking me about the development. Very soon, the Special Adviser to the Governor called, we are in touch. So, they called a meeting of Traditional Medicine Board and I had to present it.

I presented what I call executive summary that answered the questions: what are the indications of coronavirus? What do we have? We have phytochemical and pharmacological properties of our product. So, it’s something you can go to the journals and you find them there, not just on Google. And then, we showed the compositions and we showed how many herbs we have that take care of each of the underlying factors and it was quite comprehensive. So, when I finished, they were very impressed.

They said good. So, we have something; and the Special Adviser was there and he took it up from there because I forwarded this thing to him. It is in his mail and I understand they have discussed it. The Governor is interested and they are in touch with us. The limitations we had really is that there are things you need to enhance production like the dryers, you need the grinders, and so on. We do not have the money. We’re running it for the poor people. So, we keep things low, so we can survive. We are not going to borrow money from any bank to start.

If they come in and they now say, okay maybe I place an order for one thousand, then we’ll see how we can work out to get a better dryer, because the moment you are drying at normal temperature, it takes longer time. But you can get a dryer that will do that, and you get plenty. It takes me about a week or so to get this thing dried under room temperature. A dryer will just run the thing in hours and you’re done and chill them out.

Then, we are talking about packaging and I say that is good, but it increases the cost and we do not have the money for that. What we want is that people are getting well at the moment. Just run the thing as it is and they are using it. But we are moving to the packaging because this is necessary; you have to have something aesthetic that people will like to buy. So, these are processes we are on.

Fides: What we have here now is powder. Can it also be, if need be, gotten into tablet like Paracetamol and the rest?

Mr Arazu: You are running into tablets and capsules, you are just running into bills. All you need to do is, if you open this, put it into a plastic that has cover, label it, put your teaspoon nearby, scoop from there and put it back. Make sure it’s air tight. The other ones will come much later as things progress and we have the facilities and so on.

Fides: In the case where people from outside the country begin to show interest and say they prefer it in tablet, are you ready to push it beyond the shores of Nigeria?

Mr Arazu: Of course. When you have the powder, you can move from there. What you need is some financial backing and equipment, then you get what you want. There’s really no problem with that. The problem is to get them into powder, because most times, you get the liquid form. The liquid form does not have the same shelf life as the powder. The powder stays longer. So, that’s the whole idea of getting it into a powder form. We still have the liquid form which you give to pediatrics.

Fides: We understand that traditional medicine passes through some processes before approval. Is NAFDAC also part of it?

Mr Arazu: Yes. But the process is best run through the government. So, once the government requests for anything, we give it to them. There are a lot of politics in NAFDAC and that is a government issue. We’re talking with them. There’s a letter the government has sent to us which we expect this evening. When I see it, I will know the details, but they have held meetings with NAFDAC and one of the things they discussed was this and one other drug from Anambra State. I am sure, because one of the participants told me.

Fides: The name of the drug, what inspired it?

Mr Arazu: You see, our drugs take Igbo names. There’s this other drug called Onwueteka; we have the ulcer drug called Obioma because ulcer is very uncomfortable. Fr Arazu gives all these names, I am just trying to give you the background. So, when this one was ready, we said Father, you know it’s your turn now. After some days and raising concerns that people are dying, one night, he just wrote something. I came in the next morning to see it was Chioma. I laughed. I said this one is very interesting. So, we called it Chioma.

Fides: Now, with local names and the prospect of selling outside the shores of Nigeria and Africa, how confident are you that the name, Chioma, will sell well outside the shores of Nigeria?

Mr Arazu: Don’t these names sound nice in your ears? They have such names as zoledronic acid. Does Chioma not sound better?

Fides: Let Fr Arazu say something about the name.

Fr Arazu: I thought about it. And usually, I meditate on it. I go to sleep on it and when I wake up, I have an inspiration. I woke up one morning and heard somebody calling Chioma, probably calling a child, and I called it Chioma. There is another drug we are preparing. Let me think over it, the name will come.

Fides: When we posted the birthday design that we made for you, someone commented that your drugs saved him when he was sick at infancy. Someone also commented on your musical career with the Abu Oma Society. What do you have to tell us about it?

Fr Arazu: Abuoma are the psalms of the Bible. I was listening to lots of music and it occurred to me that in Igbo, all the songs we were signing were written by the Irish people who modified them with their own kind of songs. I realized that something ought to be done. So, I went into the idea of finding the translation of music that will suit our people. I went and studied how to play the piano which I used to compose certain songs. Then, I got the inspiration to compose sixty-five psalms of the Bible and I put them into music. I got some people to be sing them.

The I got the Abuoma Society who were singing them. The songs are being sung in so many places all over the world. Igbo people, the Hausa and the diaspora, they love them. Then I brought the University of Nigeria to look into putting it into solfa and staff notation. I got a response from the Music Department. And there is some cassette composition.

We spent three months, and the cost was heavy; we had to pay all the people doing the practice. At the end, we spent 6 million Naira to produce the solfa and staff notation of sixty-five psalms. They sing them all over the world, not just in Nigeria. It’s one of the things I am known for. There are so many choruses and verses which we sing in some of our meetings here. I come down and when I start the song, they take it up. Sometimes, I tell them I have other things to do.

Fides: Do you still compose more?

Fr Arazu: After doing sixty-five psalms in Igbo language and music, I just found out that the inspiration was no longer there. When I was doing it, I just open the Bible, look at the English, go to the French, the Italian, the German, because I have diplomas in these languages. The translation of certain sentences from English to Igbo is a problem.

So, I look at it from other languages to be able to translate, and the inspiration comes. Then, I begin to use my thumb piano to do some rhythm and, the music comes. Sometimes, I could be trying to get the music for a psalm, I could wake up and the music comes. I could hear a bird singing and I find music in one of the sounds.

Moreover, my mother was a singer.

“We standardize things. We have grown beyond the issue of continue to add and you don’t know what you’re adding. We know what we are adding. In this product, anywhere you go and use the same thing that we used, you’ll get the same result in the world, that is standardization”

Fides: Chemistry and then traditional medicine: how did you get to combine the two?

Mr Arazu: Well, my uncle, Fr Arazu, and I, we are from Ezedibia clan in Otukwe village, Ihembosi. A whole lot of us are Dibia. I was the head of Quality Control at Mercedes Benz, ANAMCO, Enugu. And I was a consultant with United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). I had to come back. If you watch, you will see the grey hair on my uncle, you will notice it is so much. So, I had to come back to go into this.

Fides: Coronavirus has killed thousands of people in countries with sophisticated medical equipment, practitioners and practices, and here we are in Nigeria, in Awka precisely with a cure for coronavirus. Can you tell us about it?

Mr Arazu: Our traditional medicine, we call it Chioma, is a very good anti viral. We fortified it. We normally have antiviral generally but we fortified this to take care of this. That’s what we did. And we have the advantage of combining traditional medicine with science.
When this thing started last year, my colleagues and I were listening. Some of them, my colleagues, are physicians abroad, we have a forum. The details were coming in on what was happening. So, it became clear that there are these: dry cough, breathlessness, fever: these are normal indications.

Then, they started checking further: what was happening, and it was clear that this particular virus is very fragile; at more than 27 degree centigrade, it is gone, it is dead. And that was very interesting. And because it stays so long before it manifests, the so-called asymptomatic situation. So, we looked at what science is saying about it and when we sat down and looked at it, we found that this is what we can use our traditional system, the basic thing we have, and deal with it.
And one of the things we found out also was that it is not so much of the virus that is doing the killing. The virus simply incapacitates the immune system of the person. Therefore, the underlying factors will now not be controlled, and they will kill the person involved.

That is why it is more pronounced with the elderly, because any elderly person will either have hypertension, diabetes, ulcer, or cancer; all that stuff. So, in our formulation, we thought of these underlying factors, brought herbs that will deal with them, so that if one has the virus, while we try to get immuno-modulatory to keep this immune strong, and not getting to overdrive and start destroying things, then the underlying factors are still being attended to.

That’s the whole idea of this treatment. And we got herbs and put them together and they are good. But you know of course, that you have NCDC protocol. That is, if you have coronavirus, you go to NCDC, you go to isolation camp. There are other viral infections that are not coronavirus which are even more deadly, so we deal with it, we deal with this coronavirus.

Fides: How did you determine the dosage a patient should take that will effectively deal with symptoms that could be said to be coronavirus symptoms, or symptoms of other viral diseases? Also, do you want to talk about the individual components, the herbs you brought together to make this cure for coronavirus?

Mr Arazu: Well, the individual components, there are about five herbs and two additional ones on the side. Like I told you, the underlying factors of this disease is normally the same underlying factors with every old person. As you age, certain things will start not functioning well. You have to treat them.

These are the so-called underlying factors. The primary thing is this virus that came in. So, we took care of this underlying factors, because for instance, in our treatment, in this product, you have anti-malaria, anti-cough, anti-diabetic, anti-ulcer, anti-cancer, and a few other things, and immuno-modulatory are there. So, these are the things we brought together to make this cure fortified.

Dosage? They talk a lot of nonsense about traditional medicine. I am a Chemist professionally and I know we use beakers and test tubes and all of that. What is it? You just want to use something that standardizes the stuff. For instance, if you pick the small Eva water bottle, the small one is 75 cl; the large one is 1.5 litres.

All you need to do, you don’t need to tell the traditional man to use 75 cl; just take that Eva, if you fill up this, you have what you want. And if you maintain it consistently, take it to anywhere in the world and you get the same thing. We had an incident where one professor came and he was just talking. I did not talk. When he finished, I said, excuse me.

It was a federal government organised event some years back. And I said, “Professor, I am a Chemist. We use beakers, test tubes and all that; what you need is standardization; it is not to go and buy a beaker”. You get a bucket, use your beaker to fill fifteen litres. Puncture it; that is what we used for our people that did not go to school.

Puncture it and once you start pouring the thing there, it gets to that point and levels. Measure it and you get fifteen litres. That is standardization. So, let nobody come and talk nonsense. We standardize things.

We have grown beyond the issue of continue to add and you don’t know what you’re adding. We know what we are adding. In this product, anywhere you go and use the same thing that we used, you’ll get the same result in the world, that is standardization.

In our traditional society, you know that if you add too much salt in the soup, you won’t be able to eat it. If you add too much salt, you have trouble. So, we do what we do in medicine, because we know the body.

It is a natural product, there are no synthetic chemicals in it, so the body will take it naturally like our forefathers did and they went on well. So, for purposes of helping people, we will say, use one teaspoon, fill in tea cup. If you tell them 150 ml, they may not understand. So, it’s teacup or half tumbler.

They say which is half tumbler? On the average, it’s not going to be more than 200 ml. So, if you bring the standard glasses, bring the tea cup, you get the same thing. The difference is not substantial, statistically speaking. So, the dosage is very clear.

Fides: It seems this drug does not take care of only coronavirus, but also the underlying factors. Is that it?

Mr Arazu: Yes, it takes care of the underlying factors.

Fides: Now that you have a drug, do you have plans about showcasing your results when it receives so much attention?

Mr Arazu: Father Arazu is the Chairman of Traditional Medicine Board. When we finished this and discussed it with him, we were just talking about it and one journalist just called him on the phone, we did not even know who he was and we were talking, we said we have done something.
The thing is already moving and I did not even know. Before I could drive to my house from town, I had two calls, asking me about the development. Very soon, the Special Adviser to the Governor called, we are in touch. So, they called a meeting of Traditional Medicine Board and I had to present it.

I presented what I call executive summary that answered the questions: what are the indications of coronavirus? What do we have? We have phytochemical and pharmacological properties of our product. So, it’s something you can go to the journals and you find them there, not just on Google. And then, we showed the compositions and we showed how many herbs we have that take care of each of the underlying factors and it was quite comprehensive.

So, when I finished, they were very impressed. They said good. So, we have something; and the Special Adviser was there and he took it up from there because I forwarded this thing to him. It is in his mail and I understand they have discussed it. The Governor is interested and they are in touch with us.

The limitations we had really is that there are things you need to enhance production like the dryers, you need the grinders, and so on. We do not have the money. We’re running it for the poor people. So, we keep things low, so we can survive. We are not going to borrow money from any bank to start.

If they come in and they now say, okay maybe I place an order for one thousand, then we’ll see how we can work out to get a better dryer, because the moment you are drying at normal temperature, it takes longer time. But you can get a dryer that will do that, and you get plenty. It takes me about a week or so to get this thing dried under room temperature.

A dryer will just run the thing in hours and you’re done and chill them out. Then, we are talking about packaging and I say that is good, but it increases the cost and we do not have the money for that. What we want is that people are getting well at the moment.

Just run the thing as it is and they are using it. But we are moving to the packaging because this is necessary; you have to have something aesthetic that people will like to buy. So, these are processes we are on.

Fides: What we have here now is powder. Can it also be, if need be, gotten into tablet like Paracetamol and the rest?

Mr Arazu: You are running into tablets and capsules, you are just running into bills. All you need to do is, if you open this, put it into a plastic that has cover, label it, put your teaspoon nearby, scoop from there and put it back. Make sure it’s air tight. The other ones will come much later as things progress and we have the facilities and so on.

Fides: In the case where people from outside the country begin to show interest and say they prefer it in tablet, are you ready to push it beyond the shores of Nigeria?

Mr Arazu: Of course. When you have the powder, you can move from there. What you need is some financial backing and equipment, then you get what you want. There’s really no problem with that. The problem is to get them into powder, because most times, you get the liquid form. The liquid form does not have the same shelf life as the powder. The powder stays longer. So, that’s the whole idea of getting it into a powder form. We still have the liquid form which you give to pediatrics.

Fides: We understand that traditional medicine passes through some processes before approval. Is NAFDAC also part of it?

Mr Arazu: Yes. But the process is best run through the government. So, once the government requests for anything, we give it to them. There are a lot of politics in NAFDAC and that is a government issue. We’re talking with them. There’s a letter the government has sent to us which we expect this evening.
When I see it, I will know the details, but they have held meetings with NAFDAC and one of the things they discussed was this and one other drug from Anambra State. I am sure, because one of the participants told me.

Fides: The name of the drug, what inspired it?

Mr Arazu: You see, our drugs take Igbo names. There’s this other drug called Onwueteka; we have the ulcer drug called Obioma because ulcer is very uncomfortable. Fr Arazu gives all these names, I am just trying to give you the background. So, when this one was ready, we said Father, you know it’s your turn now. After some days and raising concerns that people are dying, one night, he just wrote something. I came in the next morning to see it was Chioma. I laughed. I said this one is very interesting. So, we called it Chioma.

Fides: Now, with local names and the prospect of selling outside the shores of Nigeria and Africa, how confident are you that the name, Chioma, will sell well outside the shores of Nigeria?

Mr Arazu: Don’t these names sound nice in your ears? They have such names as zoledronic acid. Does Chioma not sound better?

Fides: Let Fr Arazu say something about the name.

Fr Arazu: I thought about it. And usually, I meditate on it. I go to sleep on it and when I wake up, I have an inspiration. I woke up one morning and heard somebody calling Chioma, probably calling a child, and I called it Chioma. There is another drug we are preparing. Let me think over it, the name will come.

Fides: When we posted the birthday design that we made for you, someone commented that your drugs saved him when he was sick at infancy. Someone also commented on your musical career with the Abu Oma Society. What do you have to tell us about it?

Fr Arazu: Abuoma are the psalms of the Bible. I was listening to lots of music and it occurred to me that in Igbo, all the songs we were signing were written by the Irish people who modified them with their own kind of songs. I realized that something ought to be done. So, I went into the idea of finding the translation of music that will suit our people.

I went and studied how to play the piano which I used to compose certain songs. Then, I got the inspiration to compose sixty-five psalms of the Bible and I put them into music. I got some people to be sing them. The I got the Abuoma Society who were singing them. The songs are being sung in so many places all over the world. Igbo people, the Hausa and the diaspora, they love them.

Then I brought the University of Nigeria to look into putting it into solfa and staff notation. I got a response from the Music Department. And there is some cassette composition. We spent three months, and the cost was heavy; we had to pay all the people doing the practice. At the end, we spent 6 million Naira to produce the solfa and staff notation of sixty-five psalms.

They sing them all over the world, not just in Nigeria. It’s one of the things I am known for. There are so many choruses and verses which we sing in some of our meetings here. I come down and when I start the song, they take it up. Sometimes, I tell them I have other things to do.

Fides: Do you still compose more?

Fr Arazu: After doing sixty-five psalms in Igbo language and music, I just found out that the inspiration was no longer there. When I was doing it, I just open the Bible, look at the English, go to the French, the Italian, the German, because I have diplomas in these languages. The translation of certain sentences from English to Igbo is a problem.

So, I look at it from other languages to be able to translate, and the inspiration comes. Then, I begin to use my thumb piano to do some rhythm and, the music comes. Sometimes, I could be trying to get the music for a psalm, I could wake up and the music comes. I could hear a bird singing and I find music in one of the sounds.

Moreover, my mother was a singer.

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