… Interview with Reverend Father Raymond C. Arazu, CS. Sp
Life takes us through so many paths, some we choose, while others just happen, yet we follow. Here is a story of a Catholic priest who is also a herbal medical practitioner. He has proven to have the cure to Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
The recent prevalence of the coronavirus pandemic raised so many questions as regards what people eat and the search for cure.
In this interview, this herbal doctor, Father Raymond Arazu, CS.Sp, who has been a priest for over fifty years, sat down with Fides crew of Mercy Hill, Alexander Johnson Adejoh and Precious Ukeje, to discuss his journey into herbal medicine and his claim of cure for coronavirus.
He also spoke of what one should take to help boost one’s immune system.
Additional information on other journeys of his life.
His nephew, Mr Reginald Arazu, a Chemist and also a traditional medical practitioner and, lent his voice to the course.
Fides: Please introduce yourself to us
Fr Arazu: My name is Reverend Father (Dr) Raymond Chukwunyelu Arazu, (Cssp). I come from Ihembosi town in Anambra State. And I was ordained priest fifty something years ago. I should be 82 on May 27 this year.
Fides: Father, please what is the meaning of Cssp?
Father Arazu: Congregation of the Holy Spirit. Every man in my family is a herbalist. In fact, in my town, Ihembosi, my village Otukpo, my section of the village is called Eze Dibia. And every man is a Dibia. So, I started knowing about properties of herbs from infancy. In fact, when I was in the seminary, I once was told that a priest cannot be a medical doctor. And so, I stopped learning about herbs. But of recent, the church has lifted the ban; a priest can now be a medical doctor. But I was already practicing from the war period.
During the Nigeria-Biafria war, medicine was scarce and since I have knowledge of how to cure, I used to use certain herbs I knew to help people. Until eventually, I developed the practice and you see this building here for example, this is the result of herbal medicine.
I have another one like this at Ihembosi; I have another one like this at Enugu. And I practice regularly so that when we heard about this coronavirus, I read about it, I studied about it and I sent for my nephew who has a degree in Chemistry, and he came and consulted some of his friends who have degrees in Pharmacy, and we used the plants.
As you know in traditional medicine, the search for the qualities, what the substance of those plants can do; and we eventually put together the drug that we have used for coronavirus. But, we do not leave it in liquid form, we produce it in powder. We have five different plants that we put together to get the drug. It is from the drugs we use to cure something like bronchitis, pneumonia, High BP, malaria, typhoid.
Different types of drugs we use to cure these, we put together. And somebody who was supposed to be suffering from what they are talking about, came around and took the drugs, I think for about two days, he got well and ran away. He did not want to be used as a scapegoat; he did not want his name to be mentioned.
Buy we are not worried.
It was three weeks ago somebody came around, he said he is a jungle journalist and asked me about it, and I said I can cure it. And he went off and then broadcast it all over the world. Some people are phoning me from all over the world. Eventually I we had to meet the Special Adviser to the Governor, he interviewed us.
I happen to be the Chairman of Traditional Medicine Board in Anambra State. And this is the second time I am appointed as chairman, and I introduced this to the Traditional Medicine Board, and they adopted it and discussed it. I call it a group production.
My nephew and his scientific friends who got the powder form of it, we constitute a team that produced this drug and I am very happy about it, because I do not think I need anybody’s permission to cure someone who is sick. So, this is why they are calling my name all over the place.
They are phoning me, and they say, ‘so you have discovered this drug?’ I say yes.
We are not afraid of announcing it. And there is no chemical, no European or English stuff in it. It is all herbs. But the most important point there is if you know, there is a grass we call Lemon grass; it is one of the key grasses for the cure of coronavirus.
You can boil it and you can use it by putting in a pot, cover yourself with blanket over it and you get rid of coronavirus. The virus does not survive heat. That is why it is killing more people in cold regions. But in this part of the country where we are about 790 miles away from the sun, still the sun can be so hot every day the virus does not survive that kind of heat. So, this is where we are.
Fides: You were practising traditional medicine before you went into priesthood?
Fr Arazu: I am doing both at the same time. I got to the junior seminary at the age of 12. And from there on, I finished there before 15 and then went to the senior seminary and I was ordained 1962.
Fides: How have you been able to combine priesthood with herbal medicine?
Fr Arazu: It is not a difficult thing. In my parish, a good number of my parishioners, they get sick; they get typhoid, they get malaria. And since I know how to handle it, I prepare the medicine and give to them, and they are happy at the result.
And from there, I went on and people continue to call me, and I continued working. Eventually, I had a clinic. I have one at Onitsha and one at Ihembosi. I have one at Enugu, I have one at Awka. So, I train some people who handle these. When I am not around, they phone me, describe their problem and I tell my managers what drugs to give them. And as far as they continue coming, it means that what I give them is effective.
So, this is the story.
Fides: Of late, there is this agitation that the best way to prevent coronavirus is to boost the immune system. So, we would like to know from your wealth of experience, are there fruits or vegetables you could recommend one to eat so that their system is boosted?
Fr Arazu: You know Hibiscus flower? When dried, put it hot water, it looks like blood. When you drink it, it boosts your blood and helps your blood circulation.
Fides: We know that you are a Holy Ghost Father. Do you plan to bequeath this wealth of knowledge to you spiritual community?
Fr Arazu: I spend too much time in studies. I was sent to Rome because after doing the GCE here, I did the advance level in Latin, and English literature and I got them very well. I was sent to Rome, at a university where all the lectures were done in Latin. And I did my masters there. I went to another university and did Ph.D in Moral Science. And I took time off to study German, French, Italian; I got diplomas in all of them so that I can consult all the books. Then, the war began and I came back during the war.
I was posted to Bishop Okoye who sent me to the DDL Convent. In fact, I was the Reverend Mother in charge. All the letters I wrote had Reverend Mother in charge. He found it necessary for a man to be there during that war. I remember once, the army was passing by at Ukpor in Nnewi South where the convent was being founded. I had to build raffia structures and once the soldiers were marching past and the sisters were running into the bush.
I usually do not wear my soutane, but I went and wore it. The soldiers saw me and came in and asked me what we were doing there. They thought it was one of the buildings where we were training Biafran soldiers. I said those were women who were learning to be Reverend Sisters. I asked the sisters to come back, meet the soldiers and bring them water to drink. So the leader asked me to continue with what I was doing and they passed on. Bishop Okoye who was the founder was not steady home at that time.
So, when he came back, he called me and told me that he wanted to send the girls home to their different homes and communities. I told him its alright. The next morning after mass, I went back to him, told him if you send them away, they would not reach home: the soldiers will accost them on the road. So, he decided to keep them and we continued like that. I have done all kinds of jobs.
Eventually, I was sent to lecture in the senior seminary of the Holy Ghost Fathers at Attakwu. I lectured there for so many years and eventually, I was posted to Ihiala parish where I was for quite some time before I developed this traditional medicine to a degree. And then, age is not on my side so that now that I am retiring, I am retiring into traditional medicine.
And that is why this coronavirus has come as a challenge and we can meet that challenge. If a country like Madagascar can produce a drug and it is accepted by United Nations, I heard they mentioned my name that they invited me, but I got no invitation. But we are ready for anything. So I do not find any difficulty combining traditional medicine with priesthood.
Fides: Throughout your priestly journey and your journey as a herbal doctor, are there any fine memories you have? Can you discuss with us?
Fr Arazu: I am usually happy when someone comes back and tells me that the drugs you gave me worked, especially families that were having problems with child bearing. We have drugs that can help to boost the male and female reproductive system and I am happy to see some children that came through our hands.
Fides: Are there other peculiar cases besides those who are barren you have worked on and your herbs have actually brought testimonies?
Fr Arazu: Yes. There are people with especially diabetes and we have discovered that the palm wine that is produced from the raffia palm in the river, the wine from it without addictive, when allowed to ferment for about three or four days, give it to someone with diabetes, it can cure diabetes.
At times we add some drugs to colour it, but the cure is raffia palm wine. The longer it stays, the better medicine it is.
Fides: How do you get your materials? Do you go searching for them or you buy them?
Fr Arazu: Usually, I have clinics in Enugu, in Awka, in Ihembosi, but the clinics in Enugu and Awka also contain our drug manufacturing system. We go into the bush about once a month; very thick forest. As we go, we leave our car and come down, we look at the trees. In fact, we have done it so well that we formed an organization in Enugu. Formal organisation of twenty traditional doctors and about once a month, we go into the bush with camera. We identify the plants and each traditional doctor comes around and says what he can do with it. And this is tape recorded.
We identify these plants and we have published a book on it: Checklist of Traditional Plants in Nigeria, about twenty plants in that book, so that those who want to learn traditional medicine will have something to rely on. We used to do this every month until Boko Haram came; you are afraid of which bush you will enter, and you will meet them. So, we cannot constitute the police or the army to go with us to gather drugs.
So that has slowed down our movement. Otherwise, we get into the bush and thick forests to identify these plants that are dying out. A plant like orange tree is now dying out. Then lime, which is our source for typhoid drug, after sucking the liquid, the one you throw away is a medicine for typhoid. We put in water and we boil it. As you boil it, you watch it.
Those that float on top as you boil it are okay. Those that do not float and sink down are not good yet. And when all float, you have drug for your typhoid. All these cannot be taken by those who do not have ulcer. If we show you how we produce some certain drugs, they are very effective.
Fides: One of the conflicts between European medicine and traditional medicine has been that of dosage. So, how do you come about the right dosage for a patient or someone suffering from a particular ailment?
Fr Arazu: Some of our traditional doctors are medical doctors. So, they know. When you come to the question of dosage, a tumbler, a shot; a shot is one-quarter of a tumbler, those are dosages for us and they are very effective.
Fides: We have keen interest particularly in the fact that you said you are already training some people in the same line. Is there a priest among those you are training?
Fr Arazu: We do not reject anybody, and some Reverend Fathers have come to me and we sit down and especially those who are posted to very far places that are away from the township. I tell them what kind of plants they can use especially for malaria.
There are different trees, plants that can be used to cure malaria. God knew that we would have lots of mosquitoes and so, he gave us lots of plants that can be used to cure the malaria that come from mosquitoes.
Fides: In this part of the world, so many people see herbal doctors as spiritualists. How would you react to that?
Fr Arazu: Example, our people suffer from not only physical sickness. There are so much spiritual problems like witchcraft, especially in the riverine areas, there is so much witchcraft, and you are not a good traditional medicine doctor until you can handle the issue of witchcraft. They will also attack you yourself.
The issue of witchcraft is a fact. Some think it is not true. It is a fact. I remember I went to a parish once and the parish priest was saying that there was nothing like that. But funny enough, he went to bed at night and woke up in the football field. And this happened.
He got up and looked around and it was a football field; that was not where he went to bed. But the witches heard what he was saying and so they gave him a sample. So, now he realised there is something like witchcraft. So, it is a fact and if you do not know how to handle it; how to ward it off, they can cause harm. So, it is not what we are going to describe. It will be a different problem.
Fides: So Father, does that confirm the fact that traditional doctors are spiritualists?
Fr Arazu: Not all of them. Some are spiritualists. Since I handle issue of witchcraft, I am a spiritualist.
Fides: Looking at the way traditional medicine is going and with your new cure for coronavirus, where do you see traditional medicine in Nigeria in the next ten years?
Fr Arazu: I see traditional medicine as slowly going into the University. Somebody can decide which part of medicine he wants to study; if he wants to study orthodox medicine or traditional medicine.
They are all inclusive. I have met somebody who studied both, and medical doctors who are coming back to traditional medicine. Eventually, the programme will grow. We are pioneers, but my nephew who has studied Chemistry has gone deep into traditional medicine and he is producing the powder drug in our system. Only money is needed, to also buy a dryer, because some of these drugs, you have to dry them under room temperature.
The official dryer is expensive and the grinder which will grind it almost like tobacco and then you mix it. And then, the issue of how you preserve the drug so that it can last for some months or some years. This will need some experts and some machines: a lot of mechanism. So, a lot of work is needed in traditional medicine.
China is surprising everybody now; they are producing traditional medicine. If government is serious, they can invest money in traditional medicine. At the rate at which we are going, we do not have enough money. Even this powder drug that we are producing now is from our ordinary earnings. Without help from people, we cannot go any further.
But, there is money in traditional medicine. I told you, all these buildings are from traditional medicine. When I was building them, I was working day and night; I drive from here to Port Harcourt. Sometimes, I fall into the river. Sometimes, I have to deal with the police. They will stop you and say where is your NAFDAC?
They will accost you almost as if you were a criminal. But we went on and on, because some people are waiting for us, waiting for the medicine. Some people have given up taking European medicine. They take out own. So, there is hope for the future.
Fides: There is another controversy between European medicine and traditional medicine. Paracetamol and other analgesics are tailored towards curing pains and headache, and so are other drugs for particular ailments. But we find in traditional medicine, some people bring one drug and claim a list of ailments that it cures. What is your reaction to this?
Fr Arazu: That is why we have Traditional Medicine Board of which I am the Chairman in Anambra State. We were given a vehicle to go round. Those who claim that they produce traditional medicine, we will like to know what they used and where they do it, to see whether these are legitimate, because there are places they are using very bad water in producing liquid drugs and we stopped them, we closed them.
We did that because to produce something for the public, you need very clean water and very clean vessels and the people should be clean too. That is why we give certificates to those who qualify and those who do not have their certificates, the police can arrest them.
Fides: Most times, we hear doctors say we treat, but God cures. So, what does that mean to a traditional medicine man?
Fr Arazu: Not only traditional medicine, but every kind of medicine; we only treat but God cures.
Fides: Father, you are already fifty-eight years a priest and eighty-two years of age. What has been your motivation as a priest and what is your advice to people that are just coming into the priesthood?
Fr Arazu: The most important thing in priesthood is spirituality. When we talk about spirituality, we look around. If you go to India for example, walking in the forest in India, you can find someone sitting in a particular position and is not asleep. You come back after two hours and he is still like that. What is he doing? He is doing meditation.
Some will be doing contemplation. God is not a myth; God is real and when you learn the reality of God, you will realise what we are saying. Like as we are sitting down now, Jesus Christ is with us. Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, when I call him name, he is standing at the right hand of God because I called him.
Above his head is something like fire which is the Holy Spirit. You cannot see God, but you can see the image of God which is Jesus Christ. And His image stays with you. As I call him now, his image is with me. The prayer we say: Lord Jesus Christ, yours is the kingdom, the power, the glory, we thank you, we love you, we adore you forever.
There are people who phone me early in the morning and we say this prayer. We are using it as a mantra. So, that is why we have a class here every Sunday and Monday evening, two or three hours which we call Esoteric Class.
That is where we go into spirituality, because we teach so many things in the church except spirituality. When you do not learn spirituality, you are not get to my anywhere and it is part of my traditional medicine. How we handle issue of witchcraft. So, traditional medicine is so vast; it is not about herbs and roots and plants. But also what these things can do on the spiritual level.
Fides: We have talked about Nigeria and we know that there are lots of lapses in every sector. Is there anything or practices other countries thriving in traditional medicine are applying you would want Nigeria to adopt?
Fr Arazu: Yes, especially India. India has done so much. I am not talking about china, we are not very used to China. If you go to India, you will see we got independence together with them. But now, India is manufacturing aeroplane. They are manufacturing the engine for a lot of these German cars, lots of these tricycles are from India. Nigeria had not manufactured bicycle spoke. This country that got independence with us are manufacturing helicopters and it is so because of their spirituality.
You go to India, you have more poor people than here, the beggars you find there will surprise you, and yet on the other hand, they have produced so much, because of what Mahatma Gandhi gave them. Mahatma Gandhi who got independence for India was a spiritual man and he trained his own politicians on the issue of no bribery, no backhand business. The name Mahatma means a good soul and he used to pray a lot with his people, that when they got independence, they feared that he was going to stop them from a lot of back hand business and those people who were really morally corrupt, they did not want the way he was leading the youths and so, they organised and killed him.
They came in the evening where he had evening prayers with the youths, and they bent down and started praying, one of the youths pulled out a pistol and shot him three times, and he fell crying Ramah thrice, which is one of the gods of India. And that was the end of Mahatma Gandhi. You can never find a man who can be as uptight as that. To lead the country to independence, he did not have cars or mansions, he was as poor as anybody. They did not want that so they killed him to have their way. So, that is the kind of man we need here. Somebody who thinks for the welfare of others. So that is one area we could learn from the Indian system.
Fides: When we think of the cure for coronavirus, you know one the problems the world is having with the cure from Madagascar is that some people are asking for detailed scientific proof and all of the things that qualifying elements. Do you think that without these proofs, it is advisable to take these drugs?
Fr Arazu: We are not having a problem with that because I told you there are two scientists: my nephew who has a degree in Chemistry and his friend who has a degree in Pharmacy and they have worked out that scientific proof. You will be surprised at what you will get when he explains the scientific proof.
Fides: We saw a transcript of your interview with the jungle journalist and one of the comments about your drugs was, if it is approved by WHO? So, while we await approval, is it okay for people to take this drug?
Fr Arazu: Remember I told you I do not see why I have to take permission to cure somebody. To cure somebody, I find out what happened to him and I do not need your permission to do it. That is the kind of permission you ask in the church. If you bring that into government, you will be in trouble.
Fides: After this interview and people begin to call for the drug, do you have the capacity for mass production?
Fr Arazu: That is a problem. We need money to do that. We do not have that kind of money. Otherwise, the demand will be more than the supply. That is what we did in Economics. So, if the government can invest in this, we can produce lots of drugs that will boost supply.
Fides: In your capacity as the Chairman, Traditional Medicine Board, and considering you had an interview with the Special Adviser to the Governor on Traditional Medicine, do you think Anambra Government will invest in the provision of this drug?
Fr Arazu: Your guess is as good as mine. We need political action on this issue now. People who want to win election should come out and invest in the drugs for coronavirus so that it will reach every body. At the moment, I have only fifty packets in my room, so that if you want one, I sell.
Fides: What is your advice to Ndi Anambra concerning this coronavirus?
Fr Arazu: They should vote money for the development of this drug.