Mycotoxin contamination of herbal medications on sale in Ebonyi State, Nigeria

  • Richard C. Ikeagwulonu
  • Charles C. Onyenekwe
  • Nkiruka R. Ukibe
  • Charles G. Ikimi
  • Friday A. Ehiaghe
  • Isaac P. Emeje
  • Solomon N. Ukibe


The practice of herbal medication is as old as the culture of the people and despite the advent of modern medication, many people of south eastern Nigeria, still patronizes herbal medication. Herbal medications are consumed directly and could be contaminated with mycotoxins which are detrimental to human and animal health. This study was therefore, designed to determine the extent of mycotoxin contamination of herbal medications on sale in Ebonyi State, South-Eastern Nigeria. In this regard, a multistage random sampling technique was used to select 19 herbal medication samples from stores and markets in Ebonyi State, Nigeria and evaluated for occurrence of three major mycotoxins- aflatoxins (AFs), ochratoxin A (OTA) and fumonisins (FB). Employing wet extraction procedure, mycotoxin occurrence and levels were determined via lateral flow immunoassay technique. Results showed high prevalence of all three mycotoxins in the samples in the order OTA (89.47%), FB (82.46%) and AF (82.21%). Ochratoxin A was highest in Goodswill herbal (23.66 ± 3.51 ppb) and lowest in Goko mixture (0.00 ± 0.00) while fumonisin was highest in Ukwara (634.33 ± 8.00 ppb) and lowest in Iketo-2 mixture (0.00 ± 0.10). Aflatoxin B1 was highest in African Iba (20.00 ± 2.00 ppb) and lowest in Dunamis and Divine roots herbals (0.00 ± 0.00). Data from the analysis of herbal medication samples showed varying concentrations of mycotoxins AFs (0 – 20 ppb); OTA (0 – 23 ppb); FB (0 – 634 ppb) respectively. In conclusion, mycotoxins concentration determined in the herbal samples were above Nigerian and European Union (EU) set limits for OTA only. The co-occurrence of these mycotoxins in herbal samples analyzed in this study raises further awareness to the health risks consumers of these herbal commodities.

Keywords: Mycotoxin, herbal medicine, quality, Nigeria.


Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1997-342X
print ISSN: 1991-8631