This post was published first on May 24, 2012. We are republishing it due to popular demand:
Samson Oletu lived and worked in Lagos. Two weeks ago, he began to have pains in his gums, forcing him to chew less. In two days, the pain has become unbearable. He went to the chemist, and got some antibiotics, along with painkillers which he began to take. The pains continued. When he spoke with his colleague, who had suffered tooth ache in the past, he told him to use hot water to melt the antibiotics and pain killers in a cup, and use it to gargle the teeth before swallowing. Oletu began to do this, but he discovered that the pains continued. He increased the painkillers to three tablets, but all it could do was hold the pains for six hours. One night, he had miscalculated, and when he woke up at midnight to take his painkillers, they were just not there. After two hours, the pains were getting unbearable, and he was sweating. Then he began to pray. “I never knew I could pray so much. But the more I prayed, the more the pain, until I began to cry, the pain was that bad”, he told Jungle Journalist. When he called a doctor friend of his, he advised him to remove the tooth. “When the pain became unbearable, I had to remove the tooth. That is what everybody does”, he advised me.
But Oletu did not see the sense in removing his teeth. How could he remove his teeth? What if the pain starts in another teeth, will he also extract it? No, there must be a way to cure the pain. Then another friend also advised him to remove the teeth. “I won’t, he replied. Not even if the pain is killing me.” “May be it was my resolve not to remove the teeth, but when I posted on Facebook that I had tooth ache, someone suggested I remove the worms in my teeth. But to do that, I had to go to Benin”.
Samuel Oletu had left Lagos on a Monday morning at the risk of a query from his company and travelled to Benin to treat his teeth. His plan was to return that evening as he hoped to be treated. As soon as he arrived Benin, he traced Dr Sunny Olu, the teeth doctor, and in about 45 minutes, he was cured. He was in the next bus returning to Lagos by five pm, and, as he explained to Jungle Journalist, he ate suya, as well as roasted turkey meat when they got to Ore, Ondo State, because “there was no more pain”, he said, smiling.
Dr Sunny Olu, the teeth doctor can always be seen under a mango tree, close to a redPassat, which served as his office and shop. The place is close to the Oba palace, in front of Oredo Local Government office, and on a bench are seated his patients. The herbal doctor, who hails from Orhionwon Local Government, Edo State, told Jungle Journalist that he started very early, at the age of seven to treat people for teeth-related illnesses: “I inherited it from my father.” His other clinic is at his house, at Oba Adolor Street, Upper Sakponba in Benin.
“When you go for medical treatment, what they tell you is that you have got bacteria in the teeth. They do not tell you there are worms in the teeth. But when the worms suck the marrow inside the teeth, it develops into holes. But the dentist will give you drugs and pull your teeth out. However, when you pull the teeth, the worm is still inside the gums. It does not make sense because if you keep extracting the teeth in your mouth, may be one day you will have no more teeth to extract. The herbs I use are simple to use. All you do is put a quantity in your mouth and hold it there for some time. The medicine attracts the worms and they will start coming out. When you pour it out, the worms are very easy to see, and with this toothpick, I carefully drag them out of their comfort zones, under the gums.”
He also explained that the herbs can also be administered by the patient at home and get the same results: “If you hold it in your mouth long enough, the worms will come out and you will spit them away.”
He went on to say that if the worms have cut the veins of the teeth, tooth is dead. After removing the worms, the affected tooth should be removed, because it is dead: “It can only cause you ache. But if the tooth is not dead yet, I also advise the patient to go and fill the cavity at the dentist’s.”
Jungle Journalist was privileged to see Dr Olu at work. According to Mrs Nneka Nwankwo, who came for treatment, she had had tooth ache for two years. “I have taken all kinds of medicine. I have gone to different hospitals, and the only reason why my tooth was not extracted was because I was pregnant when I had tooth ache. I went to University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH) and the injection I was to receive could not be used because it will affect the unborn baby.” She could not brush her teeth, and her upper teeth never met the lower. Her only way to clean her teeth was by carefully rubbing chewing stick on it, then gargling with warm, salted water: “it’s my tongue I always use to cushion it, as the pain is usually unbearable.”
When Mrs Nwankwo arrived the make-shift clinic, her jaws looked swollen, and she talked slowly and carefully, obviously to avoid pains. According to her, there was pus in the gums. The Nation watched as Dr Olu worked. First, he took a tiny bottle, and poured its contents into the lady’s mouth, telling her to hold it in the affected part. The he added two drops of another. She held it there for about five minutes, and poured it into a disposable bag. Next, he got a sharp tooth pick, and told her to open her mouth. He then carefully began to extract the worms. The worms look just like earthworms, but were very tiny, crawling on the white paper they were dropped. Blood also came out.
Seven worms were removed from her mouth, and she was given water to wash her mouth. Next, the herbal doctor gave her a list of drugs to use in order to get completely healed. He also gave her a tiny bottle, and directions on how to administer it to clean up the gums.
Speaking to Jungle Journalist, Nwankwo said the pain was almost gone completely. “For two years now, I don’t sleep at night. I hope the pain will not come back”. On his part, Samuel Oletu explained that he was shocked to the marrows that worms were coming out of his mouth. “Hers is small. Do you know he removed 26 worms from my mouth? And as soon as he finished, I felt free. I slept until ten am next morning”.
Dr Olu explained that tooth ache is just one of his fields “I treat ears that has pus. Worms can also cause pus in the ear. There is also gum infection, which is different from tooth ache. When one begins to bleed in the gums, medical science say it is caused by excess sugar, but there are also people who suffer from that infection without having excess sugar in the body. I treat that too. I also treat whitlow and fingernail infections. There are three types- the first makes the nails dry, black and dusty. The other one makes the finger swollen, and when you wash, or cook, you feel pains. In the other, the nail will grow but will not stick to the flesh. Those are the three types, and for each, there is a different herb to treat.”
But how does the worms get into the mouth? He answers the question too: “Every human has got worms, and they are in fact, useful to digestion. After eating, it is not everything that goes down into your system. The worms try to eat them, and break down the ones it can’t eat. When you brush your teeth, everything has become soft and just goes.”
He explained that he also prescribes anti-biotic, when there is a wound in the gums. He also named some of the herbs he uses: “it’s not everything I can reveal to you. There are some which are my trade secrets, but I can tell you some. There is one herb called emokhan, I also use the bark. There is also the unie herbs, it looks like pepper and comes in bunches. I boil them together with other ones in earthenware pots. I am supposed to bring these herbs in those earthenware pots, but people will feel that you are performing some mysterious deeds. That is why you see them in bottles. But they are more effective in the earthenware.
Advising those who shy away from the use of herbs, he said “Herbal medicine is very good. Our fathers lived to 100 and above, and all they needed was herbal treatments. Nigerians should learn to use herbs to treat themselves. There are fakes too, but then, there are also quack doctors. The modern medicines you see today are not better than what we have here. It’s just that they package them the way they do, and people accept them. We can also do the same.”
To reach Dr Olu, call these numbers:
53, Oba Adolor Street,
off Nomayo Street,
Upper Sakponba, Benin, Nigeria.