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Open Access Research article

Taking alcohol by deception: an analysis of ethanol concentration of "paraga" an alcoholic herbal mixture in Nigeria

Oluwadiya S Kehinde1* and Akinola E Adegoke2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Surgery, College of Medicine, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti, Nigeria

2 Central Science Laboratory, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun, Nigeria

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:127  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-127

Published: 6 March 2012

Abstract

Background

Alcohol related road traffic injuries are on the rise in Nigeria. A sizable proportion of the alcohol intake is disguised as herbal medicines which are commonly available at motor parks in most urban centres. This study aims to determine the ethanol concentration of the herbal preparations and the vendors' knowledge about their preparation and use. Twenty-eight samples of the paraga mixtures were obtained for analysis from 22 paraga vendors. The vendors were interviewed in the motor parks using a semi-structured questionnaire.

Results

All the paraga outlets were located in or near motor parks. Commercial motor drivers and motorcyclists accounted for most customers. There were no formal recipes, production involved no calibrations or weighing and thus the components and concentration of different batches varied. The alcohol by volume (ABV) of the samples ranged between 1.20% and 20.84%. Nine samples were weaker than beers (Alcohol By Volume (ABV) of 1-3.1%). Ten were equivalent to beer (ABV:3-8%) and the rest were equivalent to wine (ABV:8-12%) or stronger (ABV: 18-20%).

Conclusions

Paraga should be classified as alcoholic beverages, and its sale restricted as such. The production should come under scrutiny, because the haphazard ways they are prepared may pose other health risks apart from those due to their alcoholic contents.