Potash is one of the several natural mineral resources that have been unraveled in the past and discovered to be beneficial for human usage. It is referred to as “akanwu’’ in the Igbo language, “kanwa’’ in Hausa and “kaun’’ in Yoruba. Potash is a type of lake salt (sodium carbonate) that is dry and hydrated in nature. Studies reveal that the it is the second most popularly used kind of salt in Nigeria although it has very low quantity of potassium.
One of the major reasons why people use potash to cook their food is mostly because it helps to get your food done in almost half the time it would have taken if left to cook without it.
However, a Senior Research Scientist, Mr. Ochuko Erukainure, who works at the Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, on Wednesday announced that when men consume this salt in excess, it reduces sperm production and leads to testicular injury. Mr. Ochuko made the claim in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
He further advised the public to consume it at minimal rate because it is also one of the major causes of renal injury. The researcher stated that because potash is very high in sodium, it becomes a threat to human health. He added that sodium carbonate was usually used by some tribes in the preparation of `ewedu’ and okro soups as a thickener and also to increase the ‘greenness’ of the soups.
According to him;
“It is a substance that is used in some parts of Nigeria to tenderise foods and shorten cooking time, but it is not healthy for consumption, particularly by men.
“A recent research conducted by scientists in FIIRO, in collaboration with Biochemistry Department, Bells University in Ota, shows that consumption of potash injures testicules and thereby causes infertility in men.
“Potash brings about its effect by suppressing steroidogenesis (a process by which sperm is formed) and alters the histology of the testicular tissues. Excessive high concentration of sodium in the potash was identified to be the main culprit. The fatty acid profile of the testes which is mostly unsaturated was also observed to be altered. Potash, because of its high sodium, also causes injury to the kidney and liver.’’
Erukainure advised that more studies should be conducted on the safety of potash consumption in females.