An acquaintance of mine who had just had the seventh of 16 shots of chemotherapy for a cancer has desperately searched for bone marrow meal in the last three weeks. Chemotherapy, as this column always says, is a wasting medical war on cancer. It poisons and devitalizes the whole body, not just the cancer. This challenged person is kept alive from pains by powerful, killer pain killers. The seventh chemo, as chemotherapy is also called, battered bone marrow so badly that the blood count crashed to about three percent. The white blood cells, too, were close to a zero percent count. So were the platelets which prevent us from bleeding to death whenever we have a cut. The white blood cells defend us against disease, germs and illnesses. In other words, this cancer challenged and chemo-treated person became something like a walking corpse.
But there is something always going well for this person…the conviction that, through the Grace of the Most High, this condition will be overcome. Equally helpful is the army of friends who solidly stick around in spirit and indeed, expressing love always.
Given the medical profile of this person, it has been surprising to doctors who manage this person’s condition that the first six chemos were overcome without much ado. How I wish they knew of the nutrition which under-girded this survival story so that they may help their other patients on chemo with them. Maybe one day this person will share the stories of Astragalus, Asparagus, Wheatgrass, Chlorella, Shark liver oil and, lately, bone marrow meal.
I got this person into bone marrow meal. I stumbled into it while researching more traditional medicines for cancer and chemotherapy side effects. This person, who had become so weak as to be unable to hold a cell phone in the hand, let alone dial it, attempted to get out of bed and stand on the feet, mightily crashed and knock the forehead on the ground, fracturing it. Doctors saved more troubles with stitches.
What may help the bone marrow bounce back to health in double quick-time, I wondered, wishing to discover frontiers beyond traditional herbs and foods for bone marrow health which adorn this person’s medicine cabinet.
I found an answer in the work of Dr. ASTRID BROHULT and her husband, a biochemist. Dr. Brohult, was a Swedish cancer doctor (oncologist) who worked in a children’s leukemia (bone marrow cancer) ward. When she discovered how chemotherapy traumatised children, she thought of nutritional ways of easing their travails. In 1952, she found that the white blood count rose in children whose diet was supplemented with fresh bone marrow from cow bones. Her husband discovered that the active compound in the bone marrow were alkylglycerols, but he could not, even with the help of a pharmaceutical company, extract enough alkylglycerols for commercial uses. For the pharmaceutical company, the best sources of Alkylglycerol in this regard would be the Greenland shark, the liver oil of which was composed of about 50 percent of Alkylglycerols. By the late 1956s, Dr. Astrid Brohult prescribed Alkylglycerol to many cancer patients. By the 1970s, she and her husband published the results of a study in which they gave Alkylglycerol to women with invasive cancer of the cervix who were treated with radiation therapy. Their findings showed that Alkylglycerol supplementation of the diet at 200mg three times daily for one to three month made toxic cancer therapies less toxic, and that the higher the dosage the longer the patient could live after radiation therapy, especially if Alkylglycerol therapy was begun before radiation therapy. This study showed that more than two times post radiation deaths within three years occurred in patients who were not treated with Alkylglycerol than in patients who took Alkylglycerol before or during radiation therapy. The subjects in this study numbered about 3,000.
The study found, also, that it was better to begin Alkylglycerol therapy before radiation therapy. Another interesting finding was that Alkylglycerol taken before radiation therapy may have begun to shrink the cancer before the radiation therapy. Besides, the longer the Alkylglycerol therapy, the longer the patient was likely to live after the radiation therapy. Another finding on injury rate showed that the Alkylglycerol group suffered half the injury rate of the placebo group. White blood count had a tendency to rise, sometimes, by as high as 100 percent when Alkylglycerol protected the bone marrow against radiation side effects.
By 1994, the findings had been reviewed positively by other studies. And this led pharmaceutical companies to produce either natural Alkylglycerols from Shark Liver oil or synthetic brands which had varying anti-cancer potentials.
Bone Marrow Meal
Interestingly, my generation of children enjoyed eating the bone marrow without knowing what it was or what it did. We struggled for the thigh bones of the chicken. We sucked that soft tissue in the bone hollow, the marrow, which the Yorubas of south-western Nigeria call mudunmudun. The Hausas call it tsaki keshi. The Efiks call it Ndia esit okop. As children if our teeth could not break it for us to suck the pulpy matter inside, we employed heavy sticks or stones to do the job. Many Nigerian adults enjoy the bone marrow in their diets without realising the nutritional and anti-disease benefits it is conferring on their health. Mrs. Adebisi Kekereekun, a travel agent executive with BUDGET TRAVELS of Lagos, consumes bone marrow any time she was pregnant. She has three children and hope to have more, encouraged now that bone marrow meal is good for reproductive health as well. During her last pregnancy, she consumed lots of what the Yoruba call Bogo (m:m) or biscuit bone, which also appears to have some bone marrow stuff. For eating bone marrow pulp or biscuit bone almost everyday, Mrs Kekereekun’s husband nicknamed her Bingo.
As I said earlier, I combed many parts of Lagos for bone marrow pulp for this acquaintance of mine who seriously needs it to overcome the side effects of chemotherapy and for the prospect of living beyond the average life expectancy of between three and five years after chemotherapy. This medical life expectancy should not dampen the fighting spirit of cancer patients who have been through chemotherapy. For there are many, many patients who have proven their doctors wrong through acts of will. My prayer is that the case in reference will be one of such success stories. So, what is bone marrow meal?
In the Holllow of a bone resides a power house of nutrients which are crucial for radiant health and even help to fight cancer. It is called the marrow, a fat-like substance. WESTON PRICE opened my eyes to it in his book NUTRITION AND PHYSICAL DEGENERATION. The book is partly about how indians who live in the rocky mountains of northern Canada feed themselves. The Indians are a hardy lot whose lifestyles fascinate other people. In the winter months, says Weston Price, they keep going on leafy green vegetables, barks and buds of trees. They ate organ meat, including “the wall of parts of the digestive tract” and gave the muscles to animals. Says Weston Price:
“It is important that skeletons are rarely found where large game animals have been slaughtered by the Indians of the north. The skeletal remains are found as piles of finely broken bone chips or splinters that have been cracked up to obtain as much as possible of the marrow and nutritive qualities of the bones. These Indians obtained their fat-soluble Vitamins and also most of their minerals from the organs of the animals. An important part of the nutrition of the children consisted in various preparations of bone marrows, both as a substitute for milk or as a special dietary ration.”
Bone marrow research literature offer us the following information and more.
This hormone is produced in fat cells. The more of it one has, the less likely to be obese is such a person. Lean people have more adiponectine than fat people. Adiponectine makes the sugar-burning hormone, insulin, more effective and, therefore, keeps at bay diabetes and other diseases associated with it.
A recent University of Michigan study shows that the bone marrow is a good source of Adiponectine. Hitherto, bone marrow was thought to cause osteoporosis and fracture risks. The University of Michigan study involved subjects with anorexia, chemotherapy patients, rabbits and mice and suggests that adiponectine may not only be protective but also encourage adaptive mechanisms outside the bone structure. The findings were released by Dr. Ormond MacDougald, Ph.D., “Faulkner professor in the department of Molecular and Intergrative Physiology, a Professor of internal medicine, a member of U-M’s Brehm center for Diabetes Research, and a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Cambridge in the U.K”.
This fatty substance is present in the bone marrow at about 0.2 percent, in the spleen at 0.5 percent and in mother’s milk at 0.5 percent. In the bone marrow, Alkylglycerol, present also in Shark Liver Oil, has been found to support the production of white blood cells, hence its value in the health of cancer patients whose white blood cell count is depleted by Chemotherapy. Even in a cancer cell, the level of Alkylglycerol has been found to rise beyond its level in the healthy cell, as it is thought, to help the ravaged tissue control cell division. Alkylglycerol is thus, seen as an immune booster. In this regard, a healthy bone marrow protects the body not only against infectious diseases but also, cancers.
This is the basis of the body’s structure. Proteins called collagen form the structural framework into which other molecules (fat, glucose, et.c) are filled to make a form such as the skeletal system of bones, the stomach or the skin. When the collagen structure collapses, as it often does in the eye ball, an entire structure goes down with it. This is why dietary supplements of collagen are often prescribed for the reconstitution of damaged or failed structures. The bone marrow is a rich source of collagen. It is well recommended, for example, for troubles in the intestinal lining which may cause diseases such as Celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Colitis. In Celiac disease, an allergic reaction prevents the absorption of digested food. The patient is famished irrespective of how well or of how much he or she eats. In Irritable Bowel Syndrome, there is alternation between diarrhoea and constipation. A patient may rush to the rest room about 10 times in one hour only to emit watery discharge no more than five tablespoonfuls. In colitis, the colon is inflamed. In ulcerative colitis, the inflamed colon suffers from ulcers and bleedings as well, setting the stage for colon cancer. Collagen protects the lining of the intestine. For this reason, Bone Marrow Meal is recommended for consumption where intestinal health is compromised.
This fat-soluble vitamin has many important functions in the body, especially in respect of healthy vision, mucous membrane lining, the skin and immune boosting and bones health. It is most well known to prevent night blindness and macular degeneration, that is the loss of fine vision. A remarkable health turn-around may be achieved, therefore, when bone marrow is consumed with vitamin A-rich foods such as carrots and herbs such as Kale, Spirulina and Marigold flowers.
A wonderful array of minerals exists in the bone marrow: Calcium, Magnesium, Zinc, Selenium, Phosphorus, Iron, Manganese et.c. They help to make the body function properly, prevent fatigue, boost immunity, heal injuries, maintain the electrolyte and fluid balance, support heart and brain health. The presence of Potassium and Glycine offers support for detoxification in the liver.
The building blocks of proteins, amino acids are abundant in the bone marrow. About 100 grammes of bone marrow consumed everyday is believed to supply as high as 14 percent of the daily recommended requirement of proteins. Proteins build cells and repair damage in cells. They build muscles and help children to grow. As immune cells and organs are made of proteins, it should be easy to understand why the consumption of bone marrow should help to boost immune function.
It is believed that consumption of 100grammes of bone marrow will provide about 25percent of the daily requirement of iron. This should support the manufacture of haemoglobin and red blood cells and prevent and cure anaemia.
An essential fatty acid, Omega-3 fat improves memory, protects the brain, helps out in depression, improves cell membrane function, supports healthy immune function, is anti-inflammatory and, therefore, good for resolving such questions as headaches, joint, pains or period pains, in so far as they are caused by an imbalance in the ratio of Omega-3 fats to those of Omega-6 and Omega-9, the other essential fatty acids. Omega-3 also helps as a blood thinner, in fact better than Aspirin and without its side effects, making this oil indispensable in the treatment and prevention of heart attacks and strokes. Many people worry about the fat content of bone marrow. It is safe and healthy, being largely Omega-3 fats.
Dr. Udo Erasmus has helped us out of our fear of fats in his remarkable book, FATS THAT HEAL and FATS THAT KILL. In the wisdom of Mother Nature, the body would not stock killer fats in the bone marrow which performs amazing tasks for our health and well-being.
Around the world, bone marrow meals are popular. The red bone marrow is more nutritious than the yellow. In the Philippines, bone marrow dish is called KANSI. The Indonesians call theirs SUM SUM. Indians and Pakistanis make bone marrow the main feature of the dish called NALLI. And the Chinese? They scoop out the marrow after the bone has been boiled. A straw may be inserted into the long bone, cut open at one end, to suck up the marrow juice still retained in the bone. Hungarians spread beef bone marrow on toast. Iranians suck out the marrow from the bone. Lebanese do the same. In Nigeria, the brooth appears the most popular way to enjoy bone marrow. That is the Bogo meal. Bone marrow may be eaten, also, roasted or cooked in beans or rice, going by the recipe of Mrs. Kekereekun. I should enjoy the brooth, drinking it or using it in place of water to make my corn pap or eba. For those who still consume corn flakes or Quaker oats, marrow brooth may not only add to the nutrition but also improve the taste.
As my acquaintance in reference has been unable to source sizeable amounts of bone marrow in Lagos on a sustainable basis everyday, there may be a call for help overseas. In the interim Bogo may come to the rescue. Bogo is biscuit bone. It is a rave of Tolulope Christiana Arogundade, a final year National Diploma Student of Mass communications at Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, especially when it comes in pepper soup. I am well advised that we can obtain large amounts of bone marrow from Bokoto, or cow’s leg bone.
The lesson we all should learn from the bone marrow is that we need to eat well, always. Eating well is not about loading up on any junk to fill the stomach. The bone marrow has large amounts of Vitamin A. Do we eat Vitamin A-rich foods? The bone marrow has large amounts of Vitamins and Minerals. Do we deliberately consume them in the diet? Do we pay attention to the counsel, always, in this column to add to the daily diet for this and other purpose Vitamin and mineral-rich greens such as Barley grass, Wheatgrass, Spirulina, Kale, Chlorella, Alfalfa et.c? The bone marrow contents feature 0.2 percent concentration of Alkylglycerols. Do we consume food supplements rich in them such as Shark Liver Oil? What about iron? What about the other nutrients in bone marrow? The standard Nigerian breakfast of bread, Margarine and boiled or fried egg lacks these features. Bread is devitalised carbohydrate from which such nutrients as Vitamin B-complex, Vitamin E and Lecithin, to mention a few, have been removed and sold as food supplements. Margarine is nothing but a trans fatty acid which blocks blood vessels, increasing in some people the risks of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke. The egg of free range chicken is good. But the standard, cheap and easily available egg is loaded with dyes to make the yolk appear yellow. Dyes are chemical poisons which may cause cancer. In contrast, the yolk of the egg of the free range chicken is made yellow by the beta carotene in the grass which these chickens eat. The poultry farmer cannot afford natural beta carotene and, so, to be competitive, goes for chemical dyes in the chicken feed. The feed comes, also, (and the egg does, too) with loads of hormones, especially estrogen, to stimulate the reproductive system of the hen so it can lay egg almost everyday, an unnatural event. Too much estrogen may cause breast cancer, uterine fibroids and infertility in men and women. Milk, too, is in this standard breakfast of bread, margarine, egg and tea. It is loaded, like the egg, with estrogen to make the cow produce milk almost everyday, again, an unnatural event.
We need to eat well for our bone marrows. The bone marrow seems to me to be, like the liver, a pantry or nutrient store, where nutrients are released from time to time for its protection, empowerment and support for other parts of the body. When this store falls low, troubles may brew in the bone marrow and in other parts of the body. Chemotherapy wipes this store or pantry and may even damage delicate structures in the bone hollow. There is hope, however, for the possibility of an upbuilding.
So, my friend, get up in that march, jubilantly, in the recognition that neither drugs nor injections, but the right kinds of foods and drinks bring lasting health.