MEDICAL doctor Allwell Chiawolamoke Orji popped out of obscurity about-three weeks ago to top the Lagos talk chart when he jumped from the third Mainland Bridge into the Lagos Lagoon. His death shocked may people and raised many questions. Dr. Orji was returning from Church in a Nissan x-trail Jeep driven by his driver. He received a phone call, asked the driver to stop the car, pretending to wish to empty his bladder, came out of the jeep, climbed the rail and plunged into the lagoon. On unconfirmed police reports said it was one of many attempts to take his life.
Many people wondered why a young doctor with a good job would wish to commit suicide, and this has led to many speculations about Dr. Orji’s life. He is reported to be a sickle (SS genotype) who worked at Mount Senai Hospital in Papa Ajao, a rundown Neighbourhood in Mushin area of Lagos. He often lapsed into sickler crises and this aborted his efforts for post-graduate training that would make him become a surgeon someday. Police investigation of the suicide is still going on. Nothing has been heard from detectives about the telephone call Dr. Orji received. His driver was held and detained, raising, once again, a question of the injustice of the legal system in its pursuit of justice.
Ever since I was a boy I wondered why the State did not reward a citizen who was deprived freedom during investigation of a crime he or she may know nothing about. What if Dr. Orji’s driver knew nothing about the suicide? He must have been thrown into a police cell where mosquitoes may have feasted on his body. He may have been the inmate of hardened criminals in which case his self-esteem would have been damaged. He may have to spend money to care for his health after his release from police detection. If he knew nothing about the suicide, would the State have been fair to him? There are thousands of people who are battered like this every day. I seek your indulgence to digress so far. I always like to ask such questions and become happy when such thoughts are picked up by someone who helps to rectify worrying legal discomfitures. I always once wondered if Nigeria had no crusading Lawyers to succeed Chief Gari Fawehimi. Even Chief Fawehimi and Barrister. Femi Falana did nothing about the curtailment of the fundamental human right to move about anywhere, any time for as long as the law was not broken. The military took this right away in the Environmental Sanitation Decree which kept Nigerian indoors from 7:00 am to 10:00am very last Saturday of a month. To the disgust of many of us, the civilian administrations retained this unconstitutional decree and transformed it into an Act of parliament. Now, however, Lagos State has thrown this Act away and, once again, we are all a free people in this State. Back to Dr. Orji’s suicide. It raises also… (1) Sickle cell questions and (2) mental health questions.
Sickler are people whose red blood cells are curved, like rumpled dry or drying leaves. Some other people like me halve tinges of sickling in their red blood cells. Some people do not have any rumpling in theirs. Red blood cells are, therefore, categorized into genetic blood groups because it is believed the genes cause this condition. Sickler belong to the SS genotype. As people have little rumpling. AA genotype people are free of sickling. Another group is called SC. AA people have lots of oxygen in their bodies, and hardly get tired like AS people during endurance exercises or sporting competitions. On the other hand, AS people get tired far more easily when they are dehydrated or exert themselves in low oxygen conditions. But AS people are more resistant to malaria fever or its complications than AA people. Sickling is a blood disorder which is said to have hit epidemic proportions in Nigeria. Accordingly it is taught that genotype ought to be taught in primary and high schools, even if at the level of AA + AA = AA, AA + AS = 50 percent chance of AS or SS and AS + AS = 50 percent chance of SS, 25 percent chance of AS and 25 percent chance of AA.
The symptoms of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) present the treatment and prophylactic (prevention) modes. Many doctors treat pain, liver congestion, malaria fever and its complications, bone narrow degeneration, oxygen deficiency and its many complications, cramping and agglutination (gumming) of cells, among many others. As a medical doctor, Dr. Orji would have been aware of these. But what many doctors do not know much about or hesitate to get involved in the nutritional therapy of this challenge because nutritional medicine is not well addressed in some medical schools. Yet nothing works as best as nutrition in the prevention or management of sickle cell disease crisis. A typical Alternative Medicine Clinic may adopt the following measures.
Sickler do not have enough oxygen in their bloodstream. This causes pain in oxygen-deprived tissues and organs. The metabolic rate is low and growth, therefore is stunted. Two things can be done about this. The little oxygen available may be so well managed and stretched out that there appears to be no oxygen deficiency. This may be achieved with Vitamin E and Squalene food supplements. Maintain climbers do well on Vitamin E supplements. On the mountain peaks, Oxygen is scares, but vitamin E in the blood does not make this too apparent or obvious. The d-alpha tocopherol variety is more effective than the dl-alpha brand. Squalene is present in the skin. But the stock diminishes with aging. It is plentiful in Shark oil, and is one major reason the Shark can live for long periods of time at the bottom of the sea where oxygen level is low. Oxygen level of the blood can be increased through the consumption of greens and oxygen food supplements which may come in capsules or tablets or liquid oxygen, such as food grade Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2). It is important to remember always while shopping for Hydrogen Peroxide, which is a waste product of the body, that it is the food grade quality that is used in oxygenating the body. The greens are a rich source of oxygen. The oxygen molecules is stored in the chlorophyll of green plant. Four researchers won the Nobel Prize for their discovery that chlorophyll of the green plant and hemoglobin of the human blood have basically the same structure. The structure is a molecules which contains Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon and Oxygen, all held together by an atom of Magnesium. In the hemoglobin of the human blood, this red pigment holds the same structure together. Thus, when a green drink is consumed, the body removes the magnesium central atom and replaces it with iron and this recharges the blood. It would, therefore, appear that blood distress and disease may be related to a shortage of green food in the diet. The tendency these days is to micronize the green vegetable, into a powder form which may be consumed with smoothies, drunk with water or spread on foods. Some of these popular greens are wheatgrass, Barleys grass, Alfalfa, Spirulina, Chlorella Kale, Lemon grass, pawpaw (papaya leaf) etc. When they are taken regularly every day, they help to improve the oxygen content of the blood, and this may help the sickler keep crisis at bay while improving the oxygen blood content of the AS genotype person as well.
25% SHELF LIFE
The normal red blood cell lives for about 120 days. This is about four times longer than the SS red blood cell. The SS red blood cell is too weak to defend itself against predators’ in its environment. These predators include germs of all kinds (bacteria) viruses, yeast, fungi, mold and free radicals, heavy metals and so on. If the blood is fortified against these vagaries the life span of the SS blood cell may be increase. The fortifications involve many steps. Antibiotic herbs such as Golden Seal Root kills of parasites in the bloodstream. So does proprietary formulas such do parasite cleanse, Black seed Oil, Black Walnut hull, Grape Seed Extract, etc. Antioxidants help to protect these cells against free radicals. Zinc and selenium help the production of the body’s natural antioxidants. Alpha Lipoic Acid is an antioxidant active in fluid and fat media. Vitamins A, C and E are antioxidant vitamins. NONI juice improved wellbeing. Noni juice, an antioxidant, Beta carotene, yet another antioxidant, are helpful. Beta carotene is abundant in green, leafy vegetables. Lots of it is stored in Spirulina, Kale and Chlorella. In fact, these antioxidant herbs have several times more beta carotene than carrots, the wonderful healer of old, which was the prime vegetable of the bate carotene hunter. Free radicals bore holes in cells while trying to steal electron from them for their own stability and well-being. These holes are damaging to the cells as their contents drain out through them. The cell spend a great deal of energy and time trying to fill up and heal these punctures which may number about 100,000 every day in bad situations. They are like houses attacked by armed robbers and broken down every day. Will the house owner have the time, energy and resources to continually fix these houses every day? Or would they rather not vacate the houses for good? What resources does the SS cell have to protect and sustain itself under free radical bombardment? Unfortunately, most of the foods eaten in this environment come with a heavy free radical load. In fact, most cooked, not to mention fried, foods are free-radicals imbued foods. Is bread not? What about cow’s milk and white sugars, margarine, white flour foods, soft drinks and malt drink, canned foods, long-stored food crops. Antioxidants bind to free radicals and, thus, prevent them from attacking the cells. Herbs such as chlorella and minerals such as chelated Zinc help to drag them out of the body. Thus, a higher oxygen potential and Anti-oxidant profile in the bloodstream may help to improve SS cell viability and prolong its shelf life.
One of the side effects of a short shelf-life of the SS cell is jaundice, a condition in which the eyes, nail bed and skin may display yellow colour. The yellowing comes from an excess of bilirubin in the blood. This is dangerous in large amounts in the bloodstream.
In babies born with neonatal jaundice, Bilirubin blood levels may become so high that this substance may cross the protective blood/brain barriers, damage the brain and make such unlucky babies become vegetable for life. I have seen such a baby in his twenties who is still learning to crawl.
The Bilirubin is a component of the red blood cell. When this cell dies after about four months of its life, its components are released into the blood stream and transported to the liver which is expected to conjugate or fix them into less harmful substances. The liver does this every day, but we do not know simply because the rate of red blood cell death and break-up does not exceed the capacity of the liver to conjugate or fix its various components unloaded into the bloodstream.
In neonatal jaundice, the livers of babies may still be too weak to cope with a normal rate of red blood cell break-up. In adults, jaundice may result from malaria fever in which event the parasite plasmodium falciparum from the mosquitos attacks the red blood cell and break it ups. If far too many are attacked then the liver can immediately respond to effectively and efficiently. Discard the yellowing of Bilirubin we call yellow fever may occurs. Other factors which rapidly damage the red blood cells may account for this as well. In the sickler person, a crisis, such as Dr. Orji was reported to constantly suffer from, may arise from an overworked liver. The liver may become so engorged and inflamed that upper right abdominal region where it can be felt is painful to touch. Under this condition, the liver is unable to efficiently and effectively perform its life-supporting functions.
Dr. Orji was reported to be interested to becoming a surgeon but his request for training was turned down on this account. What if these crises affected his work as a surgeon, his superiors must have wondered.
During the birth of one of my sons at Duro Soleye Hospital on Allen Avenue, Ikeja, Lagos, a woman who was in the same ward with my wife had a baby who had to have three EBTs (Exchange Blood Transfusions). Any time the Bilirubin level was rising dangerously high, Dr. Egejuru would order another EBT. He was one of the most dedicated and compassionate pediatricians I’d ever met. He would strap some premature baby on his back if there was no incubator for it. The mother of this EBT baby got a baby discharged against medical advised and headed for her village Epe. No-one expected her around at the first antenatal clinic of mothers whose babies were born at that time. But there she was… with one of the most robust babies. She said the elders boiled the leaves in which mio-moin and eko (agidi, Igbo) are cooked and gave her baby to drink. Since then, I have advised mothers of jaundice babies to do likewise, and they have reported good results. But I have not had the time to research what healing properties these leaves give to the liver.
That may be because my hands are full or simply because there are now too many liver-protecting and stimulating herbs on the market to choose from. Some of these are Milk Thistle, Carqueja, Golden Seal Root, Papaya (Pawpaw) leaf extract, Dandelion, Jerusalem artichoke, Aloe Vera, celandine, Marigold, Blue Vervain, Barley grass, Orange Peel powder, Turmeric, Oregano, wheat grass Alkaline green etc. There are proprietary blends such as Amazon Liver support, Liver Balance etc.
In situations without oxygen and Anti-oxidant protection, bone pain may be experienced if the red blood cells breakdown rapidly. The bone narrow is involved in the production of red blood cells. In a sickle cell disease crisis, it has responsibility to make more red blood cells available to the system. But how effectively and efficiently can it do this when, like the rest of the body, it is not getting enough oxygen and its cells, too, are probably not well protected with either the basic antioxidants which the body produces from Zinc, Selenium etc or from antioxidant supplements in the daily diet. Nevertheless the bone narrow tries to respond. Afterall, this is one of its professional duties and a calling. Already, it responds in non-crisis situations, working four times harder than the bone narrows in normal people but without their resources. There is no doubt that it cannot be as effective and efficient as it should be in its work. So, the bones do not grow as well as they should, and express pain when they have to be overworked in these critical conditions.
About 1994, JOBELYN surfaced in Nigeria to address many, if not all of these questions. It is an herbal formula of about five herbs, the most mentioned of which Soghum bicolos (poroporo Oka baba in Yoruba). That is the stalk of the guinea corn. It Jobelyn to date is the fastest known replenisher of the blood hematocrit. It has gone through many studies in Nigerian teaching hospitals, beginning with the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) department of Pharmacy, the military Hospital of Ikoyi and research laboratory in Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. At various times, it has been described as an antioxidant, immune booster energizer, anti-inflammatory and blood replenisher.
I was privilege to witness early stages of the development of this product and its introduction to the herbal markets in West Africa. With it attributes, many medical doctors now routinely prescribe it for all sorts of medical conditions. One of its leading advocates in the Nigerian medical establishment is Dr. Abia Okon. Bone pain, like all pain, responds to a proprietary product name NATURAL CALM. There is a sister product named OSTEO CALM. This supports joint health in addition. The sickle cell disorder-challenged person should not forsake CORAL CALCIUM. It is not an empty calcium formula like many on the shelf. It comes with scores of mineral salts bound to calcium and magnesium in exactly or nearly in the same formulation as Mother Nature makes our bones. Again, greens such as Spirulina, Kale and Chlorella are rich in folate which is greens such as Spirulina, Kale and Chlorella are rich in folate which is good for this condition.
Anti-inflammatory substances such as Curcumin 2000X are good. This product is not only 2000 times (2000 x) more active than naturally-occurring Curcumin in Turmeric, the power of Cayenne pepper complexed to it not only checks inflammation and pain but, also, prevents sickling and coagulation (gummy) and thereby improves blood flow.
The blood cells may coagulate or gum up if the platelet cells produce too much thromboxane, a chemical which predisposes to spikes formation. Blood thinners often help. In Nature, there are blood thinners such as Cayenne pepper, Black pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Vitamin E.
The Nigerian Medical establishment has produced from five herbs the proprietary blend known as NIPRISAN, which has been approved for use in sickle cell disease by some European nations and the United States. As a medical doctors, Dr. Allwell Orji would have tried to manage his sickle cell disorder, otherwise he would not have lived to be 35 or to undergo the stress of medical school and even dream to further his studies to become a surgeon. It is possible he broke down from the emotional backlash of his disease… for example, not being able to find a wife to marry. It is possible some other causes got the better part of him. It is possible he had a mental disorder as well. But who among us all is mentally stable?.