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We are not only what we eat, but also what we breathe, says Dr David Hoffman in his THE COMPLETE AND ILLUSTRATED HERBAL. Sent out many years ago for the care of the respiratory system, this message has remained a strong weapon in the hands of anti-cigarette campaigners world wide who observed yet another WORLD NO SMOKING DAY THIS WEEK. As the hammers came down on cigarette smoking, I wondered if we all knew there were more smokes even more dangerous than cigarette smoke which we all inhale in Nigeria every day.

      A few years ago, I informed a woman under 50 who roasted plantain by the road side that she needed to always clean up her lungs and blood of carbon deposits because she was inhailing charcoal smoke. She laughed merrily, and replied that she had been on the job for years. She looked drab. Her nosestrils were always stuffy and her throat was hardly clear. I wasn’t surprised when I learned a few weeks after that she slumped at home on Sunday afternoon over her laundry chores and died afterwards in hospital.
      In her book, THE ONE MINUTE CURE, Dr Hilda mentions the case history of an infertile woman whose challenge was eventually traced to her ovaries which were heavily laden with paraffin molecules. How did the molecules get there? She was too poor to afford electric heating and depended on paraffin for the heating system of her home. Until these molecules were removed from her ovaries, she could not ovulate. As I remembered this case history this week, I remembered many Nigerian women in their kitchens who depended on kerosine for cooking. Many of the kerosine stoves in Nigeria today are made in China and not rugged as kerosine stoves of old. The mechanism for rolling up the wick for lighting and cooking and for rolling it down after cooking to shut down the stove is often the first part of today’s stove to break down. So, many women wet the stove with water to put it off. A smoke rises to greet them. They remain in the kitchen dishing food or doing some other things, and inhailing the smoke!
     On the roads, we fare no better, inhailing traffic smoke in jams. Oshodi bus terminus in Lagos can sometimes be a rush traffic hell. Everytime I have to board a bus there, all eyes are on me because I wear a nose guard. Hundreds of people have no handkerchiefs to reduce the amount of carbon monoxide they inhale. They stand on the queue, chatting and even smiling, their clothes covered with soot and indicating the possible condition of the lungs, bloodstream, lymphatic system and the organs. The people I feel most sorry for are the garbage men. The wastes they evacuate from our homes, markets and offices are not well sorted and bagged. Often, the rubbish would have been unprotected for days in inclement weather before they are collected. The smell is awful, almost suffocating. If their vehicle passes yours in traffic or pulls up by yours in a traffic jam, you may feel like throwing up. I marvel at the level of health illiteracy in Nigeria when Iam in a tricycle taxi and the rider, hustling for more money, is rushing to overtake a waste van, rather than letting it go and protecting his health thereby. It should not surprise you to hear that many of this man’s passengers would see nothing wrong in what he is doing. And when the chips come down, they blame not the rider and themselves for their stupidity but some other fellow whose thoughts may have been far from them.
     We cannot exhaust a survey of Nigeria’s  smoky environment without visiting the electricity generator. Apart from its menace for noise pollution and damage of the hearing system, it pumps smoke into the streets and bedrooms. In some Lagos markets with narrow corridors between rows of shops where every shop owner produces his or her electricity, noise pollution is secondary to smoke pollution.
      What about your neighbour who starts his cold car engine early in the morning, maybe before you are up from bed and must rev it hard many times before he takes it out for the day’s runs. He pumps smoke into your rooms and into your body!.
       Then, there are people who do not bag their wastes for the garbage men to collect. They simply set them ablaze. Columns of smoke rise into the skyline polluting the environment and reducing the oxygen intake of people who inhale such air. The Lagos abbatoir near Abule egba pumped tyre smoke into the atmosphere some kilometers radius about 2 years ago until the Lagos state commissioner for environment suspended the practice of curing cow skin for human consumption in a bunfire of tyres until the Lagos state commissioner for health stopped the practice. Many residents inhaled lead, arsenic and other dangerous stuff for months without lodging a complaint. This column invited the attention of the government to what was going on in the article LAGOS ABBATOIR, PURVEYOR OF DISEASE AND DEATH.
     I am happy I live in a neighbourhood where the odour from the drains is not offensive. The day I had to visit one of my cousins at Idi-Araba in Lagos, and that on which I had to attend the wedding ceremony of an uncle’s daughter in mushin, I had to ask for bitter kola to save me from throwing up. How do people live in these places, I kept asking myself. Any wonder that they always look much older than their calendar years, fall ill pretty too often and die early?
    The anti smoking campaign is doing a good job. As I do not smoke, Iam in the train. How beautiful would it be, I always think, if there are other campaigns which enlighten the public about the health dangers of other types of smoke. The following is my widow’s mite contribution to such an effort.


Cigarette smoke provides useful insights to the damage to the body which inhalation of smoke causes. The damage can be extensive, affecting not only the lungs or the respiratory system. Infact, it cuts oxygen supply to all the 100 trillions or so cells in the body, making them weak, diseased and subject to premature aging and death. In many ways cigarette smoking affects the eyes, the reproductive system, blood circulation and the skin, among other areas in the body. Although it used to be thought that smokers were more at risk of developing lung cancer than any other group, it is now widely believed that all sorts of cancers may arise from it.

     The starting point of these problems is usually the nose, the entrance to the respiratory system.


      Dr H.C.A Vogel, author of THE NATURE DOCTOR, describes it as an air-conditioning organ which cools incoming air if it is too hot and warms it if it is too cold. It holds also the balance between humid and dry air. The nose is lined with a mucus membrane which traps dirt, germs, chemicals, dust and smoke. Like all mucus membranes in the body, this one in the nose thrives on a good supply of vitamin A and may become inflamed, producing an excess of mucus, when it is assaulted.
     The nose reacts to all sorts of things, including odours, with its walls contracting or dialating. The nose reacts as well to cold feet, becoming cold itself, and decreasing the inflow of air, contracting and drying, becoming less functional and encouraging pile ups of bacteria and toxins due for evacuation. This often ends up in catarrh or running nose.
      This is, perhaps, the simplest of the problems to expect from agitations of this organ. Everyone who has been out for long hours, most of them spent outdoor or in traffic, may on returning home clean the nostrils with a white handkerchief the results may be startling. Deposits of soot. When the nose becomes blocked or is running, onion juice may be dropped into the nostrils, one at a time and sucked in by simultaneously blocking the other nostril. It works. Oregano oil nose spray or drops into the nose also  works. The nose opens into the  wind pipes and the lungs which may be affected in many ways by cigarette and other smokes.


Asthmatics know smoke is a trigger for their many problems which include coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and tightness in the chest. Smoke causes the mucus membranes to swell and narrow air passages in the respiratory system. In the throat, it damages the cilia. These are hair like structures which sweep mucus along the throat lining for evacuation. When they are damaged, mucus accumulates in the system. Irritation of the mucus membrane which causes it to swell and overproduce mucus to trap the irritants comes from about 70,000 chemicals found in cigarette smoke, 69 of which have been found to cause cancer. Other smokes contain their own irritant chemicals and possibly more than those in cigarette smoke.
     The lungs are too weak to withstand smoke or other triggers of asthma. The various presentations of asthma have been linked to varying root causes. Mucoid asthma for example, is believed by doctors who follow Dr F Batmanghelidj to be caused by dehydration. Dr Batmanghelidj wrote three paradigm-shifting books…YOU’RE NOT SICK, YOU’RE ONLY THIRSTY/YOUR BODY’S MANY CRIES FOR WATER/STRESS, DEHYDRATION AND CANCER. He believed that if the respiratory system was becoming too dry for comfort, the brain would instruct that the hydrants be sealed with cholesterol and mucus. He resolved many cases of asthma by teaching his patients how to drink water and retain it by attaining a healthy sodium/potassium ratio. There are other medical thinkers who put asthma down to a malfunctioning of the nervous system, especially the autonomic nervous system.  These ones believe that the nerves are contracting at the least provocation or are even almost permanently contracted because there is not enough magnesium , a relaxing agent in the system to counterbalance the contracting aspects of calcium. Others speak of toxin and microbial overload on the respiratory system. For the asthmatic there is no push over hypothesis. All are worthy of consideration. A common ground is that smoke, perhaps because it is oxygen depriving, worsens delicate scenarios in the system. Whatever it is, I have observed many asthmatics recover or not get into trouble when they regularly take a Nigerian asthma recipe called ASTHMA POWDER made by rev. Father Anslem Adodo. It is recommend that it be taken with honey or water if the asthmatic is diabetic. I have observed others liquify or desolve their troublesome mucus overload with fenugreek.


Nicotine was the culprit in the cigarette smoke spoken about for a long time as having links with lung cancer. Now, more possible poisons have been added.
 In the united states, nine of lung cancer deaths are linked to smoking . Another high risk death problem from smoking IS CONGESTIVE OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) which is said to be caused in eight of 10 cases by smoking out. Yet, another problem is EMPHYSEMA, a sort of scar tissue which is mentioned in COPD. Persons challenged with COPD are so weak that it may take them about a whole day to walk hundred meters. This is because their lungs have lost the capacity to absorb adequate amounts of oxygen from inhaled air to power the energy production processes of their bodies. While such persons battle their COPD, they can do well also by taking oxygen injections(ozone) under the watch of a doctor trained in the administration of this therapy, absorb some oxygen through the skin in an Hyperbaric oxygen chamber, by taking proprietary oxygen tablets and drinks or simply by obtaining their oxygen requirements from green plants. This will lead us back to one of my old articles on this subject titled LET’S DRINK GREEN, THE EARTH IS NOT GREEN FOR THE FUN OF IT. This was the article which welcomed the first liquid chlorophyll proprietary blend into the Nigerian market more than one decade ago. It is a banner I wave till this day when I mention the importance of chlorophyll rich drinks such as chlorella, spirulina, kale, barley grass, chamomile and even ewedu. They all have oxygen content in their molecular structures. Squalene, like vitamin E, should be good also for COPD sufferers because it supports the optimal use of oxygen in oxygen deficient situations.


Dr Vogel speaks of how sore throat and poisons from tonsillitis may damage the valves in the heart and make the heart literally become vegetable. Sore throats feasted upon by fungi, especially candida, have reportedly succumbed to oesophagitis(inflammation of the oesophagus) and even oesophagal cancer. This is often remedied by the surgeon who removes affected parts of the throat or oesophagus and forms a replacement for this missing section from tissue cut from the intestine. The picture of the patient this condition paints is that of a chicken precariously perched on a thin rope. Neither the chicken nor the rope is at ease as the chicken struggles to balance its weight on a structure which can hardly support its weight. The intestine can never function like the real throat or the oesophagus.The “intestinal” throat can never replace the original. This is why everyone who has a sore throat or everyone who have difficulty swallowing should immediately see his doctor or ENT. We must realise also that the functions of the section of the intestine lost to the throat cannot be performed effectively by any other section of the intestine family.


In the 1970s, I read a great book titled NINETY DAYS TO A BETTER HEART. One of the sections was subtitled…YOU ARE AS OLD AS YOUR VEINS. The summary was that if you are ninety years old by the Gregorian calendar but your blood vessels are looking 60 years old, you are 30 years younger than your calendar age.
      Scientists say that the tar and other chemicals in cigarette smoke can damage the heart, blood vessels and blood cells. They increase the risks of atherosclerosis, the build up of solid matter in blood vessels which impede blood flow. This may cause as well PERIPHERAL ARTERY DISEASE (PAD) in the hands and legs when the atherosclerotic build-ups cause the vessels to narrow and deliver less blood and oxygen to the extremities. PAD has been linked to such conditions as angina pectoris(heart pain felt in the chest), heart attacks or strokes. It may also cause weakness in the hands and legs and tingling pains in the fingers and toes which the doctor may interpreted as the complaints of these parts of the body that they are not getting enough blood and oxygen. PAD may cause gradual death of the cells, gangrene and lead to amputations.


Cigarette chemicals may alter normal balances, reduce sperm count, weaken the sperm and cause erectile dysfunction. In females, preterm deliveries have been linked to the cigarette as have low birth weight, ectopic pregnancies and damage to the brains and nervous systems of foetuses.


There seems to be no end to what cigarette smoke may cause. Type 2 diabetes, like weakened immune system, inflammation, eye problems(cataracts, glaucoma, dryness etc.), gum disease have been linked to it. Skin and hair disturbances have been linked to it. Cancers other than that in the lungs are being linked to cigarette smoke. These include cancers in the mouth, laryngx, throat, oesophagus, kidneys, cervix, colon, blood and bone marrow.
     Cigarette smokers suffer less from the effects of cigarette smoke than non smokers who inhale cigarette smoke puffed out by the smokers because a filter through which a smoker smokes protects him or her but does not protect the non smokers.


To avoid respiratory system problems, we must avoid their causes. Attempts have been made to replace smoke producing cigarettes with vapour-producing cigarettes, known as E-cigarettes. But these vapours, too, have been implicated in some health mishaps. Some components of these vapours, wood alcohol, have been implicated in prostate cancer. Funny enough, it is the chemical compound used in the washing of bottles in factories prior to the bottling of bottled products such as beer. In Nigeria, I have heard of at least one natural proprietary product which is said to discourage smokers from smoking when they spray it into into their mouths. It is called  STOP SMOKING HELP.

 For anyone who is interested in pulmonary health care, Dr Robert Atkins, one of my mentors since the 1980s through their works, may offer some help.
       DR ATKINS
He said his clinic routinely gave his patients vitamin A for pulmonary diseases such as emphysema, a form of COPD, because several studies found that such people had too little levels of this vitamin. In a sub section of his book, Dr Atkins vita-nutrient solution, in which  he addressed nutritional help for PULMONARY HEALTH, ASTHMA, BRONCHITIS  and EMPHYSEMA, Dr Atkins said:
    “The lungs and bronchial airways of the body are amazing but delicate tissues. They are assaulted daily with both indoor and outdoor pollution not to mention cigarette smoke and the toxic chemicals found throughout our environment. Compound this inflammatory insults with the lack of anti-inflammatory nutrients such as fish oils and antioxidants in our diets and you will understand why asthma and other pulmonary problems are continually on the rise…the bottom line approach for inflammation of the bronchial passages is to relax them with  Magnesium, protect them with antioxidants and reduce their exposure to environmental insults as much as possible…For prompting optimal health of the lungs and bronchial area, I recommend the following…MOST IMPORTANT…vitamin c, vitamin A, essential oils formula, L Acetyl cysteine, magnesium, pantethine. For asthma and emphysema, add the following nutrients… Vitamin A, fish oils, magnesium, quercitin, grape seed/pycogenol, licorice root extract, DHEA, pregnenolone. If you prefer to use  either DHEA or pregnenolone as an alternative to the drug prednisone, please do so under a doctor’s supervision”.
      For bronchitis and pneumonia, Dr Atkins suggested vitamin c, vitamin A, zinc, oil of oregano, quercitin, or citrus bioflavinoids, echinacea,  golden seal, pantethine.
      These nutritional supplements have several studies and certifications behind them.
         Away from Dr Atkins, folk medicine provides useful support for the respiratory system through, for example, the following herbs… Fenugreek, Ginkgo, mullein, slippery elm, echinacea, licorice, garlic, thyme, oregano, peppermint, orange peel, CBD oil, chaparral and mango seed extract, among many others.
       In various ways, they fight germs of all sorts, dialate the air tubes, dry excessive mucus, block histamin formation and platelet aggregation, soothe injuries and heal them.
     Nigeria will not cease to be a smoke filled nation overnight, irrespective of the campaign against smoking. So, we all can protect our respiratory systems and other parts of our bodies by not only avoiding smoke but by toning up or respiratory organs everyday with herbs and food supplements which support their health.