THE weather changed dramatically in Lagos last week before anyone could call Jack Robinson. Prior to light rain on three consecutive days in my neighbourhood and elsewhere, the weather had been so hot that many people were pulling off top clothes at home, profusely sweating, itching all over, getting constipated or complaining of headaches and sleep disorders. Then, dramatically, the weather changed after the rain blitz and became very cold in the morning, so cold that many people were still curling up in bed when they should have been at work. For the first time in a long while, I began to have hot water baths. It was better than skipping baths or having “half-body” baths. The half-body bath was what we did in high school on cold days, brushing only the head, face and neck, arms and legs with wet towels. I doffed my hat for women on the hot days, jokingly daring them to pull off their tops like us men if they could. Of course, women don’t have Lion’s heart on this playing field.
The hot days of February 2021 reminded me of Priscilla Adebayo, the six-year-old girl whose heart touching death on February 19 last year was the subject of this column. She was almost everything to almost everyone who knew her: parents, relations, neighbours, friends…..name it. She was a great mixer, behaved beyond her age and was a darling wherever she was. It was possible her parents underrated the scorching hot weather. Priscilla suddenly became listless, lost appetite for about two days, ran a high temperature, vomited, couldn’t sleep and died on the way to the hospital on the third day. I remembered her this year, about two weeks before her death anniversary, when some of my acquaintances began to report symptoms that resembled those of heatstroke. Suddenly, I remembered that another hot season was upon us.
Joy, 19, reported skin itching all over worsened by headaches. I always like to not ignore constipation as a possible cause of headache. For it may have produced toxins that may have been absorbed into the bloodstream, and toxin dense blood may be irritating brain nerves and tissue, causing inflammation, spasms and pain. Joy, indeed, had moved her bowels only once in past seven days. Her urine was deep yellow, signalling dehydration and urea concentration, not very good news for the kidneys and a possible cause for her skin itch. Human dehydration is a serious challenge for health. Similar to what happens in the radiator of a motor vehicle, the radiator contains water which cools a running, hot engine. If water runs below normal level in the radiator, the engine will become hotter, the gasket may burn, the engine may knock, that is, become damaged and unable to run. The human body is about 70% water, most of which is stored inside the cells, in spaces around the cells and blood vessels. The cells may hit up, shrink, unable to function properly and even damaged or die if they lose too much water. If water is lost in the blood vessels, they may shrink to prevent an airlock which is when the air feels the space vacated by water, since nature abhors a vacuum and this may cause hypertension or death in extreme cases.
All other things have been equal, “yellow” or “dark” urine caused by dehydration should clear up if the dehydrated person takes a glass of warm water every half hour or hour for six or eight hours. Scientist estimate that an average person may lose between 3 and 4 litres or up to 10litres of water per day to sweating, depending, of course, on the metabolic rate. Joy’s temperature was high and she was weak. So, we added Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) salts to her water. Once in a while, we gave her a mixture of Orange Juice and Lime Juice. This was to put some potassium into her system. During excessive sweating, not only sodium is lost. Potassium, too, is lost. Many people drink lots of only plain water when they are excessively thirsty or feel dehydrated. Some people worsened their dehydration by rehydrating with sugared drinks which thickened the blood with naked sugar and make the body require more water to properly run. It is better to add a pinch of natural salt to the sixth glass of plain water or so and take fruit juice if ORT salts are not available, for the kidneys may simply run out of plain water. We need sodium to hold water in the body, but not too much of it. An excess can flush out potassium, the salt inside the cell, and predispose us to rumpled cells and nerve problems such as cramping and, also, all sorts of growths, including dangerous tumors.
In about two or three days, Joy was back on her feet. Even her foaming urine was gone. She did not have to experiment it with PURE CLEANSE capsules or organic coffee enema to move her bowels. Her mother was advised to blend Jute Mallow(Ewedu in Yoruba) or Corchorus Olitorius the botanical name, slightly boil it and give her half a glass twice a day on empty stomach and then administer about a glassful as an enema. She voided several times in one day, and the constipation was gone! Excited, Joy’s mother, Mrs Mary Innocent, of 81 Oladoje Street, Old Oko oba, Agege, Lagos, has begun to place her younger children on Jute Mallow enema to free their bowels.
In that hot weather, the mosquito swarmed many homes. I hate chemicals mosquito sprays and coils. So, to keep them at bay, I tried two old measures. I massaged my body with Neem oil and Sprayed the bed linen with it. Neem leaf chemicals kill the mosquito Plasmodium falciparum in the blood and, not surprisingly, the oil keeps the mosquito itself at bay. Plasmodium falciparum is believed to be the most dangerous parasite in humans. Injected into the skin by the blood-sucking female Anopheles mosquito, and classified as Group 2A carcinogen, Plasmodium Falciparum is implicated not only in about 50% of malaria cases but in cancer of the blood as well. Skin itch may be signalling Plasmodium Falciparum activity in the skin! This is why it may be necessary to treat malaria when the skin itches excessively and all over. For such a situation, Chanka Piedra, Papaya leaf powder, Karela powder and brimstone are never lacking in my herbal medicine chest. We take one or the other as tea or added to meals to prevent malaria fever.
The orange peel was the second measure I adopted against swarming mosquitoes. I have eight iron incense basket burners at home just for the mosquito. All around the house, including the flower beds, are plants such as pawpaw, banana and plantain around which they mill and from where they accompany passers’ by into the house, hanging out on dresses or the hair. So, for about one hour in the evenings, we burn dry orange peel around these plants and keep one basket each upstairs and downstairs. On the days we faithfully do this, everyone enjoys mosquito-free sleep. The orange peel has not ended its job by killing mosquitoes. Sometimes, we eat it raw or at times parboil it and add to meals such as rice, beans, pap porridge, yam porridge, and which other meal catches our fancy. Not only is it a good cough remedy and an anti-inflammatory which, with its anti-histamine properties, may subdue asthma, the orange peel aids digestion, kills germs, helps the hair and nails to grow healthy. It also clears skin blemishes and stops skin itch.
Many cases of skin itch may not be easy to resolve like Joy’s. For some are caused by underlying diseases such as diabetes, shingles, anaemia, thyroid disorders, kidney and liver disorders, multiple sclerosis, pinch nerves and multiple myeloma. This is the terrain of the specialist doctor. There are many causes of this condition. Sometimes, the liver is insufficient and cannot efficiently break down toxins. The insufficiency may have roots in such conditions as hepatitis, gall stones, fatty liver, worm infestations and a host of others.
The skin has fat layers. These are prone to oxidative stress and damage when there is not enough antioxidants specific to the skin to protect them and other tissue. Such activities may produce effects experienced as skin itch. Vitamin A and Vitamin E are well known fat-soluble antioxidants which protect and nourish the skin. So does sunlight under the influence of which the skin can make Vitamin D3 now known for its immune and other functions. Yellow skin fruits and leafy vegetables have pro-vitamin substances. So does palm fruit from which palm oil is derived. This fruit contains a wide variety of Vitamin E as well, yielding d-alpha tocopherols and d-alpha tocotrienols in this regard. It makes sense, in my view, as I sometimes do, to eat boiled palm fruit over a meal. Many animals eat raw palm fruits. As children, we ate raw palm fruits. To the skin antioxidants list, we may add mineral antioxidants such as Selenium and Zinc and the water-soluble Vitamin C with bioflavonoids. A wonderful fluid and fat media antioxidants I always do not fail to remember is Alpha Lipoic Acid(ALA). It has worked wonders with Grape Seed Extra(GSE) especially in conditions where the skin had been defaced with black or white spots indicative of free radicals damaging activities within or on the surface.
Many of us take for granted exposure of the skin to sunlight especially when the sun is directly overhead. Watch animals at this time of the day, they hide in all sorts of shades, but humans move freely about. Women, in particular, expose their hands, and legs, wearing short-sleeved blouses, nikkas and short skirts. Burns by ultraviolet (UV) rays vary in intensity and affect different skin types differently. In some cases, topical symptoms may not be evident but the burn areas may severely itch. In some cases, blistering or redness may occur. The skin may even peel. Some people may not associate these symptoms with UV rays. Thus, it is common to confront them with a change of bathroom soap and towel. Sometimes, the bathroom water is assumed to be contaminated with microforms. There is no doubt that this sometimes happens. In this case, the water may be treated with Epsom Salt, Cider Vinegar or Lime Juice. Any of these treatments almost completely, if not completely, ride the skin of soap remnants after a bath.
The best treatment for sunburn is to prevent it by protecting the skin in various ways. That is why desert Arabs wear robes that cover their bodies from head to toe and mound clothing on the head. Thick, kinky African hair is probably meant to protect the scalp. But fashion these days describe “skin cuts”. I hate to use shampoos when my scalp itches. Recently, I ran out of Onion, Lime and Cider Vinegar at home. I itched in the scalp for about one week, scratching with even ballpoints pens and toothpicks before I remembered and old, costless remedy. Early one morning, I caught my first urine in a glass cup and thoroughly massaged my scalp with it. That was the “end of the story” Aloe Vera gelly may also be used in the scalp as on the skin to stop the itch and to Moisturize. So can Orange Peel powder be added to hair creams and body creams? The body cream clears even acne, blackheads, freckles and other blemishes, including some old scars. On the scalp, the cream makes the hair to grow long and thick and prevents breakages.
Care of the skin in sunburn is important in skin eruptions in some cases, sunburn may cause fevers and chills, nausea and vomiting, low blood pressure, weakness, and fainting.
One of the several reasons skin itch should not be treated with kids gloves is that it may be caused by worms, especially filaria, or other parasites which live in the skin, eating it and discharging into it their poisonous metabolic wastes.
The skin itch may, therefore, be an early warning alarm that something dangerous may be going on under the skin. Filaria worms, for example, maybe overpopulate and fill up, if not block, the lymphatic system, thereby of impairing circulation of the plasma and killing the cells. In extreme circumstances, they may cause Calabar swellings or elephantiasis.
Arguably, this is one of the busiest seasons for all women in the home. Dust is everywhere, from the floor to the sette and from the dining table to the beds. It is also on the walls and anywhere you can imagine. It settles on foods and drinks. Clothes are not immune to them, women mop and clean almost every minute of the day.
Dust comes with its own health challenges, such as asthma, Hay fever, Irritation of the eyes, coughing and sneezing. Dust comes with particulate pollutants, visible or not. These pollutants include pollen, plant materials, dander(dead skin cells shed by animals) and tiny organisms.
Some pollutants are trapped in the nose and mouth while tinier ones escape into the lungs and bloodstream. This is a season NEBULIZERS help a great deal, to irrigate the nasal cavities and kill off germ particles. It is also the season of STINGING NETTLE against Hay Fever.
The most well talked about of these microscopic organisms is the house mite which may live for between one month(male) and 90 days(female). They feed on shed dead skin. Every day, an average person may shed about 1.5grams of dead skin, which is enough food for about one million dust mites. They burrow into mattresses and pillows and may be hard to eliminate.
Dust mites cause sneezing, coughing, stuffed and runny nose, postnasal drip, itchy and watery eyes and itchy throat. The dust mite can be eliminated in diverse ways. One of them is the use of cider vinegar sprays. Another is pest grade diatom (Diatomaceous Earth) sprays Allergen proof bed and pillow covers and, when they invade the nostrils, Nebulizers to deliver antagonistic materials which destroy them. The last few weeks have been health challenges. We have moved from the hot weather days to the cold weather of the harmattan days, which may be short-lived and give way to another spell of hot weather before the rain season re-appears.