From time to time, some organs in the body take the center stage of health concerns. Currently, the lungs or, better still, the respiratory system sits on that “throne”. And they probably will until CORONA VIRUS COVID 19 vacates the stage. As a higher school certificate (HSE) class boy in 1969, I noticed my maternal grandmother fought pneumonia, a respiratory system disease, in an ingenious way frightening to me. She would place a cube of sugar in a tablespoon of SLOANES, a liquid liniment for sprains and joint pains. When the cube of sugar had soaked up the Sloanes, she would put the sugar in her mouth, crush and swallow it. Whenever I angrily told her it was “for external use only”, as stated on the label, she would angrily retort that she had been using it for pneumonia long before I was born in 1950. She was born in 1909 and died at 69 in 1980. Early this week, I checked Sloane’s in www.drugs.com and was not surprised that it worked for the conditions it was indicated for. One of the ingredients was capsaicin found in chili peppers, which became popular in the last decade as a blood circulation enhancer and pain blocker. The website says of chili pepper “capsaicin is the active ingredient in chili pepper that makes it hot. Capsaicin is used in medicated creams and lotions to relieve muscle or joint pain.
Capsaicin used on the body causes a sensation of heat that activates certain nerve cells. With regular use of capsaicin, the heating effect reduces the amount of substance P, a chemical that acts as a pain MESSANGER in the body.
Sloan’s liniment is used for temporary relief of muscle or joint pain caused by strains, sprains, arthritis, bruising or backaches. This medicine is also used to treat nerve pain (neuralgia) in people who have had herpes zoster, or shingles. Sloan’s liniment may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide…”
One of my juniors at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo, Mr. Oguntuase, drove into a ditch on the way back home in Ibadan from the north of Nigeria and ended up in the hospital with fluid in his lungs. The fluid was aspirated and he was given some antibiotics. One of these reportedly affected his bone marrow…and he died of blood and oxygen deficiencies.
Just this year, I have mentioned no fewer than three senior citizen’s deaths caused by pneumonia. Last week, a case of pleurisy came up. The first pneumonia death was the passage of a gentleman in his eighties who coughed for some time before he went to hospital. His lungs were shutting down, and oxygen therapy couldn’t help him.
Since the passing away of my father in 1998 due to congestive heart failure, I have learned to take a cough, especially in old people, more seriously than many people still do. He had an enlarged heart which could not easily pump blood out of his lungs, causing them to try to expel the blood through muscle spasms we recognize in this case as cough. As for the second case of pneumonia death, it came through tuberculosis.
She was in her late sixties and suffered from shallow breathing, as well as cough. Doctors at an infectious disease hospital said they got rid of tuberculosis and passed her on to the Lagos University Teaching hospital (LUTH) where she spent some months on oxygen support before she died some weeks ago.
A few years ago, this column reported some cases of breathing difficulty named chronic obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and how some of the challenged persons were coping. That column showed that many of us take breathing for granted and do not take steps every day necessary to protect and strengthen our respiratory systems.
Although chilies have been overtaken in popularity by Cayenne in our time, their wide array of minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants recommend them for use in a variety of conditions but are contraindicated in peptic ulcer, acidity, hyperacidity, and gastritis. They help in diarrhea, inflammation, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, weight control, insomnia, diabetes, numbness, heart attacks, migraine, and sinusitis, among others.
IAM, therefore, not surprised that Prof Adefule-Oshitelu, an opthalmologist for about 40 years and current chairperson of Lagos State Board of Traditional Medicine, would recommend CHILLI PEPPER, MIRACLE PLANT (Bryophylum pinnatum) and honey for Coronavirus, the current scourge of humanity.(The prescription and those which saved four thieves in the BLACK PLAGUE pandemic which killed more than 100million people in Europe in the 14th century, appeared in the article CORONA VIRUS: NATURE, BIG PHARMA, U.S/CHINA AT PLAY and posted in www.olufemikusa.com.
These are wet, air-filled tissues found on either side of the chest and connected to the breathing system as receptors of fresh and spent air. When we breathe in, the air passes through the nostrils to a pipe called TRACHEA and from there to the windpipe, the bronchus (pl BRONCHI). The bronchi conduct oxygen-rich air downwards, subdividing into two sets of bronchioles, tinier air conducting pipes, the bronchioles, about 30,000 of which exist in an adult person’s lungs. The first set of bronchioles are conducting bronchioles. The second set is respiratory bronchioles. The respiratory bronchioles open into air ducts which contain air sacs called alveoli, about 6,000000 of which exists in an adult person’s lungs. Each of the lungs is enclosed in a pleural sac. Air exchanges are designed to take place in each of the air sacs called ALVEOLUS (PL) alveoli across a wet surface area. That is why dryness of the air sacs is dangerous. Oxygen Rich air from the bronchioles is passed to tiny blood vessels across the alveoli and conducted to the heart for pumping to all parts of the body. Carbon dioxide-rich air is conducted to the air sacs for passage to the respiratory tract which expunges it through the nostrils as used, unwanted air. It is this beautiful and life-sustaining system that many respiratory system diseases, including at this time Coronavirus fever, seek to crash and destroy.
Many people do not help matters by not eating well for the health of their lungs, inhaling clean air, detoxifying their lungs regularly and filling the six million or so air sacs with air by exercising regularly and breathing deeply. Thus, inconspicuous as the lungs may appear to be, they are assailable by multitudes of diseases that even a medic of medics may hardly fathom half of them all. The ones I mention here are among the ones which frequently occur in Nigeria.
One-sixth of deaths in the United States is said to come from pneumonia. And as Coronavirus may cause or aggravate pneumonia, it should be easy to understand why Americans are trying to hibernate from a world in which they like to act as policemen or big brother. They have banned Europeans from more than 25 nations from coming to their country. The entire country has been shut down for two weeks to get everyone self quarantined at home following thousands of Coronavirus cases and rising death toll. “Everyone is afraid of everyone and hiding from everyone”, Cordelia Dike telephoned me from New York, last Monday. One of her relations in Lagos Nigeria has just bowed to pulmonary problems, and she is still feeling the shoe where it pinches. It has been a period of anxiety for families in Nigeria whose children are living or working in the United States. Pneumonia and other pulmonary (lung) diseases which Coronavirus is said to cause are not strangers to many Nigerians. Every day we hear of people coming down with them or dying of them as I said earlier. By the time this condition presents cough, dry or wet, chest pain, mucus or phlegm build-ups, lethargy, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, constipation, nausea, and vomiting, extensive damage may have been done to the lung(s).
Pneumonia may be caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. Bacterial and viral pneumonia are contagious whereas fungal pneumonia is not. Bacterial pneumonia responds to antibiotics. Viral diseases generally like to run their full cycles. Fungal ailments can be hard nuts that require specific antifungals.
The problems may start from the upper respiratory system, the trachea and bronchi and percolate. In full swing, the air sacs are inflamed and filled with fluid and pus, inhibiting the easy exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide. Breathing becomes hectic. Once the doctor has determined the culprit germ (s), prescriptions are given to clear them and arrest the symptoms. It may not be always right to suppress a cough because it helps to remove excess fluid and mucus from the lungs.
In Alternative medicine, herbs are often suggested as the main treatment or backups for hospital treatment. One of the herbs used is GOLDEN SEAL ROOT. A component of it called berberine coats the lining of hollow tissue such as air sacs or air pipes, in this case, to prevent adherence of germs to them. Germs need adherence to suck nutrients for their growth, vitality, and proliferation. Denied adherence, they shrivel and die of malnutrition or the immune system easily gets rid of them. Goldenseal root is contraindicated for prolonged use, though, as it may dry out the lungs. Mullein and fenugreek seeds help to liquefy mucus for easier expectoration or discharge. CBD oil and fish oil, like curcumin and ginger root, help with inflammation and pain. While I will not recommend my grandmother’s ingenious use of Sloane’s liniment, there is, surely, a place for chili and cayenne pepper. It not only improves blood circulation generally, evacuating toxins fast and bringing phagocytes to distressed tissue, it brings in the medicines and repair proteins as well in double-quick time. In the anti-inflammatory proprietary formula called CURCUMIN 2000X, cayenne is added to curcumin to make curcumin 2,000 times more active than it is in its natural form. Dr. Robert Atkins recommends that inflammation and spasms in the respiratory system be combated with magnesium. Happily, ionic magnesium, which is magnesium that is more bioavailable and bio effective, is now available in Nigeria. Astragalus strengthens weak lungs, raises immune count, but is contra-indicated when the fever has set in. Fenugreek tea should crash high fever as should lemongrass tea. Garlic and thyme, either used as culinary spices or taken as a healing oil, capsule, tincture or powder, help to breathe. There are more herbs that help lung health that cannot be mentioned here for want of space. Two of them I will never the less like to mention are Lungwort and Pleurisy root. Besides, there are many proprietary blends which include Amazon lung support and bronchitis and decongestant tea.
Mrs Folake Sanusi, of Oshogbo , must be giggling now. Sometime last year, she experienced how HORSETAIL and DANDELION resolved a case of pulmonary edema, a condition in which water fills the air sacs and probably the limbs as well, making breathing difficult and even threatening life. This week, I sensed in her voice that there was fire on the mountain. A gentleman had fluid in the lungs, produced blood-stained frothy sputum, was experiencing shortness of breath, felt he was suffocating whenever he lay down, sometimes gasped for breath, experienced rapid heartbeat (tachycardia) and irregular heartbeat, was sometimes woken from sleep at night by a cough which eased when he sat up. These are signs of pulmonary edema caused by some challenges of the heart. This man did not want the water or fluid in his lungs aspirated. What if the fluid returned? He asked. To avert a return, if he did not accept aspiration, he would have to help his kidneys move more water out of his body and resolve the weakness of his heart.
Dandelion and horsetail are diuretic herbs. While some pharmaceutical diuretics remove the water alright but pull out potassium as well, making the doctor prescribe slow-release potassium tablets (SLOW K) to replace the lost electrolyte, dandelion pulls out the water, too, and gives the body a potassium gift. Potassium is needed by the muscles and the heart to maintain a sodium/potassium balance in and around the cells. Insufficiency of potassium would weaken the sodium battery and the cell’s electrical circuit, make sodium invade the inside of the cell from the outside, possibly cause tumor growths and edema throughout the body. So, to chase out sodium and reduce fluid build-ups, a good first step to take is to eat potassium-rich foods such as vegetables, banana, plantain, yam, peas e.t.c.
Thirdly, to strengthen the heart, ubiquinol, a more bioactive form of Co Q 10(coenzyme Q 10)is a leading star here. It energizes the heart by helping to increase the number of mitochondria (energy-producing factories )in each of its cells. L Arginine helps the production of nitric oxide (NO) which helps to dilate coronary arteries and supply the heart with more blood and oxygen. Hawthorn berries do this, too. L- Arginine also helps the kidneys excrete toxins efficiently. L Carnitine transports long chain fatty acids into the heart’s mitochondria for conversion to energy. As for CBD oil, the evidence is growing that it may reduce hypertension and heart rate in stressful conditions.
Chest pain should not be treated with irreverence… for something serious may very well be going on inside the protecting lining of the lungs. Every cavity of the body, such as the mouth and intestine, has a lining. The lungs, too, have a lining. So does the chest cavity in which the lungs reside… In other words, there is a lining in the inner cavity of the chest, parietal pleura. Cohabiting with the parietal pleura is the lining of the lung, visceral pleura.
The two layers of the pleura lining are lubricated by pleura fluid. Sometimes, however, fluid accumulates in the space between the two pleura linings. This is called pleura effusion. The effusion may cause inflammation or inflammation may follow it. As the pain fibers of the lungs are in this region, pain may occur and the chest may become tender. Normally, the lungs expand during breathing to bridge this space. But when the lining becomes inflamed, this is difficult and causes more pain. The inflammation is called pleuritis and has many possible origins. Some of these are pneumonia, tuberculosis, cancer, congestive heart failure, clots, collagen structure damage, and bacterial and other infections.
Pain in the chest is a manifestation of this condition. Inhalation of air may worsen it. Shortness of breath may be evident, too. Pain may be felt in the front or at the back of the chest or on the shoulders.
This condition may be treated with pneumonia therapies. But in North America, pleurisy root has been used for centuries to treat and to heal swellings throughout the lungs…lungs(pleurisy), sacs (pneumonitis), airways (bronchitis), pain, infections, pneumonia. Between 1820 and 1905, pleurisy root was an official herb in United States pharmacopeia.
CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE. (COPD)
This is a lung catastrophe caused by exposure to cigarette and tobacco smoke, chemical effusions, dust, kitchen smoke, traffic smoke, factory materials and wastes, foul air etc. Exposure begins early in life and symptoms begin to appear about mid life. People who live next door to filling stations and imperceptibly inhale petrol vapour, but think nothing amiss is going on may already be treading the path of COPD.
In COPD, the elasticity of the airways is damaged. This means they can hardly expel all used air meant for exhalation. Thus, some poisonous air gets trapped in the airways, further damaging them. Even mucus build ups cannot be expelled because the tubes have become static (bronchiectasis). Emphysema is another route to COPD. In this condition, the tiny air sacs are damaged. Literally speaking, it is like all the rooms in a 500-bed hotel are broken down to create only 10 rooms which can accommodate only ten guests. In like manner, imagine the surface area for gas exchange in the 6 million alveoli cut down to about a quarter of this number. It means the lungs will bring in only a quarter of the air required to stay alive. This, the breathing apparatus is compromised… and the grave is beckoning.
Where the system cannot be saved, oxygen may be brought in through oxygen tablets or drinks and oxygen-rich greens. But how will carbon dioxide be expelled with the alveoli and their delicate walls and blood capillaries are gone?
The respiratory system will continue to excite our interest until Coronavirus takes its leave. It has taught us to not take breathing for granted. It has taught us that no nation, however powerful, created the universe. It has taught us that coveteousness is destructive. When nations develop biological weapons of war so they can control the resources of other nations, they covet, against the universal will, and the economy built on covetousness must inevitably bow to that universal will…as the world economy is now bowing.