On my way from home to work everyday, I often stop over at a pharmacy to check my blood pressure and blood sugar. I am not hypertensive. And I am not diabetic. My systolic (upper reading) and diastolic (lower) sometimes dip below my longstanding normal of 110/70 and make my pulse rocket. As for my blood sugar, the random reading tends to wish to hit 150. I’d rather prefer 120. I check them regularly to know which of the herbs and food supplements I am taking are doing what. The latest among them are Pomegranate and Red Kidney bean powder added to meals, especially beans or to warm water. I have reported here once that the Red Kidney Bean Pod powder prevents or corrects water accumulation in the body, such as in conditions of edema or dropsy, and that it straightens up conditions in the heart which may contribute to these challenges. It burns blood sugar as well, improves digestion and increases fecal bulk. I will need more time to be able to see if it can support turgidity of the male sexual organ. It will be surprising if it doesn’t, given its good measure of L-Arginine, an enhancer of male sexual vitality. These days, I am almost certain of a 110-115/70-75 blood pressure and a pulse rate down from 80 something to between 70 and 72. The credit for this may go to Pomegranate, a cardiovascular system equaliser.
At the pharmacy many people come to complain about ailments such as malaria, fever, weakness, ulcer, pain, arthritis, insomnia and headaches. Hardly has there been any case of incessant vomitting. So, I was surprised last week when within 24hours, two cases came up. One was that of a three-year-old baby girl whose stomach did not tolerate anything from Ribena and antimalarials to a capsule of Activated Charcoal which I emptied on her tongue, hoping it would help to stabilise stomach.
I never failed to have Activated Charcoal in the home FIRST AID medicine chest when my children were growing up. Any time they complained of stomach upsets, one capsule emptied in a glass of water which was then drunk resolved the problem.
Activated Charcoal sort of magnetises poisons and drags them out of the body, relieving the body of problems caused by these trouble-makers. In this column recently, I mentioned that, these days, I carry a small jar of Activated Charcoal with me whenever I am outdoor, having been saved by it three times in one month from untimely death or serious stomach/intestinal injuries from the consumption of Carbide-ripened bananas. The second intriguing cause of vomitting involved a man in his thirties. He had been vomitting all day before he came to the pharmacy. The pharmacist asked if I could help him with one capsule of Activated Charcoal. I did. He got settled soon after and, the following day, came to the pharmacy to leave me a thank-you message.
Both cases of vomitting were to lead to stories of vomitting told by some visitors to the pharmacy which gave the impression that vomitting was becoming a common health concern in Lagos.
It is not out of place to ask a patient about the last meal, drink or snack before onset of vomitting. But, sometimes, the investigation may need to go beyond the suspicion of food poisoning. These other possible causes may include viral gastroenteritis, acid reflux, liver disease related to alcoholism, gastritis, stomach ulcer, gall stones, appencidities, motion sickness, head injuries, peptic ulcer and intestinal obstructions, worm infestation and pregnancy.
Sometimes, there are signs that the stomach may involuntarily empty. Diarrhoea and abdominal pains may signal an onset. So may a fever. The pulse may become rapid, the mouth may dry up and sweating may be excessive. Urinary output may decrease. Pains may occur in the chest. Saliva may fill the mouth and taste bitter. Certain smells or odours.
When poisoned food is eaten, the stomach becomes irritated and, possibly, inflamed. It tries to expel the food into the intestine. But the Pyloric Spincter muscles, which keep the gate at the pylorus, a canal which connects the stomach and the duodenum, the starting-point of the small intestine, will not let go. So, the stomach will expel the irritant through the connection with the throat and, through it, the mouth, or sometimes through the nostrils. When this is observed, it means the nerves and the muscles of the stomach are agitated or in a sort of spasm. A muscle-pull-sort of activity is going on. Soon, the stomach muscles will be filled with lactic acid, a reason for the pain which follows prolonged throwing-ups. Magnesium can come into the healing picture. It is a relaxant and calmant. It comes in different forms, such as Natural calm, a proprietary blend. Diatomaceus Earth (DE), also called Diatom, can do the job because it provides a lot of alkalinity, to neutralise the acidic trouble maker in the stomach. I have already mentioned Activated Charcoal. Maybe I should just add that I have two testimonials from two young women who work with me.
The first comes from TOLULOPE AROGUNDADE. One day, she accompanied me on a visit to my Ophthalmologist. Over a meal at the office before we set out, she added a capsule of Cayenne to a meal. Soon after, she began to complain of stomach trouble because of her ulcer. On the way, we stopped over at a medical laboratory for me to check my blood sugar level as I was experiencing blurry vision. The random test result was 148. There, I gave her a capsule of Activated Charcoal and, in no time, even before the result came out, the pain was gone. Because I insist they have a meal of beans in their daily diet, UDEME JAMES had beans for dinner before we left the office last Saturday. The meal was cold when it was served. I warned her it could cause trouble. But she went ahead and ate it. On the way home, her stomach became so upset it could cause a rumble in the bus. I opened my bag and gave her a capsule of Activated Charcoal. The trouble was gone by the time we arrived at the pharmacy shop about one hour later for me to re-check my blood pressure. There are many other recipes for stomach upset and vomitting.
In the ABOUT US section of www.olufemikusa.com, I mentioned BASIL and BLUE VERVAIN as my first recipes in herbal medicine practice. I had been told of a gentleman on Salvation Road in Awuse Estate, Opebi, Ikeja, Lagos, who had been unable to eat or drink water for three days without involuntarily vomitting. I grew these plant medicines at the back house garden of my residence, 34 Ajanaku Street, in the same estate. I mixed fine powders of both in a recipe. Basil is anti-spasmodic and stomach settling, among its many attributes. As a pig and rabbit farmer many years ago, i gave it to these animals whenever they had diarrhoea and it helped. Vervain is also anti-spasmodic, good for sleep, gum problems, the liver and digestion. I had learned that, to catch a monkey, you must behave like one.
To arrest stomach spasms, you must deceive the stomach. If you give the patient a large dose of anti-spasmodic medicine orally in a go, the stomach is likely to expunge it in anger, believing another tormenting substance has been ingested. So, in this case, we deceived the stomach, by giving it one tablespoonful of the Basil/Vervain tea every 10minutes or so…By the time I saw the man the following evening, about 24 hours after, his stomach and system had so settled that he had two large meals without any protest from the stomach.
To the category of these natural or home remedies also belong recipes such as Clove oil, Ginger, Mint tea, Apple cider vinegar, Rice water, Cinnamon, Baking soda, Onion juice, Milk, Kennel tea. The list is inexhaustible. I have heard of Palm oil and Honey therapies. On this page I have mentioned for a purpose such as this the traditional poison antidote of the Ijebus. It is called Gbogbonise Aporo Epa Ijebu.
The Yorubas believe palm oil mops poisons in the gastro-intestinal tract. I tried it once and I believed it worked. Always I dispense my food supplements for lunch and dinner in separate containers. These may hold, for example, Vitamin A, B-Complex, Vitamin E, Coral Calcium, Ginkgo biloba, Lion’s Mane Mushroom and Lecithin, something for the prostate gland e.t.c. They may number about eight or 10. One day, I mistakenly took a jar of Grape Seed Extract for one of these lunch packs. It was after I had swallowed more than eight tablets or capsules and I still found more in the jar that I suspected something was wrong. Quietly, I went to a palm oil seller and bought a quarter bottle which I consumed by the tablespoonful over, say, 30 minutes!
As for honey, I recall the survival stories of the Cameroonians who escaped from the gass poisoning of Lake Nyos a few decades ago. They said that, as they were fleeing from their homes, vomitting or stooling, only people who took palm oil or honey along and licked it intermittently survived the poisoning. As for Aporo Epa Ijebu, I have had no practical experience with it in respect of a serious case of vomitting. But about three weeks ago, I applied one of the brands named Aporolyn as first aid to a bleeding scalp injury which would later require four stiches in the hospital. I did not have around me then Maria Treben’s Swedish Bitters which did the job so well about one year ago when one tiler working for me accidentally stepped on the running blade of his granite cutter and almost cut his right foot into two halves. Maria Bitters stopped the bleeding immediately. I was surprised that Dr. Moses of New Merit Hospital remembered this case. I took the tiler to him. He it was who attended, also, to the gentleman who bled from the scalp. Aporolyn stopped the scalp bleeding instantly, and this may recommend it, also, for cases of vomitting.
Some serious cases
These home remedies would be nothing other than first aid home remedies where the underlying causes of vomitting are serious events which merely throw up vomitting as a symptom. Such as in Appendicitis, Gastroenteritis, Acid reflux and Gall stones.
The appendix is a tissue projected downwards from the base of the ascending colon (large intestine) in the lower right side of the abdomen. When it is filled with faeces, abscess, infectious germs or when it develops a tumour, the appendix becomes inflamed (appendicitis) and may burst or rupture. If it does, the appendix would unload toxins on the abdominal cavity, causing peritonitis, a serious inflammation of the abdominal cavity or septicemia (blood poisoning) which may lead to systemic poisoning and death unless it is promptly treated with strong antibiotics and the appendix is promptly surgically removed.
Appendicitis gives warnings, first as a grumbling appendix. These may include a dull pain near the navel or in the upper abdomen, becoming sharp as the pain progresses to the lower right abdomen. It may cause loss of appetite, nausea or vomitting after abdominal pain. The abdomen may be swollen and a fever may present at about 90 degree to 102 degree fahrenheit. The case may worsen with an inability to pass gas. Pain may migrate to different parts of the body (upper and lower abdomen, back and rectum in particular). Urination may become painful, cramps may occur here and there, constipation or diarrhoea with gas may feature.
Thus a case of vomitting should not be downplayed if it occurs with such symptoms as described above.
This is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines with cramping, pain, vomitting and watery diarrhoea usually caused by viral infection. It is spread by food and water contamination and through poor hygiene after a bathroom visit.
I learned long ago that, whenever I eat outdoor, I should chew at least one Bitter kola on a meal. Almost like a miracle it neutralises poisons in food which can cause havoc. For people with weak teeth, Bitter kola may be grated, added to the meal or washed down with water. Other useful home remedies include Turmeric, Grape Seed Extract, Ginger, Garlic, water of the tender Coconut (helps with restoration of electrolyte balance), Black seed, Lemon grass, Rice water, Chicken broth and Soup, Chamomile, Golden seal root, Mango seed extract, Amazon A-V (an antiviral proprietary blend), Apple Cider Vinegar, Basil and Baking soda among many others.
Many of us take heartburn lightly. Yet it may progress into events which damage the Esophagus and make it to become cancerous. This condition can arise from many factors which disturb the structure of the stomach and the Esophagus. Some people are gluttonous. That means they over-eat. My Moslem friends tell me Prophet Mohammed (May the peace of Allah be upon him) advised them to fill the stomach one third with food, another one third with water and leave the last one-third empty. This is a sensible way to eat. For the stomach squeezes itself to digest contents of a meal. If the stomach is 100 percent full, it would be unable to squeeze the food well and the food will stay longer than it should in the stomach. Two events may arise from this. One, the food, overstaying, will decompose into acids which, added to the hydrochloric acid in the stomach, would irritate this organ. Irritated, the stomach would wish to expel its unwelcome guest. Expulsion may be downhill into the intestine or uphill through the Esophagus and the mouth in vomitting.
Often, the intestine refuses to co-operate. Mother Nature provides for a gate-keeper between the lower end of the Esophagus and the stomach, and between the point of connection of the lower end of the stomach and the beginning of the intestine known as the duodenum. These gate-keepers are Sphincter muscles. That between the Esophagus and the stomach is called the Lower Esophagus Sphincter (LES) muscle. The one between the stomach and the duodenum is called the Pyloric Sphincter muscle. The pyloric muscle does not relax to make food contents in the stomach move into the duodenum unless the pancreas had alkalized these contents after their digestion by the stomach. This is because the duodenum is not protected against acids. Where this muscle or gate-keeper becomes incompetent and acid food contents pass into the duodenum, duodenal ulcer may develop. If the pyloric sphincter does its job well, the stomach heads upwards to eliminate its unwanted guest through vomitting. If it doesn’t succeed, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach wall) and peptic ulcer may occur. If the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES) muscle is weak acid reflux will take place. This means the irksome contents of the stomach will flood the esophagus, causing the familiar heartburn or chest pain. If the patient suffers more than two heartburns or refluxes in one week, he or she is thought to suffer from Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). In some cases, GERD is linked to the upper part of the stomach being caught in a hole in the diaphragm, a sheet of muscles which seperates the chest cavity from the abdominal cavity. This is called hiatal hernia. This may cause a weakening of the LES and encourage acidic stomach contents to troop into the esophagus. Some doctors believe a hiatal hernia can be managed outside surgery. But they would invite the surgeon if the trapped stomach tissue becomes “strangulated” with prospects of being deprived of blood and oxygen and killed in the process.
Certain foods and dietary lifestyles have been linked to GERD. They include “chocolate, peppermint, fried or fatty foods, coffe, alcoholic beverages…”
Some studies suggest that cigarette smoking weakens the LES. As acid refluxes past it, “many people say it feels like food is coming back into the mouth, leaving an acid or bitter taste”.
There are some golden rules a GERD-challenged person must keep. The head of the bed should be raised at least six inches. He should not lie down or bend over so soon after a meal. He should eat little meals at a time. He must not miscombine foods (fruits and vegetables, for example). A magnesium and Calcium supplement should always accompany the meals. I suggest CORAL CALCIUM. Bread, milk, sugar et.c should be out of the diet. So should be tomatoes, pepper, citrus fruits and juices, hot spices.
On the Nigerian Alternative Medicine market, there are food supplements for these conditions. One is Acidic Stomach and Alkaline Balance. There is also Zinc. There is wheatgrass. There is Liquid Chlorophyll.
As these conditions suggest, vomitting should not be treated with kid gloves. The underlying cause(s) should be investigated and promptly treated.