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Backyard Medicine

BEFORE you open your medicine cabinet, you might want to look in your backyard. The remedy you need for your aches and pains, cuts and burns, disease and infections may be found in past in your garden. Plants have been used for medicinal purposes since man inhabited the earth.

It’s a little known fact that roughly 40 per cent of our prescription medicines come from plant extracts or synthesized plant compounds. Medicinal plants give us the ability to treat and cure many ailments from asthma to anxiety, malaria, arthritis, diabetes, glaucoma, heart disease, diarrhea, headaches, skin conditions, insomnia, and many more. Everyone has a pharmacy in their backyard; they just don’t know it. You can have medicinal plants growing all over your garden, but have no idea they are useful medicinally. At its core most medicine is still herbalism.

And growing your own medicinal garden is easier than it might seem. Infact, you might already have one. Many common culinary herbs have a long history as traditional medicines. Nature’s pharmacy includes hundreds of medicinal plants and herbs that can be used for healing. Today, the world is going back to practice plant-based healing (or alternative medicine). Recognised as the oldest system of healing on the planet, herbalism traces its roots back to the earliest civilzations. Today, herbalism continues as to flourish as a people’s healing art. Even with the amazing technological advances of conventional medicine, herbalism- the art and science of healing with plants- is still widely popular.

Its popularity is gaining, not waning. According to the World Health Organisation, 80 percent of the world’s population used some form of traditional medicine in 2008, because its rate of affordability, availability and accessibility is surging. Effective, safe and inexpensive, medicinal herbs are easy to grow, they can be used to naturally fortify your body against common upsets and ailments. Do you have home remedies right under your nose? It is important to have medicinal plants around the house because you never know when you might need them. Here are a few ‘volunteer’ plants and herbs you can grow in your garden to use, not just for cooking; but to build an all-natural heal – anything first-aid kit.

Plantago major, family Plantaginaceae (plantain, greater plantain or plantain leaves). These are not the plantains you’re probably thinking of – the banana like ones you buy in the market to fry, roast or boil. These are ‘weeds’ with large green leaves that grow commonly on lawns and parks too. It is a useful herb that is often considered a weed by most of people. It is native to most Europe, north and central Asia but have unduly naturalized all over the world.

It is an Alterative, meaning it is one of the 100 plants that corrects and improve conditions of the blood and the eliminative tissues and organs. It is one of the most abundant and accessible medicinal herbs. The leaves are edible, similar to spinach though slightly more bitter. It is used in salads and other culinary recipes. But they also have some pretty awesome medicinal benefits.

Plantain can be used to treat conditions such as snake bites (root) cuts and scrapes and inflammations (leaf) colic, burns, poison ivy, detoxifying the liver and spleen, hay fever, tobacco addiction and more. Sometimes you can use the fresh leaves, other times leaves need to be crushed or mixed with something else. In some cases, the root is needed. The plant is very useful for many basic ailments – try it next time you have a cut, scrape or poison ivy. This ugly little ‘weed’ is an amazing backyard healing herb.

Peppermint (Mentha Piperita) Use it for: Relieving gastrointestinal problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, dyspensia, colonic spasms, and gastric emptying disorders. Peppermint calms intestinal muscles and improves bile flow. The best medicinal use of peppermint comes from extracting the essential oil. Like all mints, the primary active ingredient of peppermint is menthol, which is why peppermint teas are effective decongestant and expectorant. It can also soothe coughing and sore throats.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus Officinialis) Use it for: Increasing capillary circulation and anti-oxidant levels. It’s anti-inflammatory properties help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases of heart and blood. The most effective way of using it as a medicinal herb is brewing it in a tea. It is interesting to note that the carnosic acid active in rosemary helps protect against cellular and brain damage inflicted by free radicals. This makes it an effective preventative for headaches, memory loss, strokes and neurological degeneration. That is why Rosemary is associated with remembrance.


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Christianity Is Not An Easy Way Of Life — Atilade

IS CAN living up to its objectives? CAN is achieving the purpose for which it was set up. It is doing everything to preserve Christian unity, but not every Christian can agree with that. Like every other organisation, it has its strong and weak points. What is important, however, is that God has made His followers to come together as one. So, our vision and the mission in Nigeria, is to bring Christians, irrespective of their denominations or doctrines, under the umbrella of CAN. In an attempt to bring superior reasons on moral issues, it is doing well, winning souls for Christ, speaking for Christians and providing alternatives to what is happening in the world at the moment. This is not to say we have achieved every purpose, but life is a continuum.

Though we have our weak points, we will continue to work on them and solidify on strong ones. It is not yet eureka for Christians; we’ve not got to the Promised Land yet. We are only appealing to the Christian body to submit to the overall supremacy of time. Right from the beginning, the church has its internal enemy that is working against its unity. This brings to focus the various wars being waged by external forces against Christians all over the world and Nigeria is no exception. This calls for organisations such as CAN to check aggression against Christians. When is the right time for Christians to defend themselves?

On attacks against Christians, we take our cue from the Bible, which is our constitution and we endeavour to follow it. Nowhere can it be shown in the Bible that the best defence is offence. That is the principle of the world. Our own principle is that we have to obey what the Bible says and not what you as an individual think. Jesus taught us that when you are slapped on one cheek, you turn the other to them. In another instance, Jesus asked: If somebody abuses you and you abuse the person back, how are you better than the unbeliever? He taught us that we should pray for our enemy and do good to those that harm us.

From the two examples of the many teachings of Christ, opposition against Christians doesn’t give room for the repayment of evil. That is why Christianity is not an easy way of life and is so distinct from all other religions globally. What is left for us in the modern day is to wait and pray. We have the right to defend ourselves, the right to preserve our lives to continue to be the light to the darkness of the world, but not to descend to the level, where people would just take up arms and attack innocent people on no just cause. The mission of the Christians is simply to go into the darkness with our superior actions, ways of life and level of faith. What is your view on ministers of God going into politics?

Ministers of God, as well as our brothers in the Muslim world, are revered and their followers also look up to them. What they do and say is significant to them. So, where there are two people, you’ll always find politics, which is an arrangement and understanding of how people want to exist together. Unfortunately, however, many ministers have debased the privilege of that position for lack of understanding. A good Christian has three-dimensional aspects before God — he represents God on earth, he is a king and a priest that has a dominion and authority over all things. So, Christians should be co-habitants in this order.

The fear of God among Christians should be an advantage for them to rule better. Politics is an act before kings and priests’ powers. So, politics is already in every human being as a king/priest, who God authorised to have dominion on all things. What we need is good people inspired by God to become our leaders and Christians should take the lead here. It is a wrong belief for them to abstain from politics. Are you of the view that a Christian governor is needed in Lagos?

We have had good Muslims that have served well in the country and in Lagos — Tafawa Balewa, Lateef Jakande, Bola Tinubu and the immediate past governor, Raji Fashola. But we thought that if care were not taken, it would seem that the position was reserved only for Muslims. We saw that and we challenged it in order to prove that goodness does not reside in one religion and that people from other religions can serve and do well in Lagos too.

I believe that Ambode, through our prayers, will bring about positive change we desire in Lagos. Any word on the Chibok girls?

The Chibok girls issue is a symptom of wickedness, devilish mind and thinking of those who believe they can twist Islamic doctrine to suit their heinous crime. Boko Haram must not only be technically defeated, but also truly defeated. It takes concerted effort. We should not say today we are fighting Boko Haram and tomorrow we are negotiating with them. We need sincerity of government to achieve result on this.

Buhari has a good mind and good intention for the country. He should not be allowed to be taken away by lust. Nigeria is a country that is able to cater for all its citizens with a reasonable leader, which is what we hope he is. What is your take on Arts and religion?

Art is a complete religion and the admirer of nature exposes man to all aspects of living. God created man to represent Him on earth.

I wonder why people should attach negatives to the work of arts vis-à-vis their religious belief. The same people that condemn artworks embrace mobile phones, which are also work of arts! People have used their creative mind in evil ways. But when our minds are fully developed, we will appreciate God more. Fall in oil price and advice for government

The downturn in oil price is worldwide and Nigeria is not the only country that is facing the hard time. But because we have foolishly over-romanced the mono-economy of oil, we are now paying dearly for it. It takes just America to change its demand for our oil, and we find ourselves in this mess. What that teaches us in Nigeria, nay Africa is that we should diversify our economy and embrace mechanised agriculture.

Government should revive the refineries and ensure new ones are built. Our educational system must be quality based and health facility expanded. We are now adopting one method of healing – orthodox synthetic Western medicine. Complementary alternative herbal medicine should be encouraged. Welfare of the people must be government’s priority.

The governors that are saying they cannot pay minimum wages are the ones that have misapplied the funds available to their states. The responsibility of every political leader should be the welfare of the people they have been elected to serve. We have made our stand known that no governor should think of reduction in minimum wage.

So, this calls to question the formant of governance in the country. We need to address it by going back to the last Confab communiqué. The Buhari government should revisit and study it, look at the suggestions that will help the nation to move forward and make use of them. States have been provided with how they can develop at their pace. What obtains in Lagos cannot hold in Nasarawa.

So, if Lagos decides to pay higher than any state, this is not enough justification for the state to compete with Lagos. There is also the issue of security, where the Confab emphasised on state police.

What do you have to say on the on-going war against corruption?


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15 foods to boost immunity against colds, flu

THE Harmattan is here with its attendant cold, cough and catarrh due to weakened immune systems. Harmattan is that time of the year when the cold and flu season strike rendering millions a slave to the sniffles.

However, scientists have identified over fifteen natural foods that boost the immune system and prevent cold-related ailments including pneumonia and respiratory illnesses.

Indeed, several local herbs have been shown to have antibacterial and antiviral properties. Although there are no cures for the flu virus, researchers suggest many natural remedies can ease the symptoms. They have been shown to provide relief and prevent viral infections.

Top on the list is gin-garlic. It has been touted as the most potent herbal combination in the world. It has been used to treat from heart diseases to tuberculosis. A cocktail of ginger and garlic has been shown to be effective in bursting the cold and influenza viruses.

A United Kingdom research suggests people who take a garlic supplement each day are far less likely to fall victim to the common cold than those who do not. Nigerian researchers have also demonstrated that local species can be successfully used to beat the cold virus.

The spices include: pepper fruit; African pepper; scent leaf; thyme; onion; garlic; nutmeg; Benin pepper; black pepper; wild pepper; curry leaf; chili pepper; red pepper; grains of paradise or alligator pepper; and ginger.

Meanwhile, a study published in the journal Autoimmunity Reviews suggests that eating processed foods may weaken the intestines in a way that raises the risk for autoimmune diseases, such as type 1 diabetes, celiac disease and multiple sclerosis.

Researchers identified at least, seven food additives that weakened the intestine’s immune response to toxins, which could lead to autoimmune diseases.

After a hard day at work, it is tempting to reach for foods that are quick and easy to prepare. For many of us, this means turning to processed foods, such as microwave meals, which are usually high in fat, salt, sugar and other additives.

Processed foods are defined by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as “any food other than a raw agricultural commodity and includes any raw agricultural commodity that has been subject to processing, such as canning, cooking, freezing, dehydration or milling.”

This means that it is not only microwave meals, that meet the “processed” definition; cheese, breakfast cereals, canned fruits and vegetables, bread, savory snacks and meats such as bacon and sausages are also examples of foods that have been subject to some form of processing.

A number of studies have reported the negative health effects of consuming some processed foods, including increased risk of weight gain and heart disease. And last October, the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that eating processed meats could cause colorectal cancer.

Now, Prof. Aaron Lerner, of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa, Israel, and Dr. Torsten Matthias, of the Aesku-Kipp Institute in Germany, suggest the consumption of processed foods may be associated with development of autoimmune diseases.

An autoimmune disease occurs when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, mistaking them for foreign invaders. This can lead to destruction of body tissue and abnormal organ growth and function.

Not all food processing is bad; milk, for example, needs to go through a pasteurizing process to remove any harmful bacteria.

There are more than 100 types of autoimmune disorders. Some of the more common forms include celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis (MS), Crohn’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Meanwhile, a study by Ndukwu B.C and Ben-Nwadibia N.B of the Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, University of Port Harcourt titled “Etnomedicinal aspects of plants used as spices and condiments in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria” found 23 local spices to have varying therapeutic applications by the local communities.

Their uses in ethno-medicine include acting as stimulants, antiseptic carminatives, expectorants, laxatives, purgatives, anticonvulsant, antihelmintic, and sedatives to the treatment of diarrhoea, malaria, rheumatism, asthma, catarrh and bronchitis.

The study observed that the indigenous people value the plants more for their ethno-medicinal uses than for spicing foods. For instance, ginger is more valued for its treatment of coughs, asthma, colds and hypertension than as condiment.

According to the study, crushed garlic (soup) is used against microbial infection, asthma cough and respiratory problems. The juice of the bulb is given as ear-drops against earaches. As a seasoning and flavouring agent, garlic is principally taken against fevers and chills.

A cold infusion serves as a body-wash for infants as protection against chills. The bulb also serves as effective remedy for hypertension, muscular pain, giddiness and sore eyes. It is digestive and carminative and removes pains of the bowels. When powdered with nation it is applied as a dressing on ulcers and skin diseases.

Before now, garlic has been traditionally used to fight-off and treat the symptoms of the common cold.

A United Kingdom study found that a daily garlic supplement containing allicin, a purified component of garlic considered to be the major biologically active agent produced by the plant, reduced the risk of catching a cold by more than half. It also found that allicin-containing garlic supplements were effective in treating infections caused by the hospital superbug, Multi-drug Resistant Staphylococcus Aureous (MRSA).

Until now, ginger has been extensively used in herbal remedies. In fact, ginger has been used to control or prevent nausea, vomiting, and motion sickness; as an anti-inflammatory (a drug that reduces pain and swelling as in arthritis), a cold remedy, an aid to digestion; a remedy for intestinal gas.

The rhizome is used to toothache, congested nostrils, cough, colds, influenza and flu, asthma, stomach problems, rheumatism, piles, hepatitis and liver problems. Ginger tea is commonly taken against coughs, colds and flu.

“Gingerol” is one of the oleoresin compounds found in ginger. It is also the spiciest part of the rhizome and may be specifically responsible for coming to the aid of cold symptoms. When heated, it becomes sweeter by nature and known as “zingerone.” As the ginger root, or rhizome, begins to dry, shagaols also form. These, like gingerol, seem to provide some positive benefits.

Hot ginger teas have been shown to be one of the ways to enjoy the benefits of ginger and possibly relieve cold symptoms. The steaming effect is part of the reason it can clear congestion and soothe the linings of a stuffy nose.

The leaves and bulb are used for asthma, convulsion, hypotension, ulcers, cough, cold and skin infections.

Juice of onion is mixed with honey in the treatment of asthma, cough, cold convulsion and hypotension. Fresh onion leaves is mostly used to eat roasted meat (suya) as a carminative and to reduce cholesterol level. Onion bulb is mostly used for flavouring and garnishing soup and foods.

Next on the list is Pepper fruit, which is botanically called Denniettia tripetala and belongs to the plant family Annonaceae. In Nigeria, it is ako in Edo; nkarika in Ibibio/Efik; nmimi in Igbo; imako in Urhobo; and igberi in Yoruba. The study found that the leaves, fruits and seeds are chewed for cough and enhancing appetite.

Ethopian pepper, African pepper or Guinea pepper (Xylopia aethiopica) is of the plant family Annonaceae. The Edo calls it unien; Ibibio/Efik-atta; Igbo – uda; Urhobo- urheri; and Yoruba – eeru. The stem bark, fruits, seeds and roots are used for stomachaches; dysentery; bronchitis; cancer; ulcers; fever and debility; rheumatism; post-partum management and fertility-enhancing; and vermifuge (a medication capable of causing the evacuation of parasitic intestinal worms).

Pergularia daemia of the plant family Asclepiadaceae has no common English name. To the Igbo it is utazi; and Yoruba – teji. The leaves, stem and root barks are used for cough, fever, catarrh and diarrhoea in infants.

Sweet basil, Hairy basil, Tea bush, or Scent leaf (Ocimum species) belong to the plant family Labiateae. The whole plants and leaves are used as an anticonvulsant, diaphoretic and carminative. It cures cough, catarrh, cold, fever, chest pains and diarrhoea. Others are earache, ringworm, nasal bleeding, anti-spasmolytic and relief of pains of the colon.

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is of plant family Labiateae. The leaves and fruits are used as antiseptic, antihelmintic (worm expeller), expectorant (cough medication), carminative (an herb or preparation that either prevents formation of gas in the stomach), diuretic (induces urination and for hypertension), emmenagogic (a medicine that promotes the menstrual discharge) and sedative. Thyme leaves and fruits are rich in thymol. The powdered form of the foliage is prepared and used in food for both seasoning and curative purposes.

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is of plant family, Piperaceae. Local names are unknown. The fruits and seeds are used to cure dyspepsia (indigestion), diarrhoea, cholera, piles, urinary problems, boils, rheumatism, toothaches and headaches.

Cayenne, African pepper, Guinea pepper, Bir pepper and Chilies (Capsicum species) are of the plant family Solanaceae. According to the study, three main species occur and are used in the area. The fruits and seeds are used to cure cold, fever, dysentery, malaria and gonorrhoea.

Grains of paradise, Guinea grains or Alligator pepper (Aframomum melegueta) is of the plant family Zingiberaceae. The rhizome, leaves, fruits and seeds are used to cure worms, small pox, chicken pox, catarrh, congested chest, fractures, hypertension and cholera.

The decoction of the leaves is used for small pox and chicken pox. When the decoction of the leaves is mixed with leaves of lime, lemon grass and mango it is used as remedy for catarrh while the steam from the decoction is inhaled for congested chest.


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