CURRENTLY there are nearly 85,000 man-made chemicals that have been approved for use in the United States and Europe.
In contrast, for some developing countries, people are constantly being exposed to toxic chemicals through the air that they breathe, the water they drink and the foods they eat. In addition, they use some of the products that contain various toxic chemicals while doing personal hygiene care and cleaning.
There are several products with chemicals and heavy metals that are circulating in our environment. Unfortunately, people from developing countries including Tanzania have unknowingly used some of the very cheap chemicals without realizing that they tend to do harm to their health. Three decades ago, I attended a Dermatology workshop organized for Dermatologists from sub-Saharan Africa in 1986.
The host of the workshop then was (A.M), a Professor from the Faculty of Medicine, Muhimbili Medical Centre. Although I had been invited to give a paper I certainly learned many issues regarding skin problems including the skin manifestations of chemicals in the body. It was in that workshop I heard about different soaps and skin creams that were used for bleaching faces and not the legs.
The skin on the face appeared like the color of Fanta orange while the legs remained as dark as a Cocacola bottle” and people used to say the individual had “Uso wa Fanta na Miguu ya Cocacola”. I’m writing this article to assist readers to start taking measures that help them reduce chemical exposures to their body. The reason is because the chemicals they get exposed to are associated with certain malignant cancers and many other chronic diseases such as joint and back pains.
Most people do not know what to do remove the chemicals from their body. The problem is that we simply don’t know how to detoxify the body. What should they eat or not eat? Which organs does an individual need to detoxify first? And how often should one do it?
When we were younger studying in secondary school we learned one of the functions of the liver is to detoxify the body. To detoxify the liver is not a one time job. There isn’t just one magic cleanser for your need; it’s multiples of different cleansers, targeting different systems of the body, done at different times throughout the year. Some people tend to do a basic colon cleanse or a juice cleanse once a year and they think that’s enough.
You have to focus on your blood circulation, the skin, your liver, kidneys, thyroid and adrenal glands as well as the lymphatic drainage system (spleen and so on) in order to achieve a full detox. There’re several challenges that we face when dealing with patients who have heavy metals and chemical poisoning such as mercury and lead in the body. First, we don’t have simple lab tests to carry out in order to measure the amount of mercury or lead poisoning in the body.
Second, to diagnose the mercury and lead poisoning you need to take a detailed history and examine your patient for muscular and neurological manifestations. Most young doctors probably don’t know about these manifestations. Why?
The reason is because our medical schools don’t teach about the daily accumulation of toxins in the body. Students aren’t taught how to check for existence of chemicals. Most doctors don’t have a clue whether someone has a low or high level of mercury, or lead or any other heavy metal poisoning in the body. One of my patients (TK) from Mbagala Dar es Salaam presented to me with complaints of loss of memory. She couldn’t recall where she had put her money.
On examination I noticed she had a 50-cent coin darkish lesion on the gum of the upper jaw. She also had loss of sensation on both wrists and dorsal surfaces of her feet. When I asked her more she told me that she used to store in drums her dry germinated (“ulezi”) finger millet for brewing mbege.
Clinically, I diagnosed she was having mercury or lead poisoning. I suspected this because I had read a lot about this topic while preparing a lecture on “Protecting the environment”, for B.Sc. Environmental Health students at MUHAS.
I also recall about mercury poisoning because I had heard of a story about a business man from Mererani who forgot to take his 20 Million Tanzanian shillings at a shop belonging to an Asian at Arusha town. He forgot to take his money because of loss of memory from mercury poisoning.
These are just two scenarios of exposures to chemical poisoning in the environment. In addition we have lots of chemicals from industries that are dumped into Msimbazi creek and these tend to flow down to the Indian Ocean.
In the past, around 1970’s we also used to have a bicycle plant near the current Bamaga petrol station in Dar es Salaam and this plant used to dump chromium into the sea. The end result was that all types of marine ecology along Oyster Bay peninsula were seen floating as dead creatures.
Our bodies are therefore being bombarded every day with various kinds of toxins. These include: Pesticides, herbicides, Fluorides and chlorine Methane, carbon monoxide and industrial pollutants in the air Toxic chemicals in the everyday products we use in our homes.
Effluents with heavy metals and chemicals dumped into the sea and yet we eat sea fish from those areas. WHAT TO DO? Optimize the “organs of detoxification” so as to enhance your body’s functioning. You should eat plenty of foods that detox the systems by doing the following: 1.
Eat lots of fruits 2.Guava, 3.Cucumber, 4. Pomegranate (“komamanga”), 5. Bitter gourd, 6. Watermelon, 7. Papaya 8. Pineapple and 9. Lemon and 10.Tomato. WHAT DO YOU NOTICE? After doing an extended detox, you will notice you are having more energy and less brain fog and chronic fatigue. Your gut health will also improve. You will experience less belching and your tummy will feel less gaseous.
Bowel opening will be more relaxed. No more noise as if you have a broken motor bike’s exhaust pipe. Joints and low back pains disappear. Allergic conjunctivitis from flower’s pollen and dust isn’t a bother any more.
You will notice you are becoming more handsome if you are a man and if you are a woman you will notice your face is pretty even without applying any facial cream. Prepared by: Gernard Msamanga, MD, ScD, Professor of Community Health, Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, P.O. Box 65015, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
email:gmsamanga748@ gmail.com; phone: (255) 754 291971.