The chik-V challenge - Building your body’s natural immunity
For the past several months, Jamaica has been reeling from the chikunguna virus and its debilitating effects.
The far-reaching effects have left the health ministry and the medical profession somewhat stunned, as some people who once had the virus are now suffering from a relapse - a second dose which, in most cases, is worse than the first.
From Morant Point to Negril Point, individuals have stacked up on pain relievers, not to mention the now popular papaya leaf juice and bissy, which regained popularity overnight.
This article seeks to place the issue in context from a critical perspective in an effort to help those who have suffered and are still suffering, recognising that it is chik-V today but it could be another virus tomorrow.
Chik-V is a virus, and all viruses thrive on any living thing that is ailing/dying. We get sick when the physical body is overly acidic. Meaning, the body's pH is at a level where it can hardly defend itself.
What contributes to this state are things that are acidic, such as oils, which we get from different types of proteins such as nuts, seeds, chicken, beef, etc. Carbohydrates also convert to fat, which is stored in organs such as the liver, kidneys and, mainly, the skin, which traps waste material, creating a weakness in the entire organism and ultimately lowering one's immunity.
Persons who suffered and are still suffering from the virus resorted to a plethora of antibiotics. Antibiotic is, as the name suggests, 'anti-life'. Antibiotics are widely accepted either by way of medication when sick or given to animals which, in turn, are frequently consumed.
Ingesting tablets when we are sick and consuming animal foods for a prolonged period will eventually undermine and weaken our immune system. Antibiotics are widely used by the medical profession, and, in fact, doctors are being warned about the indiscriminate use of antibiotics, because of their negative impact on the body.
THE DIETARY CAUSES
OF IMMUNE DEFICIENCY
Food can be categorised into two groups - acid-producing and alkaline-producing. Acid-producing foods include more simple sugars, protein and fat, dairy products, foods containing less fibre, as well as those with more water-soluble vitamins. The foods that are more beneficial to the body, more alkaline-producing, are complex sugars, less protein and fat.
A daily diet composed of rich animal meat, dairy food, sugar, fruits refined products, oily/greasy foods, together with soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages, produce a more acidic condition within the body.
On the contrary, consuming whole refined grains, cooked vegetables, beans, sea vegetables and other natural foods seasoned with sea salt-based condiments accompanied by non-stimulant beverages tend to produce a more alkaline condition in the body.
The individual gets sick when the body is overly acidic. Chronic consumption of acid-producing foods will result in physical disorders such as a receptivity towards infectious viruses and bacteria, intestinal weakness, liver infection, lymphatic disorder, reduced respiratory function, pancreatic disorders, weakness of bones, skin disorders, reproductive organ disorder, nervous sensitivity and mental indecision.
Immune deficiency develops over a prolonged period and is due, in part, to the modern diet. However, dietary influence is not limited to childhood and adulthood. In some cases, weakened natural immunity begins to develop during pregnancy.
ORGANS AND GLANDS
WHICH BUILD IMMUNITY
Organs involved with immunity start with the stomach. When food is not properly chewed, it creates an environment in the stomach which undermines the function of the organ. The stomach, which controls the entire digestive system, works directly with the spleen and pancreas. Both organs, along with the adrenal glands, control the pineal and pituitary glands, which are our control tower; that's our endocrine system. This system is a part of our neurological (nervous) system, which controls all other organs and glands. Other key organs involved include those connected with the respiratory and circulatory systems. Oxygen is very important, and mucus-forming foods such as milk, butter, cheese, flour and soy milk will undermine the optimal function of the lung, hence lowering immunity.
Oxygen is also responsible for keeping all the vessels clean and healthy. The lack thereof will lead to the accumulation of plaque on the walls of the vessels, as well as create tissue damage within the vessels, which attacks the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems.
The colon is another vital organ, as it feeds the entire body. Respiration is important as the colon works best with the lungs. However, when the colon is compromised, it affects its related partner, the small intestines. Frequent or prolonged constipation is a key factor in lowering immunity. Lack of exercise also contributes to infrequent bowel movement. Diarrhoea will also interfere with the homeostasis (balance), resulting in the loss of electrolytes (minerals) and trace minerals. Exercise is important because of its influence on the circulatory system which transports nourishment to the cells, as well as the removal of waste material.
In building natural immunity we need minerals and trace elements. All living things have a degree of minerals. Our fruits, vegetables (land and sea) contain a certain amount to varying degrees. The highest source of minerals is found in sea vegetables (seaweed/algae); namely hijiki, kombu (kelp), wakame, arame and nori. These are mainly used as brain food. Another very important product is hemp (CBD) products, specifically hemp oil, which is high in CBD. CBD has, among other things, strong antioxidant properties that reverse cell damage. Vitamins A, C and D are also important. Herbs which enhance immunity include echanecia, bancha, green tea, etc.
REST & EXERCISE
Adequate rest assists in elevating the function of the nervous system. During rest, the body repairs, builds and seeks balance. Hence, sleep is very important to build and strengthen the nervous system, which promotes better health.
Adequate rest does not mean going to bed and falling asleep, as the individual can be overstressed, go to bed but never achieve full repetition.
In order to achieve adequate rest, one must engage in some form of physical exercise prior to going to bed. These include stretching and deep breathing, not rigorous exercise but calming routines. The distinction must be made that morning exercises should be stimulating while those in the evening should be calming, more sedative.
Any discussion on immunity must also include the environment, both the external and internal. An untidy space, pollution, noise, unsanitary conditions all contribute. Proper hygiene, internal and external, is also important.
While over-the-counter medications provide temporary relief, recovering from chik-V is long term. Persons undergoing physiotherapy sessions for the joint pains, though helpful, could be wasting their money because the disease is blood related and relying on manipulative therapy, which is temporary, only assists with circulation. However, a simple exercise that can suffice is walking at least once or twice daily, which helps to remove the virus from the system.
Education is essential in this current crisis. If we are to continue living in this polluted environment, we must have a combined approach for the improved health of this great nation Jamaica and, by extension, the Caribbean.
n Ted Emanuel is a naturopathic physician, and skin, body and health-care specialist.