There’s too much overemphasis on over the counter (otc) medication. Pills are abused by users leading to dependency and pathogens resistance. Maybe it’s time we took a different approach to keeping our bodies healthy. In the process create natural immunity and save a few bucks on the monthly household pharmacy budget.

Some of you readers paused right there and went like, “monthly pharmacy what?”… Unlike you, some unfortunate categories of people have a monthly budget on medical supplies similar to food and inventories. Quite expensive too, hence an alternative is always welcome for that reason only, if not more. Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) patients are examples of these categories. Depending on the type of SCD they have the budget will vary for each person.

I personally became interested in alternative solutions for ailments when I got a temporary personal scare a couple of years ago. I had not been known to have “Hemophilia” a condition where blood doesn’t clot normally. One fine morning in my late twenties I was “running” like a water tap! Medical tests were done and nothing was wrong with me! Except the uncontrollable blood flow! The doctor prescribed some clotting agent to avoid losing too much blood, other than that I was told to take time off and relax. If you know me well, I hate medication especially if I am not satisfied with the reason for taking them. Of course we had to stop the flow but I just needed better justification, I mean a number of things were going through my mind, “why it was there in the first place?”, “was it a symptom to another serious overlooked complication?”, “what in God’s name was happening?”… I needed answers to this and the doctor had none. I simply declined to pop OTC pills unless my doubts were rationally cancelled.

I drove home and after parking the car I decided to pass by my neighbour at the time and longtime campus mate. Luckily she was in her apartment. After catching up I explained I was from the doctor and how I had reservations taking the prescription. She thought for a while and said, “if you don’t trust science, why not try nature?”. It was a “bulb” moment and I was astonished! After leaving her house I went home and started the search for a “natural” source and solution to my problem. Turnsout to be Vitamin K Supplements. Mystery solved! I was back to normal in 2 days! Apparently, I was having deficiency symptoms and not some plague! I have some form of allergy to green leafy vegetables, I avoided them for a while and eventually it became a problem. I still don’t eat them but I now have supplements for micro nutrients present in these “repulsive” vegetables.

I never turned back since then. Before popping pills I usually ask myself, “what is my body saying and does nature have a solution?” I developed a new found respect for Nutritionists and Alternative Health. That does not mean no hospitals or pharmacies. Just less visits to them. My focus since is to train my body to develop higher immunity on it’s own.

So how does this relate to SCD?!

Due to nature of the condition, the patients lose a lot of nutrients on a daily, if not hourly basis. Their internal system is constantly working to eliminate and replace destroyed cells. The rate is faster and higher compared to their “normal” counterparts. The amount of medication prescribed weaken their system despite improving their chances of survival. They are prone to having very poor appetite, especially children, due to side effects from routine medication. This reduces their portions at the table.

They are simply at higher risk of developing micro nutrients deficiencies even as adults! It’s quite a delicate balance for them and their caregivers. This implies that they should invest more time and money in planning their meals. Goodness “more bills” you say. On the contrary, when you invest in your personal Nutrition, your need for medication drastically reduces! Plus you are at lesser risk of developing resistance and dependency to OTC pills! Not to mention improved immunity to mild and acute ailments! Win win situation!

Most of you will argue that as long as they have a balanced diet, this is sufficient. Well, a balanced meal is extremely necessary, however, due to the above mentioned challenges of poor appetite, absorption and high elimination, they need to go a notch higher to ensure they get the appropriate portions for each nutrient, otherwise they may fall into the same predicament I did with my Vitamin K (or lack of) giving me a scare that I have a serious ailment yet it was just an overlooked menu item! It would probably have cost me lots of sleepless nights and cash seeking medical help until some doctor figured out the deficiency as a stroke of luck!

Where to begin?! Micro Nutrients Tests involve a thorough nutritional analysis to identify Vitamins and/or Minerals levels in one’s body. This will determine the preferred levels needed in the patient, such as whether or not your Vitamin K levels are optimal or in extremes (low/high). Depending on the results of each nutrient, you will be advised on how to reduce or add the intakes via meal plan or supplements.

These tests and plans are guided by a Qualified Nutritionist. This can be sort from a reputable clinic or hospital. Your personal doctor can refer you to one. Alternatively check with bodies that register them such as in Nairobi, Kenya. Similar bodies exist in many countries Internationally so look them up in your country’s local directory. With SCD you always need Specialised Service Providers, please take your time to identify the correct source for help and information. Not many Professionals will understand your unique needs and you want to avoid a costly ineffective vicious cycle.

Let’s face it, an SCD patient is better off managing only their condition without additional complications from infections or deficiencies. Repeated hospital visits only serve to frustrate more both the patient and caregivers. Remember, feeding anyone with a sensitive appetite and extra needs requires some level of skill.

Preventive, Not Curative Approaches are more user friendly! No?!