Most of the diseases we get are as a result of the food we eat. This is the argument made by Rose Munyinyi, a Nairobi-based naturopathic doctor who relies on nutrition and traditional herbs to treat patients with various diseases including cancer. Indeed, this is a claim backed by the Global Burden of Disease Study, which attributes one in every five deaths in the world to poor diet. The study-based at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, US found that poor diet was the second highest risk factor for early death after smoking.
Naturopathy is one of the widely practised therapies as alternative medicine. “It’s the kind of treatment, which stimulates the body to heal itself by boosting the immunity,” says Rose. It’s based on the body’s ability to repair itself without reliance on conventional medicine. Rose, who has been administering the therapy for the past 19 years, says a change in diet has the power to restore health and ensure general wellbeing. Other techniques for alternative medicine include aromatherapy, acupuncture, chiropractic, homeopathy and reflexology.
“More people are eating food that is deficient in vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins, which the body relies on to perform numerous functions. We have fallen into the pitfall of pleasing the taste buds at the expense of our health,” she says. In the long run vital nutrients deficiency and toxicity caused as a result of taking processed foods lowers the body’s immunity and causes diseases. Some of the fruits, vegetables and herbs that she recommends to cancer patients are beetroot, green vegetables, apples, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, ginger, parsley as they are packed with antioxidants, which lower risk of infections and help fight cancer. Others include thorn melon, kiwi, pawpaw, avocado and water melon.
Rose is certified by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) as an alternative healthcare practitioner. She developed an interest in alternative medicine as a young girl growing up in Njoro, Nakuru county. On several occasions she watched her grandmother use herbs treat various diseases. “When I developed chicken pox my grandmother did not take me to hospital. Instead, she boiled eucalyptus leaves and gave me a steam bath. Within three days I was healed,” she says. Growing up, Rose also struggled with chronic malaria that persisted despite several visits to the doctor was later treated using herbs.
She went to Zambia in 2000 to pursue a one-year course on alternative medicine in nutrition before beginning her practice. Her treatment regimen entails use of herbs with medicinal value and adherence to a certain diet. According to the 2017 State of the World’s Plant report at least 28,187 plant species are currently recorded as being medicinal. While some are acceptable in modern health systems others are used in traditional plant-based medicine. Countries such as China have, for instance, announced plans to integrate traditional Chinese medicine into their healthcare systems by 2020.
In her case, she uses plant extracts from plants such as dandelion, motherwort, eucalyptus, and alfafa, among others. “In treating diseases, herbs help boost immunity and detoxifies the body,” she argues. The remedies are made from the whole or part of the plant to stimulate the body to heal itself or relieve the side effects of medical treatments.
When it comes to diet, Rose recommends that patients take a lot of fruits and vegetables, especially in raw form since they are packed with essential enzymes and minerals that can boost immunity.