The Medical Director, Nutrition Hospital and Wellness Centre, Dr Patrick Ijewere, has charged Nigerians to start practising wellness by returning to nature and God’s original arrangement for mankind. He stressed that wellness is a free gift from God that must be nurtured with healthy habits.
Ijewere, who is the co-founder of Carib Health Group, made this call during Pharmanews’ visit to his facilities recently, saying in God’s plan, the body and the environment are designed to give man total wellness. He added that the principles, attitudes and choices for achieving this constitute the focus of the Nutrition Hospital and Wellness Centre.
He further stressed that, while God has given man a perfect body system, illness will show up when man deviates from the divine blueprint.
Ijewere also explained to Pharmanews at an interview session during the visit how he got the inspiration to start the nutrition hospital and wellness centre, as well as how the facilities have been recording huge success in handling various ailments, especially high blood pressure and diabetes cases. He also identified five major routes to ailment that every man should avoid. Enjoy the excerpts below.
How did you come about this area of specialisation? Was it inherited?
I will forever be grateful to my parents for the foundation they gave me. I pray their soul continue to rest in peace. I was 15 years old when I finished secondary school here in Nigeria and my father sent me abroad for my tertiary education. I have a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, in Pharmacy and an MD (honours) in Medicine.
I must say that we don’t appreciate what we have in this country; we only spend time quibbling over distractions. Politics is a distraction from the real issue of building massive global force for Nigeria. It is a waste of time and money. This area of specialty was not in existence when I left Nigeria, but the core of my training at John Hopkins University was Internal Medicine and that was away from the conventional western medicine. I believe, with that, God has something special for me to do.
How did you get the inspiration to establish the Nutrition Hospital and Wellness Centre?
I think there are about four levels of inspiration that led to the establishment. The first one was my grandparents in the village. When I was young, I noticed that my grandmother walked barefooted. She treated us for malaria and usually poured a black substance in our palm to lick and asked us not to tell our parents. I later got to know that the black substance was made of charcoal. If you want to prevent food poisoning, before you go out, just take a little of charcoal. When charcoal is ground to powder, it is very powerful.
I must say that we don’t understand the immensity of the knowledge of our ancestors; we are only being fooled by the western knowledge and glamour. And I must say that if we must take our country far, we must go back to our roots.
Secondly, I give credit to my chemistry teacher in secondary school who sowed the seed of my love for Chemistry. I also want to give credit to Professor Ojedele, who made me to develop special love for chemistry. The third level of inspiration was during my undergraduate days, when I met a Nigerian professor in the United States. His name is Professor Ayorinde. During summer, I spent quality time with him, while he would be revealing the potency of some African grains to me.
The other inspiration was through Indian professors that I met at the university while I was studying Pharmacy. At that time, they were doing research on bitter leaf. It was through the research that I got to know, for the first time that, that bitter leaf can be used to lower blood sugar level.
Another vital inspiration was through a professor, Dr Grainer, who has worked in Senegal, Brazil and the Philippines among others. One day, he asked me, “In Nigeria, how do you treat asthma? How do you treat diabetes? Do you always go to the pharmacy to buy drugs?” He kept telling me that there is wisdom in ancient cultures.
The other level of inspiration was when I was already practising and I met my wife who is a nutritionist. That was when I had major wake up call. There was a day I was coming home from work and I bought a big bottle of soft drink and drank it. When I got home, I discovered that I was not feeling well. At that point, what I called the God factor came in.
The following day, in the local newspaper in Florida, I read an article on the quantity of sugar in soft drinks and other fast foods. With that, I got to know that I had unknowingly consumed 32 cubes of sugar. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have sat down to eat 32 cubes of sugar, but because it was buried in soft drink, I already consumed it. This was a thought-provoking, eye-opener to me.
Another important inspiration I can’t forget was meeting with the owner of Pax Herbal Clinic in the United States, in the person of Father Anselm Adodo. One thing I have come to realise is that, when you are trained in western science, it makes you to be a bit arrogant. Meanwhile, between 2001 and 2003, my father always told me that there was a place called Ewu in Edo State, where he used to get herbal cough medication. But it didn’t make any meaning to me because I was a bit arrogant with the western medical training that I had. Still, Papa kept telling me over and over.
It took a South American nurse in Orlando – who had come to Nigeria for a UNESCO conference in Abuja and met Father Adodo – to convince me. The lady followed Father Adodo to Ewu and when she got there, she called me on phone and asked me, “Do you know what is going on in your backyard?”
By the Easter of that year, Father Adodo visited the United States and I met with him. Again, I see this as the God factor. I spent the whole weekend with him, talking and learning, and I was so impressed by his knowledge of herbs and the science of medicine, considering the fact that he’s a reverend father who hadn’t attended a medical school. I was endeared to him, such that, between 2003 and 2006, whenever I came to Nigeria for my holiday, after greeting my parents, I would go straight to Ewu, where I would spend two weeks in the monastery, learning.
With all these, I got to understand that God designed my pathway and I thank God I didn’t disobey. I am proud of the training that I had as a pharmacist and as a medical doctor in western medical science, but I am also proud of what my parents, grandparents and Father Adodo taught me. The combination of all these inspirations and experiences was what brought about what I am practising today.
What has been the experience since you started this special area of practice, sir?
The first experience is myself. Since I started about 17 years ago, I don’t have asthma. I am no longer buying inhaler.
Were you asthmatic before?
Yes, I was, since I was 11 years old. I was diagnosed at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital by Dr Okeowo. With time, after changing my mindset, lifestyle and nutrition, no more asthma.
It important for me to say here that what we call disease today is simply the body saying to us that what you are doing is “off-alignment” with wellness and health. So, just look at what you are doing and make changes. Today, I can walk two hours and I will not be tired. When you put the right thing in the body, with the right mindset and nutrition, all diseases are reversible. God doesn’t want us to be sick. No parent wants his or her children to be sick; how much more God!
How much of western medicine do you prescribe to your patients?
I will say it’s a balance. There are patients that will need antibiotics, such as a very sick elderly person with urinary tract infection (UTI). In such a case, we use antibiotics. We do the conventional testing, X-ray, blood test, stool test, among others. After a few days of antibiotics, I place them on antibiotic foods, such garlic, onions, among others. For malaria, I place the patients on herbal tea. For high blood pressure, some of the patients will be placed on coconut water and within few weeks, some of them return to normal blood pressure and some get improvement to half of the medication they were placed on before coming to our centre.
As I said before, all diseases involve a case of our body telling us that what we have been doing is “off-alignment” with our health and wellness. As a simple explanation, the word disease should be spelt “dis-ease”. God gave us “ease”, but we add “dis” to it by ourselves because we thought we were smarter than God, and that was how we get disease.
For those with chronic or high level of diabetes who have been on Glucophage, is it possible for them to get cured and do away with drugs?
There are approaches to that and there are several factors to look at. The first thing is to do the normal lab test to know the level of antioxidants in the body. We will investigate the pancreas to know the level of insulin it produces, whether small or excess, or not producing at all. if there is enough level of insulin and the patients is still diabetic, we will check insulin resistance. Is there anything suppressing the insulin from entering the body cell? So we check insulin resistance and many other things. Does the cell has oxidative stress?
Again, the lifestyle and nutrition of the patients will also be examined. For instance, a diabetic patient must walk for at least 10 to 15 minutes after every meal to improve cell sensitivity. High blood pressure and diabetes have high level of successes here in our centre. Some are off the drugs, some are down to very minimal medications.
There are few stumbling factors to total healing. One is addiction. Some patients are addicted to sugar and some foods that they can’t let go. Bread is in the list of those foods. Some people cannot do without “maggi” (seasoning cubes). Whereas, it is not even the case of whether to take small quantity; the best thing is don’t even go near it. This is because it has two major ingredients, one of which is MSG, that is, monosodium glutamate. MSG was created by a German scientist who was looking for ways to fatten rats during a laboratory experimentation.
If you are consuming organic food, grown in wholesome soil, such as the cucumber and okra, to mention a few, you don’t need “maggi”. Natural foods come with their own flavour, so they don’t need seasoning.
What is the future plan for this centre?
I will give two answers. One is spiritual. I got the name of this centre while I was in church; so I can say there is a spiritual plan. I have been told to build the centre, so there is a Higher Being in what we are doing and I am obedient to the higher being.
Secondly, as humans, we must plan for the future and that is even one of the things we learnt from business school and we are doing those things. Today, patients are coming to the centre from far and near.
You tag the ward in the centre “in-residents” instead of “in-patients”. What is the rationale behind this?
That is because of the entire philosophy of wellness versus sickness. Words have meanings; denotative and connotative meaning. If I tell you that I am taking you to the hospital or that I am taking you to a wellness centre, one will make you feel at ease. For a patient that has stage 4 cancer, you can simply tell him or her that he or she has severe chronic nutrient deficiency and cellular toxicity. The patient will likely feel at ease unlike when you mention stage 4 cancer. So the words in the medical place are very powerful.
High blood pressure, like I keep saying, is not a disease; it is simply because your body is telling you that what you are doing is not in alignment with health and wellness.
For those who are not well out there, what is your message to them?
God has given us a perfect system; illness only shows up when we deviate from that perfect system. I must say that there are five major routes to our ailment. They are spirituality, mindset, nutrition, lifestyle and our environment. If you are the type that carries grudges and bitterness, then you are just blocking your immune system. You may be taking the best drug but discover that it is not working; it is simply because spirituality has blocked your healing system. So you have to forgive.
Science has also shown that if you are scoring higher in negative things – bitterness, unforgiveness and anger, among others, it will lower your immune system.
Then talking about mindset, are you worrying too much? What do you carry in your mind? Are you pessimistic or optimistic? This is very important to wellness. Nutrition is another thing. What are you putting in your body? Is it soft drinks filled with 32 cubes of sugar and sausage roll packaged in a branded nylon? Are you eating food that is boosting or reducing your immune system?
Another route to illness is lifestyle, and this is where fitness comes to play. Simple walking and sleeping well matter a lot. It is important to note that once the sun begins to go down and the moon begins to rise, that is a natural clue that the body should go to sleep. Unfortunately, we stay awake till 1:00 a.m. It is that time of the day that we go to social media, do assignment, take pictures. Whereas, two hours before midnight is more powerful than four hours at midnight.
God designed a perfect system, but we are the ones violating it. You see people in many public places, like bank and big offices, spraying air freshener; whereas, those air fresheners are made with chemicals that are not good for our wellness.
Your environment is another road to illness and that is why the environment you live matters a lot. The trees provide fresh air and clean the environment for us. Unfortunately, people are cutting down trees, while vehicles and generators are polluting the air. Today, many homes are worse off in air pollution than the outside because of the odour of new carpet, new furniture, and deodorant spray, among others. Sunlight is also important. Most professionals have low vitamin D because they stay indoor always.