Authors: Natural Therapeutics Holistic Healthcare Centre Team
Dr Faeeza Abdullatief, Dr Khalida Sabi, Dr Shaunaugh Mae Dass
Chronic disease in South Africa: How bad is it and why should we be concerned?
Diseases of Lifestyle (also known as Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) can be described as diseases that are associated with the way a person or group of people live . These diseases include heart disease, stroke, obesity, cancer, arthritis, type 2 diabetes[5 ; 6]. Chronic disease of Lifestyle (CDL), are amongst the top 10 causes of death in South Africa today. However, in most cases these diseases are not only preventable but can also be well managed with simple changes of the diet and lifestyle such as regular physical activity . Many South Africans have become accustomed to highly processed/refined unhealthy diets which lack nutrition, toxic habits (e.g. smoking and alcohol usage) and sedentary lifestyles which contribute to the development of these CDL conditions but also increasing the risk for other conditions like cancer .
What causes diseases of lifestyle:
· Malnutrition: lack of good quality, nutrient dense foods; an overconsumption of fast foods; excessive sugar, soft drinks, chocolate and artificial sweeteners consumptions
· Poor physical activity- research shows a strong correlation between poor levels of physical activity and an increased risk of chronic diseases of lifestyle.
· Poor health habits such as smoking, drug and alcohol abuse, excessive worrying, lack of good quality sleep and excessive stress all have a negative impact on health.
· Metabolic risk factors that can increase the risk of diseases of lifestyle are obesity; increased blood pressure; increase blood glucose levels or increased cholesterol levels
· Factors out of our control such as age, race, gender and genetics [6;7]
There is overwhelming evidence that the quality of health care in South Africa has been compromised by various challenges that impact negatively on healthcare quality, which also affects the quality of care given at healthcare facilities . As a result, many patients do not understand the extent of their CDL condition or are not equipped with adequate education on how to improve and maintain their condition. As Natural Medicine practitioners, we aim to fill this gap in the healthcare system by focusing on educating our patients on how to make realistic changes to their diet and lifestyle to improve their CDL condition.
What are some of the some of the signs and symptoms that I may be suffering from a Chronic disease of Lifestyle?
Below is list of some of the symptoms to look out for that may indicate that you have a Chronic Disease of Lifestyle or that your condition is not well maintained. Please note, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms you need to visit your doctor for a medical check-up to confirm and manage your condition appropriately.
High blood pressure, Heart disease/High cholesterol
Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Headaches/pressure on top of the head
Dizziness / light headedness
Shortness of breath
Type 2 Diabetes
Excessive thirst and hunger
Wounds take long to heal or getting infections frequently
Gaining or loosing weight
How can Natural Medicine assist in managing my condition?
Natural Medicine practitioners approach health care by reprioritising the order of therapeutics which means firstly emphasising the lifestyle-orientated self-care approach; assessing the current nutritional status of the patient; assessing physical activity levels or lack thereof; stress management ; incorporate preventative behavioural patterns and include counselling . These assessments are made before proceeding with herbal medications and any form of manual therapy such as massage . Depending on the severity of the condition, additional interventions/treatment may be necessary according to the speciality of Natural Medicine (Naturopathy, Unani Tibb and Chinese medicine & Acupuncture) which may include therapies e.g. acupuncture, cupping therapy and natural/herbal treatment to assist in managing the patient’s condition whether it be lowering the blood sugar levels, blood pressure or reducing cholesterol. The aim is to empower/educate the patient to take better control of his or her health and support this with natural treatment methods.
· In Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture, studies show that specific acupuncture points was also successful in eliminating the side effects of the antihypertensive medication and also lowering of blood pressure to normal levels .
· In Unani Tibb, the diet is one of the most important factors for prevention and management of lifestyle disease such as Diabetes Mellitus. In addition, some medicinal plants such as dammul akhwain, karela, jamun, methi, pyaz, gurmar, darchini are also used in support of the management of Diabetes where clinical studies have proven its efficacy and antidiabetic properties .
· Studies show that Naturopathy interventions can help to manage obesity and metabolic disease by use of clinical nutrition, fasting, lifestyle modification and nutritional supplementation .
· Studies on the effects of Hijama (wet cupping therapy) shows that it could be effective in the regulation of blood pressure and prevention and treatment of risk factors associated with heart disease .
Can I see a Natural Medicine Practitioner in conjunction with my GP or clinic?
Yes, integrative treatment is recommended as this can provide the patient with the best outcome. It is essential that the patient is monitored regularly to promote optimum health and wellness. It is recommended to see a registered and qualified practitioner who would be aware of any herb-drug interactions with your current chronic medication and advise on the safest treatment approach.
1. Statistics South Africa, Morality and causes of death in South Africa, 2016: Findings from death notification; Statistical Release P0309.3, February 2019
5. 5. Shiel, W.C. Medical Definition of Lifestyle diseases. Medicine net. Retrieved from: https://www.medicinenet.com/lifestyle_disease/definition.htm
6. Burroughs, S. (Nd). Building wellness- casues of lifestyle diseases. Retrieve from: http://ergo-plus.com/wp-content/uploads/Causes-of-Lifestyle-Diseases.pdf
7. Tabish, S.A. (2021). Lifestyle diseases: consequences, characteristics , casues and control. Journal of cardiology and current research. eISSN: 2373-4396
8. Kim, H.S. (2020). Complementary and Intergrative health. Pain care essentials and innovations Elsevier. UCLA. United States.
10. Nasar MK. Prevention and management of diabetes and its complications by unani herbal medicine - a review. Endocrinol Metb Int J. 2017;4(4):101-105. DOI: 10.15406/emij.2017.04.00094
11. Koithan, M., & Sutherland, E. (2009). Naturopathic Treatment of Obesity. The journal for nurse practitioners : JNP, 5(9), 693–694. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.nurpra.2009.07.019
Dr Faeeza Abdullatief (Unani Tibb Practitioner)
BSc CHS; BCM Unani Tibb
Dr Khalida Sabi (Naturopath)
BSc CHS; BCM Naturopathy
Dr Shaunaugh Mae Dass (Chinese Medicine Practitioner)
BSc CHS; BCM Chinese Medicine and Acupuncture
For more information and to book an appointment with our practitioners at the Natural Therapeutics Holistic Healthcare Centre,
visit our website https://www.naturaltherapeuticscentre.com/
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The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. Please consult a qualified practitioner if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned.
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