Sustainable Integrated Medicine In Africa

FIMAfrica Mobiles

Check out FIMAFRICA first official mobile clinic letter from Dr. Ameet Aggarwal Here

Below are the adventures of 3 CCNM graduates on journey of a lifetime! Kenya and southeast Asia here we come, watch out!!!

Nanyuki Kenya

We are back from the bush...and what an experience it was. We arrived in Nanyuki on Sept 1st and met up with the ND we were working with, Amit, as well as a 4th member of our group, Liz. After our initial chat, we were pretty confident we were going to have a great time. We stayed the night at Simba Lodge, playing cards and trying our first Tusker beers (which was 100 shillings or approx $1.50 for 500ml!)

The next morning we were off to our first mobile clinic. The roads, if you can call them that, consisted of very rugged terrain. We would drive hours without seeing any people or cars, only to arrive at a very small village in which we were to treat. We would set up our little table and chairs outside, sometimes among herds of goats and cows. In total we travelled to seven destinations and treated approximately 60 patients. We treated mostly with homeopathy since it is the most sustainable and safe type of medicine to use in such rural areas. Our eyes were opened by the experience and the people we met. A few memorable cases include:
- an at least 100 year old woman (no-one knows their age out here) who walked miles to visit us at the clinic, only for us to diagnose her with Emphysema. Needless to say, we were concerned about her walk home so we drove her home instead.
- an open leg wound spanning the entire shin. It had not healed in 3 years and was finally starting to improve with the help of FIMAfrica.

- a 10 year old boy cured of asthma.
- baby after baby with various wounds, infections, or GI complaints. They were so beautiful and calm natured despite their conditions.
For the first week of mobiles we travelled with a medical clinic called Mpala. They focused on immunizations, family planning/contraception, and HIV testing. This added to our experience as we were able to witness lines of women and their newborns being treated. It fascinated us that this might be the first time they had seen a health care professional, and most of them likely delivered at home without medical help. Many of the women were very young, most of them teenage mothers with more than one child. We met one young woman who was 16 years old and had just delivered her 4th child. This made us realize our cultural differences. Here, men choose young wives and they are expected to have a baby each year. This made us understand the necessity of contraception and work Mpala did.

The amount of children we saw was remarkable! The majority of women we saw had a child on her back. Everywhere we went there was 2-10 year olds roaming the fields on their own. They were so eager to wave, jump, and shout at us as we drove by. They had such spirit and were full of life. They loved having their picture taken. The excitement of seeing themselves on camera overwhelmed them. When the cameras came out, we were swarmed with children. We enjoyed every second!
For those of you who are unaware, Kenya has experienced a severe drought this year with the last major rainfall being in March. This means that in the rural areas many local streams and rivers are completely dried up. People walk miles and miles for water, only to carry it home on their backs/heads. We have such a huge appreciation for water now, especially since we were on very short supply ourselves throughout our mobiles. For the animals this also means no food and severe dehydration. A lot of the land is extremely dry and desert like. The animals are skin and bones and it is quite disturbing. We felt so privileged to take a hot shower after 5 days of camping, something the people we saw don't have the opportunity.
Speaking of camping, WOW, we had some crazy nights out in the bush! The first two nights we stayed at Segera Mission, which ended up being the only nights we would sleep among humans. After this we went to Chololo, a private ranch spanning thousands of acres of gaming fields. Here, we slept with elephants, giraffes, hyenas, dik diks, baboons, gazelles...and mating lions! The lions were making quite the ruckus throughout the night! They became closer and closer as it became morning, likely only 50 meters away from our tents. Two couples were engaging in their loud mating rituals (which last a week by the way!!) We decided to forgo the morning sunrise and appreciate the sounds in the comforts of our tent that morning (not like we were scared or anything!)
Other nights of camping included a dense forest with a secret lookout rock overseeing miles of land and mountains. It was breathtaking! This was followed by a night in a jungle like atmosphere - very tarzan and jane-esque. We slept on a platform 50 feet high so that elephants could roam freely below us. Unfortunately, no ellie's graced us with their presence that night. Our final camping night was in the forest near a waterfall. It was so amazing to see water and we took full advantage. We quickly grabbed our suits and jumped in! The diversity of land we've seen in Kenya has been vast. We feel so lucky to have experienced so many aspects of Kenyan life - which would not have been possible without FIMAfrica.
Other fun, miscellaneous events on our trip include:

- A trip to the equator, which is basically a sign just outside of Nanyuki. Here we learned about the Coriolis water effect and took a sick jumping pic!
- A tea party among British colonials. It was an amusing event filled with cake, tea, silver, and some of the most hilarious conversation we've ever experienced. We have been re-creating the moment and brushing up on our British accents ever since! "Surely, it was a brilliant affair" (insert British accent).
- A lunch at trout tree restaurant. It was a tree house for adults - the atmosphere was incredible and we had quite the feast. We also met colobus monkeys there, who we thought were cute but their faces are a hybrid of old man and witch. Oh the creatures we've seen!
- Bathroom adventures. You know us naturopaths, needing to keep regular bowels. This was interesting seeing as we didn't see running water, or toilets in any of the mobiles. Our options were: 'long drops' (a hole of various shapes surrounded by a shack), bush with the paperwork being dropped in the longdrop, or full bush with machete digging to bury the evidence plus TP. Many times (aka ALWAYS) the bush was the best option. We would literally avoid the longdrops and walk large distances to bypass onlookers.
- Shopping. Our bargaining skills are sharp, despite the fact that we are obvious tourists. We are literally hounded when we walk the streets of Nanyuki. Sellers chase us with items to buy and try to lure us into their shops. Once you're in there is no leaving without buying, especially when they tell you their children are starving. We end up spending little money and getting something beautiful in return. For them making any money in a day is worth the sale. We are a little worried we won't be able to carry it back to Canada...
We are back at our home base, the Sumar house, and feeling more pampered than ever! We have the weekend off to sight see a little more in Nairobi and relax. We then head back to Nanyuki for our final week of volunteering on Monday. Let the adventures continue...
Posted by Sarah at 3:16 AM

How do naturopathic modalities help in HIV/AIDS patient care?

Naturopathic medicine is the effective way to improve the lifestyle of people living with HIV and AIDS, whether they have started ARV treatment or not. Naturopathic medicine does not replace the use of ARV treatment, and we do not encourage people to stop their ARV medications whatsoever – naturopathic medicine can help manage the side effects of some ARV drugs, and also improve the health of patients so the progression of HIV to AIDS is delayed.
Naturopathic medicine is primarily used in HIV/AIDS care to:
o Improve overall physical and mental health.
o Improve the immune function of the body.
o Keep the body as vital and healthy as possible to prevent further diseases
o Treat and manage opportunistic infections
o Educate the patient on diet, lifestyle and emotional approaches to enhance well being
o Reduce side effects of medications, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and insomnia
o Heal the gastrointestinal system to improve the immunity and health of the individual.
Because naturopathic medicine includes the study of medicine from a scientific as well as a natural and holistic approach, naturopathic doctors are able to use an integrated approach in the treatment and management of HIV/AIDS. By being well versed in HIV/AIDS, as well as medications used by people with HIV, naturopathic doctors are better able to implement treatments that include diet, nutrition, homeopathy, acupuncture, counselling, hydrotherapy, botanical medicine and breathing/stress reduction exercises to improve the treatment of their patients.
With these combined approaches, not only are patients able to manage their symptoms, but they are also more likely to become healthier individuals who can lead more comfortable lives.


Homeopathy is a system of medicine that works on the principle of the Law of Similars. It is a very gentle medicine that is made of extremely low doses of medicinal substances. By having medicine in this way, the body is ‘awakened’ or stimulated to respond to the medication. In this way, the body’s own inherent immunity and healing response becomes stronger. Homeopathy is therefore able to help the body cure many diseases without creating a dependence for medication and also avoids the complication of viruses and bacteria becoming resistant to the medication because homeopathy helps to heal the body directly rather than focusing on the bacteria/virus itself.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Acupuncture

Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine is an excellent way to stimulate "Qi"? or vital energy. Medically, this translates into improved immune function and better health. Incorporating the body, mind, emotions, diet, lifestyle and environment, TCM utilizes all aspects which affect the human body in order to find the root cause of the imbalance. This way, in treating the root, multiple ailments are able to be fixed in a domino style effect. Treatment includes any combination of the following; Acupuncture, Moxibustion, Herbal Medicine, Tuina (Chinese massage and manipulation), Tai Qi/Qi Gong, as well as diet and lifestyle counseling.

Chinese Medicine and developing countries

With no need for expensive machinery and laboratories, Chinese Medicine has long been considered a very affordable and sustainable medicine in developing countries. Although it is a very successful adjunct to Western Medicine, TCM has also been effective as the primary and or sole medical system in many areas which do not have the financial resources for Western Medicine.


Acupuncture utilizes a system of pathways called Meridians which contain Qi (energy which is the source of life and is both material and spirit). Needles are inserted into acupuncture points along the meridians in order to manipulate the Qi within the meridian. Excess Qi is drained, stagnated Qi is unblocked, and deficient Qi is tonified. Acupuncture works by healing energy meridians that are connected to all the organs and systemic physiology of the body. When the organs are balanced, they function better and allow the body to respond to disease in a stronger way.


Moxa is traditionally an herb commonly known as Mugwort. It is rolled into cones or bought in prefabricated batons. The cone or baton is lit and place several centimeters above the skins surface in order to warm the area. Moxibustion uses the same system of points and meridians as acupuncture. Its primary use is to warm meridians and promote the flow of Qi.

Herbal Medicine

Chinese herbal medicine consists of using medicinal herbs categorized by their flavor, properties and function. Almost always used in combination in order to maximize efficacy and minimized side effects, these herbs are taken as a tea, in pellet/pill form or as raw herbs decocted in water. Their function is either to strengthen organs and levels of the body which are deficient, to drain organs/levels which are in excess and to move stagnation (blockages).

Botanical Medicine

Herbal medicine is the corner stone of many systems of healing, including modern pharmaceutical medicine. Herbs have been used forever to treat many diseases, and their role in the management and treatment of HIV and AIDS is gaining even more importance, as new discoveries are made on their isolated compounds. In terms of management and treatment of HIV and AIDS, herbs can be used to improve immune function, reduce stress, reduce depression, improve sleep quality, reduce viral load and eliminate pathogens that cause opportunistic infections and stress the immune system. Even though botanical medicine is considered relatively safe, it does not mean that these herbs do not have side effects. Herbal medicines have to be used cautiously, and interactions with medications must be considered and monitored.