By: Dr. Ayesha FakirTibb PractitionerMarch 2010
Tuberculosis first became a major scourge in Europe during the Industrial Revolution, when overcrowding in cities
was common, accounting for more than 30 percent of all deaths. With the development of the antibiotics streptomycin
in the 1940ís, isoniazid in the 1950ís, ethambutol in the 1960ís and rifampicin in the 1970ís, the battle against
tuberculosis seemed to be won.
However, Tuberculosis still remains a major problem worldwide, affecting millions of people. It is also a major public
health problem in South Africa, particularly with the countryís high HIV and Aids rate. In 2006, the World Health
Organization ranked South Africa fifth among the worldís 22 high-burden TB countries.What is Tuberculosis?
Tuberculosis is a contagious, potentially fatal infection caused by the airborne bacterium Mycobacterium tuberculosis,
but occasionally by Mycobacterium bovis or Mycobacterium africanum. Although other mycobacteria cause diseases
that mimic tuberculosis, these infections are not contagious. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect
the , the , the , , and even the .How infection develops?
Tuberculosis is commonly transmitted by inhaling indoor air contaminated with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. For the
air to become contaminated, a person with active tuberculosis must cough out the bacteria, which may remain in the
air for several hours. However, a foetus may acquire tuberculosis from its mother before or during birth. The immune
system of a person infected with tuberculosis usually destroys the bacteria or seals them off at the site of infection.
In fact, 90 to 95 percent of tuberculosis infections heal without ever being noticed. However, sometimes the bacteria
arenít destroyed but remain dormant inside the scavenger white blood cells (called macrophages) for many years.
Activation of dormant bacteria can occur when the personís immune system becomes impaired, for example, from
HIV and AIDS, the use of corticosteroids or advanced age, in which case infection can be life threatening.Symptoms
At first the infected person may simply feel unwell or have a cough that is blamed on smoking or a recent flu. The
cough may produce a small amount of green or yellow sputum in the morning. The amount of sputum usually increases
as the disease progresses. Eventually, the sputum may be streaked with blood, although large amounts of blood are
rare. One of the most common symptoms is awakening in the night drenched with a cold profuse sweat. Such a sweat
is caused by the subsiding of a low-grade fever that is not apparent to the person. Other possible symptoms include:
Chest pain, Shortness of breath, Loss of weight. Loss of appetite, weakness and fatigue.
If symptoms are present or TB is suspected; the patient is asked to give one or two sputum samples. These samplesare sent to a laboratory and the results are available in 48 hours. An X-ray may also be taken, but the sputum testsconfirm the diagnosis. If the TB is severe, the patient will be referred to a specialist TB clinic.
TB can only be cured if the full course of treatment of six to eight months is completed. People who are non-compliantto treatment are most likely to develop multi-drug resistance, making TB more complicated to cure.
First time TB sufferers are treated for six months as opposed to patients with reactivated TB who need to be ontreatment for eight months. Children with TB are given different medication and treated for about four months.
Prevention of TB in babies includes the BCG (Bacillus Calmette-Guerin) vaccination at birth.
Tibb and Tuberculosis
Tibb views the cause of infections as a result of qualitative changes in the environment, both internal and external.
Infection from micro-organisms only occurs if the body is unable to neutralise these pathogens and maintain thebody’s internal harmony. This is why not everyone who is exposed to an infection will necessarily become ill. Accordingto the Tibb philosophy, Tuberculosis is a Dry and Hot imbalance due to excess dryness in the body.
In the case of Tuberculosis, the Tibb practitioner would work to enhance treatment through supplements, diet andlifestyle adjustments that boost the immune system. This will allow your body’s inherent healing ability (physis) towork optimally.
What to eat and what to avoid?
Diet is a very important part of treatment. Due to the excess heat and dryness, it is advisable to avoid foods whichincrease heat and dryness. Examples include ginger, onions, curries, eggs, garlic and chillies. Cooling foods suchas yoghurt, soya, cucumber, green vegetables, beetroot, and butternut are advised, along with a diet rich in wholegrains and suitable proteins.
While you are in the active phase of TB, it is best to rest completely, giving your body a chance to fight the infection.
When your weight is steady and you are no longer infectious, you may slowly start to do limited exercises, gradually building up.
Fresh air and sunshine are important.
Aromatherapy oils such as Eucalytpus and Lavender can be placed in your bath water or may be used for gentle massage.
Tuberculosis need not stop one from leading a normal life. Once the infection is under control and the body starts
recovering, there is every chance that health can be fully restored, and with the correct lifestyle changes. …TB CAN BE BEATEN!!
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