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Opinions of Saturday, 19 August 2017

Columnist: Dr. Kaku Kyiamah

Palm kernel oil, the miracle oil of our ancestors

“Rediscovering Ghana’s Past” by Professor James Anquandah points out at pages 126/127 that “Ghana has a fairly long prehistory, probably going back to around 50,000 B.C. at the least, and the stone age bequeathed to Ghana a legacy of human population on which the future population of the country was to be built.”

The book shows, using historical linguistics and archaeological distribution of sites and their cultural contents and development, that most of the indigenous languages evolved in Ghana and nowhere else in the world. It continues to state that there is no shred of evidence to support any external origin of the major social groups in Ghana. An example is, and I quote from page 115, “Recent archaeological studies aided by the application of radiocarbon dating suggest that the Accra plains were inhabited during the first four millennia B.C. by Late Stone Age hunter-gatherers who were also given to fishing for fresh water molluscs.”

“Rediscovering Ghana’s Past” captures, in many ways, the essence and spirit which link together most of the people of present-day Ghana to the past. The most intriguing link is the food of the second millennium before the birth of Jesus Christ. The major food items happened to include guinea corn, cowpeas, tubers, dawadawa, cola, shea, palm oil and palm kernel oil, which we are still eating.

Professor James Anquandah states at pages 58/59 “Radiocarbon dates obtained from the sites of Kintampo and Mumunte in Brong Ahafo and Ntereso in Northern Ghana suggest that around the early-to-middle part of the second millennium B.C. food production was initiated in Ghana. The identification of faunal remains as being those of domesticates has been confirmed. Carbonised remains of food plants such as cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata), hackberry (Celtis sp.), oil palm (Elaeis guineensis) have been found in the rock shelters of Kintampo where they were used as sources of food.”

Botanists claim that the original natural habitat of the oil palm tree, Obaatan Dua, is West Africa. The oil palm tree has been part of the flora of Ghana for many thousands of years. It is reported that an Egyptian Pharaoh was buried with a pot of palm oil. The wide spread economic value of the palm tree has been examined by many people in different parts of the world with envy. Currently, there are highly economic plantations of the oil palm tree in the tropics of South America and the Far East.

The Europeans have carried out extensive scientific studies on the oil palm tree. Annually, the Europeans import millions of tons of palm oil and palm kernel oil. History reports that the British used dubious means to acquire Lagos port in 1861 in order to have control over the palm oil trade. During and after the 2nd World War, the British used “child labour” to take thousands of tons of palm kernel to the United Kingdom. The British also stole the germ-plasm of the oil palm and associated vectors from Ghana for economic benefits.

Dr Bruce Fife in his “The Healing Miracles of Coconut oil” states and I quote “Africans in tropical areas will drink palm kernel oil whenever they get sick.” Palm kernel oil, coconut oil and organic mammalian milk have substantial quantities of short and medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are anti-microbial. The three oils promote good health and are known as functional foods.

Many social groups have for many millennia used organic mammalian milk and derivatives for food and important health-promoting activities. For more than seven millennia, the Indian sub-continent has been using coconut oil for food and as a major component of Ayurvedic medicine. We, in Ghana, used palm kernel oil in a similar manner for many millennia until the 1960s when we started to abandon palm kernel oil as a component of food and medical protocols. The result, it is surmised, is the cause of the current high increases in the many strange ailments including procreation difficulties and attention deficiency syndrome.

Now we use palm kernel oil mainly for soap and to fry fish, while we import large quantities of “unhealthy trans-fat” edible oils for food. Palm kernel oil, like its relative coconut oil, can serve as a functional food and medicine. This is illustrated by how modern medicine is using derivatives of milk, palm kernel oil and coconut oil to improve the quality of life and the health of many people.

• Palm kernel oil has about 50% of saturated lauric acid, which is the active ingredient of Lauricidin. The USFDA has approved Lauricidin for the treatment of genital herpes, hepatitis C and HIV. Lauricidin is also used for the management of epilepsy, autism and many other metabolic and neural ailments.

• Palm kernel oil has about 3.6% of saturated caprylic acid, which is the most potent natural yeast fighting substance. It is being used in drugs such as caprinex, capricin, mycostat, caprystatin, etc. Food items made from palm kernel, which contain saturated caprylic acid are known as very effective means to prevent and cure white (edepuu) and many viral, yeast and fungal infections such as mumps (tsii) and herpes (totortor). A traditionalist Ghanaian mother whose child gets infected with edepuu or totortor would use palm kernel oil to heal the ailment.

• Axona or Caprylidene (a saturated caprylic oil) is derived from palm kernel oil and coconut oil. Axona is a medical food for the prevention, management and treatment of Alzheimer disease, autism, etc.

Palm kernel oil has about 60% of medium chain saturated fatty acids, which are often used as intravenous (IV) infusion to improve extensively the health of premature babies and very young children with acute respiratory syndrome. It is also known that women and girls who eat meals containing palm kernel oil normal have painless and regular menses. Further, lactating mothers who eat meals with palm kernel oil tend to have rich breast milk. Eating palm kernel oil, like butter and coconut oil, as part of the daily meals and avoiding any food item with high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids has been known to prevent diseases and ailments such as piles, skin problems including pimples, eye problems, headaches, menstrual pains, still births, white, diabetes, hyper-tension, infertility, autism, diabetes, asthma, arthritis, cramps and many others. For many centuries palm kernel oil has been used to cure sores including male circumcision.

The adoption of Ghana’s God-given palm oil and palm kernel oil for food and other health purposes would benefit Ghana in many ways. A few of the benefits include (a) reduction in the importation of “disease bearing trans-fat” poly-unsaturated vegetable fats including margarines and shortening resulting in savings in foreign exchange expenditure; (b) prevention and effective management of lifestyle diseases including headaches; (c) improvement in the overall health status of the whole population; and (d) potential increase in the export of tropical fats.

By Dr. Kaku Kyiamah,

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