I just returned from spending a few weeks in Ghana.  What a trip! 😊 The first part of my trip was with a travel group called the Onyx Group.  If you want a curated trip of Ghana, I highly recommend them.

I have only been back for about 3 days.  We traveled throughout Ghana and the trip was full of interesting places and activities.  Since I have been back, my first two nights of dreams were based in Ghana, to the point that I woke up in the middle of the night and had to take about 15 seconds to figure out where I was, haha!

It did not take me long to figure out that the food was better quality than the US (and many countries have better quality food than the US).  I had knee surgery last year and my knee barely bothered me while in Ghana the way it still bothers me in the states.  French fries usually bloat me in the US, but they did not in Ghana.  Although I say the food is better quality, it is still a different country, so I tended to avoid raw foods, and subsequently, had some fries.  The places we ended up eating at served a lot of meat, fish, and starchy veggies or sides (yams, plantains, banku, fufu, attieke, jollof rice), so that was mostly what I ate on the trip.  Back here in the states, I do not go as heavy on the starchy sides and tend to have more non-starchy veggies based on what my body has told me it prefers.  I went to one vegan restaurant as well, and it was delicious.  Every meal I had in Ghana was delicious!

Banku and attieke are two fermented foods, so I gravitated towards them because fermented foods serve the same purpose as ‘probiotics’ that come in supplement form.  Thus, I was helping my digestive system frequently on this trip by eating these fermented foods.  I have noticed that most cultures have at least one commonly known fermented food.  Yogurt is the first one that comes to my mind for the US.

I asked some of our group members how their bodies were feeling on the trip.  One man told me that although he experiences bowel regularity, he was going with much more ease on the trip.  A woman told me that when she eats white rice in the US, she crashes in energy later, but not so with the white rice of Ghana.  Another woman told me she lost weight without trying.

There were other foods and drinks that I was familiar with but they either looked and/or tasted differently, in a good way.  Bananas were smaller over there, and had a lighter taste.  Coke was there but also had a lighter taste.  Furthermore, it was made with sugar and not high fructose corn syrup.  One person on the trip said he felt lighter (i.e. not as heavy inside).

I can also potentially factor into some of these positive health shifts that we did not eat much processed foods on the trip.  None of us were working, so there was less stress.  When there is less stress, the body just tends to overall work better.  We were on the move so we walked more than your average day at a desk job.  I wouldn’t say it was a ton of walking or strenuous walking either; just a mild amount.  Our group was made up of about 15 people, so the stressors and woes of social isolation were also not a thing.  We were so grateful that we all got along and had a lot of fun together, to the point that we have already started talking about a future Ghana reunion.

I learned that the laws for Naturopathic medicine are quite amicable in Ghana, have been for several years now, and work is being done to progress the medicine even further.  Naturopathic doctors, Functional medicine doctors, and Acupuncturists are present in the country, and these spaces are likely to continue growing.  There are many conventional medical clinics and many herbal centers.  Mindsets in Ghana on conventional medicine and herbal medicine are similar to how the US was some years ago (and sometimes how the US can still be today): it’s either one or the other, there is a bit of devaluing of herbal effectiveness, and concerns about fakeness.  But there are authentic effective herbalists there too.  This is where Naturopathic medicine is bringing further authenticity and appreciation for natural ways of healing and integrating both schools of thought.

Additionally, I toured and was a patient at the Centre for Plant Medicine Research in Ghana.  The Centre finds herbs in nature (in and outside of Ghana), brings them in to be analyzed, and then makes medicines out of them – preparation, forms, herbal combinations, and dosages.  They still use the whole herb in their medicines vs isolating active components.  They also send the medicines through the Ghana FDA for approval.  The Centre has produced over 30 FDA approved herbal medicines.  I caught a cold while I was there due to not sleeping enough because…well…I did not want to stop having a great time, haha.  The music was amazing in Ghana.  The Centre gave me herbal formulas designed to boost the immune system and break up mucus.  The books that they sell discuss local herbs, as well as several herbs I am already familiar with in the West but that are also used globally.

Another person in our group accidentally tripped and incurred a foot wound from a pipe and developed an infection, so she went to a nearby medical clinic.  She was well taken care of, and appreciated the kindness of the staff so much that she sent them a present later on.  Her foot also got better on the antibiotic they prescribed.

I enjoyed learning about the current state of Ghana’s healthcare services and am excited about the trajectory it is on for the future.

By the way, the picture accompanying this article is of the Allamanda Cathartica flower in Ghana.😊

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