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Sacramento City Unified has a wonderful ethnic profile: four ethnic groups are almost equally represented: African-American, Asian-American, European-Americans, and Mexican-Americans (with many individuals falling into more than one group).

Of the quarter who have African heritage, the rate of sickle cell anemia is 60 times higher than in the other groups. One in 400 African American infants is born with the disease due to inheriting the gene from both parents. http://www.pueblo.gsa.gov/cic_text/health/sicklecell/496_sick.html

By that measure, it is probable that SCUSD has 31 students with sickle cell anemia, which means there is a good chance that one of these students attends your school.

Below find excerpts from Clara Felix’s article. The entire paper, all 4,400 words, is at http://www.smartlifeforum.org/felixletter/issue105&106.htm

Nutritional Help for Sickle Cell Anemia
Excerpts from Felix Letter #105
Robert G. Houston, in "Sickle cell anemia and dietary precursors of cyanate" in American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 26, November, 1973, pp 1261-4, wrote, "sickle cell anemia might be characterized as a genetically determined nutritional deficiency anemia."

Dr. Oji Agbai, PhD, ND, writes, "Just as eating foods that are rich in iron eliminates iron deficiency anemia, it is proposed here that by eating foods rich in thiocyanate, the thiocyanate deficiency anemia (sickle cell anemia) will be effectively controlled."

The disease is characterized by agonizing pain, and crippling strokes inflicted on sicklers beginning in infancy. Even after escaping the high mortality prevalent in early childhood, sicklers have a slim life expectancy: 42 years for men, 48 years for women.

Sickled red blood cells are fragile, tending to disintegrate in as little as 10 to 12 days instead of the usual 120. Stark anemia ensues, creating heavy overwork for the bone marrow's blood-making function. The list of catastrophic disorders engendered by any or all of the above effects is impressive.

Dr. Agbai presented a paper at the 27th annual conference of the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America in Cleveland, Ohio, September 1999.

Each red blood cell (rbc) in your body is packed with about 1 million hemoglobin molecules which deliver oxygen to your tissues and organs. (Hemoglobin also is the major acid-base buffering agent in blood.)

Linus Pauling's described sickled rbc's this way: "They are twisted into crescent or sickle-like shapes, with longest dimension considerably greater than that of the normal cell...and they are quite rigid -- the normal cell is almost jelly-like in its flexibility, but when sickling occurs the cell loses this flexibility, so that it has been described as appearing to be as rigid as a crystal of ice... These distorted cells, which seem also to be sticky, have difficulty in passing through capillaries, many of which are so small as just to allow passage of normal erythrocytes in single file. When sickling becomes enhanced in a crisis of the disease, the capillaries become jammed with red cells, and the flow of blood is prevented..."

Enter Dr. Agbai, an assimilator of information gathered by MDs, anthropologists, and social scientists2-8 as well as gleaned from his own background growing up in West Africa, a member of the Igbo people. Although many home folks were homozygous for sickle cell, i.e., had the gene from each parent, he tells me crippling disability and early death were rare.

Looking further for answers to the puzzle, he found a 1968 paper by Graham Serjeant MD et al2 describing relatively benign aspects of sickle cell in Jamaica despite homozygous sickle genes in 11% of the population. Agbai knew that manioc (cassava), indigenous to the West Indies as well as Central and South America, was a major food along with true yams (Dioscorea species) and a variety of beans, all contributing to high yet nonlethal plasma levels of thiocyanate in the population. A common incident, puzzling to Serjeant's group, involved Jamaicans who became sick and anemic only after they emigrated to the States where their sickle cell disease was then diagnosed. On returning home to the West Indies [and, Agbai assumed, resuming their former diet], most recovered without further need for treatment. In test-tubes, he proved that potassium thiocyanate itself completely blocked sickling of rbc's.

Thiocyanate [thio = sulfur from the Greek theion] is a normal constituent of plasma, saliva, urine, etc. Apparently many of earth's creatures, including ourselves, possess enzymatic mechanisms to hang a sulfur molecule onto sublethal amounts of cyanide, transforming cyanide into thiocyanate. This is not a trivial protection, since at least l000 species of plants are known to be capable of releasing cyanide when consumed, i.e., are cyanogenic.

Thiocyanate alone is found in many plant foods, e.g., broccoli, collard greens, cabbage, while a great many edible plants and seeds contain both cyanide and thiocyanate. (Flaxseed is a good source for thiocyanate. I ate at an Ethiopian cafe in Oakland that offers a number of traditional dishes in which flaxseed is one of the ingredients.)

Haas & Harrison's paper in 1977 described a "possible role of cassava (manioc)-based diets in providing a buffer against the effects of sickle-cell anemia" in environments where sickling provided protection against malaria. (Cassava was introduced to Liberia in the 1600s from South America.) It seems that high but sublethal cyanate-thiocyanate blood levels in people are semitoxic for the parasite, interfering with its survival!

After Dr. Agbai finished his talk one person after another from the audience got up and took the microphone, first to relate bleak medical histories, their own or their children's, despite conventional treatments, and then to tell what happened after they had finally heard, read, or been told of Agbai's work. They were there to testify, in many cases, to years of painfree, productive life since making a daily habit of thiocyanate nutrients.

His book, Sickle Cell Anemia: A Solution At Last, can be ordered for $25 from Natural Health Research Institute, 2010 S. Nogales Ave., Tulsa, Oklahoma 74107-1840.

Agbai's work had inspired Chef Dawud Ujamaa, television star of "The Cooking Man Show" in Atlanta, Georgia, to produce a book and video series in 1993. Back To Our Roots: Cooking for Control of Sickle Cell Anemia & Cancer Prevention is an enchanting mix of scientific theory and down-to-earth how-to's on identifying and preparing high-thiocyanate foods to keep the illness at bay -- for life. For the cookbook, send $18.95 plus $3 shipping to: Chef Dawud Ujamaa, 3955 Emerald North Circle, Decatur, Georgia 30035.

One seasoned biochemist told me frankly it would be tough to get funding for research on an unpatentable nutrient substance.

The protective elements of traditional form the basis for the nutritional remedy he developed in the '80s and patented in 1990, "Dioscovite." http://www.smartlifeforum.org/felixletter/issue118.htm

The governor of Ebonyi State invited Dr. Agbai to Nigeria for a lecture tour, and went home with a supply of Dioscovite for one of his commissioners whose 5-year-old child has sickle cell. For 30 days in July and August, Agbai spoke in his homeland to political groups, university and medical people, and journalists. He tells me he was stunned that specialists in sickle cell knew nothing about the anti-sickling properties of their native foods. Their training was in western medicine; his concepts were as foreign to them as they are to doctors here!

At a federal medical center the doctors got very excited when he showed them transparencies of scanning electron micrographs from his book. High magnification (4000x) allowed them to observe that when blood from sicklers is added to a saline 'control' solution, strong sickling events produce visibly distorted 'sickle-shaped' red blood cells. But when an optimal (30 millimolar) concentration of potassium thiocyanate is added to another saline solution of sickler blood, no sickling whatsoever takes place, each rbc maintaining its normal plump, discoid shape. Significantly, a weaker (l0mM) thiocyanate solution did not protect rbc's from sickling.


Lauren Ayers

James Curiel, PhD
Professor, Sociology

Don Glines
Educational Futures

Hasan Hanks

Jeanie Keltner, PhD
Editor, Because People Matter

Michael J. Kwiker, D.O.

William Mora, M.D.
Health Associates Medical Group

Susan Montoya

Cynthia Mulcaire

Carlina Nowrocki

Robert O’Brien, MA

Suiying Saechao
Member LEAF at Hiram Johnson HS

Charity Smith
President Youth Congress at Sac High