Friday, 19 December 2014

Calabash Chalk or Nzu contains lead and arsenic

The US FDA has released a statement based on finding from the Texas Department of State Health Services on December 23, 2009:

The Texas Department of State Health Services is warning consumers, especially pregnant or breastfeeding women, to avoid consuming a traditional product called “Nzu” because of the potential health risks from high levels of lead and arsenic.

Nzu, which is consumed as a traditional remedy for morning sickness, has been found by DSHS food inspectors at two African specialty stores – one in the Dallas area and one in Houston. It was also found at a distributor in Houston. The product generally resembles balls of clay or mud and also is called Calabash clay, Calabar stone, Mabele, Argile and La Craie.

Laboratory analysis by DSHS found high levels of lead and arsenic in this product.

Exposure to lead can result in a number of harmful effects, and a developing child is particularly at risk of effects on the brain and nervous system. Arsenic is a carcinogen, and excessive long-term exposure to it has been associated with a range of adverse health effects, including cancers of the urinary bladder, lung and skin.

The Nzu may be covered in a brown or white “dust” and is usually sold in small plastic bags with a handwritten label identifying it as “Nzu” or “Salted Nzu.”

Anyone who has been ingesting the product should contact their health care provider.
The source of the product in Texas is not yet known. Inspectors with DSHS are continuing to investigate.

Ingesting soil, particularly mineral-rich clay, is a practice called geophagy. Various kinds of earth have been a folk remedy common to many cultures, primarily for gastrointestinal complaints.

In fact, that is where the name “Terra Sigillata” is derived.

Terra Sigillata was a fatty clay harvested from the Greek isle of Lemnos and contained at least one component found in today’s Kaopectate diarrhea remedy. A special ceremony would be held to harvest the clay where it would be cut into planchets, embossed with an official seal, then dried and sold. Terra Sigillata stands in pharmacy history as the first trademarked medicine.

Geophagy is also why South Carolinians are sometimes called “sandlappers” and why this Nigerian remedy is often called “Calabash Clay” or “Calabash Chalk.” (Calabash is a coastal town right at the border between North and South Carolina. A style of spiced seafood, usually shrimp, is also known as Calabash.)

Furthermore, Public Health England (PHE) are warning pregnant women against the use of a potentially poisonous chalk product as a nutritional supplement or morning sickness ‘antidote’. The warning follows reports of use of ‘Calabash chalk’ by pregnant women in Asian and African communities in London.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued advice that these products should not be eaten, especially by pregnant and nursing mothers, due to the possibility of these products being toxic.

Diane Benford, from the FSA, said:

Tests of Calabash Chalk previously taken by the FSA have shown high levels of lead. For pregnant women, eating this product may result in harmful effects to their unborn baby, which is particularly at risk of effects on the nervous system.

The FSA has issued hazard warnings to request that local authorities visit food businesses and remove Calabash Chalk from sale. It is also working with the Department of Health, health professionals and consumer groups to communicate this information to pregnant and nursing mothers, particularly in the communities who are likely to eat Calabash Chalk or similar products.

Dr Yvonne Doyle, regional director for PHE London, said:

It is of great concern to us that pregnant women may be taking these chalk products as a nutritional supplement during pregnancy. Exposure to heavy metals, like lead, should be kept as low as practically possible under all circumstances, but particularly during pregnancy when the risk of adverse effects is large.

If you are suffering from severe morning sickness during pregnancy you should speak to your GP or midwife who will be able to advise you on safe treatment. We strongly advise against taking any medicinal or ‘remedy’ product while pregnant without talking to your GP or health visitor about the health risk.

Source: Scienceblogs

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Tiger Nuts

Well here's a shocker, Tiger Nuts are actually NOT nuts, they are a tuber that grows below the ground's surface. They have all of the nutrients and energy benefits of nuts and then some, but without the stuff that can adversely affect allergies.

In fact our "Original Tiger Nuts" have so much good stuff in them that you might say it's “unbelievable”, but it's a fact! They are packed with fiber, vitamins and nutrients and deliver a serious wallop of energy. They are perfect for health minded people just like you.
And because they have so much fiber, they make you feel full, which of course helps curb your appetite.

Tiger nuts are very healthy, they can help to prevent heart attacks, thrombosis and activate blood circulation. Due to the high contents of soluble glucose they can also help prevent cancer and lately some investigators discovered that they can help reduce the risk of suffering colon cancer. The very high fiber content combined with a delicious taste, make them ideal for healthy eating.


1. Tigernuts’ high content in fiber keeps your whole body healthy

2. Tigernut milk (also known as Horchata de Chufas) is a great substitute for cow’s milk

3. Tigernuts are a solid source of magnesium

4. Tigernuts can help control your blood pressure

5. Tigernuts may help protect you from cancer and cardiovascular disease

6. Tigernuts give you a potassium boost

7. Tigernuts are a good non-meat source of protein

8. Tigernut milk can help control diabetes

9. Tigernut rivals olive oil for “heart healthy” oils

10. Tiger nuts Can Help Fight Malnutrition in Under-developed Nations

Other names for Tiger Nuts
Aki Awusa in Igbo
Aya in Hausa
Isip Isong in Efik/Ibibio
Ofio in Yoruba
Hausa Groundnut in Pidgin
Keegun in Okun
Chufas in Spanish

How to make Kunun Aya (Tiger Nuts Milk)

Ingredients for making Tiger Nuts Milk

600g soaked Tiger Nuts (475g dry Tiger Nuts)
1.5 litres cold water
Other ingredients you can add to it
To blend it, you'll need a kitchen blender to blend the soaked nuts.
To strain it you'll need a chiffon cloth or ladies stocking/tights (pantyhose without the panty).

Directions for making Tiger Nut Milk

1. Soak the very dry nuts in a generous quantity of cold water for 2 days. Keep it in the fridge for the duration of the soaking so that the nuts do not ferment. Most tiger nuts sold in Nigeria are fresh and well hydrated so you'll only need to soak those ones for a few hours or overnight.

2. After the soaking, wash the nuts very well and sort out the bad ones.

3.Put them in your kitchen blender and pour just enough water to help the blades move. We need to make this milk as concentrated and tasty as possible, you can add more water later if you wish.

4. At this time you can add other ingredients: coconut, sugar, ginger and other flavours of your choice and blend them together. I prefer anything I eat/drink as natural as possible so I do not add any other ingredient to this drink. The natural taste of Tiger Nut Milk is so great, you do not want to alter it at all.

5.After blending, use a chiffon cloth or ladies stocking (pantyhose) to separate the chaff from the drink. Of course, the pantyhose should be brand new, thoroughly washed with dish washing liquid.

6.Press the stocking to make sure you squeeze out all the milk from the chaff.

7. Put the dry chaff back in the blender, add more water and blend again. Then strain with the chiffon cloth.

8.Repeat the process till all the milk has been extracted. I found that the milk I got the third time was too watery. So 2 times should be enough and keep an eye on the quantity of water. As a guide, I got 1.5 litres of tiger nut milk from 600g of soaked tiger nuts. Yours may vary.

9. Pour the extracted milk into bottles and store in the fridge for up to 3 days. It should last longer in the freezer. In my home, this milk usually disappears within 2 days of making it, so I can't tell you how long it can stay in the freezer without losing its taste! lol

Serve Tiger Nuts Milk with any snack of your choice.

Where to buy Tiger Nuts

There are 2 varieties of tiger nuts: brown and black. Both are readily available in Nigeria

but I think the brown ones are more common outside Nigeria. Both taste the same to me.In Nigeria, Tiger Nuts are sold by Hausa Mallams on the streets and in all major markets in Nigeria. In Spain, look for them in any Frutos Secos shop i.e. shops that sell dry fruits. Ask for chufas.
In the UK you can buy them on Amazon UK website. In the US, it is sold by La Tienda. The vendor for tiger nuts on Amazon US website is La Tienda.


Sunday, 14 December 2014


Other Names:
Ambashthaki, Bissap, Gongura, Groseille de Guinée, Guinea Sorrel, Hibisco, Hibiscus Calyx, Hibiscus sabdariffa, Jamaica Sorrel, Karkade, Karkadé, Oseille de Guinée, Oseille Rouge, Pulicha Keerai, Red Sorrel, Red Tea, Rosa de Jamaica, Roselle, Sour Tea, Sudanese Tea, Thé Rose d’Abyssinie, Thé Rouge, Zobo, Zobo Tea.

Hibiscus is a bushy annual plant. Parts of the flower are used to make a popular drink in Egypt called Karkade, Zobo in Nigeria, Sorrel in Jamaica. Various parts of the plant are also used to make jams, spices, soups, and sauces. The flowers are used to make medicine.

Hibiscus is used for treating loss of appetite, colds, heart and nerve diseases, upper respiratory tract pain and swelling (inflammation), fluid retention, stomach irritation, and disorders of circulation; for dissolving phlegm; as a gentle laxative; and as a diuretic to increase urine output.

In foods and beverages, hibiscus is used as a flavoring. It is also used to improve the odor, flavor, or appearance of tea mixtures.

How does it work?
The fruit acids in hibiscus may work like a laxative. Some researchers think that other chemicals in hibiscus might be able to lower blood pressure; decrease spasms in the stomach, intestines, and uterus; and work like antibiotics to kill bacteria and worms.

More Info...

Nutritional Benefits...

Zobo/Sorrel was a must have during family gatherings. As children, we loved drinking it, not only because of how nice it tasted, but also because it coloured our lips and tongues red. Zobo (Nigerian) or Sorrel (Jamaican) is a red coloured drink made from a flower called Hibiscus sabdariffa.

The sorrel plant contains a wide range of vitamins and minerals including vitamin C, calcium, niacin, riboflavin and a group of compounds called flavonoids. Flavanoids not only gives the sorrel plant its deep red colour, but, are also rich in antioxidants which rids the body of toxins. The sorrel plant also contains nutraceleuticals, which are said to be helpful to the health. Nutraceleuticals can help prevent and treat several diseases including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer.

Here is a quick recipe on how to prepare a drink from the plant. This can be served at occasions, or for your personal daily enjoyment.


*6 handfuls of sorrel/zobo plant

*3 ginger roots (optional)

*Granulated sugar (optional)

*5 fresh limes (optional)



*Rinse off the zobo plant to get off the sand.

*Rinse off the ginger roots and chop them into smaller pieces.

*Pour 5-8 litres of water into a cooking pot. Put the water to boil.

*At boiling point, put in your zobo leaves and the chopped ginger roots into the pot. Leave for about 5-10 minutes, then switch off the gas.

You can begin the next steps once the mix has cooled, or you could leave the mix overnight for more concentration, or if prepared in the morning, you could let it sit until evening.

Using a sieve, filter the liquid from the leaves. Be sure to use a sieve with tiny holes as there is usually a lot of sand in the mix. Squeeze the plant with your hands to get out all the liquid.
Add sugar as desired. The zobo plant is quite bitter so it would take a lot of sugar to sweeten your mix.

Squeeze your limes into the mix, using the sieve to filter the fibre and seeds.
Stir the mix thoroughly with a spoon. Pour out into jug(s) and refrigerate.
Once cool, pour into a glass and enjoy.

Note: The above are guidelines, you could substitute any of the ingredients, you could also add more or less of any of the ingredients. It all depends on the taste desired by you. If you are Diabetic, better avoid sugars and use natural honey.

Source: WebMd