28 Jan 2006
Dr. Tabod Benard Fon has been practicing mainstream medicine for more than two decades. It is not a breakthrough in gynaecology (his specialty) that is bringing him into limelight. It is his recent embrace (and that of his pediatrician wife Vivian) of an aspect of emerging anti-aging medicine. According to the American Academy of Anti-aging medicine (A4M), this branch of medicine “is a healthcare model promoting innovative science and research to prolong the healthy lifespan in humans”.
On the 24th of January 2006, the sitting capacity of ‘la maison du parti’ at Bonanjo, Douala was filled with over one thousand enthusiastic invitees that came to welcome Gregg Maughan, the executive vice president of the US-based Forever living products International Ltd.
An earlier chat I had with Dr Tabod gave me a clue to the enthusiasm of those that gathered at la maison du parti. “I am the country representative of Forever Living Products. These are predominantly aloe vera- based formulations (from the U.S.) that are of enormous health benefits.” Using his personal experience to buttress his point, Dr. Tabod continued, “Thanks to Forever Living Products, I have freed myself from lenses [to correct short sightedness] that I have been wearing for twenty-three years.”
I sought to know from him whether there was any convincing reason for consumers to have faith in what proponents of anti-aging medicine prefer to call ‘nutritional supplements’ and not medicines. His reply was that it has been scientifically demonstrated that there is a correlation between the excessive presence of free radicals in the cells of the human body and the state of health of an individual. As the body ages or is subjected to environmental pollutants, it becomes overwhelmed by free radicals that cause damage to
the human cells.
Dr Tabod: Flagbearer of FLP in Cameroon
Appropriate nutritional supplements neutralize those free radicals, thereby preventing or delaying the onset and in some cases reversing some life threatening diseases.
Back to la maison du parti, there were presentations to educate people on Forever Living Products and the following information was gathered from different speakers; Forever Living Products FLP has been existing since 1978 and has branches in 110 countries. An office has been opened in Cameroon. The annual global turnover of FLP in 2004 stood at $2.1 billion. Participants were told that there were over 300 species of aloe vera out of which only 6 were of medicinal importance. FLP was world leader in aloe vera and bee hive products.
Testimonies were heard from people that claim that FLP products have helped solve problems ranging from obesity to cardiovascular and neurological disorders.
The drawback on these packaged products is ‘cost’. There are certainly not meant for people with shallow pockets.
For those who cannot afford the packaged formulas, the following dietary sources of antioxidants are within reach. Vitamin C can be obtained from eating oranges and strawberries. Vitamin E is found in sunflower seeds while beta-carotene can be obtained from eating sweet potatoes and carrots. Tomatoes and other coloured fruits are also a good source of anti-oxidants.
Forever Living Products is just one of the many companies marketing nutritional supplements in Cameroon. Others include Herbalife, Swiss Guard, GNLD and Tianshi. Many of them employ the same network marketing system. It is a pyramid system with hundreds of distributors that can rise to the top depending on the effectiveness of sub distributors working under such an individual. Given the aggressive marketing approach, was it not possible that overzealous distributors will tend to exaggerate the beneficial effects of such products to consumers? Dr. Tabod conceded that it was a possibility but added that he could not speak for others but that “We [at FLP] have extensive training sessions for all our distributors to guide them on how to present the products to consumers.”
The search for remedies to prolong life and even bring about immortality has been as old as human civilization. The most publicized case was that of Cagliostro Alessandro Conte di (imprisoned in Italy as a heretic in 1789) that succeeded in convincing even highly placed people to believe in and consume his ‘elixir of immortal youth’.
Putting everything together it is clear that this branch of medicine is still at its infancy but it is obvious that it holds a lot of promise. Research from other sources indicates that today’s advocates and researchers of anti-aging medicine are different from charlatans like Cagliostri of yesteryears.
If you want to live longer, you have to consider other factors like exercise and weight control to complement nutritional supplements. Says A4M. “Anti-aging medicine recognizes that oftentimes, a multi-modal, multi-therapeutic approach (including nutritional supplements) may deliver greater remunerative effects than by administering single therapies alone.”
Njei Moses Timah