Deep Breath at Nine Elms


It may not be a ‘miracle cure’, but colleagues of CWU member Jerry Yamoa say his asthma remedy really works. And hay fever sufferers aren’t sneezing at it either. Kay Holmes reports.

At the Royal Mail centre in London’s Nine Elms, there’s an unofficial medical test going on that could take the sneeze out of summer for thousands of asthma and hay fever sufferers.

Jerry Yamoa, a phg at the bookroom in Nine Elms, has a natural remedy for asthma based on a secret recipe passed down to him by his Ghanaian grandmother, Akua Asirifia. “She lived to 107 and the doctor in her village used to refer patients with asthma to her for his cure,” says Jerry. “Eventually, after I pestered her a lot, she told me which tree it was that she used.” The Yamoa powder is basically the finely ground bark of a particular type of tree found only in Ghana. As such, it’s a totally natural remedy, though Jerry has no idea why it works.

CWU (Communication Workers Union) Voice, June 1998. Author: Kay Holmes

Jerry contacted CWU Voice after reading about a member disciplined for having to take time off due to asthma. Despite some scepticism where medicine and money is involved, it was hard to discount the 20 or more people who crowded around Jerry at Nine Elms to confirm that they or their loved ones had been helped by his mystery powder. Reeta Gujadhur, a phg at Nine Elms for five years, told how her daughter Karuna had had asthma since she was 18 months old. “The doctor had given her inhalers, but I was worried about her taking steroids, so I tried Jerry’s powder last year and she’s been fine ever since.”

Postman Kantilal Kerai was diagnosed with asthma three years ago. “I already had hay fever, then one day I started getting chest pains and the doctor told me it was asthma connected to my hay fever. I was given Ventolin (a common asthma medicine), which didn’t work, then a stronger drug. I was taking those for a year and just getting worse, then a colleague suggested I tried this Yamoa powder. I used to put it in tea. That was two years ago and I have had no symptoms of asthma since. I had chest pains, wheeziness, eyestrain, shortness of breath. It’s all gone. I feel so much better.”

Phg Selma Carr endured the misery of hay fever for three years. “I’d never want to go through that again,” she shudders. “The doctor gave me this pump, but it didn’t really work. Then I was talking to Jerry one day and I started taking his treatment last year. It’s May now and I used to have to start taking sprays for hay fever in February, but I’m fine and it seems so natural.”

Postwoman Margaret Amissah was also reassured by the naturalness of the powder when she gave it to her eleven year old daughter Anastasia. “She had asthma and very severe hay fever in summer – really badly itchy eyes and she really is cured now.”

George Gyamfi, a postman at Nine Elms, had difficulty breathing and medicine prescribed by his doctor was no help. He mixed some Yamoa powder with honey and says: “ my problems had disappeared by the time I reached the last spoonful and I’ve not had any since.”

Fellow Ghanaian postman Vincent Larbi had no hesitation in trying Jerry’s powder when his wife suffererd from hayfever and asthma. “Herbal remedies are quite usual in Ghana, so she was quite happy to use it, and her asthma and hayfever have disappeared.”

One of the most unusual features of Jerry’s powder is that it seems to be a one-off treatment. One bottle mixed with honey or water lasts around a month and apparently banishes asthma or hay fever entirely, as opposed to the lifetime of steroids and other drugs required by a conventional medical approach. Jerry has tried and failed to get large drug companies interested in his product – and he has the perennial problem of lack of financial backing to get the Yamoa Powder tested as a medicine himself. But he hasn’t given up and another company has expressed interest in marketing his cure as a health food.