How Does Environmental Medicine Fit into the 21st Century?

Introduction to Environmental Medicine

Environmental Medicine is defined as the study of the effects of our environment (water, food, inhalants, biologicals, chemicals, metals, physical) on the health of the individual.The process of Environmental Disease can be triggered by a number of factors:

  • Biological
  • Chemical
  • Physical

Certain individuals are environmentally sensitive (genetically- and nutritionally-determined). For these people, chronic exposure, even at low levels, can set off the process. Once triggered, a chain of events is initiated:

  • Damage to immune mechanisms
  • Damage to non-immune systems
  • End-organ disease [Named illnesses]
  • Disability
  • Death

History Of Environmental Medicine

In 1950, Theron Randolf, M.D. was Professor of Allergy/Immunology at Northwestern University. He began to write about Food Allergy and published a number of papers on the topic. He testified before the FDA, recommending the labeling of food characteristics: Corn, cane, sugar, etc. Randolf also first described the concept of chemical sensitivity. The chairman of the Kellogg food company brought pressure to bear to have him removed. This was, however, the beginning of a new field of medicine. First called Clinical Ecology, the field was renamed Environmental Medicine in 1985; now 45 years after beginning, there are 700 practitioners.Randolf unfortunately suffered the fate of previous pioneers. Once you stop doing things the way others do, you’re likely to get into trouble. In Randolf’s case, it resulted in ostracism, “name calling”, removal from staff positions, isolation and insults. Pasteur’s germ theory was not accepted for years. Semmelweis was told “You can’t worry about washing hands before delivering babies.” Recently, Dr. Marshall was considered insane to think a bacteria could cause ulcer disease.

Dr. Rea, a cardio-thoracic surgeon at Dallas EHC, developed Environmental Medicine to maturity. He has led the scientific development of this field over the last 25 years and has observed / treated over 20,000 patients. Over time, the specialty has evolved from addressing allergies to food and sensitivities to chemicals into several specialized categories:

Applied Immunology

  • Extensive laboratory confirmation of immunotoxicological changes.
  • Use of therapeutic tools like Transfer Factor and Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization.

Clinical Nutritional Biochemistry

  • The molecular function of organelles can be manipulated.
  • Mitochondrial biochemistry
  • The “GI barrier defect” with “leaky gut” and malfunctioning transport systems
  • Measurements of our molecular “fuel”:
    • Functional Levels of Vitamins
    • Mineral Analysis
    • Amino Acid Biochemistry
    • Essential Fatty Acid Biochemistry

Applied Toxicology (Chronic low grade exposure/accumulation)

  • Chemical sensitivity
  • Heavy metal toxicity (The Mercury Catastrophe)

Allergy / Sensitivity

  • Provocation / Neutralization
  • SET
  • Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization

Differences In Paradigms

Traditional (Oslerian) Medicine follows a process focused on identifying and treating specific acute illness, or the symptoms of chronic illness. The process generally is as follows:

  1. History of Illness
  2. Physical Exam
  3. Laboratory Evaluation
  4. Miscellaneous Studies
  5. Name the Disease
  6. Treat the Disease
    1. drugs
    2. surgery
    3. radiation
    4. psychotherapy

Environmental (Molecular) Medicine, on the other hand, strives to identify chronic conditions, understand the underlying causes, and provide a long-term resolution. The process starts the same, then diverges greatly:

  1. History of Illness (chronological from birth – how did all this happen)
  2. Antecedents
    1. Genetic
    2. Stresses: Acute infections, toxic exposures
  3. Triggers [Activators]
    1. chemicals
    2. viruses
    3. bacteria/fungi
    4. metals
    5. physical
    6. drugs
    7. allergens
    8. memories and thoughts
    9. social interaction
    10. physical activity
  4. Mediators
    1. hormones
    2. lymphokines and cytokines
    3. free radicals
    4. neurotransmitters
  5. Complex functional Laboratory Testing and Evaluation
  6. Name the abnormal processes, deficiencies, toxins, etc., and identify the root causes of these problems
  7. Remove Toxins
  8. Modulate changes in immune system
  9. Heal dysfunctional organs

The reality is that some illnesses are complex. Thirty-five complaints from various organ systems can’t be solved with the Oslerian fragmented linear paradigm. Especially when practitioners are taught in medical school that if a patient indicates complaints attributable to every organ system, that patient should be sent to a psychiatrist.

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