The last century has seen huge changes in our environment, in particular the way we produce food and the types of food we eat. The environmental factors we are exposed to vastly differ from those of our ancestors. Our bodies are exposed to the highest levels of artificial chemicals, toxic metals and electromagnetic pollution in our history. For example, prior to 1942, all food production was organic. Human genes have evolved over millions of years in environments very different to those which we encounter in our present-day industrialised society and it is not surprising that our ability to adapt to these changes in the past century has been inadequate.
These factors are compounded by nutritional deficiencies that have occurred as a result of modern farming and food manufacturing processes as well as changes in our bowel flora. In addition, lifestyle factors such as cigarette smoking, high alcohol intake, and ingestion of medical and illegal drugs, can all diminish nutritional status with a resulting reduction in the individual's ability to adapt to environmental changes. Not surprisingly we see a parallel increase in the incidence of allergies and chronic degenerative diseases.
The environmental and nutritional approach to medical problems is based on the concept of cause and effect as well as seeking out the effects of environmental and nutritional factors on the health of the individual. In many areas of scientific endeavour, such as engineering, the whole science is based on isolating the causes of problems and dealing fundamentally with those causes. In medicine, there are some areas, such as the treatment of microbiological diseases (bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc) in which the cause-and-effect approach has predominated and been successful. In other areas of medicine such as the management of most chronic illnesses, the approach has been neglected to a considerable extent and treatments have focussed on symptom suppression.
Thus, headaches are not caused by a deficiency of Aspirin. Arthritis is not caused by a deficiency of Anti-inflammatory drugs. Asthma is not caused by a deficiency of asthma inhalers. Eczema is not caused by a deficiency of steroid ointments.
We consider the approach of investigating chronic illness in terms of causation a highly orthodox form of medicine. The term Orthodox is derived from two Greek words meaning straight teaching (Ortho = straight and dox = teaching). In medical science, explicit teaching should mean that the elucidation of basic triggers for illness should take precedence over the current fashion for the predominance of pharmaceutical suppression of symptoms. There have been huge advances, particularly in the last twenty-five years in determining the fundamental causes of many human illnesses and there have been several thousand clinical papers published in medical and nutritional journals relating to the fields of Food Sensitivity, Chemical Sensitivity, Environmental Toxins, Reactions to Disturbed Gut Flora and Nutritional Medicine. A selection of some of the papers published in this area are available from the clinic.
The British Society for Ecological Medicine (BSEM) is a society of doctors interested in this approach. In the United States of America, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has the same philosophy as the British society. Both societies contain large numbers of hospital-based consultants; board-certified allergists and nutritional authorities. The Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine is readily available and is taken by most members of the British, American and Australian societies.