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ALLERGIES: COPING WITH THE MODERN ENVIRONMENT

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Allergies.

In previous sections, we have looked at the basic concept of clinical ecology and at the different stages and symptoms which environmentally caused disease can engender. In this section, I shall explain in more detail some of the techniques which advocates of this new approach have devised to cope with the ecologic disaster of the twentieth century.

The first problem is one of diagnosis. Conventional medicine recognizes the fact that millions of people are chronically ill and that it can offer little for their arthritis, or migraine, or fatigue, or depression but chemically derived pills. Patients with a welter of confusing symptoms are often treated contemptuously, because the underlying cause of their many illnesses goes unnoticed. By its very nature, the etiology of environmentally caused chronic disease is hidden: this is “nature’s medical coverup.” The first job of the clinical ecologist is to cut through the confusion and demonstrate the underlying causes with convincing tests.

Over a period of about fifty years, clinical ecologists have worked out procedures which differ from those used by conventional doctors. Even the history-taking interview is different. I practice “poker-faced medicine,” in that I do not pass judgment on a patient’s symptoms upon first hearing them, no matter how bizarre they may seem. Many such symptoms later turn out to have significance in the patient’s medical history. A chemical questionnaire, which is included in Chapter 19, evolved through many editions and helps reveal a patient’s susceptibility. The reader can take this test himself and get a preliminary idea of his own degree of sensitivity to chemicals.

Treatment by the methods of clinical ecology is safe, inexpensive, and effective. It is based, primarily, on avoidance of those environmental agents which cause trouble. The Rotary Diversified Diet (described in Chap. 18) works well for all types of food allergies and can help those who wish to diagnose their food allergies, as well as those who wish to avoid their development.

The treatment of chemical susceptibility is also largely based on avoidance. A number of simple and inexpensive procedures are described which can help protect the many people who suffer unknowingly from chemical-related problems.

Taken together, the chapters in this section can help any reader to become more aware of his own highly personalized reaction to common foods and chemicals and to begin to take simple steps to deal with a growing problem.

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CASE STUDY: DEPRESSION AND OBESITY

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Allergies.

A similar, but much more serious case was presented by Eleanor Wyckham, an overweight middle-aged woman. Two years before entering the Ecology Unit, Mrs. Wyckham had been hospitalized for depression. She had attempted suicide twice and had been given electroshock therapy. In her case, the treatment was ineffective and caused some memory loss.

Mrs. Wyckham was one of those patients who was aware that her problems stemmed in part from food. “I’ve reached the point where I am afraid to eat any longer,” she said, before entering the Ecology Unit. “Once I start eating, I feel as if I simply cannot stop.” She alternated between binges of eating and fasts or all-fruit diets. Her favorite food in the world, she said, was peanut butter—this was the one item she could not do without. She also loved bread, baked goods, and in fact anything with wheat in it. She had eaten wheat addictively since childhood, when her mother, who was interested in nutrition, became convinced of the virtues of whole wheat bread. She therefore plied her daughter with large amounts of this staple. Mrs. Wyckham, who had a family history of alcoholism, likened herself to an alcoholic, too—in her craving for bread and peanut butter.

She entered the hospital in a very depressed state. After five days of fasting, she was much less depressed. Not surprisingly, in her food test she had a severe reaction to peanuts (as well as to lamb). More unexpected was the fact that she passed the wheat test with no trouble—which shows that food allergies cannot always be pinpointed on the basis of histories or “hunches.” She did have moderate reactions to yeast and milk, however, which are often components of bread.

Mrs. Wyckham was then retested on some of the foods to which she had had no adverse reaction, but this time to foods which had been purchased in a commercial market. There was a definite increase in her depression, after a few such meals. Through the avoidance of incriminated foods, Mrs. Wyckham was able to control both her depression and her weight problem. This points to the fact that the Rotary Diversified Diet (Chap. 18), although not specifically designed as a weight-loss diet, can be helpful in that regard for the overweight patient.

The patients described in the preceding cases appear to have become sicker gradually, after a long period of cumulative exposure to chemicals and foods. Sometimes, however, a preexisting condition is suddenly made much worse by a massive exposure to an allergy-causing substance.

*88/110/2*

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CASE STUDY: PHYSICAL FATIGUE

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Allergies.

Rudolph Garvin was a college student, the son of a physician, who wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. His prospects were dim because of his failing grades. For many years he had suffered from minus-one symptoms, such as rhinitis. He had repeatedly been examined for sinus infections, but none could be found. He also suffered from repeated “colds.”

When he entered college, his localized minus-one symptoms gave way to systemic minus-two symptoms: headaches and bouts of extreme tiredness. These would generally come on around 3 p.m. Tiredness and head pain interfered with his ability to study, concentrate, or perform his tasks. He had to try to sneak in some studying before the head-pain problems became too distracting.

Inexplicably, his fatigue fluctuated and was much worse on certain days. In general, his tiredness was associated with bouts of nervousness, tension, and feelings of frustration. He also experienced brain-fag, characterized by impaired reading comprehension and unretentive memory. For instance, he would read his assignment the night before a class but would be unable to remember what he had read the next day. When he first came for ecologic management, his afternoon fatigue had spread to the morning as well. Even after sleeping for eight or nine hours, he awakened tired. Like many such patients, his sleep was restless.

In office tests, two glasses of milk brought on a headache and a feeling of extreme fatigue. He had to lie down until he was able to return home. This was accompanied by stomach upset.

After eating eggs, on another occasion, he suffered a headache after forty minutes. Milk and eggs were daily foods in his diet. He was therefore taken off these items, as well as beef and peanuts, which were both suspected on the basis of his history. After two weeks on the diet, he reported feeling much less tired. He was then instructed to return beef to his diet for three days, followed by peanuts. His headache and fatigue did not reappear. The return of dairy products and eggs, however, was accompanied by a return of his physical fatigue and pain. By eliminating these foods from his diet in all their forms, he recovered his health. After a while, he was able to reintroduce these foods into his diet according to the principles of the Rotary Diversified Diet. His grades improved, and he was admitted to medical school. Today he is a successful physician.

*79/110/2*

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ALCOHOLISM

Posted on December 9, 2009, under Allergies.

We are so imbued with psychological explanations of alcoholism that it seems strange to consider this problem as related to food or chemical susceptibility. Frequently, however, an alcoholic is not a mentally sick person, in the conventional sense, but a very advanced food addict. In fact, alcoholism could well be called the acme, or pinnacle, of the food-addiction pyramid.

It is usually assumed that the alcoholic craves the ethyl alcohol in his drink. In most discussions of the problem, however, a significant fact is overlooked: few people would choose to drink pure ethyl alcohol, even if given the chance. Alcohol is almost invariably found mixed with other ingredients or fractions, many of them related to common foods. Starting in the mid-1940s, I began to accumulate evidence that it was principally these foods, rather than the alcohol itself, to which many alcoholics were addicted.

This insight was related to developments in food allergy. It was Herbert J. Rinkel, the same man who discovered “masking” and “unmasking” of food allergy, who first diagnosed allergies to corn, in the 1940s. I confirmed Rinkel’s observations in my patients, and together we published a series of lists of foods containing corn or corn products.

Allergy to corn turned out to be the most common food allergy in North America. Why, then, had its discovery waited until the 1940s, years after the other common allergies were described? The answer lay in the very fact of corn’s popularity. Because it was present in practically every meal in one form or another, obvious or disguised, it was extremely difficult to unmask. It was only when we had compiled a fairly complete list and ferreted out the corn in numerous products, in the form of corn syrup, corn starch, corn oil, and so forth, that we could perform adequate tests.

Soon after this, I began to notice that many of my alcoholic patients had corn allergies. Some patients, for example, told me that they became drunk on only one or two glasses of beer or a couple of shots of bourbon. Such patients were invariably highly susceptible to corn or to other ingredients in these beverages, such as wheat or yeast. It dawned on me that it might be these substances, rather than the alcohol per se, which perpetuated the craving for alcoholic beverages and which caused the bizarre behavioral changes associated with alcohol consumption. Since alcohol is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream, it was likely that these food fractions were rapidly absorbed along with it, creating problems for the susceptible.

*62/110/2*

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