A Primer on Environmental Medicine

In a world that has become increasingly toxic, the earth’s seven billion inhabitants are exposed to undetermined levels of chemicals and pollutants every day. Regardless of how industrialized the country may be or how clean a house looks, it is difficult to escape the influence and short or long-term effects of these chemicals and toxins that infiltrate the food, water and even air supply of the planet. Toxic substances from many different industrialized products run rampant in the environment, poisoning everything they come in contact with. Pollutants and chemicals have become engrained in everything from the plants and produce humans eat to animal byproducts. This is why so many new health problems have cropped up and become increasingly more dangerous all the time.

The interconnectedness of human existence with chemical toxins has given rise to a new branch of medicine called Environmental Medicine.

A Definition

Environmental Medicine studies and explores the interaction between people and the environment. It is no surprise that humans develop health problems facilitated by contact with chemicals and other pollutants in everyday life. Several diseases which were not traditionally connected with environmental triggers (such as Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity, or ADHD), are now being tied to constant exposure to toxic substances in the environment.

Differences From Traditional Medicine

Environmental Medicine is a radical departure from conventional medical thinking; especially in understanding and treating chronic diseases. The traditional view held by most doctors diagnosing a patient with an unexplained chronic medical condition takes a perspective that espouses a breakdown of the patient’s physical defenses. Thus, they would prescribe medication for a patient diagnosed with ADHD to address the symptoms of the disease.

Practitioners of environmental medicine look beyond the symptoms and try to discover the root of the illness. When they find that the illness is caused by direct and sustained contact with a contaminated environment, the first step would be to detoxify the patient – to rid him or her of the toxins that had been picked up from the environment. A complete treatment plan may only be written for the patient following detoxification.

Environment Medicine is gaining popularity even among respected medical professionals who have always held to the tried and tested protocols of traditional medicine. This gradual acceptance demonstrates that even professionals need all the help they can get when confronted with the task of diagnosing and treating the complex entity that is the human body.