Examples (Down's syndrome and cystic fibrosis) of the environmental approach which can be applied to any problem

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So often I see children born with some sort of problem present from birth to which all subsequent problems get ascribed without further consideration. So for example children born with Down's syndrome may have their poor scholastic performance put down to their Down's and no investigation of their thyroid gland is made. Under-active thyroid is common in Down's and a cause of failure to grow, poor mental development and obesity.

Any congenital problem can be treated with the environmental approach to medicine - that is to say try to identify vitamin or mineral imbalances, any allergy problems or toxic stress, or hormone imbalances. Rich rewards are to be had since the child is developing fast and minor changes can have major impacts.

I have just chosen to look at two common examples of problems to illustrate the general approach and the scope of the environmental approach to treating disease.

Down's syndrome

I was fascinated to discover a book by Henry Turkel[1] which essentially is the environmental approach. He treated many hundreds of children with Down's Syndrome by paying attention to thyroid function (T4, T3 and TSH) and high dose micronutrients. He used some drugs to treat symptoms such as water retention and catarrh, although my feeling is that these are probably allergy symptoms which could be treated through diet. So for a patient with Down's syndrome I would:

Apply The general approach to maintaining and restoring good health

Cystic fibrosis

Again there is much that both conventional medicine and the environmental approach can offer. The problems for these children are:

  • Excessive production of a particularly sticky catarrh which blocks up the lungs causing recurrent chest infections.
  • Blocking up of the pancreas so that enzyme production is impaired (causing malabsorption in 95% of patients).
  • Defect in chloride transport in sweat glands and the lung, thereby also increasing the risk of lung infections.

These problems result in an inability to absorb fats with deficiencies in fat soluble enzymes and essential fatty acids. Fatty stools cause malabsorption of calcium and magnesium. Many of the other problems of CF patients such as poor immunity, bronchospasm (asthma), heart problems, diabetes, poor growth, delayed puberty and abnormal genital development are due to these micronutrient deficiencies. Because of recurrent courses of antibiotics, yeast infections are common. Using digestive enzymes is essential, but using nutritional supplements and measuring levels to ensure these is equally important. So:

  • Take digestive enzymes, bile salts and magnesium carbonate one hour after food. See Pancreatic exocrine function
  • Supplement with high doses of evening primrose (NHS prescription) and cod liver oil (also contains vitamins A and D). I would use 4 grams of each daily. A lack of EFAs impairs the immune system and increases the risk of getting infection.
  • Take double doses of vitamins and minerals (see Nutritional Supplements). Any deficiency will impair the immune system. Good levels of chromium protect against sugar intolerance and diabetes developing.
  • Take vitamin E. This is a common deficiency in cystic fibrosis and may cause heart disease. I would use 200mgs daily (50mg under age of 1). Available on NHS prescription.
  • Magnesium deficiency is extremely common and should be treated as deficiency results in heart disease, bronchospasm and immune incompetence. See Magnesium - treating a deficiency
  • Use probiotics to maintain the gut flora which is likely to be upset by recurrent doses of antibiotics and poor digestion. See Probiotics and Kefir
  • Check the thyroid gland, T4 T3 and TSH. See Thyroid profile: free T3, free T4 and TSH
  • Antioxidant profile - See Antioxidant status profile

All these levels should be monitored regularly as they are difficult to correct and high doses of micronutrients may be required.

A comprehensive digestive stool analysis (see Comprehensive Digestive Stool Analysis) to look at how well food is being digested (with the aid of pancreatic enzymes) and the gut flora is also very useful. I learned recently that NHS prescription enzymes such as Creon are high in phthalates and methacrylates - nasty toxic chemicals - so do check!

When food is poorly digested it is often fermented. See Fermentation in the gut and CFS

At some stage sputum cultures need sending off to determine which bugs may be causing the recurrent chest infections so that the appropriate antibiotic can always be to hand. See Chronic obstructive airways disease - the sufferer is nearly always short of breath.

Related Tests

Related Articles

References

  1. "The Medical Treatment of Down's Syndrome and Genetic Diseases", Henry Turkel, Ubiotica 19145 West Nine Mle Road, Southfield, M1 48075

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