Environmental Medicine’s focus is on how we interact with our environment and how those interactions can affect our health. It is not something that many doctors know much about, so you are unlikely to hear about it from your conventional doctor. Environmental medicine looks for the underlying cause of seemingly unconnected things. They are usually conditions that are not helped, or minimally helped, by conventional treatment. Finding the root cause of environmental problems usually involves testing that insurance does not cover.
Food sensitivities are one of the areas that I focus on in environmental medicine. Many people can have food sensitivities and not be aware of it. Let’s use an example: let’s say you are sensitive to milk and milk products (cheese, yogurt, etc.) Let’s also say you don’t know that you are sensitive. On Monday you have cheese pizza with a glass of milk. The pizza tastes good and the milk washes it down well. You have no symptoms. Tuesday goes by with also no issues. On Wednesday evening you develop mucous in your nose and wind up taking Allegra for the stuffiness. You also get diarrhea. The symptoms last for a few hours to days and then go away. If you don’t have any dairy for a week of more afterward you may notice the symptoms return. If, however, you are like most Americans you will have dairy every few days and keep your body in an irritated, sensitive state. The Allegra will be required daily and it will look like you have irritable bowel syndrome. This is the realm of environmental medicine.
These food sensitivities are not true allergies – they are not anaphylactic responses – they will not send you to the emergency room not able to breathe or with hives all over. However, they do cause a low level inflammation which can contribute to things like heart disease, autoimmune diseases, arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, as well as leaky gut syndrome.
Food is not the only cause of these sensitivities. Your body can have reactions to its environment too. Chemicals that off gas from your mattress, carpet, automobile, or the building materials in your home can cause your body’s immune system to react. Things like black mold, that can appear after an area of your home gets wet and does not dry properly, can be the root cause of problems like these. If these things are not identified and removed from your daily life, they can cause the same low level inflammatory response in your body – and the diseases that go along with it.
Environmental medicine can identify the causes of your environmental and food sensitivities and can give you a way to avoid the triggers long enough to heal your body. If you suspect that you may have sensitivities, please contact me for a consultation.