What is Nutritional and Environmental Medicine?

The clinical and biochemical laboratory services available at Biolab are based on the simple understanding that if the body does not have the appropriate amounts of the basic building blocks (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids etc.) necessary for optimum function, that body will not be as healthy as it could be.

If one considers that the genes of Homo sapiens evolved over millions of years in environments very different from those we encounter in present day industrialised society, looking at those areas of today's environment that differ from what we know of pre-industrial, pre-agricultural environments leads to immense diagnostic and therapeutic potential.

A helpful way of approaching the diagnosis and management of clinical problems is to consider any symptom or clinical sign as a manifestation of the individual's failure to adapt adequately to the sum total of their environmental challenges. An important fundamental aspect of this approach is an awareness of the importance of the protective effects of nutrients against toxic substances, and that adequacy of nutrients is absolutely vital for accurate gene expression.

Nutrient deficiencies and toxic load

It has been clearly demonstrated over many years that individuals can be deficient in one or more micronutrients despite having what most would consider an adequate diet. Individual ability to absorb and utilise nutrients, Illness, lifestyle factors such as alcohol intake, ingestion of medical and illegal drugs etc., amongst other factors, can affect nutrient status with a resultant reduction in the individual's ability to adapt to their current environment.

When we were medical students we learned something about deficiencies of such nutrients as iron, Vitamin B12, folic acid, calcium and potassium, but we learned little or nothing about deficiencies of essential minerals such as magnesium, zinc, manganese, cobalt, chromium or selenium; or vitamins such as nicotinic acid (niacin, Vitamin B3), pyridoxine (B6), or biotin, or of essential fatty acids such as linoleic or alpha linolenic acid, or of specific amino acids. Deficiencies of any of these and many others can result in profound impairment of function of the cardiovascular system, brain or immune system etc., or one's susceptibility to various cancers, or the ability to recover from illness or surgery, or to protect oneself against the many man-made toxic substances in our food, water and air that can cause ill-health.

Biolab Medical Unit provides a wide range of tests that enable the practitioner to obtain a picture of patient's nutritional, toxic and functional status, thereby providing the necessary information to help patients to overcome conditions which have not previously yielded to pharmaceutically oriented interventions.

"Orthodox" medicine and "Pharmacodox" Medicine

Nutritional and environmental medicine is not "alternative" or "unorthodox". It embraces all "orthodox" medicine and places it in the context of the "nutrition-gene-environment" triad, and refines it with the clear aim of improving quality of patient care, and reduce the dependency of prescribing pharmaceutical drugs (Pharmacodox Medicine). It is a very exciting approach, because it gives rise to therapeutic interventions that cause many clinical conditions to improve or resolve that had hitherto been resistant to the Pharmacodox approach.

Dr Stephen Davies

(Medical Director, Biolab Medical Unit)