Desperate times call for desperate measures. Many Nova Scotians were left without treatment for allergy and environmental illness (EI) because the Nova Scotia Department of Health closed its Environmental Health Clinic when a research center was opened at Fall River, Yet many people are too sick to risk taking part in research at the new clinic, and still others have not been accepted to take part in the research and therapy options offered by the new facility . Most environmentally ill people have visited several doctors, before being diagnosed with EI. Many spend thousands of dollars travelling outside their own area or province to geta diagnosis and/or treatment for their illness. Others try to learn as much as possible about their illness through independent research on the Internet, through libraries, health food stores and alternative health publications. Some of the remedies are sound,others might be dangerous. Some alternative practitioners are very good, while others may lack proper training.
A Look At Treatment Options
by Karen Robinson
UPdate March 2000
Sales people, with the best intentions, promote products which sound like the "cure" for EI, and indeed, many of the products are helpful, but some are completely unnecessary, or only marginally helpful. Seeking alternatives is a natural and intelligent choice in the absence of the kind of research and support that should be provided by mainstream health care practitioners .EI patients, as consumers, need to be wary of desperately using untested therapies as there is an absence of information and support. In the end "buyer beware" is as appropriate for EI patients, as it is for the consumer buying an automobile. Some treatments work well in their own right, and some work best as adjuncts to conventional environmental medicine. Some are completely unproven. In the end, as with every facet of life, it is wise to
research enough to be aware of the reliability or risks of a treatment.
Alternative Therapies - the wheat from the chaff
One remedy involves drinking small daily doses of hydrogen peroxide in order to give more oxygen to the body. Some report trying coffee enemas. Another involves drinking watered down urine and gradually working up to larger daily "straight" doses. The theory is
that one's own urine contains substances that will help rebuild the body's health.
Aroma therapy is reported to be helpful for some people, but not to others. This depended upon several factors, including the individual sensitivities of the patient. Flower essences have been said to give help without the "smell" of flowers. There are various forms of massage therapy and energy therapy. There is magnet therapy for aches and pains.
There are magnesium injections, dietary supplementation , nutritional enzyme formulas, and special diets such as Low Salt, High Salt, High Protein, High Carbohydrate, various rotation diets, and more. Local health magazines are packed with options for treatment for all manner of ailment. How does one separate the wheat from the chaff?
In his address on Treatment Options to the NSAEHA Annual General Meeting of May 1998, Dr Bruce Elliott noted that with "some of the pillars of testing and treatment are under challenge, we are all the more called to examine what other innovations are available, and have been showing promise in recent times as those affected attempt to fill the void created."
Dr Elliot mentioned bio-energetic testing as meriting closer examination and cautious
interpretation. He said some interesting techniques including kinesiology, scratch tests, zero balancing, acupuncture, and a relatively new technique called NAET for desensitization to a wide range of sensitivities. Chiropractic techniques, laser techniques to promote sinus drainage, Naturopathy, Homeopathy, Chinese Herbal Medicine, and others were mentioned in his talk.
Dr Elliot spoke of the more conventional treatments for EI, such as Intravenous Therapy using selected vitamins, minerals and detox agents. Although Provocative Neutralization Skin Testing and Antigen Therapy are no longer locally available, it is hoped this will be rectified as soon as possible since many victims of EI found this method of diagnosis and treatment very helpful.
When the practicing physician knows how to alter the treatment to fitthe needs of the patient, Enzyme Potentiated Desensitization (EPD) has been shown to help in some
cases, but particularly for conventional allergies. For some, however, according to the Dallas Environmental Health Clinic, as many as 20% fail miserably and are often much sicker than before treatment.
Mind/body work, sacral cranial manipulation, therapeutic touch, and more active practices such as Chi Gong, Tai Chi and others, have proven to be beneficial even to healthy people. Many patients of mind/body practitioners, report coming away feeling as though they are somehow to blame for their own illness, if they've been unsuccessful in healing themselves, with their thoughts.
As with all treatments, dietary supplementation to re-balance the body's nutritional status and to be sure the body has the materials it needs to detoxify are best prescribed by trained practitioners. The removal of unwanted chemicals from the body, or Detoxification,
should be done with a knowledgeable health practitioner. Sauna and exercise programs are
sometimes coupled with IV therapies. Others involve chelation therapies. Slower detoxification can involve epsom salts baths, or just hot baths, or hot baths followed by cold towels. The variations are many, and this only underlines the importance of having a trained practitioner who knows what is likely to be best in your particular case.
Some forms of treatment have stood the tests of time, such as Homeopathy, acupuncture,
and others. Thus the important question is "has the practitioner undergone years of study with a reputable school, or has he/she taken a few weekend courses?"
Check qualifications. Check references. Does the practitioner belong to a peer-regulated society? Ask other patients for their experiences. No magic bullet. In the absence of a "magic bullet" cure, it takes time and commitment to heal the body, and repair damaged body systems. Reducing the "total load "on the body is something we often hear about. Given the opportunity, our bodies have a natural tendency to move toward health, and the theory is that by lessening the burdens on the body, one frees up reserves to heal. All these treatments are good adjuncts for EI, but can't replace the basics of avoidance, "clean air, clean food, clean water", detoxificataion, and other conventional treatments for EI. Avoidance of toxins and allergens remains one of the most effective means of preventing symptoms and reducing body load. For many with EI this is the key to functioning and healing. One attempts to avoid anything that makes one feel ill or brings on symptoms. Part of avoidance is reducing general levels of pollution in ones life by providing the body with "clean air, clean food, and clean water". This seems a harmless enough task, but is not quite so. Take as an exampl the challenge of choosing between multitudes of air filters on the
market, with sales people each making their own claims. Some machines have plastic
parts, unfiltered motors, polyester filters, glues, and other materials that are best avoided if one suffers from EI. Some "clean" the air with ozone, something that even mainstream
authorities are now recognizing can cause more harm than good, and sometimes
serious harm. (Marketplace, CBC TV) Fortunately, there are several knowledgeable
Environmental Health educators and consultants available who specialize in providing information on "clean air, clean food, clean water" and more. The Nova Scotia Allergy and Environmental Health Association ( NSAEHA), with its long history and large network of EI sufferers, can help provide information and contacts with knowledgeable consultants. See this publication for details on how to reach or join the NSAEHA.
This article has not attempted to be all inclusive. Neither is it an endorsement nor a
denouncement of any of the therapies mentioned. It is hoped that the reader will recognize their own responsibility when choosing a therapy or practitioner. There is much excellent help out there, but the challenge is in the choosing.
Tired or Toxic, Dr Sherry Rogers
Dr Bruce Elliott, AEHA Annual General Meeting Panel
discussion May, 1998
Conversations with patients and practitioners.
Marketplace, CBC TV