Basically the field of Environmental Medicine has gone largely unnoticed by traditional medicine until recently when some of the principals are sneaking their way into the lay literature and being brought by patients to their regular doctors. Without going into great detail it is a field that has been around for 75 years. Dr. Rinkle in the 1930’s made a fascinating discovery about the phenomenon of enhanced food sensitivity when dietary restriction or elimination of that food was under taken for at least 5 days.
Rinkle had been poor and as a young adult they lived on eggs (specifically 144 were delivered per week to his family home)! As a physician he wondered if some of his persistent runny nose and inflammation could be related to egg allergy. So he ate many eggs all at once and nothing happened. Conversely when he tried removing eggs for a week he had a severe reaction when he ate Angel Food cake with eggs in it – in that he passed out!
He subsequently developed an understanding for allergy testing that took advantage of eliminating foods from the diet and then challenging a person with those foods at the end of the week to see what reaction they would have. Extreme fatigue, diarrhea, mood change and erratic behavior are all now known in our field to be reactions to ‘allergic ‘ foods. This is a free method you can use to determine your ‘allergic; foods.
Later, provocation and neutralization allergy testing was perfected and still is used today as a means for lowering a person’s ‘Total Load’ and decreasing their reactivity to many foods, as well as inhalants (cat dander, pollen, molds), chemicals, viruses and even their own neurotransmitters. This treatment method is not yet understood as to it’s mechanism but may have its effect through the autonomic nervous system. It is not based on traditional IgE allergic response. It takes into account other ways the body reacts to substances beyond the release of histamine and is much more effective , in my mind, for a person who is becoming environmentally overloaded. Many ENT physicians also use this method.
Theron Randolf later came along (based in Chicago) and is known now as the father of Environmental Medicine. He also noticed that some of his patients besides having sensitivity to foods also had developed sensitivity to pollutants and chemicals like pesticides. One of his patients was sensitive to apples – and then they noticed he was not sensitive to organic apples that had not been sprayed with pesticides.
William Rea M. D. has followed after Randolph, having been treated by him 40 years ago for pesticide exposure. Dr. Rea runs the Environmental Health Center of Dallas and has treated over 30,000 patients thus far. Dr. Rea started in a career in cardiovascular surgery and has become the foremost exert on Chemical Sensitivity – taking on the sickest patients in the world. He has just been awarded a grant from congress to treat Gulf War Veterans this year – a great step forward.
Many of us are doctors whom he has treated who, if they become well enough, also continue in this field of medicine – as I hope to one day. Most of these doctors who have become sick are not well enough to return to practice in a normal hospital setting. We often require, charcoal filtered air while indoors and a paucity of harsh cleaning products in order to function optimally. We may not tolerate florescent lighting well enough to work under it all day, nor CRT computers, or even patients wearing perfume and hairspray. We (those of us who are chemically sensitive) have to practice in environmental clinics for both the patient’s benefit as well as ourselves. In fact, I have difficulty attending medical conferences were all the other physicians wear these products.
Many other physicians have contributed greatly to the field and I would like to suggest Dr. Randolph’s book to learn more about the history. Beginnings and Bibliographies.