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Orthomolecular Medicine

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Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular medicine. Sounds impressive, doesnâ??t it? It really is. This therapeutic approach has been around for decades.

Orthomolecular medicine. Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? It really is.

This therapeutic approach has been around for decades. Even so, mainstream medical professionals treat orthomolecular medicine (OM) as a neglected stepchild, despite scientific studies that validate its relevance and effectiveness.

It was Linus Pauling, Nobel Prize winner, who first coined the phrase orthomolecular medicine, from the Greek word, ortho (to straighten), and molecule (the smallest identifiable unit of a substance). To put it plainly, orthomolecular medicine is the therapeutic approach of "straightening" out the cellular mechanics of our bodies.

Although firmly based in the medical sciences (we’ll only list a few–it would take at least a page to be thorough), a typical physician confronted with an orthomolecular medicine perspective might find himself in a strange land without recognizable markers. Without a proper grounding in biochemistry, cell biology, nutrition, immunology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, food science, agricultural science, toxicology and pharmacology (only a few, remember?), this typical physician would be lost.

Where the average medical practitioner focuses on a solution (frequently a pharmaceutical one) to symptoms, an orthomolecular approach would also deal with the biochemical scenario that created the symptoms. OM focuses on normalizing the body’s cell structure and function. This is generally done by making up for deficiencies and by eliminating excesses, using natural substances typically found in healthy individuals. A patient might be directed to use vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, essential fatty acids, healthy phenolics, massage, light or hydrotherapy, acupuncture or biofeedback. This list of possible treatments is by no means a complete one. The push in OM is toward lasting solutions, which tend to lead away from the pharmaceutical agents that affect symptoms only.

Orthomolecular Pioneer

Dr C. T. Taylor, a physician who practises orthomolecular medicine, was first drawn to this branch of medicine when a patient and friend was diagnosed with a huge cancerous mass in her rectum. When her medical caregivers did not give her much hope, she left to attend an OM cancer program in Tijuana, Mexico. When she returned about a month later, an examination revealed that between one-third to one half of the cancerous mass was gone. A book by Dr Max Gerson, A Cancer Therapy: An examination of 50 cases, was then given to Dr Taylor. Some of the cases involved individuals whose cancers had metastasized to bone. All were resolved successfully. The documentation astounded Dr Taylor and set him on a path of orthomolecular practice that has lasted more than 30 years.

Orthomolecular medicine appears to be a huge slice of the therapeutic pie--the piece allopathic medicine needs. OM is founded on three premises. One is great nutrition; two, great absorption of nutrients; and three, proper elimination of wastes from the body. Together, these form the basis for radiant health. While these tenets are shared by other holistic practitioners, the average medical physician is unlearned in such concepts.

Everybody needs to know the real nutritional requirements for full health. (It must be universally accepted that junk food isn’t it.) But did you know that the vast bulk of agricultural produce and processed foods available in North America is unfit to sustain life? Soils that have been depleted of minerals since the Depression (government-run agricultural studies done in the 1930s confirm this) have not recovered despite decades of chemical solutions. Unnatural and incomplete mineral and fertilizer combinations have not restored health to the millions of commercially cultivated acres which generate North America’s food supply.

The exceptions to these findings are those belts of organically managed farmland. Organic manure and organic composted materials contain the elements necessary to sustain life in the soil. A healthy soil, given the correct natural elements, contains abundant minerals and enzymes. Studies done comparing organic to chemically-grown produce showed that the mineral content of organic fruits and vegetables were between 80 to over 300 percent greater than in that of chemically grown foods. In contrast, the chemically-grown produce contained an overwhelming amount of heavy metals compared to the minimal amounts found in the organic produce.

Organically grown foods are an absolute must for the basis of health. However, there are those who have inherited tendencies for particular organ or body system weaknesses. Take your thyroid gland, for example.

A Molecular Example

You may have inherited a weak thyroid gland–or perhaps you have developed a weakness in your thyroid over time. Should a medical doctor determine that your thyroid is underfunctioning, a prescription for Synthroid (synthetic thyroid) might follow. Generally, a diagnosis of hypothyroidism (underfunctioning thyroid) is given when the symptoms and history of hypothyroidism is confirmed by blood testing. Physical symptoms such as fatigue, low sex drive, unexplained weight gain, difficulty in losing that weight, sensitivity to cold, poor growth and strength of hair, skin and nails and increased digestive difficulties, are not believed to be medically conclusive without medical tests. There are also those physicians whose diagnoses rely almost exclusively on the results of laboratory testing.

Measuring the thyroid hormonal output, however, means your physician must order three blood tests. One is for T4, the storage form, the second for TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) while the other is for T3, the active form used in the body. It is possible to have mild thyroid difficulties while having normal T4 blood tests. However, heavy metals, like mercury and cadmium, interfere with T4 becoming T3. A lack of iodine or selenium will also inhibit T3 formation.

Dr Taylor would suggest a few options: the possibility that you are deficient in selenium, or iodine; the possibility that your thyroid is too full of fluorine to accept (and therefore use) any iodine that you may presently be taking. Tap water, toothpaste and black tea are also rich in fluorine. You would be told to avoid sources of heavy metals: smoking, welding fumes, bone meal, shellfish (cadmium); hair dyes, fungicides, some cosmetics and dental amalgams (mercury), as well as sources of fluorine. In addition, to inhibit the negative effects of fluorine, cadmium and mercury in your body (stopping the metabolism of T4 to T3), he might recommend a diet rich in sulphur-containing amino acids: legumes (peas, beans and lentils), eggs, and garlic, as well as the addition of calcium, zinc and vitamin C.

With the cellular groundwork covered, taking a good iodine supplement and a natural, broad spectrum desiccated thyroid would then be suggested. Considering these possible underlying reasons for your thyroid dysfunction makes the simplistic medical approach of a synthetic prescription a hard pill to swallow.

The Building Blocks

An interesting note shared by Dr Taylor was from the June 1999 convention, Comprehensive Cancer II, which was sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and Centre for Mind-Body Medicine in Arlington, Virginia. In the thousands of cancer cases evaluated by H. Foster, 87 per cent of those with "spontaneous remission" had made major dietary changes prior to tumor regression. Should we wait until serious illness strikes before offering our bodies adequate nutrition?

As a holistic approach, OM is unlike the conventional medical perspective, and views illness as having multiple causal factors. Any given problem, therefore, would require a thoughtful program–and not a single "magic bullet." Each individual, in turn, must assume responsibility for her own health.

So, now we know that good cellular functioning is imperative for our health. Ensuring that your body has all it needs to properly absorb and use the nutrients in your foods (and all it needs to be able to discharge wastes efficiently) is only common sense. If your cells are starved for some basic nutritional building blocks–how can they work properly, let alone generate new healthy cells?

We may believe that only children are in the process of growing, and so neglect an obvious fact: every body is constantly in the act of recreating itself. Every seven years we each have a completely new body. Only upon death does this process stop. If we are alive, our cells are dividing and recreating the best health that they can with the tools they are given.

If we choose faulty and shoddy materials with which to build our cells, how can we possibly believe that we are constructing a healthy body?

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