Archive for the ‘Allergies’ Category


Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

In devising a rotary diet for patients, I follow certain basic rules. Patients are instructed in these rules and given advice on how to follow them when they return home.

Rule 1: Eat whole, unadulterated foods. Our ancestors generally ate their food in a simple form, without complicated mixtures, sauces, condiments, and the like. A diet such as this is cheaper, more readily available, easier to prepare, and more digestible than fancier fare.

Today, most of us have the ability to eat both simply and with variety. Culinary refinement, while pleasing to the palate, can sometimes be harmful to health, if it is pursued on a regular basis by susceptible individuals. The overrefinement of foods and their packaging for convenience or longer shelf life have led to abuses. Many people do not know what a diet of plain, simple foods taste like or how good it can be. If a person tolerates beef, he can and should enjoy a steak, a hamburger, or a piece of boiled beef instead of, say, a meatball sandwich. If he eats steak, he has consumed one food—beef. He can then have another food, or several other foods, for his next meal. But the meatballs may contain beef, soy, pork, onion, oil, butter, milk, egg, black pepper, and wheat flour used as a “meat-stretcher.” The bread will contain more wheat, rye, corn oil, yeast, sugar of some sort, caramel, lactic-acid cultures, and assorted chemicals. If the sandwich is topped with catsup, it will contain tomatoes, vinegar (grain, cider, or wine), corn sweetener, onion powder, spices, and flavorings. Mayonnaise will add more eggs and vinegar, as well as soybean oil and sugar (beet or cane).

Thus, what most people think of as a fairly simple meal—a meatball sandwich such as is available in many restaurants or “take-out” places—actually may contain more than two dozen different foods, including some of the most common allergy-causing substances—wheat, corn, beef, beet, milk, cane, yeast, soy, or eggs. Most likely it will also contain an assortment of chemicals as well.

If you are allergic to any one of these common items (and almost all food allergy patients are), you will not be able to discover this fact by sticking to the average American diet. The reason is that you will eat these common foods over and over again, every day, almost without letup. The symptoms caused by one or more of these foods may fluctuate, but they will never really be absent for long, because their cause is not absent for long. If you find that an average meal gives you reaction, it will be virtually impossible to track down the cause of that reaction when you are eating two dozen different foods at a sitting.

Rule 2: Diversify your diet. In addition to eating whole, simple foods, the patient must learn to diversify his diet. The modem marketplace offers us a wide variety of different foods from various climates and cultures. We should make use of this diversity. Yet most people eat the same few foods over and over again, sometimes quite literally ad nauseam. Wheat, milk, beef, corn, beet or cane sugars, and eggs, in their many varieties and disguises, represent the monotonous basis of the American diet. Some people even brag of being “meat and potato men,” who must have these two foods in order to feel satisfied (an almost certain sign of food addiction).

Patients can learn to diversify their food choices. The world is filled with an enticing variety of foods which they can exploit for both enjoyment and good health. For example, few people enjoy (or have even tasted) all of the foods in a well-stocked fruit and vegetable market. They become stuck on certain often-repeated favorites, such as carrots, celery, and lettuce, and bypass what is unfamiliar. Turnips and parsnips are rarely eaten as vegetables in their own right, although they make a delicious dish. Some people have never tasted artichokes, avocados, mangos, or papayas. Each of these can form the basis of a satisfying meal.

Some foods are only eaten on special occasions or in special combinations. Cranberries are highly popular at Thanksgiving, but are rarely eaten at any other time of the year; yet they can usually be incorporated into the diet with little trouble, and in many markets they can be purchased fresh throughout the fall season.

The foods of other countries offer interesting possibilities. Many markets now carry bean sprouts and (soy) bean curd. Bean sprouts can be readily grown in a jar in the kitchen if they are not available in the store. Health food stores usually stock a wide variety of Japanese foods. The larger cities have stores, listed in the Yellow Pages, which sell specialty foods of other nationalities. There is much to be gained by learning to enjoy the cuisine of cultures other than one’s own.

In fact, the Rotary Diversified Diet is in some ways less limited, and more enjoyable, than the supposedly unrestricted but monotonous American diet. It calls on you to eat in a controlled, rational way, but within that plan it offers great latitude for innovation and experimentation with food.

Rule 3: Rotate your diet. Patients are told that they can develop an allergy to any food if they eat it day in and day out and are susceptible to it. This is as true of the more exotic foods as it is of beef, potatoes, or eggs. A colleague of mine once attempted to practice clinical ecology in Taiwan. He soon discovered that the Chinese people of that island had widespread allergies to the foods eaten there, especially soy and rice, but also including others, some of which are rare by American standards.

The whole point of this diet is to let the body recover from the effects of a food before eating it again. In general, it takes up to three days for a meal to pass through the human digestive system. To be safe, we allow four days between ingestions of a particular food.

In general, patients are instructed to have only three meals per day. They can eat as much as they wish, although they are encouraged to eat portions of normal size. If he follows a four-day rotation, the patient can eat a particular food on Monday and then eat it again on Friday. Thus, if he has wheat on Monday, he will have to count four days following Monday before he can have wheat again. Bear in mind that this means wheat in any form: bread, spaghetti, lasagna, cream of wheat, even the breading on a pork chop. It is important to add that, for the purposes of this diet, wheat is identical to rye, barley, malt, and millet. Of course, if the patient continues to eat the average American diet, he could not manage that, since there is wheat (or a related grain) in almost every typical meal. But on the Rotary Diversified Diet, it is not difficult to avoid unknown or unsuspected ingredients in foods.

While four days is what we might call the “legal limit” on food repetition, many patients go on a seven-day cycle. This allows them to eat the same basic diet each week. The diet can be posted on the refrigerator and is easy to follow. All the patient needs to begin a seven-day food cycle are twenty-one foods to which he is not allergic.

Rule 4: Rotate food families. Foods, whether animal or vegetable, come in families. Some of these are fairly obvious: cabbage, kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, for example, all taste somewhat similar and are clearly related. You probably would not guess, however, that they are in the mustard family, which also includes horseradish and watercress. Similarly, you would not automatically know that cashews, pistachios, and mangoes are in the same group or that beef and lamb are in the same family but that deer and elk are in a separate group.

Food families are important in devising a Rotary Diversified Diet. A listing of common foods, grouped by their families, is given in Appendix A, to convey some idea of the relations between various foods.

The reason food families are important is that patients can cross-react to the “relatives” of food to which they are allergic. Thus, if you are allergic to beef you must suspect goat (not to mention veal and milk, both of which are seen as similar to beef by the body—veal being young beef, and milk a product of the female of the species). People who are allergic to potato must suspect other members of its family, including tomato, green pepper, red pepper, chili, eggplant, and tobacco.

Another reason why it is important to be aware of food families is to prevent the formation of allergies by a steady consumption of foods which are members of the same family. If you eat tomato on Monday, eggplant on Tuesday, potato on Wednesday, green pepper on Thursday, and tomato again on Friday, you are not really rotating foods—you are eating from the same food family every day, and this could develop into an addiction to one or all of these items.

Thus, the ingestion of foods which are members of the same family must be spaced, but not quite as strictly as foods themselves. The rule is that the patient must rotate food-family members every two days. Using the above example, it might be perfectly all right to have tomato on Monday, eggplant on Wednesday, and tomato again on Friday, provided that no other members of this family were eaten in between.

If a patient has a known allergy to a particular food, he must also avoid the other members of that food family, at least for a while. Thus, sensitivity to beef brings with it a ban on beef, beef by-products such as gelatin, margarine, and suet, milk products, veal, buffalo, goat, lamb, or mutton.

Rule 5: Eat only foods to which you are not allergic, at first. Patients who are emerging from the Ecology Unit are given a summary of their food-test reactions. They therefore know which of the most common foods cause reactions and which do not.

Upon going home, one of their goals is to test other foods which were not evaluated in their weeks in the hospital. If a new food causes no reactions, then it can be added to the Rotary Diversified Diet to give greater variety to the meal plan.

On the other hand, the diet serves as a perpetual diagnostic screen, helping patients to avoid unsuspected sources of mental and physical complaints. It can readily detect the first signs of an adverse reaction to any food, since that food is not in one’s system at the time it is eaten.

Basically, there are two kinds of food allergies—fixed and nonfixed, or temporary. A fixed allergy is one with which you are probably born, which does not go away with time. These are relatively less common. More frequently, patients can regain tolerance to troublesome foods after a period of some months of avoidance. The greater the reaction to a food, the longer it takes, in general, to reestablish tolerance. The process usually takes from two to eight months, after which the food can usually be eaten again, if used in rotation. Since the incriminated food is often a favorite and is craved in an addictive manner, the hope of regaining tolerance to it offers some consolation to the patient suffering its temporary loss. Until and unless such tolerance is regained, however, the patient cannot safely use an allergenic food. Moreover, it must not be abused by cumulative intake when it is returned. Re-sensitization occurs very readily and very subtly.

One exception to this rule is the so-called universal reactor. As mentioned earlier, such a person is allergic to all or most foods, and will get sick no matter what he eats, although he feels tolerably well on a fast. Naturally, he cannot avoid all foods to which he is allergic or he will starve. In this case, we do the next best thing. He is instructed to eat only those foods to which he has lesser reactions.

In addition, other procedures can be employed to benefit such patients. Some clinical ecologists employ “neutralizing doses” in the treatment of this condition. As was previously explained, a “neutralizing dose” is an infinitesimally small amount of the offending substance. If this dose, placed under the tongue, is at just the right dilution, it will have the effect of turning off a reaction. The same substance in a larger dose will, of course, cause a renewal of symptoms. This seems contradictory, but the effectiveness of the neutralizing dose is attested to by many clinical ecologists.

With the exception of universal reactors, all patients are instructed to keep away from the foods which cause their reactions until these can safely be reworked into the diet.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This is all well and good, says the conventional skeptic, but the so-called results of the Ecology Unit, and of clinical ecology, are actually based on suggestion. This is the so-called placebo effect (from the Latin “I will please”) in which a totally inert “sugar pill” sometimes has curative properties. In the case of clinical ecology the patient wants to get well to such an extent, we are told, that he accepts the physician’s idea that wheat, pork, or some other substance is the source of his illness.

Such arguments are sometimes heard from critics of this new approach, although never yet from a physician who has closely observed our methods nor from a patient who has been treated in the unit. The door of the Ecology Unit is always open to qualified professionals who wish to investigate our methods first-hand.

The impression of those who have studied the response of patients in our clinic is usually the opposite of those who speculate about the “placebo effect”: patients are in fact more likely to respond negatively to suggestions that their illness is caused by some common food. Remember, these are not only frequently eaten foods we are talking about, staples in the diet, but more often than not favorite foods, which may be eaten in an addictive manner. Patients do not ordinarily encourage doctors to tell them to give up cherished pleasures. Nor do they usually enjoy a new interpretation of their illness which may impinge on their freedom.

The discovery of a food addiction can be unpleasant, for it may mean preparing unaccustomed meals, as well as the chance of social awkwardness. Anyone who thinks patients are easily persuaded to give up their favorite food addictants should try to separate a wheat-a-holic from his bowl of pasta or daily portion of bread.

Similarly, a diagnosis of chemical susceptibility is rarely greeted with enthusiasm by patients. It entails serious changes in lifestyle. Few patients look forward to the opportunity of changing or moving their heating systems, for instance. Their tendency is to deny the problem, not to embrace it as one does a placebo. Once a correct diagnosis is made, however, and the patient sees some improvement in his life, he will then often enthusiastically—and rationally—embrace the new regimen.

There is additional evidence that the reactions which patients have to food and chemicals during our testing program are not based on suggestion: blind tests have been performed sufficiently often to prove that such reactions are not dependent on foreknowledge on the part of the patient. Some of the most dramatic of these tests have been recorded on film and shown repeatedly at medical conferences.

Patients have also been given sham feedings through a tube of foods to which they were not allergic or of no food at all, while being told that they were receiving a food to which they were allergic. I have never elicited what appeared to be a psychological reaction from such patients. Invariably, they do not react under such circumstances, no matter how they have been primed with suggestion. In one case, discussed at length earlier, I let a beet-sensitive patient glimpse some red juice on a dish after she was given a tube feeding. The dish was then quickly whisked out of her sight and hidden. She failed to react to the feeding, however. When asked if she thought that the feeding had been beets she admitted that she had seen the red juice left in the pan. The juice was actually from a pomegranate and had been deliberately placed in the bowl in an attempt to trigger a psychological reaction.

Other patients have accidentally and unknowingly eaten food to which they were known to be allergic. In these cases, they suffered the same kind of reaction as during a deliberate feeding, although they would have to retrace their steps to discover the cause. Joan Kowan, the student nurse with the headache problem, suffered such an attack after accidentally eating some butter.

Another case was a physician who suffered from diarrhea whenever he ate milk or milk products. One day he went into a diner and ordered a hamburger and then suffered a reaction. He returned to the diner when he was better, sat himself at the counter, and watched the chef prepare another hamburger. The burger itself contained no milk products, but it was cooked on a griddle still sizzling with butter from the previous order. Even this small amount of a milk product was enough to cause a reaction in him.

Many patients have had similar reactions to coffee, pork, corn, or other foods. Environmental pollutants can unknowingly create symptoms in the same way. Ellen Sanders suffered irregular heartbeats (cardiac arrhythmia) after pesticide was drawn into her apartment by an air conditioner. She became deathly ill, but it was not until she was taken to the hospital that it was discovered that these pesticides had been released, in massive quantities, in her vicinity.

It is easy to theorize about psychological effects and placebo reactions. In the Ecology Unit our primary responsibility is in healing the patient, not in performing double blind tests, for which we have neither the facilities nor the funding. It is possible that psychological factors play some unknown role in all healing processes. Innumerable facts, however, show that the chronic ailments of patients usually have real causes in the material world, many of which can be unmasked through the methods of clinical ecology.

To summarize, it may be said that the technique of comprehensive environmental control in an isolated hospital unit set up for this task has filled a useful purpose. It is especially helpful for advanced complicated cases in which efforts at outpatient management have failed.

There tends to be a deteriorating continuum in advanced and complicated instances of environmentally related illness which sometimes is difficult to change on the basis of office or outpatient management. This downhill course may often, but not always, be reversed by the application of more detailed observations favored by this approach. It is especially useful in instances where home and work exposures are suspected of maintaining chronic illnesses. Once such chronic manifestations have been reversed, the clinical effects of trial reexposures— either in the hospital or upon returning to home or work conditions—often induce acute convincing test effects.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The Ecology Unit (sometimes referred to as the Environmental Control Unit) plays an indispensable role in the diagnosis and treatment of allergies. This unit was established after many years of development.

I first started hospitalizing patients for the diagnosis of food allergy in 1950. I chose complicated patients, whose problems could not be worked out simply by testing with one food at a time in the office. (In those days I employed feedings of whole foods in the office, rather than provocative tests, as today.) These patients rarely ever achieved a “base line” of good health before any particular test against which their reaction could be measured. It was therefore impossible to tell to what extent a particular food, or other environmental exposure, was responsible for their symptoms.

At this same time, I had occasion to present some of my earliest patients with “mental” symptoms to the psychiatrists at the Milwaukee Sanitorium. Dr. Josef Kindwall, chief of staff at this well-respected institution, listened to my presentation and then suggested that I fast such patients, in order to clear the board, so to speak, of all preexisting symptoms.

Six patients were therefore hospitalized in separate rooms and fasted. Each patient soon complained of heightened symptoms and, being inexperienced, I was disturbed by their worsened condition and decided to cancel the tests. In fact, these heightened symptoms in the early part of a fast are now known to be normal withdrawal reactions to addicting foods. Thus the initial attempt to fast patients ended in failure.

In April, 1951, the chemical-susceptibility problem was first described, and so, in the winter of 1953, were the effects of natural gas on susceptible individuals. Considering these unexpected sources of reactions, it became even more obvious that in order to achieve a “base line” of health, it would be necessary to remove a patient to a sheltered environment, in which food and chemical exposures could be thoroughly controlled. This belief was reinforced by seeing an occasional patient who felt distinctly better in the chemically less contaminated environment of a hospital. Some doctors referred to this phenomenon as “hospitalitis,” an alleged “disease” in which an individual craves a protective environment, but I believed the reason lay in the effects of the nonpersonal environment on the patient’s health. In the meantime, I told Dr. Donald S. Mitchell of Montreal about my difficulties in fasting patients and about the need to do so, given the complexity of their problems. Dr. Mitchell, on his own initiative, attempted to confirm this and was able to fast patients for longer periods of time. He discovered that the withdrawal symptoms subsided by the third or fourth day and that after that, the patients generally felt better than they had in a long while.

In 1956, I therefore decided to attempt a hospital fasting program again. This time the experiment was a success, and certain food and chemical allergies were diagnosed which simply could not have been found through any of the office procedures used at that time.

This experience led to a new approach to the diagnosis of allergy-caused illnesses. Since that time, I have hospitalized, fasted, and tested over 10,000 individuals in this manner. Until 1975, such testing was done in separate hospital rooms of a general hospital. Patients did reasonably well in this environment. One problem, however, was that chemically susceptible patients were still exposed to tobacco smoke, perfumes, and other hospital fumes and odors, which interfered with the accuracy and validity of the testing. Sometimes night nurses might smoke in the nursing stations. At other times rooms were chemically disinfected and residues of such agents made certain rooms unavailable for use.

Since 1975, therefore, a separate Ecology Unit has been maintained as a section of a hospital in a Chicago suburb, and it is far more controlled than any ordinary hospital room or ward could be.1

The procedures in the Ecology Unit are an indispensable part of the treatment for allergy. Traditional diagnostic techniques are like a table with three legs. The first leg is the patient’s history, the second his physical examination, and the third his diagnostic tests. In the Ecology Unit, all three of these standard methods are employed, but in addition there is a fourth leg. Often it is this fourth diagnostic leg which provides the sound basis for an answer. Its value has been confirmed by many physicians, and about a dozen are now using this sort of hospitalization in their daily practice. Indeed, in the combined experience of clinical ecologists using these techniques in a hospital or environmentally controlled setting, approximately 20,000 patients have been observed under controlled conditions during the past three decades (see Appendix B for a list of clinical ecologists practicing in a controlled environmental hospital setting).

The basic idea of the Ecology Unit is control. For several weeks, all aspects of the patient’s physical environment are scientifically managed. The air he breathes, the food and water he consumes, and everything that might come into contact with, or enter, his body, is subjected to prior scrutiny.

This technique, in effect, borrows a page from the experimental scientist’s book. “It is a controlled clinical experiment,” Dr. Lawrence Dickey once wrote of the Ecology Unit, “using an individual patient, and has all the validity of a controlled laboratory experiment. Both require control of as many variables as possible.”

This may seem like a big job, and indeed it is. First of all, one must control what the patient brings into the hospital. Plastic suitcases, synthetic fabrics, cosmetics, and so forth must all be left behind. Patients can only wear garments made from natural fabrics, such as wool or cotton, and only those which have been washed many times or which were not originally treated with chemicals.

Patients are allowed visitors during their stay, which averages three weeks. But the visitors are warned at the door not to enter if they are wearing cosmetics or scent of any kind and not to bring in flowers, candies, or other substances that might make some patients sick or destroy the validity of the test reactions. Staff members, like patients and their visitors, are not allowed to wear any perfumes or scents.

Patients are then fasted on spring water for an average of five days. The purpose of the fast is to completely clear the digestive tract of all food, a process which is often facilitated by the use of milk of magnesia or alkali salts.

In fasting, the patient may experience withdrawal reactions in which his accustomed symptoms get worse for a few days before they get better. The arthritic patient’s joints may flare up. The person with a chronic headache problem may suffer a particularly bad attack. The moderately depressed may get a bad attack of the doldrums.

When the worst of the withdrawal reaction is over, however, the patient is tested blindly with several different waters. One of these is the local tap water, and the others are commercially available bottled water (only in glass bottles, never plastic). A new water is tested every three hours, if there has been no adverse reaction to the previous test sample. The patient rates the waters on a scale of zero to ten, without knowing which water he is receiving. He keeps a record of his reactions to the water samples, and the one he tolerates the best will be his compatible water for the remainder of his stay in the hospital. The compatible water is continued on first returning home.

After four or five days, the patient usually feels better; in fact, he may feel healthier than he has in months or years. For example, some patients who have been prostrated by fatigue are able to get up and bustle about. Others who have had pain find that they are virtually pain-free. If the symptoms do not go away, and sometimes they do not, then the fast is prolonged. There is ordinarily no hazard in this, provided that the patient does not have a medical condition which makes fasting dangerous. At all times, of course, the fast is carefully monitored by the medical and nursing staff.

Some fasts have lasted ten days or more. Of course, there are patients whose symptoms are apparently not the result of environmental exposure or for whom even the minimal exposures of the Ecology Unit are disturbing. Such patients may not improve. In the great majority of cases, however, the fast will eventually bring about a cessation of old, disturbing symptoms, and a new sense of well-being, sometimes bordering on the euphoric, will set in. Fasting breaks the addictive cycle of the sick person to the foods and other environmental substances making him ill.

The chemical environment in the Ecology Unit is particularly controlled. Just as there is an attempt to prevent the entry of potentially harmful materials from outside, so too-everything inside the unit is kept as innocuous as can be. This gives the unit a somewhat old-fashioned appearance. The couch in the lounge, for instance, is made of well-worn leather, and the chairs are fashioned from wood and metal, upholstered with cotton or felt, and covered with natural fabrics. All of the bedding is made of simple, untreated cotton, and such things as sponge-rubber pillows or mattresses, draw sheets, upholstered furniture, rug pads, or even tubing made with rubber, are forbidden.

Plastics have also been banished from the Ecology Unit. There are no mattresses with plasticized surfaces, no plastic covers on the pillows, no plastic furniture, shower curtains, drapes, slippers, or handbags.

Initially, there was a problem with the floors. Some of the patients simply did not lose their symptoms, even after a prolonged fast. We finally learned that before the Ecology Unit had taken over this particular space in the hospital, the baseboards had been sprayed with a chemical pesticide. It is virtually impossible to entirely eliminate such sprays. The baseboards and the old floor, therefore, had to go and new tile baseboards and flooring were put down. Since then, far fewer patients have failed to get rid of their symptoms on the fast.

In addition, the Ecology Unit has its own broom closet, and the cleaning personnel use only soap and water. Since there are odors and fumes emanating from other parts of the hospital, it has been necessary to seal off the stairwells, elevator shafts, laundry chutes, and ventilating systems to prevent leakage into the unit. Even the latch holes on the doors were plugged to keep out cigarette smoke. When it is time to paint, the entire floor is evacuated for a week. In addition, large and effective air purifiers are kept running most of the time, despite the fact that the Ecology Unit is located in one of Chicago’s least polluted suburbs.

Despite these precautions, chemical contaminants sometimes do get into the unit. Recently, for example, during the shooting of a film, a solvent-based marking pen was opened. Although the pen was not open for more than half a minute, at the next morning’s staff meeting one of the nurses reported that several chemically susceptible patients had gotten ill at the time of the shooting. The answer almost certainly lay in this marking pen. When the error was realized, the door and window of the room where the pen was had been foolishly thrown open, blowing the fumes across the hall and into the room opposite. The patients who had gotten ill were in this room. It is because of reactions such as this that great strictness is exercised in controlling chemical pollution of the Ecology Unit.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The taking of a medical history also reveals the difference between ours and the traditional approach. Traditional medicine is centered on the body and its various organs. It is called anthropocentric, or body-centered, medicine. A traditional doctor is mainly concerned with treating the body and focusing primarily upon the most distressing physical symptom or “chief complaint.”

In the traditional history, previous medical problems will also be noted briefly, but in general there is no attempt to link seemingly unrelated “nonmedical,” past problems in the patient’s life to the present illness. Of course not— for no theoretical framework exists to make such connections. In general, symptoms and organs are neatly compartmentalized and viewed in relative isolation from one another. The history of a person’s illness is thus seen narrowly, as the history of one particular symptom or syndrome, rather than broadly, as a history of increasing ill health stemming from environmental exposures.

Although the dates of important medical changes may be indicated on the record, the reader of such a traditional medical history tends to be relatively unaware of the long-term progression of symptoms which may have preceded the current illness. In addition, traditional medical histories tell almost nothing about the environmental facts of a patient’s life. The doctor rarely asks about the details of job or hobby, about cooking or heating systems in the home, or methods of insect control used in the patient’s vicinity. To him, these seem irrelevant and outside the practice of medicine as he was taught it in medical school.

If currently available tests show no “organic” disease, the doctor is more likely to ask probing (and sometimes leading) questions about interpersonal relationships, such as problems with a spouse, children, or parents. Generally speaking, however, little effort is made to relate the “chief complaint” to other problems in the patient’s life, and the “medical” facts tend to be separated from the environmental facts.

The basic cause of a chronic illness is rarely exposed by this type of traditional history-taking. Since the doctor fails to comprehend the subtle and hidden give-and-take between the environment and the patient, with its ever-shifting balance of environmental challenge and individual response, he cannot understand the patient’s seemingly unclassifiable illness.

A patient with a long history and a thick file frequently becomes a “neurotic” in the doctor’s eyes, and this judgment is passed along from one doctor to another. In such an atmosphere, doctors tend to become cynical about many patients’ complaints, while patients bitterly reject established medicine.

I call this traditional approach the “ABCDs of modern mass-applicable medicine.” A stands for Analytical: the medical profession tends to chop problems up into neatly compartmentalized specialties, rather than seeing the broad outlines in a synthesized (unifying) fashion. B and C, in this scheme, stand for Body-Centered. The doctor looks at the body but fails to see the environment (mainly physical and nonpersonal) which impinges on that body at every step and with every breath. D stands for Drug-oriented. The traditional physician almost always uses drugs to alter or neutralize symptoms whose basic cause(s) he does not understand. Analytical, Body-Centered, Drug-oriented medicine has many achievements to its credit, but it offers little to the growing number of patients who are suffering from environmentally induced chronic illness.

The history-taking of clinical ecologists is quite different. Whereas in traditional medicine, the taking of the history (which is one of the most important portions of the diagnostic process) is usually assigned to the least experienced member of the medical team (the intern or medical student), the clinical ecologist himself usually conducts his own interviews. Some people think a doctor wastes valuable time by doing this. If important leads are to be uncovered, however, it is necessary for one experienced person to be familiar with the details of each individual case.

Because of the essentially addictive nature of many environmental problems, especially in their earlier, or stimulatory, phases, medical histories can be paradoxically misleading. For example, an untrained history-taker can overlook the significance of a patient’s remark that he “loves” or “craves” a particular food or chemical, and that eating, drinking, or inhaling that item makes him feel better. A conventionally trained doctor or nurse is likely to encourage the patient in the use of such a substance, while a clinical ecologist will immediately suspect it as a source of allergic/addictive responses.

The form of the interview which a clinical ecologist conducts is also different from that in traditional, ABCD medicine. Instead of looking at the body as a collection of various organs and parts, with medical and scientific subspecialties organized to deal with isolated problems which affect them, clinical ecology emphasizes the wholeness of the individual and the uniqueness of his experience. It thus forms part of the larger movement toward “holistic” medicine, which is gaining increasing importance.

Emphasis is put on recording events in a chronological fashion. The patient’s illness must be traced not just to the onset of the present symptom but to the beginning of his overall ill health. This, in turn, must be correlated with significant events in his life history.

Getting the medical history usually takes me about one hour. First, I generally let the patient explain who referred him and why he has come, in his own terms. If he has come because of a well-defined problem, such as headache, I ask him when he started having headaches and let him make any statement he wishes about this problem.

If the patient cannot single out any overriding problem but simply feels chronically ill, with many complaints, I ask him when he ceased being well and started feeling poorly. In other words, I try to orient the history (as the name implies) to the development of the problem in time. However, some people cannot give a chronological history. Either they do not think in those terms or their minds are too clouded by their disease. In these cases, I simply ask the patient to state all of his symptoms according to the categories explained in Chapter 8. Briefly, the categories are: physical localized symptoms: 1) upper respiratory, 2) lower respiratory, 3) gastrointestinal, 4) dermatological, 5) genitourinary. Physical systemic symptoms: 1) fatigue, 2) headache, 3) myalgia, 4) arthralgia. Mental-behavioral symptoms: a) brain-fag b) depression, with or without altered consciousness.

I gather in the data, typing whatever the patient says, without making off-hand interpretations. After about an hour, good clues usually emerge from this narrative, although the cause of the illness cannot be known for certain until actual testing is done.

The medical history is supplemented with forms and tests, such as the Chemical Questionnaire reprinted in Chapter 19. On the basis of the results of the interview, questionnaires, and tests, the patient is then assigned to one of two groups. One group, constituting about half of my referred practice, are patients who are so seriously ill that they must be hospitalized to undergo further testing and treatment. The method of helping such patients is explained in the following chapters. The less severely afflicted, or those who are unable to be hospitalized for a variety of reasons, are diagnosed and treated on an in-office (outpatient) basis.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Connie Mullens was an attractive woman in her early thirties. She appeared to have many of the things which would help to make a person happy: a loving spouse, a beautiful home, a good educational background, and a rewarding job. Yet before she came to the Ecology Unit, she was contemplating suicide. Mrs. Mullens had many illnesses and problems practically all her life, but was completely unhelped by conventional treatment. In fact, her health was endangered by being prescribed amphetamines. Clinical ecology helped her, in part by breaking her dependence on these drugs.

During her childhood, she had had many illnesses, some of them bizarre. She had had asthma so badly that her parents doubted at times that she would live. This problem went away after the family moved to a new house. In high school, she had frequent stomach problems, diagnosed as the result of a “virus.” One such “virus” lasted for over a year.

In college, she demonstrated superior academic ability, got straight A’s most of the time, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. Nevertheless, during this same period a curious sort of malaise started to creep over her, imperceptibly at first.

At times, especially in chemistry lab, she would feel a kind of euphoria. She was known as the chemistry class prankster and would devise complicated practical jokes to play on her instructors. Of course, this sort of behavior among college students is “normal” when looked at in isolation. It is only when seen in the context of her overall development, and the onset of her more serious symptoms, that it begins to take on medical significance. In retrospect, some of this behavior may have been a lesser stimulatory reaction (plus-one) to the presence of chemicals and natural gas (in the bunsen burners) in the classroom.

At the same time, Mrs. Mullens had an increasing number of bad days. On these occasions, she had headaches of ever-increasing frequency and intensity. On some days, she could not get out of bed, could not concentrate, and could barely stay awake. To combat these doldrums, she relied on junk food. She would drink cola beverages or eat chocolate and candy whenever she had to “cram” for a test. Every day she would go down to the drugstore and have a chocolate malt and a piece of pie, which seemed to temporarily relieve her tiredness and headaches.

Because she was, not surprisingly, overweight, she consulted an internist, who prescribed diet pills which contained amphetamines. “With these,” she later recalled, “I could leap tall buildings at a single bound.” She stopped taking them when she realized that she was becoming addicted.

Connie was married in college, but the marriage did not work out, This was mainly because of her irritability, she says. She would throw temper tantrums in the house, fling shoes at her husband, or force him to watch his favorite television shows with the sound off (she was very sensitive to noise). She kept on eating, too; her husband called her the “cookie monster” because of her insatiable sweet tooth.

By the time she reached graduate school, her problems were worse. She now had headaches once or twice a week, but each lasted a couple of days. She began to consult doctors, and each had a different diagnosis and solution. One internist, she says, prescribed twenty different pills, mostly amphetamines. She was instructed to try each of them in turn and keep a record of their effects. None of them did anything for her head pain.

She also saw an endocrinologist (hormone specialist), an otolaryngologist (ear-nose-and-throat specialist), and, of course, a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist analyzed her psyche in depth and at length. He came to the conclusion that, as an only child, she had had too much pressure put on her to achieve. In fact, except for her illnesses, she had had a particularly happy childhood. Her parents were both successful and well-educated and probably expected their daughter to be the same, but did not force her to emulate them in this regard.

Connie could not drive an automobile. If she attempted to she became confused and could not interpret traffic signs or even make sense out of a simple stop light. Rather than look for something in the environment (for example, automobile fumes) that might cause such a condition, the psychiatrist interpreted this problem as a psychological need for perfection. He recommended that she relax more.

After finishing graduate school, Mrs. Mullens undertook a job which brought her into contact with industrial chemicals. All of her symptoms worsened. She got married again and gave up the full-time job.

As bad as all these symptoms were, her condition took a sharp turn for the worse (from minus-two or -three to minus-four) when her new home was sprayed with powerful pesticides, inside and out. Winter came, and the gas-fired heater was turned on. Soon afterward she started to feel so weak that she could not get out of bed. She was depressed to the point of dwelling on suicide. Her new husband would come home each day and find her crying uncontrollably.

Her psychiatrist prescribed amphetamines again, this time for ten days, to bring her out of what he called a “short-term depression.” At the end of this period, she was worse and had developed a numbness in her fingers and a tingling in her limbs. To all of her other problems, she now added a fear of multiple sclerosis—an unfounded fear, it now appears.

When she was admitted to the Ecology Unit, her symptoms were particularly bad. The water fast accentuated her symptoms; she developed a terrible headache and cried almost continually at first. After a few days on the fast, however, she underwent a remarkable recovery. “I got completely better,” she recalls. “I became absolutely convinced that my problem was related to the environment.”

Mrs. Mullens reacted to most of the foods she was given. Some brought on arthritislike aches in her fingers and other joints. The worst food for her was beef. After eating a portion of beef, she told the nurse on duty that she wanted to kill herself. She wandered the halls, crying aimlessly. The next day she said that she felt as if she “had been run over by a bulldozer.”

All of her many symptoms were reproduced in several weeks of food testing. What is more, tests with chemicals in various forms showed that this patient had the problem of chemical susceptibility. Mrs. Mullens has made excellent progress in controlling her food and chemical difficulties. “In the real world we face serious problems,” she has said. For example, it is difficult for her to avoid all exposure to natural gas. The gas heater and range have been removed from her house, but she still runs into them in other peoples’ homes, as well as in stores. In certain shops, she becomes so irritable that she feels like strangling those who get in her way. It is only in gas-heated stores that she has this problem. Despite periodic setbacks, her mental state recently has been cheerful.

An understanding of the food and chemical problem has brought with it many rewards. But it also has added responsibilities. Once, when she was in a hospital for some physiological testing, a conventional doctor “caught” her making lists of her reactions to artificially colored and flavored medicine. He actually took papers which she had discarded out of the wastebasket, read them, and remarked, “I see that you are involved with your symptoms. You apparently want to be sick!” When she tried to reason with the man, who was a gastroenterologist, he said brusquely, “I have forty other cases in the hospital. I don’t need you.” To his amazement, she promptly checked herself out of the hospital.

Mrs. Mullens’ case thus represents both the triumph and the tragedy of treatment by the methods of clinical ecology. On the one hand, like many other patients, she was brought back from the brink of suicide by coming to understand the multiple environmental factors responsible for her reactions. She credits it with saving her life. Yet, on the other hand, the world itself sometimes seems hostile to this new approach. Much yet needs to be done to make the environment completely livable for the Connie Mullenses of this world.

In summary, it may be said that the concepts and techniques of ecologic mental illness are opening up new horizons for patients with the symptoms of depression and related psychiatric disturbances. In contrast to the longstanding artificial distinctions between physical and so-called mental illnesses, both physical and cerebral and behavioral manifestations of allergy/ecology represent different levels of reaction. At long last, large sectors of the field of psychiatry are yielding to medical management based on the demonstrability of cause and effect.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

These are among the most troublesome and mistreated forms of environmental disease. In the following paragraphs, the overall scope of systemic problems related to the withdrawal stage will be surveyed and an overview provided of the complexity of the problem.


The pain may be localized in one part of the head, or it may be generalized. It may occur with or without nausea, vomiting, visual disturbances, or muscle involvement. It can meet the classical picture of migraine, with visions of flashing lights, and a general malaise. It is frequently accompanied by blurring of vision, weakness of the limbs, or pains in the nape, shoulders, and upper back—for this reason headache qualifies as a systemic, not just a local, problem.

Sometimes a headache is followed by a period of relative good health in which no pain is present. This “breathing space” tends to occur in the earlier stages of the problem, however. As it develops, headaches tend to become increasingly common and more severe.


Both fatigue and headache are commonly associated with myalgia, or muscle pain. The frequency of this association has led some doctors to refer to it as the “tension-fatigue syndrome.” While the term suggests that the syndrome is caused by psychological tension, it is most commonly related to food and chemical susceptibility.

Myalgia, although frequently centered in the nape of the neck, may involve many other muscles. Muscle spasms (such as torticollis, lumbago, and sciatica), muscle cramps, aches, pains and weakness, chest pains (through the involvement of muscles of the chest wall), and abdominal pains are all possible symptoms.

Ignorance of the allergic basis of these pains sometimes leads to incorrect diagnoses of pleurisy, appendicitis, and even heart attacks.


Arthritis of all types, arthralgia (joint aches), joint swelling, and bursitis all frequently have an allergic basis and can be controlled through altering the environment, as the case histories will make clear.

fatigue (minus-two reaction)

By allergic fatigue is meant tiredness which is unrelieved by the customary, or even an excessive, amount of rest. Fatigue is possibly the most common systemic symptom caused by allergy.* Although there are many variations on this theme, fatigue resulting from food allergy is usually at its worst in the morning and gradually improves as the day advances. This is due to the daily schedule of the food addict. Allergic fatigue is associated with general weakness, drowsiness, and the sensation of heavy limbs. It is also frequently associated with other allergic responses, such as swelling, headache, irritability, and low levels of confusion and depression.

Fatigue caused by exposure to pollen and other inhalants is also known, but is usually seasonal and easier to recognize and control.

brain-fag or impaired thinking ability (minus-three reactions)

“Brain-fag” is a designation for a rather severe, but unfortunately common, condition. This is the minus-three category, and its symptoms are systemic, but predominantly “mental” rather than physical. Such patients suffer from mild depression, with sadness, moodiness, and sullenness; mental confusion and disturbed thinking; impaired memory and reading comprehension; minimal brain dysfunction; indecisiveness; mental lapses, including aphasia and blackouts; and, in general, the whole gamut of “neuroses,” hypochondria, and so-called psychosomatic illnesses.

All of these problems can occur, but more commonly only a few of them are found in a single individual. The condition may get somewhat better for a while, or it may change back to a minus-two reaction (systemic and physical). But the general tendency is for it to linger or to get worse with the passage of time.

In a sense this is the most characteristic form of food and chemical allergy, for it represents the “bottom-of-the-barrel” for a great many advanced cases.

severe depression, with or without altered consciousness (M1NUS-three and minus-four reactions)

Depression straddles the fence between minus-three and minus-four reactions. In its most severe form, the patient experiences stupor, lethargy, and impaired responsiveness. Childish thinking, disorientation, amnesia, paranoid feelings, and even hallucinations may occur. Apathy, lethargy, and stupor are seen. The patient at this extreme level may lapse into a coma.

The minus-four stage also includes the various forms of “psychosis,” including manic-depressive disease and schizophrenia.

Most allergy patients never reach this extreme level of depression. However, once they do, it is difficult to treat them or even to obtain a history. In the latter stages of this kind of illness, a patient often cannot take care of himself and often cannot even give his correct name, much less a coherent history of his illness. The cause of the problem can usually be detected, but a great deal of family support is necessary for complete recovery. Schizophrenics who have become used to, and comfortable with, state welfare support or institutionalized care often make poor patients and may not be properly motivated to get better.

It should be obvious, then, that the scope of environmental disease is great. It includes many of the common chronic ailments which send people to doctors, although of course other causes of these ailments are also possible and should be investigated along with food and chemical susceptibility. It would be impossible in a book such as this to give a more thorough treatment of all of these syndromes. Instead, four common illnesses will be discussed at greater length below. The first is a physical ailment—headache—which is often erroneously diagnosed as psychosomatic in origin. The second is a physical, systemic illness—rheumatoid arthritis. The third is “brain-fag,” the most characteristic form of illness caused by food and chemical allergy. Finally, the most severe form of the problem, depression (which straddles minus-three and minus-four categories), is examined in greater depth.

The case histories in each chapter should add a human aspect to the rather bare bones of theory and show how even the seemingly incurable cases can be properly diagnosed and treated, and how many patients have been enabled to start leading normal lives once more.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Diane Witherspoon was in her early forties and had started having a problem with alcohol when she worked as a stewardess, more than a decade before. Her excessive drinking continued when she got an influential job in politics and became exacerbated when she got married and had a child. Within three days of giving birth, in fact, she got drunk, and, she says, remained intoxicated for most of the next three years.

This period of alcoholism was preceded, during her pregnancy, by a craving for sweets and a weight gain of sixty pounds.

During her three-year period of alcoholism, she drank a fifth of vodka a day. At times she became so nervous that she shook violently. The only way that she could relieve this shaking was to drink more vodka. She could no longer read, since she had “floaters” in the form of dots, threads, beads, and circles drifting across her field of vision. On one occasion, while bathing her child, she was overcome with uncontrollable rage at some meaningless remark and violently beat the youngster.

After living as a virtual recluse, she managed to drag herself to a local church and appeal to the minister for help. He referred her to Alcoholics Anonymous. AA exhorted her to abandon drink.

None of this seemed to help. She still had “cobwebs” in her head, nervousness, fits of anxiety, visual distortions, and “floaters.” And she still had a craving for alcoholic beverages.

Mrs. Witherspoon drank tea compulsively and began to suspect that it was not agreeing with her. She suspected the sugar she added to the tea, and so she eliminated it, with no beneficial effect. She then tried other beverages, such as herb tea and even plain hot water. Everything seemed to make her feel worse. Her psychiatrist predictably accused her of being “neurotic” about food. (It was not until she came to the Ecology Unit that she discovered that she was sensitive to all chlorinated water.)

A perceptive woman, she began to find clues of her food susceptibilities, although she had never heard of clinical ecology. After eating a salami sandwich once, she felt as if she were about to explode from nervousness. She waited a few days and then experimented by trying salami again. Again she experienced a nervous attack. She did this four times.

Having learned about clinical ecology through a lecture, she was admitted to the Ecology Unit. In her initial interview, she cried constantly and was in a state of nervous exhaustion. After a few days of fasting on pure water, however, she was symptom-free and almost euphoric. When she began to test various waters, in sequence, she had a serious reaction to one particular water. It turned out to be from Lake Michigan sources, the same kind she drank at home and out of which she had made her tea.

Upon testing she was found to have some degree of susceptibility to almost every food tested. We call such persons “universal reactors,” and they have a serious problem indeed. On her second morning, she was given pears for breakfast. “My mind closed down,” she later recalled, “and my brain was floating around as if on water. There was no way to lock it into place. I could not talk or converse. I could hear words coming out of peoples’ mouths, but I could not respond.”

Usually, but not always, one reacts most strongly to those foods which one eats regularly, more than once every three days. Pears were not listed among such foods in her history. Upon further inquiry, it turned out that she had had a pear tree in her backyard as a child and had eaten them compulsively and to excess at that time. It is entirely possible that this early, excessive exposure had left her with a fixed allergy to the fruit.

Her most dramatic reaction was to potato. She had finished her first boiled potato and was eating her second when, five minutes or so into the test, she crumpled over in agony. She later said that the pain was the worst she had ever experienced in her life, worse than her difficult childbirth.

When she left the hospital, Mrs. Witherspoon’s prescription was to avoid those foods to which she had the strongest reactions, try to find new, compatible foods, and eventually try to reintroduce some of her “failed” foods back into her diet. In her case, however, all alcoholic beverages were taboo, because she was susceptible to various components of all of them.

To summarize, the treatment of alcoholism by the methods of clinical ecology has been successful in many cases. It even has been possible to permit some alcoholic beverages, in limited amounts, to former alcoholics, provided they only take compatible beverages, in a rotated schedule. Whether this can be done depends on the individual nature of the case.

Alcoholics, like schizophrenics, need a supportive atmosphere in which to recover. If the family unit is still intact, the patient frequently does very well. But an alcoholic who has no family, and who eats in restaurants frequently, has a much smaller chance of making a full recovery through the methods of clinical ecology. The reason is that most American alcoholics are highly corn-sensitive, and there is some form of corn in almost every commercially prepared meal.

In order to go on this program, then, the reformed alcoholic must either make his own meals, according to his individual needs (as determined by food tests), or have someone with the necessary knowledge to prepare them for him. In practice, these needs could best be met inside a functioning family unit. The homeless alcoholic is likely to leave the Ecology Unit in decent shape, go out to eat, and immediately resume his addiction to com, wheat, or whatever was making him sick in the first place. This “up” phase may last an hour or two, as in the case of Mr. Parsons, before he starts to come down and experience a kind of “hangover.” The experienced alcoholic, however, knows very well how to ward off a hangover—and before long he is in a bar, drinking down his dose of corn or wheat in convenient liquid form.

Similarly, an alcoholic who has not worked out his food allergies along the lines indicated in this book has little chance of breaking the addiction for good, since he is constantly being restimulated by contact with the very foods which lie at the basis of his problem. It is as if a heroin addict were given a small amount of his craved substance just as he was trying to get over his addiction. Yet the alcoholic is unaware of the real nature of his craving and takes the wrong substance unintentionally. He is left with a constant craving for alcoholic beverages and must exercise extraordinary willpower to fight off his physiological need.

The safest course for anyone who fears alcoholism is not to drink more often than once every four days and only to drink those beverages (or eat those foods) to which he knows that he is not allergic.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

This theory was confirmed in the case of Ted Parsons, whom I first saw in 1948. Parsons had been a successful executive, on the way up, associated with a large company in Chicago. After a rapid rise he had become, over a period of years, an alcoholic. He was suspended from his job and actually became a “skid row” type of drunkard.

With his family’s help, he had managed to pull out of this nosedive and had become a founding member of the Alcoholics Anonymous group in his area. But after ten years “on the wagon,” he had begun to backslide. Another interval of alcoholism ensued, followed by a period of abstinence. This time, however, he recovered his sobriety but not his health. When he was not drinking, he suffered from extreme fatigue and almost constant headaches.

In preparing to perform food-ingestion tests with corn and wheat (which from an allergy point of view is virtually identical to barley and malt), he avoided these foods for four days. His fatigue was greatly accentuated for two days as a withdrawal reaction, following which he felt much better. During the test with wheat porridge, he developed progressive nasal obstruction and fatigue, as well as tautness of the nape of his neck and delayed dizziness. Reactions persisted for several days.

Some nasal symptoms and fatigue were still present prior to Parsons’ corn test four days later. The trial ingestion of corn porridge and com sugar was also followed by a progressive increase in fatigue and some staggering upon leaving the office. Fearing that he might head for the nearest bar on the way home, I placed him in a taxi, paid the driver to take him home directly, and called his wife to tell her what I had done. His fatigue increased during the night.

Parsons called me the next morning and commented, “It is funny to have a hangover twenty-one months after having stopped drinking. There is no difference between the fatigue this morning and a bad alcoholic hangover.” He went on to describe how he had to crawl to the bathroom because he was too weak and dizzy to walk, but that his lassitude, dizziness, and uneasiness could be relieved just like that (as if by a snap of the fingers) with a drink.

When he asked, “What is wrong with me?” I explained that he was having a true hangover—not from bourbon, but from corn, its principal ingredient. He had apparently been allergic to wheat (barley malt) and corn, as well as certain other foods, for years without realizing it. His addiction to bourbon had been an attempt to get a high level of cereal grains into his system as rapidly as possible and to maintain that level of stimulation. His more recent headache and fatigue could be explained by the perpetuation of his corn and wheat (barley malt) addictions, but at a much lower, unsatisfactory level, by the use of more slowly absorbed wheat- and corn-containing foods.

By the avoidance of wheat, com, and a few other incriminated foods, Parsons’ headache and fatigue not only subsided, but what is more, his craving for alcohol disappeared.

This craving is, of course, the bane of many ex-alcoholics’ existence. One can, with extraordinary willpower, stop drinking, but it is far harder to conquer the desire to drink. Parsons’ case suggested a possible reason for this. The consumption of other grain-containing foods would perpetuate the underlying problem—food addiction/allergy. Thus, in a sense, the alcoholic is never completely free of his “alcoholism” as long as he is consuming the foods which constitute his addictant.

Parsons, for instance, carried around with him a pocket full of candies containing corn sugar, which he sucked whenever he had the urge to drink. This was, in fact, the standard operating procedure of his Alcoholics Anonymous unit. Through practice, these individuals had found that they could relieve their craving for grain-containing alcoholic beverages by sucking on another rapidly absorbed form of grain. They had, in effect, transferred food addiction in its highest form—alcoholism—to food addiction in a less severe (and from the addict’s point of view, less satisfactory) form, corn sugar addiction. When Parsons realized that he was actually perpetuating his problem by eating this candy, he stopped immediately and avoided all contact with wheat, corn, and related foods which had been implicated.

It was through Parsons that I became acquainted with the members of Alcoholics Anonymous in the Chicago area. In the late 1940s, I carried out a study of forty-four members of this organization. I attended meetings, but instead of participating in discussions (which was forbidden to outsiders, under the organization’s rules), I stayed in the kitchen and interviewed members. Their histories, at least, suggested a strong correlation between alcoholism and susceptibility to the various food components of alcoholic beverages.

What are these food components? It soon became apparent that the study of alcoholism from the point of view of clinical ecology was hampered by the lack of information on the manufacture of liquor. Through much detective work, it was possible to track down the components of various drinks, though some of this information was guarded as trade secrets. Government regulation in this respect was lax, and alcohol was not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration but by the less food-conscious Treasury Department.

Gradually it was possible to put together a comprehensive theory of alcoholism as the apex of food allergy (the term “food addiction” did not come into use until 1952). According to this view, alcoholism is the acme of the food-allergy problem because alcohol is rapidly absorbed all along the gastrointestinal tract, from the mouth to the stomach to the intestines. Food, on the other hand, is mainly absorbed in the intestines, and more slowly at that.

There were four facts about alcohol which did not seem to fit into the theory. Their existence threw doubt on the entire concept. Wanting to obtain pure samples of corn mash whiskey, and other pure items for testing, I called a meeting with the research and technical directors of a major Illinois distillery. 1 presented my theory to them and pointed out the four existing discrepancies:

Why did corn-sensitive patients react to Scotch whiskey? Scotch comes from the British Isles but no corn (maize) grows there.

Why did grape-sensitive patients react to Puerto Rican and Cuban rum but not to Jamaican rum?

Why did corn-sensitive patients also react to apple brandy? The public relations officer of the producer of the brand in question had assured me that no corn went into the manufacture of their product.

Why did corn-sensitive patients react adversely to a popular American brandy but not to French brandy?

The research and technical directors of this distillery had been polite but somewhat skeptical, when I first presented this possible interpretation of alcoholism. But as I explained apparent exceptions to the theory, they became increasingly interested. They not only knew some of the answers but began to fill in some of the holes in the theory themselves.

First, all-malt Scotch whiskey is made of dried, roasted barley or malt, which, from the allergy standpoint, is closely related to wheat, if not virtually identical with it. But blended Scotch whiskey manufactured for export to the United States is blended with cereal-grain whiskey made from corn which is shipped from the United States or Argentina. Thus, persons sensitive to corn could be expected to react to it.

Second, Jamaican rum, like other rums, is made from cane. However, the laws of Jamaica demand that rum manufactured there be bottled on the island, whereas Cuban and Puerto Rican rums are shipped from their home ports to the United States in big hogshead barrels. Most of these were then blended with up to two-and-one-half percent grape brandy before bottling. Hence, grape-sensitive patients could be expected to react to the Cuban and Puerto Rican rums.

The distillery experts were not sure why the patients sensitive to corn reacted to apple brandy, however, and the whole theory was put in doubt when the manufacturer told me that the product did not contain corn. But after testing a few more patients highly sensitive to corn and confirming my earlier impression, I wrote the president of the company manufacturing this brand of apple brandy and suggested that the person answering my earlier inquiry had misled me. In the meantime, I had learned about trade practices in the liquor industry and asked specifically what the source of the caramel was which was used to maintain uniformity of color in the brandy. No one knew, off-hand. But upon corresponding with the manufacturer of this product, they learned that it was made from half corn sugar (dextrose) and half cane sugar.

Fourth, the possible corn content of the popular brand of grape brandy which precipitated reactions in corn-sensitive patients could not be confirmed through correspondence with the manufacturer of the product. But upon visiting their California plant in the early 1950s, I learned that corn sugar was used in its production.

This interpretation of alcoholism has not been widely accepted, either by those responsible for the policies of Alcoholics Anonymous or by those who teach courses on alcoholism. One apparent reason is that many alcoholics were quick to grasp an implication of this theory: namely, that some reformed alcoholics could drink compatible alcoholic beverages as long as they avoided both drinks and foods prepared from those substances to which they were allergic. In other words, a corn-sensitive patient who was a confirmed bourbon alcoholic could drink some wines and rums, provided these alcoholic beverages were free of cereal grains and he was not susceptible to grape, cane, or yeast. The effects of alcohol per se on the body did not seem to be an appreciable cause of alcoholism.

It should be emphasized, however, that the prospect of social drinking of compatible alcoholic beverages is not for all alcoholics. Although such a program may be possible for an alcoholic having a very limited food allergy problem, it cannot be considered if one is yeast-sensitive, because yeast is present in all alcoholic beverages. Also, the person who already has a wide base of food allergy usually also has a tendency to develop new food allergies readily, even though he indulges in a compatible alcoholic beverage in moderate amounts and only once, or at the most, twice, weekly. Not only the foods used in manufacturing an alcoholic beverage but also the foods eaten while drinking must be taken into account, due to the extremely rapid absorption of food-alcohol mixtures. In order to minimize the chance of sensitivity spreading to other items of the diet, all compatible foods—including those entering food-alcohol mixtures—should be used according to the principles of the Rotary Diversified Diet.

The only way to know whether one is actually sensitive to corn, wheat (rye, barley, malt), or other grains, yeast, grape, potato, or other ingredients of alcoholic beverages is to undergo extensive food testing. And only in the presence of a food allergy problem of limited extent (a distinct minority of cases) should social drinking of compatible alcoholic beverages by reformed alcoholics be considered.

In the great bulk of addicted drinkers of alcoholic beverages, abstinence from drinking, according to the Alcoholics Anonymous approach, is still the most highly successful rehabilitation program. However, there are obstacles in the application of this program, because this concept of alcoholism is not widely known.

My interpretation of alcoholism was first published in various medical journals starting in 1950.1,2 This view has also been confirmed by several clinical ecologists, including Richard Mackarness of England and Marshall Mandell of this country.3,4 My list of the food sources entering the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages has been published recently.


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Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Minus-one Levels. As was explained earlier, there are four progressive levels of withdrawal. Of these, the localized symptoms of the minus-one level are certainly the best known and probably the most common. Of the various organ systems involved with localized allergies, the upper respiratory tract (nose, sinuses, and throat) probably is most frequently affected. For instance, the practices of ear, nose, and throat physicians as well as many allergists are dominated by seasonal (hay fever) and perennial nasal allergy. The lower respiratory complaints of coughing (bronchitis) and wheezing (bronchial asthma and its complications) are also very common. Although these minus-one reactions most often occur in response to such inhaled particles as pollens, dust, mold spores, animal danders, or debris from insects, they may also be caused by food or environmental chemicals.

Minus-one localized allergic reactions involving the gastrointestinal and genitourinary systems, also of common occurrence, are most frequently responses to foods and environmental chemical exposures. Allergic skin manifestations are of two types. Direct contact reactions usually result from exposure to chemicals in the environment. Eczema from ingested exposures is usually caused by foods or food additives.

From the standpoint of their recognition and management, reactions to inhaled particles (pollens, dusts, molds, and so forth) are far better handled by orthodox medical treatment than those caused by exposure to foods and environmental chemicals. Since these localized allergies are described adequately in most other books on allergy, they will not be emphasized in this presentation, although it should be restated that most cases of hay fever and other local allergies can be benefitted by the methods outlined here.

Minus-two Levels. Minus-two reactions are systemic, or more generalized, reactions. These will be emphasized in this book both because of their common occurrence and because their environmental causes—especially common foods and chemical exposures—are so rarely recognized. The major manifestations are fatigue and pain, especially headache, and muscle and joint aches and pains.

Minus-three and Minus-four Levels. In contrast to minus-one and minus-two withdrawal levels characterized by physical symptoms, minus-three and minus-four levels are concerned with mental and behavioral responses. Minus-three, called “brain-fag,” is characterized by mental confusion and relatively less severe depression. Complaints in this category are most commonly regarded as psychological and are rarely handled from the standpoint of their environmental origin. This brain-fag level will be emphasized with case histories.

Minus-four reactions include the most severe forms of depression. These cerebral and behavioral reactions, usually referred to as psychoses, may be characterized by abnormalities of perception and consciousness. Although such extreme cases may also be helped by the application of the techniques of clinical ecology, since I am an internist I see relatively fewer cases at this level than do psychiatrists. Despite the demonstrable relationships between many “mental” problems and allergic reactions, ecologically oriented techniques are applied with greater difficulty to longstanding and advanced cases of psychosis, especially schizophrenia, than to less advanced cases.

Before discussing specific cases, however, it may be worthwhile to review briefly the kinds of problems which can be caused by the stimulatory and withdrawal reactions. This will give some idea of the scope of these disorders and the position of specific symptoms in the overall scheme.

Plus-one reactions are usually within the range of normal behavior. The person in this stage is slightly overactive but tends to be relatively happy and symptom-free.

Plus-two reactions include hyperactivity, irritability, excessive hunger and thirst; insomnia; restlessness; nervousness, jitteriness, overresponsiveness, negativism; shortened attention span and learning disorders; vasomotor changes, such as chilling, flushing, and sweating; obesity, alcoholism, and drug addiction.

Plus-three reactions include egocentrism; drunklike behavior, with muscular incoordination; sensations of floating and unreality; anxiety and extreme nervousness; extreme apprehension and fearfulness.

Plus-four reactions include mania, with or without convulsions; epileptic or catatonic seizures; muscle-twitching, jerking of extremities; frenzy, aggression, agitation, panic; repetitive thinking, speech, and actions. (The word “mania” is used according to common, rather than psychiatric, usage.) Patients may have only one of these symptoms. More commonly, however, they suffer from a number of different problems. They may straddle several of these categories by being, say, nervous and jittery (++) at one time and egocentric and anxious at another (+++). Or they may vacillate between one of these stimulatory levels and a more or less corresponding withdrawal level.

Some of the more common forms of stimulatory reactions are given in the chapters which follow. Although hyperactivity and alcoholism will be described, chapters have not been written on the subjects of obesity and drug addiction because of space limitations.

Suffice it to say, briefly, that obesity and alcoholism are basically similar illnesses, ,one dealing with addicting foods in their edible form and the other in their potable form. Stimulatory phases in both instances tend to be relatively prolonged, inasmuch as victims tend to be aware of the general nature of the responsible addictants in both instances, although specific addictants may not be pinpointed. This seems to be especially true in obesity, which is more often related to eating in general than to the frequent use of one or more specific foods. Although there is some habituation involved, cravings in obesity can usually be curbed effectively as a result of the avoidance of incriminated foods.

The basic course of addictive illness is shown in Figure 1. It is believed to start with food addiction, as shown at the base of this pyramid with food fractions listed in the ascending order of their relative speed of absorption (fats and oils, proteins, starches, sugars and alcohols).

From this base, addictive responses to food-drug combinations and drugs commonly occur, as addicted persons tend to seek ever more effective stimulatory effects. Heroin, administered by intravenous injection, has long been known as the apex of addictive phenomena.

Patients may be seen at any stage of this process, involving various combinations of addictants.


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