Your body is front and center when it comes to being exposed to a variety of daily toxins including heavy metals, various pollutants, pesticides and naturally occurring antagonists such as sun radiation and radon (a radioactive gas invisibly released from large rock formations).

You can only do so much on your own to protect yourself from these potential health risks hoping that you’ll be able to duck and dodge any physical and/or mental injury that may manifest as a result. Conventional medicine often waits for symptoms to arise before treating an individual but following the many preventative avenues of traditional medicine could stop symptoms before they occur. Three significantly effective approaches to protect yourself from environmental toxins is environmental medicine, acupuncture and botanical medicine.

This combination could encourage your body to strengthen its immune system while deciphering what your body needs to concentrate on to rid itself of environmental toxins through environmental medicine.

Environmental Medicine: Recognize, Avoid and Repair

The four major environmental medias are: air, water, soil and food. Environmental medicine acts like a health detective trying to figure out if the symptoms you may be experiencing could be related to any one or a combination of these aspects.

By following a strict environmental medicine protocol a practitioner, such as a naturopathic doctor, can create a risk assessment and remedy assignment. An example of this protocol as described by Stuart Brooks, Lynette Benson, and Michael Gochfield, in the text Environmental Medicine is as follows:

Three environments

  • Home
  • Workplace
  • Community

Environmental media

  • Food
  • Water
  • Air
  • Soil

Types and examples of environmental hazards

  • Chemical agents (heavy metals, pesticides)
  • Physical agents (ionizing radiation)
  • Biologic agents (bacteria, viruses)
  • Psychosocial (personal, family)
  • Trauma (acute, repetitive)

Means and examples by which hazards may enter the environment

  • Consumer products (pesticides, cigarette smoke)
  • Ecological catastrophic events (flooding, famine)
  • Direct discharges into environment (smokestack emissions, waste discharge into water)
  • Environmental catastrophic events (such as Bhopal, India release of methyl isocyanate)

Exposure assessment characteristics/Route of exposure

  • Inhalation
  • Ingestion
  • Dermal

Dose: a function of the amount of toxin absorbed over a period of time

  • Exposure magnitude
  • Duration (in minutes, hours, days, or lifetime)
  • Exposure frequency (daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally)

Dose characterizations

  • Acute: single large exposure over a period of minutes or hours
  • Intermittent: brief regularly or sporadically repeated exposures over months or years
  • Chronic: continuous exposure
  • Combinations of the above

Once this protocol is linked to a specific symptom such as a skin rash, respiratory challenge, joint pain or something more serious like a mental disorder or systemic disease, then acupuncture and botanical medicine, as one naturopathic combination approach, can be applied accordingly.

Acupuncture as an Environmental Medicine Approach

Environmental medicine determines the environmental cause, then acupuncture can be used to address the fixed result of environmental toxins in two ways:

  • Encourage your body to move into detoxification mode which enhances liver and kidney cleansing while at the same time aids the bowels in elimination and excretion of stored toxins.
  • Assist cellular detoxification processes which could include an attempt at encouraging your body to shed fat, one major storage place for environmental toxins.

One example of how acupuncture can protect your body from environmental toxins was reported by The Healthcare Medicine Institute in August of 2014 stating that,

“Scientists have discovered that acupuncture prevents toxins from damaging the lungs. In an incredible investigation, microphotographs reveal that bilateral electroacupuncture at acupoints ST36 and BL13 successfully protect the lungs from endotoxic shock when exposed to injurious toxic exposure.”

Another study by the Department of Fundamental Research for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, University of Oriental Medicine, Kyoto, Japan, 2007 reported,

“T-lymphocytes [disease fighting white blood cells] showed how acupuncture treatments on patients with malignant tumors showed statistically significantly increases in T-lymphocyte subsets OKT3+, OKT4+, OKT8+.”

Botanical Medicine as an Environmental Medicine Approach

Botanical medicine, especially as an adjunct to acupuncture, can work significantly well when guided by a trained naturopathic doctor. Applied to environmental medicine this is the use of herbs and other plant-based remedies that may help your body strengthen the immune system while assisting in elimination of embedded toxins.

As the basis of so many modern pharmaceuticals used today, botanical medicine includes volumes of remedies and each one’s use should be guided by a professional. These are some popular choices by practitioners for detoxing environmental toxins such as heavy metals and pesticides.

Going Viral with Olive Leaf

This herb has been linked to effectively fighting microbes, particularly viral one of the most elusive and difficult infections to address. In a study at New York University, it was found that olive leaf reversed some HIV-1 infection-associated changes.

The study, published in Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications (8/8/03) stated that,

“We investigated the antiviral activity of olive leaf extract (OLE) preparations standardized by liquid chromatography-coupled mass spectrometry (LC-MS) against HIV-1 infection and replication. We find that OLE inhibits acute infection and cell-to-cell transmission of HIV-1…”

Fleming Would Be Proud of Oregano

Alexander Fleming, the bacteriologist who discovered penicillin would be impressed with the healing properties of oregano. This powerful extract has been called the herbal penicillin of botanical medicine. When a practitioner detects the potential for microbe infection due to outside influence, oregano oil is certainly in the environmental medicine cabinet. Oregano oil has a biting, spicy taste that often needs to be mixed with water when consumed.

In a study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology (5/14) it was concluded that,

“Our results demonstrate that carvacrol [oregano oil healing compound] is effective in inactivating MNV [murine norovirus] within 1 h of exposure by acting directly on the viral capsid and subsequently the RNA. This study provides novel findings on the antiviral properties of oregano oil and carvacrol against MNV and demonstrates the potential of carvacrol as a natural food and surface (fomite) sanitizer to control human norovirus.”

Immune System Propping Trio

Just like prescribed conventional medicine combinations, in many cases, echinacea, ginseng, and astragalus work in unison just as well. Some studies that confirm the validity of these herbs determines healing or protection abilities related to environmental medicine applications.

Echinacea – Published in Integrative Cancer Therapies (12/03), “Preclinical studies lend biological plausibility to the idea that echinacea works through immune mechanisms. Numerous clinical trials have been carried out on echinacea preparations: it appears that the extracts shorten the duration and severity of colds and other upper respiratory infections (URIs) when given as soon as symptoms become evident.”

Ginseng – According to WebMD, “…in a study of patients with bronchitis, a congestive lung disease, ginseng appeared to enhance the function of certain immune components in the bronchi, which are the main airways in the lungs…There is some evidence that ginseng enhances immune activity in patients with AIDS and chronic fatigue syndrome”

Astragalus – The University of Maryland Medical Center cites that, “Astragalus may help protect the body from diseases such as cancer and diabetes. It contains antioxidants, which protect cells against damage. Astragalus is used to protect and support the immune system, preventing colds and upper respiratory infections, lowering blood pressure, treating diabetes, and protecting the liver. Astragalus has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. People sometimes use it on the skin for wound care.”

Acupuncture and botanical medicine in conjunction with environmental medicine is one route your naturopathic doctor may take when attempting to heal symptoms that may be affiliated with your daily surroundings. At Integrative Med Solutions, we will design an acupuncture and naturopathic treatment program that works for you. In many cases, insurance covers portions of the acupuncture treatment. Allow us to support you to achieve optimal health. To make an appointment or find out more about how acupuncture and naturopathic medicine can benefit you, please call our office at 914.337.2980 or Click Here to schedule an online appointment.

*Please Click Here to see a current list of Insurance Companies that commonly carry acupuncture benefits for its members. Please call 914.337.2980 or securely email to verify your specific benefits. If you are emailing, please include your full name, date of birth and insurance identification card number.

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