Pangaea Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine
interventional natural medicine for rapid, lasting health
Pangaea Clinic of Naturopathic Medicine
#120 - 12011 Second Ave
Richmond, BC
V7E 3L6
(604) 275 - 0163
(604) 677 - 5910 (fax)
The information presented within this web site is solely for education. It is copyrighted and protected as intellectual property. As all physicians have their unique opinions, this information is not to be taken as the opinion of any association or regulatory body.  This website is not a substitute for personalized care by Dr Eric Chan or Dr Tawnya Ward; liability is excluded for misuse.
Articles for your browsing. These are past newsletters emailed to our patients and also responses for requests for information. If you have a specific topic you'd like a comment on, please email us.

Environmental Medicine

Wondering if a food, allergen, or a chemical might be causing your symptoms?

Dr Ward is trained in environmental medicine and strives to identify toxic triggers to illness and then build up the body’s ability to deal with the triggers.

What is Environmental Medicine?

Environmental medicine involves the interactions between a patient and triggers in the environment that cause a poor health response. These triggers may be in the air, food, water, or drugs, and are commonly sourced from the home and work environment. The simplest example is allergy to pollen; more complex examples include chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia related to chemical, food and mold sensitivities.  The concept comes down to a belief that there is a cause for all chronic illness, and that what we are exposed to in food and the environment can have a direct effect on the illness and our health.

The "total load" concept is a fundamental part of the environment medicine approach. Dr Tawnya Ward investigates the "total load" with an understanding that it is usually multiple triggers that are chronically present in the environment that cause a breakdown in the body's natural, homeostatic, balancing mechanism. An individual's risk for developing sensitivities depends on multiple factors, including genetics, nutritional status, total exposure levels to triggers, chronic infections, and emotional and physical stress. By assessing and lowering the "total load", balance and health can be restored.

What techniques can be used to help the total toxic load?

Techniques used by Dr Tawnya Ward include allergy assessment and desensitization, blood and skin tests for allergies, heavy metal detoxification, sauna therapy, IV vitamin C, nutritional therapy, diet therapy, and environmental controls.

What type of conditions respond best to environmental medicine and detoxification?

Chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, and multiple chemical sensitivity respond well, even when other therapies have failed. Immune system problems, including asthma, bronchitis, chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergies, and eczema are candidates as well. If the condition seems to be made worse by certain triggers, such as foods or environments, then it is particularly important to evaluate the "total load" and detoxify or treat accordingly.

Patients who suffer from chronic symptoms, such as fibromyalgia, or chronic fatigue syndrome, with difficult to pinpoint causes might benefit from an evaluation.  Of course the allergic patient will benefit from identification and desensitization of triggers, but patients with related conditions such as eczema, asthma, and migraine headaches can benefit tremendously also. Patients who believe their symptoms are caused by a reaction to some unknown trigger can be evaluated, and if triggers are found, either elimination or desensitization can be started.

For example, in migraine headaches, there is almost always a food allergy component that is important in reducing or eliminating the frequency of attacks. In some patients, there is marked sensitivity and reactivity to chemicals, espeially solvents and their associated smell. In other patients, mold sensitivities and the frequent accompanying sinusitis is an important component to be addressed. Either way, there can be an environmental component that triggers blood vessel irritation. The irritation causes blood vessel spasm, with decreased blood flow, and then subsequently the tissues become edematous or swollen. It is the swelling that causes the headache. The headache itself can be treated  but it is most important to identify the triggers that cause the illness. The patient can then be desensitized against the trigger (if its an allergy), avoidance of the trigger can be done, or oral neutralizing drops can be prescribed. Remember, in the headaches case the triggers or toxins are causing irritation of blood vessels leading the headache, whereas in other patients it might be the tissues that leads to the typical allergy symptoms of runny nose.

Environmental triggers can be:
-Food allergies and sensitivities
-Chemical sensitivities (volatile organic compounds, solvents, sick-building syndrome, heavy         metals, mercury)
-inhaled allergens (pollen, dust, mold, pet dander)

The body’s ability to deal with the triggers depends on:
-balancing for a proper immune response (oral desensitizing drops, allergy shots, rotation                diets)
-alkaline tissue environment (oxidative medicine, diet therapy, nutritional supplements)
-detoxification of chemical triggers (sauna therapy, exercise, chelation therapy, IV vitamin C)

Techniques to search for food, inhaled, and chemical triggers might involve skin testing (serial endpoint dilution), sublingual provocation and neutralization (done orally, without needles), or blood tests for allergies (RAST, ELISA).  Treatments are individualized, but could involve oral desensitization, shots, or measures to eliminate exposure in the environment.

Dr Ward is trained by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine. After an initial consultation, where a history and exam is done, if appropriate, environmental and allergy testing will be scheduled. If sensitivity testing is done in the office, then the individualized treatment dose is determined at the same time, so that the patient can begin treatment.

The cost of the initial consultation is $138. The cost of allergy testing ranges between $150 to $450 depending on the extent and time.

While the following list of conditions is comprehensive, it represents conditions where an evaluation of the environment and its possible effects on the body is just as important as looking at the body itself only. The list of conditions is from the American Academy of Environmental Medicine.

First level: excellent results with environmental assessment and treatment
Asthma, cancer (adjunctive therapy), gut flora dysbiosis, irritable bowel syndrome, Meniere's disease, rhinitis, and somatoform disorders.

Second level: One of the better therapies for these conditions.
Attention deficit disorder, chronic bronchitis, chronic fatigue, dermatitis herpetiformis, dysmenorrhea, eczema, enuresis, fatigue, fibrocystic breast disease, fibromyalgia, infantile enterocolitis, laryngeal edema, migraine headaches, muscle spasm headaches, myalgia and arthralgia, premenstrual syndrome, recurrent otitis media, regional ileitis, rheumatoid arthritis,
sinusitis, ulcerative colitis, and urticaria.

Third level: A valuable adjunctive therapy for these conditions.
Alcoholism, Alzheimer's disease, angina, angioedema, anxiety, aphthous stomatitis, arrhythmias, certain anemias, certain malabsorption syndromes, certain pneumonias, chronic cystitis, chronic gastritis, conjunctivitis, eating disorders, eczema of the eyelids, edema and fluid retention syndromes, eosinophilic gastroenteritis, frequent colds, gastric and duodenal ulcers, glomerulonephritis, hearing loss, hypertension, infertility, irritability, lupus erythematosus, manic-depressive illness, multiple sclerosis, myocardial infarctions, nephrotic syndrome, obesity, other arthritides, panic disorders, parkinson's disease, pressure in the ear., recurrent vaginitis, schizophrenia, scleraderma, scleroderma, sexual dysfunction, spaciness, thrombocytopenia, thrombophlebitis, thyroid dysfunction, tinnitus, various cognitive and memory disorders, vasculitis, vertigo, and vulvodynia.