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Individual Biological Variation

By now the reader will have readily grasped one of the key working principles of clinical ecology which is that of individual biological variation. With such a bewildering array of potential responses to stressors and overload, it is virtually impossible to make generalizations. This is where conventional medicine is going badly askew: it seeks to reduce each individual to a common factor in a bigger overall statistical picture and it just won’t work.

Clinical ecology, on the other hand, views every case as individual and virtually unique. Working with general principles and specific cases is one of the many aspects of our philosophy in approaching disease which separates us from our determined and, at times, belligerent colleagues. We also believe in the power of Nature to fix things, given a chance. Conventional medicine seems to have gradually taken the point of view that when someone falls ill, Nature is busted and Man needs to take over and put it right.

The late Dr Theron, Randolph, one-time doyen of the clinical ecology movement, took the trouble to tabulate the two approaches to medicine, which he called the EXOGENOUS (clinical ecology) view and the ENDOGENOUS (conventional) view.

I summarize his distinctions here for you:

ENDOGENOUS (Conventional) VIEW

Exogenous (Ecology) View

Body to blame

Exterior causes to blame

Collective (statistics)

Individual (case history)



Treats symptoms

Seeks for causes

May add to the problem

Seeks to unburden

Drugs and intervention mainstay of treatment

Drugs and intervention considered further stress

Variations in the DNA sequences of humans can affect how humans develop diseases, respond to pathogens, chemicals, drugs, etc.

The important thing is that it can instruct us to modify our approach to treatments. For instance you know how popular garlic is and how often it is recommended on health grounds. But if we know someone has a SNP that causes them to metabolize sulfur badly, the last thing you want to do is recommend garlic – or brassicas. Worse: people like Suzanne Somers are recommending universally that menopausal women take natural oestrogenic compounds. Yet it is certain, now we understand SNPs, that some of these women will be driven to cancer of the breast or uterus and die as a result of this well-intentioned campaign.

You may have read of a recent trial designed to investigate the benefits of folic acid on heart disease (also B6 and B12). These three vitamins are known to reduce serum homocysteine levels; one of the important predictors of heart attack. The researchers reported that it did help reduce homocysteine but - a nasty shock - folic acid actually increases heart attacks and deaths. My first reaction was that the study was the usual fake research to discredit vitamins. But in fact it appears sound and there really was an increase in deaths. Part of the problem is that the folic acid we all supplement with is unnatural and, incredible though it seems, the German pharmaceutical company Merck actually have a patent on real folic acid (metafolin as they call it). The folic acid on the market is synthetic and not universally tolerated. It’s just another example of the way that unnatural substances are not metabolized properly by some individuals: their genes and SNPs don’t allow it. Simple supposedly-good things can be dangerous to those who do not have the proper metabolic pathways.

All of the above examples add up to the fact that nobody can claim to be a competent healer without comprehensive working knowledge of this new paradigm.

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