Title : Time for a change - to sustainable agriculture and medicine

Key Words: traditional food production techniques, sustainable methods, modern agricultural methods, pharmaceutical medicine, changes in disease incidence, evidence-based approach, clinical nutritional, functional medicine, health generation, nutritional building blocks

Date: Oct 2000


Type: Article

Author: Dr M Draper


Time For A Change - To Sustainable Agriculture And Medicine:

In the industrialised societies, there is specialisation into all economic niches and we have become divorced from traditional food production techniques. We have, in many ways, exchanged sustainable methods of agriculture and medicine for a chemical-based approach. We are, perhaps, at a turning point now, where we realise the limitations of modem agricultural methods and pharmaceutical medicine. Now, the question must be asked as to whether recent changes in disease incidence are due to the broader cultural changes associated with these processes. Are the increases in chronic fatigue syndromes, fibromyalgias, thyroid dysfunction, infertility and cancers due in part to dysnutrition or to exposure to chemicals such as pesticides?

A theme that runs through nutritional research is to follow the model of pharmaceutical research, because this will provide the 'evidence-based' information that will be accepted by healthcare professionals (e.g. double-blind placebo-controlled crossover trials). The fundamental problem with this model is that a clinical nutritional approach may address alterations in a variety of parameters e.g. vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids. The outcome will then be measured in clinical reduction of symptoms or a reduction in the need for pharmaceutical medicines.

We are more interested in developing these combined approaches because they are more in line with the real therapeutic world and also the known biochemical inter-relationships of various metabolic processes and substances. It is not surprising that, if we approach the problem in this way, much of the advice for a diversity of conditions will be similar. Indeed, it is the basis of functional medicine that health generation should be approached in this way i.e. considering the various nutritional building blocks upon which various health maintaining systems in the body depend.