Why Is Environmental Medicine Important?
Many patients come to the Alternative to Meds Center with symptoms that traditional healthcare providers, other substance use disorder rehabilitation services, and certainly pharmaceutical medication have not been able to address. Far too often, we find that environmental impacts are either at the root of the issue or contributing to mental health symptoms. Environmental disasters often mean disaster for the body and mind.
Environmental Medicine Addresses Exposure to Toxins
Environmental medicine studies the following exposures:
- Exposure to radon gas in the home
- Mercury poisoning, often due to diet, dentistry, or medications
- Lead exposure and poisoning from environmental exposure, including paint, gas, and more
- UV radiation caused by the breakdown of the ozone layer
- Chemical contaminants, including dioxins
- Radiation exposure
- Food and water contamination from pesticides and other neurotoxins
The brain is a biochemical organ that is physically protected by layers of extremely tough structures. The interior nervous tissue is far more delicate and is extremely vulnerable to environmental factors that can bypass these barriers, such as toxic chemicals that can pass through the blood-brain barrier. The brain is sensitive to the vast array of chemicals and toxins you encounter every day, including incidental contact with toxins in the air, water, and food supply, as well as toxins ingested as part of a medication regimen.
Toxins can and will hinder the brain’s ability to operate normally by interfering with the normal biochemical signaling it must undertake every day. Neurotoxin exposures can send brain signaling into overdrive, or hinder its functioning in other ways. This dysfunction is what can begin sending an individual into anxiety, depression, and many other mental health symptoms that are often misdiagnosed as mental disorders.4-6
Environmental Medicine at Alternative to Meds Center
For many years, the focus of physical and mental health providers, as well as addiction treatment centers, has been on treating the patient’s symptoms and not the patient as a whole. The trouble with this approach is that environmental factors that may be behind the patient’s condition are often missed. This can cause issues with physical, mental, and behavioral health.
For example, if a patient presents with trouble breathing and it’s discovered that they have asthma, environmental medicine ensures the provider will consider where the patient lives to determine if air pollution may be contributing to their symptoms. Similarly, research shows a wide variety of toxins can drive hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety.1 Our environmental medicine services in AZ not only consider environmental factors that may otherwise be overlooked but also strive to address them and improve physical and mental health. Holistic cleansing measures are in place at Alternative to Meds Center to purge accumulated neurotoxins from the body for relief.
Exposure to toxins and pollutants at work and during the normal activities of daily life can be among the most dangerous. Because these exposures are so unobtrusive and occur so regularly, it’s easy to assume the resulting symptoms, including anxiety, exhaustion, hyperactivity, lowered cognition, and depression, are just a normal part of life. Many people are then prescribed pharmaceuticals to deal with the symptoms rather than addressing their source.
Treating and eliminating environmental toxin exposure is crucial to restoring neurochemical function and can be instrumental when addressing issues at the root of substance use disorder. Over time, the body and brain store fat-soluble toxins, which can debilitate processes like cognition, balance, impulse control, and even metabolism, which can lead to chronic fatigue, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and more.2,7 At Alternative to Meds Center, we use testing to fully understand the multitude of ways the environment can cause disorders of the body and mind, so we can treat patients by removing harmful environmental influences.
Do Air Pollutants Influence Mental Health?
Air pollutants are of particular concern here at Alternative to Meds Center. Toxins in the air can affect how mental illnesses manifest, as well as their severity. A recent study revealed a 33% increase in psychotic events and a 39% increase in the occurrence of mental health disorders in urban areas with a high concentration of air pollutants.
This study suggests that incidences of anxiety and depression, already common in the US and a major underlying factor for conditions like substance use disorder, can increase because of air pollutants and toxins within the environment. Worse, if these issues are preexisting, they may worsen with the introduction of environmental toxins in the air. Attention to air pollution, both as a preventative step and during environmental medical treatment, can change the lives of those affected.3