NEW ERA IN MEDICINEBy: Jaime C. Cua, M.SNutritional BiochemistAlternative medicine is at a crossroad. For the first time in modern history, more and more doctors are living up to the oath they took when they graduated, “First do no harm” Instead of immediately treating the body with toxic and metabolically disruptive drugs, physicians are working hard to learn new alternatives that allow them to help their patients without hurting them.Wholistic-oriented physicians are now breaking away from the use of drugs by focusing on biologically compatible therapies. Instead of pursuing their practice in accordance with the old paradigm based on diagnosis and treatment of disease, they are now focusing on a new paradigm based on the latest concept of optimum nutrition, biochemical individuality, genetic differences, and system homeostasis.Chronic degenerative diseases such as cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, arthritis and cancer, which have become the hallmarks of human race during this century, are now being extensively researched based in the new paradigm. Advances in biochemical and genetic research support the contention that most degenerative diseases are metabolic in nature and therefore requires an entirely new approach – one that is primarily based on cellular metabolism and optimum nutrition.Nobel laureate Dr. Linus Pauling coined the word “orthomolecular” in 1968 and formalized a new paradigm in medicine. The Greek word “ortho” means “correct and “orthomolecular” means “with the correct molecules”. Dr. Pauling wished to convey the idea that illnesses could be treated by correcting the concentration of specific molecules in order to create optimum molecular environment in the body. Orthomolecular therapy was defined by Dr. Pauling as “the preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentration in the human body of substances that are normally present in the body and are required for health.” Substances refer to food, water, air, and essential nutrients that support the functions of cells.Orthomolecular medicine emphasizes the use of larger doses of nutrients for people whose requirement for many reasons cannot be met by even the most perfect diet. It contradicts mainstream notions that (1) small doses of nutrients are enough to prevent deficiency diseases;(2) doses of nutrients larger than those needed to prevent deficiency diseases are not needed and in fact maybe harmful;(3) diseases not known to be deficiency diseases will not be helped by the use of higher doses of nutrients;(4) people eating a well-balance diet should not and do not need to take nutritional supplements.The recommended daily allowances (RDA) of essential nutrients as dietary guidelines in human nutrition has little value in Orthomolecular medicine. In view of this, more intensive researches are now being conducted to set new dietary standards. To determine the optimum levels of nutrients required for health, it is logical to first understand the meaning of “perfect health.” “ Perfect health” may be defined as a condition of the body in which it is capable of the highest performances, in which it shows the greatest resistance against all noxious environmental influences – Physical, chemical and biological. To establish the necessary data, one must increase the quantity of vitamins in a big group of human population and see at which quantity the incidence of disease becomes the least, or at which quantity certain performances become the best.So long as resistance and performance can further be improved, we cannot talk about perfect health, for to increase resistance and performance means to improve health and health that can be improved is not perfect health. It follows that if we wish to find out whether a person is perfectly healthy or not, we must not allow him to stay passively in a protected home away from daily stress. Instead, he must be allowed to actively live life to the fullest and be exposed to all sorts of challenges associated with modern living. The dose nutrients, the further increase of which would fail to give enhanced protection from stress, would be the real optimum level.Advocates of Orthomolecular Medicine assert that there are series of stages along the spectrum from health to disease. At one end of the spectrum is a perfectly healthy person who shows all signs of well-being such as high energy level, good appetite and digestion, firm and strong muscles, and high level of resistance against infection. At the other end of the spectrum is terminally ill person who shows signs of severe fatigue and weakness, rapid muscle wasting, poor appetite and digestion, unbearable aches and pain, and worsening infection. In between these two extremes are persons with mild to moderate complaints such as easy fatigue, shortness of breath, reduced appetite, frequent headache, localized tenderness, poor concentration and impaired sexual functions. This marginal or “gray” area between perfect health and severe illness is associated with a diverse seemingly unrelated signs and symptoms which are not indicative of a clearly defined disease. They are called syndromes and are usually regarded as minor discomforts associated with daily stress.Unhealthy signs and symptoms are suggestive of sub-clinical nutritional deficiency. They are subtle manifestations of gradual nutrient depletion during period of increased of nutritional requirements arising from environmental, dietary and lifestyle considerations.The first phase of the nutritional deficiency disease is the biochemical stageThe stage wherein certain metabolic reaction inside the cells are impaired due to insufficiency of certain nutrients which acts as coenzymes. This stage is characterized by mild symptoms such as easy fatigue, shortness of breath, dizziness, and lethargy.The second phase is the physiological stagewherein vital physiological process are moderately impaired which may manifest in the form of digestive disorders, irregular heartbeat, recurring chest pain, and cold sweating. This may be accompanied by behavioral and personality changes such as insomnia, depression, irritability, loss of concentration and poor coordination.The third phase is the anatomical stageWherein minute lesions may appear in certain tissues which may manifest in the form digestive ulceration, swollen gums, painful joints, easy bruise and prolonged wound healing. If deficiency state is allowed to continue for a prolonged period of time, signs and symptoms of classical deficiency diseases may appear later. Left untreated, death will ensue unless timely appropriate nutritional intervention is provided.In view of this sequence of biological events, it is logical to assert that health and disease are not distinct entities like white and black but blend together with varying intensities of gray shades in between. It is therefore reasonable to express certain disease conditions using a percentage scale system. For instance, we can designate 0% as non-diabetes and 100% as classical diabetes. It is likely that the classical diabetic of today may have been 80% diabetic a year ago and 60% three years ago. It also follows that there must have been time when the patient was only 10% diabetic.Recognizing that health and disease exist in a continuum ranging from 0% to 100%, it follows that should anyone wishes to improve his or her health, one needs to undertake certain dietary, lifestyle and environmental changes. How one fare in terms of the quantity and quality of life depend on the collection of pluses (positive) and minuses (negative). The trick from the practical therapeutic standpoint is to reduce the minuses as much as possible, or to increase the pluses as effectively as one can. The most preferred option is to reduce the minuses and increase the pluses at the same time. For instance, some logical ways of increasing the pluses at one side of the health equation is to eat a well-balance wholesome diet, take optimum amounts of dietary supplements, engage in regular exercise and find more time to relax or sleep. To further enhance one’s health, some effective ways of decreasing the minuses is to avoid highly processed food, stay away from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol, and to reduce ones workload to manageable level.In order to prevent and treat modern degenerative diseases more effectively, one must not categorize health and disease in a single factor equation. For instance, we must not insist that only calcium deficiency (one cause) causes osteoporosis (one effect) and that only iron supplementation (one pill) will cure anemia (one ill). In reality, health and disease is the result of multiple factors that synergistically influence the rate of recovery or progression of a disease. For example, in order to treat adult-onset diabetes, we must not rely exclusively on sugar-lowering drugs and sugar-restricted diet to control blood sugar level. We must also strive to support the structure and function of insulin-producing pancreas through optimum nutrition, regular exercise, adequate rest, clean environment and healthy living habits as integral part of a comprehensive diabetes management program.Aside from advocating the use dietary supplements as the most practical way to achieve optimum health, Orthomolecular practitioner also emphasizes the importance of natural wholesome food in balance proportion. To ensure a balance diet, one must eat food which is in themselves balance. Whole grains, fruits (with seeds), nuts and leaves are balance because they contain all the protein, fat, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals originally present and adequate to create new life. There should also be no fear of eating eggs and avocado which are whole food. From an Orthomolecular point if view, combining food from every food groups does not necessary constitute a balance diet. Imagine eating a “balance diet” consisting of hamburger sandwich, French fries, apple pie and milk shake. Does it follow that a person eating this “balance diet” would be nutritionally adequate?Creating an optimum molecular environment for all living cells and tissues to function optimally is the main goal of Orthomolecular Medicine. With its immense therapeutic potential, safety record, and comparatively low cost, Orthomolecular Medicine is rapidly growing and getting the attention it deserves from both the scientific community and general public as a cost-effective practice of health care.