Damien Downing is a pioneer of Ecological medicine — a systems approach to health.
What I do best, what excites me, is to unravel a complex problem, where toxicity interacts with nutrition and human individuality, to make someone better.
To start at the beginning;
The first thing I do if possible is to run a BodyBio Wellness Report. This includes the basic blood tests that any doctor would do to start investigating a medical problem, but with somewhat more lines of data. It can achieve several things for us;
- make sure there is nothing basic and so obvious that we have missed it (anaemia for instance)
- identify disturbances of, for example, the balance of acid and alkali, that can make everything “uphill” for your cells
- data mine the results to find patterns that the naked eye would miss
- recommend diet, lifestyle changes and supplements to help repair your health
- suggest further areas of investigation
We DO NOT recommend that you interpret or act on this report without competent medical advice.
Download the 2-page pdf on the BodyBio Wellness Report
Who am I?
I qualified from Guy’s Hospital (London) in 1972, and worked in the UK NHS then in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, returning in 1980 to set up a private practice in nutritional and environmental medicine.
Current president of the British Society for Ecological Medicine – bsem.org.uk
Co-founder of the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine, and was editor-in-chief for 20 years until its closure.
Chief Medical Advisor to the cancer support charity Yes to Life – yestolife.org.uk
Editorial Board member and regular contributor to the Orthomolecular News Service – orthomolecular.org
Medical Board member and regular lecturer for Neurolipid research Foundation – neurolipid.org
Over half of UK adults and nearly one child in four are overweight, but vitamin and mineral levels in soil, in food and in our cells are declining. Almost 50% of us recognise some benefit from nutritional supplements, in contrast to many scientists and doctors who reject the common-sense logic.
Oils and fats are vital components of our bodies – never less than 1/5 by weight. 50 years of the saturated fat/cholesterol theory of heart disease (but still waiting for proof) has actually led to deficiencies in essential fats. We were designed to be oil-fuelled, not carb-burners. See my youtube item on this.
Vitamin D from sunlight is the missing link in many currrent epidemic diseases such as heart disease, autoimmune disease and cancer. In the UK most people are deficient in vitamin D most of the time. I have a special interest in the health benefits of sunlight, and wrote one of the first books on this – Daylight Robbery, 1986. I continue to research and lecture on this.
Modern life demands much of the human body and mind. Stress, both mental and physical, can deplete our hormones and our nutritional resources, and disrupt our immune systems.
Environmental toxins damage our bodily systems and trigger disease. They accumulate in the environment, and thus in our food, water, air, and on indoor surfaces. Sitting at the top of the food chain we are subject to the biomagnification effect; we are even more poisoned than what we eat.
The potential consequences include chronic fatigue disorders, allergies, auto-immune disease, autism, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer and more.
Toxicology has always assumed that for every substance there exists a threshold level below which it can do no harm. But that threshold keeps moving downward, even as our exposures move inexorably upward. Some things are unsafe at any level. This applies to electromagnetic fields just as much as to polluting chemicals. My old friend Dr Stephen Davies described the Nutrient-Toxin Interface – the more toxins we are exposed to the more nutrients we need to deal with them.
We are living in an allergy epidemic; UK allergy rates rose 27% in just the four years to 2007. Food intolerances, chemical sensitivities and inhalant allergies are all increasing. Once triggered, the immune system can develop inappropriate and harmful responses to external factors – allergy – and to internal ones – autoimmunity – as well as failing to eradicate threats both external – infections – and internal – cancer, mutations, ageing.
Genomic (inherited) and phenotypical (acquired) individuality determines our ability to cope with all life’s stresses. The human genome project gives us a window into our DNA and its effects on health. We know, for example, that genes which influence our ability to detoxify can increase by more than ten-fold our risk of developing chemical sensitivities and Alzheimer’s, and can predispose to heart disease, cancer, and most diseases of the modern age.
But genes are not destiny; they are really just the dictionary from which the cell can draw. Genes get switched on mainly by the cell membrane (96% lipid) in response to its environment of nutrients, toxins, hormones, stresses… life, in fact.
Chemicals in the body can override this and have epigenetic effects; they can directly influence the switching on and off of genes. This can impair our ability to deal with other toxic factors, leading to a vicious cycle of damage to cells.
How much longer can we afford industrialised medicine? Ecological medicine seeks to develop an ethics of heathcare based on the inward impact of the environment on the individual and on the return loop of individual impact, both of patients and practitioners, on the environment.
How can we heal the person if we don’t heal the planet?’We have a duty of care.
You can download a 1-page info and contact sheet on my practice here; DD practice info 1:14
1988 Daylight Robbery, Arrow Books. The importance of sunlight to health.
1989 Why M.E.?, Grafton Books. A guide to combating post-viral illness. (Co-authored with Dr Belinda Dawes)
2001 Le Soleil Vital. Book; update of Daylight Robbery, subsequently Du bon usage du soleil. Editions Jouvence (French). (Co-authored with Jean Celle)
2010 The Vitamin Cure for Allergies. Basic Health Publications (USA)
2014 (late) The Vitamin Cure for Digestive Disorders. Basic Health Publications (USA). (Co-authored with Anne Pemberton)
Some other publications
2011 How solid is the evidence-base of mainstream medicine? Debate article, FACT (Focus on Alternative and Complementary Therapies) 2011; 16(1): 28-30
2013 Dietary Approaches chapter in Multidisciplinary Management of Migraine Fernández-de-las-Peñas (ed). Jones & Bartlett Learning (USA)