Breakspear Medial Group is very much a family affair. This is not just because it was inspired, founded and is now directed by Dr Jean Monro and run by her two sons, but because her patients have become an extended Breakspear family.
Breakspear is the last port of call for a distressingly large number of its patients whose return to health, or at least to improved health, can be a long slow process. A visit to the hospital is rather like visiting a club lounge - staff greet patients like old friends, stop to chat about families, holidays or the terrible weather. And patients obviously feel comfortable and relaxed in the hospital's slightly spartan surroundings, where some may spend several hours a day over many months and for some, even years.
Dr Jean Monro
Jean Monro started her professional career as a hospital doctor specialising in paediatrics and neurology, and moving on to general medicine. However, the combination of a scientifically enquiring mind, a husband with multiple sclerosis and two sons with Coeliac disease, eczema and migraine caused her to question conventional - and rather unsatisfactory - treatments for her family’s ailments.
Her attention turned to nutrition - not the meat and two veg., protein, fat and carbohydrate macro nutrition which was the main focus of medical and dietetic attention 30 years ago, but micro nutrition. The chemical building blocks which, although required only in the tiniest amounts, are vital to the efficient functioning of the human body: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, essential fatty acids, bioflavenoids etc. Thirty years ago many of these substances had scarcely been identified, let alone had their purpose or role in human health defined.
Using her own family as guinea pigs Jean investigated what has now become known as nutritional medicine.:
• The identification of micro-nutrients and their roles
• The identification of health problems which can be caused by a deficiency in such nutrients
• Therapy based on not just the replacement of the nutrients deficient in the sick individual, but on the use of such nutrients as therapeutic tools to help the system regain its natural state of stasis.
What was particularly revolutionary about Jean’s methods - and what was to cause her to be shunned by the more traditional section of the medical profession - was that she used these nutrients in massive doses.
Nonetheless, it seemed to work. Her husband’s MS went into virtual remission for 20 years until his death from cancer in 1990; both her sons improved hugely on her medication. Although she did not have 100% success, the patients she treated nutritionally, most of whom came to her with multiple allergy problems, ME and chronic fatigue caused by chemical, heavy metal or pesticide poisoning, made significantly greater progress than they had under conventional treatment.
Her own clinic - and controversy
In 1982 she opened her own clinic at the Nightingale Hospital in Lisson Grove. By 1987 she was able to buy Breakspear College in Abbots Langley and convert it into a hospital. But despite her well documented successes, her unconventional methods and strong beliefs had earned her powerful enemies.
In 1990 a World in Action programme (The Allergy Business) was so defamatory that she sued, eventually winning her case, costs and an apology some four years later. During this difficult period Jean also worked in Germany, training and setting up a hospital (still very operational) along the Breakspear principles. In the UK the original Breakspear Hospital continued to see patients, increasingly in conjunction with the NHS. By 2000 33 health authorities had supported treatments at the hospital while a number of GPs are prepared to prescribe the hospital’s recommendation.
Within the orthodox medical world the validity of nutritional medicine still remains questionable - even though there is now a substantial body of research attesting to the value of nutritional intervention. Not only do the unbelievers doubt the therapeutic value of large doses of micro nutrients but they are concerned about the safety of such procedures. They maintain that there is no body of research which charts the effects of multiplying the body’s normal need for a nutrient by factors of hundreds or, occasionally, even thousands.
Practitioners of nutritional medicine, on the other hand, would point out that there is, as yet, no case of a patient dying from an overdose of nutrients whereas the numbers of those dying as a result of failed clinical procedures and wrong diagnoses mounts daily. But whatever the arguments, Breakspear Hospital has a waiting list of patients who believe strongly enough in what Jean Monro is doing to pay what can be many thousands of pounds for lengthy detoxification, stabilising and restitution programmes.
Breakspear in 2011
These days Breakspear employs 60 full and part time staff including 5 doctors, 9 nurses, 1phlebotomist, 4 laboratory technicians, 2 qualified nutritionists and 1 rehabilitation therapist. The hospital works mainly with patients suffering from toxic overload (such as Gulf War veterans), long term organophosphate, pesticide and heavy metal poisoning, auto immune conditions, MS, ME, chronic fatigue, classical allergy (migraine, asthma, eczema etc) and, increasingly, autism. And - recognition indeed - but sadly, these days, virtually none of them are funded by the NHS. Most patients are acute (seriously ill) and have suffered from their conditions for a number of years.
In most patients, whatever their diagnosis, their immune systems are so heavily compromised by their condition that they have also become sensitized to a huge range of allergens i.e. inhaled, contact and food.
The treatment plan is fourfold:
1. To assess the patient’s toxic, nutrient and allergy status.
2. To detoxify the patient ( using chelation agents and a depuration programme)
3. To support the system with nutritional supplements which will assist with the detoxification and help to rebuild natural function.
4. To immunise the patient against their acquired allergies.
Initially all patients need to be assessed - which may be a prolonged and expensive process. Breakspear now has its own pathology service which works with about 10 specialist laboratories in the US and a similar number here. Allergy testing is done ‘in house’ but since most patients will have between 100 and 150 sensitivities, for which the hospital will test up to 8 a daycosts can mount alarmingly fast.
Allergy testing is: £210/day, £110/half day, £58/part day; pricing structure for first time patients is changing as of 1 April 2011, so that the initial consultation of approx 1 hour is followed by a 15 minute telephone consultation about 5 days later, which is all included in the initial consultation price of £155 (prices vary for some doctors).
1. Detoxification uses nutrients which transform fat soluble material into water soluble material for excretion through the kidneys.
2. Fats, especially good for small children who need extra fats, will bind with toxins and excrete them through bile, the gall bladder and faeces.
3. The hospital also uses a depuration programme for multiple chemical sensitivity and heavy metal intoxication. This includes exercise, an IRATHERM hypothermia bed, showers and massage which help to mobilise fat, increase sweat and sebum secretion, prevent gastrointestinal re-absorption of xenobiotics excreted in the bile, and maximise the detoxification.
Combined with high dose nutritional supplements, fresh organic food and immunisation this programme has proved successful with a wide range of patients including a number of Gulf War veterans.
The immunisation programme, which is carried out in the hospital, is based on a low dose immunotherapy technique. This works on the principle that for every patient there is a dose of allergen which will effectively ‘switch off’ the reaction - anything above or below that dose will stimulate a reaction. Once that dilution has been established, treatment consists of daily vaccinations with the ‘switch off dose’ of the allergen. When multiple allergies are involved, as they normally are, a cocktail of vaccines will be ‘brewed’ which, once the treatment is established, the patient will be able to self administer each day. Immunisation treatments can last from 1 - 3 years (50 vaccines for 3 months cost around £200) after which most patients’ immune systems will be strong enough to cope unaided.
Breakspear does not differentiate between IgE mediated and other allergies. All allergy testing is done in the hospital with full emergency facilities available, although they have never been needed in over 30 years of practice.
Supplementation is complex and comprehensive. However, it has been somewhat rationalised by the establishment of Breakspear Nutritionals through which supplements can be tailored to the hospital’s very specific requirements. Most supplements come from Pure Encapsulations (who, unusually in the industry, provide comprehensive ingredient listings), Klaire Laboratories, Biotech and Jarrow.
These days (2011) the Breakspear Medical Group the main focus, as, even though Dr Jean Monro is still extremely involved in the hospital, the group now has a number of doctors, each with their own area of expertise.
For more information contact:
Breakspear Medical Group, Hertfordshire House, Wood Lane
Hemel Hempstead HP2 4FD
Tel 01442 261333
First published in 2001 - updated 2011
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