The Breakspear Hospital in Hertfordshire is one of the few centres for environmental
medicine in the UK, serving those with multiple food, chemical and environmental
sensitivities, and those suffering from ME, CFS and toxic overload.
To enable to them to identify the causes of many of their patients’ ill health
Breakspear use an array of sophisticated tests many of which are hard to access elsewhere. For more information check www.breakspearmedical.com.
Meanwhile Michelle Berriedale-Johnson provides a brief overview.
Just off the dual carriageway on the way into Hemel Hempstead is a typical, edge-of-town industrial estate: a post office depot, a couple of factories, cars crammed onto every verge – and a two-storey glass and steel 1960s building. Not where you would expect to find one of the country’s leading environmental hospitals.
Breakspear Hospital was founded over 30 years ago by Dr Jean Monro, who had originally become interested in nutritional medicine (the therapeutic use of high doses of micronutrients –
vitamins, minerals, enzymes,
essential fatty acids, amino acids etc) as an alternative treatment for her husband’s multiple sclerosis and her sons’ coeliac
disease, eczema and migraine.
(More details on Breakspear Hospital’s history.)
Dr Monro remains the director of the hospital although Breakspear now employs over 50 staff including six specialist physicians, a nutritionist, a
visual processing expert and a team of nurses trained in allergy testing and the administration of intravenous infusions.
The Breakspear approach
involves in-depth investigation of the patient’s status in terms of nutrition, sensitivity, toxic overload etc through a detailed personal history and a complex range of tests, some of which are done at the hospital itself but many of which are sent to specialist laboratories elsewhere in the UK or the US. Results from these tests allow Breakspear
clinicians to tailor detoxifying treatments, low dose immuno-therapy and nutritional programmes to address each patient’s specific problems.
There is not space here to give a detailed description of all the tests Breakspear Hospital offers – for more information see
http://www.breakspearmedical.com/files/products.html – but to give you a flavour...
Testing for Food/Chemical Allergies/Sensitivities
Probably the best known of the Breakspear Hospital tests are its allergy tests – establishing criteria for their low-dose immuno-therapy or neutralisation treatment.
Tests involve the injection of a small concentration of the substance suspected of causing the reaction (the antigen) under the first few layers of skin. This will produce a ‘wheal’ or bump which should dissipate within 10 minutes. If it does not, then lower and lower doses will be injected until a dose is found after which the wheal does dissipate within 10 minutes.
This dose is known as the ‘end-point’ and will be used in the ‘neutralising’ vaccine with which the patient will then need to inject him or herself daily.
By using the antigen vaccines to stimulate the production of antibodies, when the allergen is next encountered, the body is already prepared to deal with it and will be able to tolerate it.
This testing is a lengthy business and is carried out by Breakspear’s own team of expert nurses in Hemel Hempstead.
Breakspear uses a range of tests to determine deficiencies,
excesses and imbalances of
essential elements in the blood, analysing both the blood serum that circulates outside the cells and the red blood cells and lymphocytes that circulate within the cells.
These blood tests are performed by Spectracell Laboratories in Houston and are designed to
establish in which nutrients
(vitamins, amino acids, metabolites, fatty acids, minerals, carbohydrate metabolism and anti- oxidants) you may be deficient.
For the scientifically minded:
‘A mixture of lymphocytes is isolated from the blood. These cells are grown in a defined culture medium containing optimal levels of all essential nutrients to sustain their growth in cell culture. The T-lymphocytes are stimulated to grow with mitogen (phyrohemagglutinin) and growth is measured by the incorporation of tritiated (radioactive) thymidine into the DNA of the cells.’
This test is carried out by
Acumen laboratories in Devon and measures deposits of pesticides in fat cells. These include organochlorines, lindane, chlorinated phenols, chlorinated benzenes, polychlorinated byphenyls, carbamates, napthols and organophosphates.
Breakspear uses the Doctor’s Data laboratory in Illinois for a urine test for toxic metals.
Acute metal poisoning is rare; much more common is chronic low level exposure to toxic metals that can result in adverse health effects and chronic diseases. For an individual, toxicity occurs when net retention exceeds excretion of metals. The tests assess levels of aluminium, antimony, arsenic, beryllium, bismuth, cadmium, lead, mercury, nickel, platinum, thallium. thorium, tin, tungsten and
Doctor’s Data also offer urine tests for iodine and iodide (an iodine atom).
Iodide is concentrated in the thyroid gland and in thyroid hormones which regulate growth, metabolic rate, body heat, energy production, neuronal and sexual development.
Iodine/iodide intake has
decreased significantly over the last 30 years and subclinical deficiencies have been associated with impaired mental function and loss of energy due to
Intestinal Bacteria and Parasite Analysis
Breakspear Hospital uses a number of laboratories to measure levels of intestinal bacteria and the presence of parasites through both blood and stool analysis.
Harmful bacteria such as E.coli, lactobacillus, streptococcus faecales, becteriodes fragilis and clostridia perfringens, overgrowth of candida or the presence of parasites can all contribute to gastrointestinal disorders which, in turn, can
affect many other body systems.
Fatty Acid Fluorescence Probes
Acumen in Devon assess the status of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids within the body. They are especially concerned with the complex synthesis of omega 6 fatty acids (that control inflammation, blood pressure, gastric juice secretion, reproduction and lipoprotein metabolism) and their attendant enzymes.
Tests also elucidate biochemical abnormalities which may be interfering with cell membrane integrity and mitochondrial function, believed by some ME specialists to be
crucial in ME and CFS.
The autonomic nervous system controls, without our conscious involvement, all the bodily activities which keep us operational – heart rate, digestion, respiration rate, salivation,
perspiration, urination, sexual arousal etc.
The tests, carried out at Breakspear by neurophysiologist Dr Peter Julu, identify
patterns of abnormalities in its function. Dr Julu uses a NeuroScope to assess brainstem autonomic function measuring blood pressure, subcutaneous blood gases and sympathetic and parasympathetic function (controlling involuntary body functions via nerve fibres to organs and glands).
Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF)
VEGF is essential to enable oxygen to be absorbed by
tissues, and oxygen is essential for the proper functioning of the mitochondria, which produce
energy in the cells. If oxygen is not available then there is poor
mitochondria function – a significant element in chronic fatigue syndrome. By measuring VEGF this test enables an assessment of mitochondrial function.
Monro Fatigue Profile
Dr Monro has developed a specific series of complex biochemical tests to identify further immunological and biochemical abnormalities in sufferers from chronic fatigue.
A recent addition to Breakspear’s tests is carried out by Acumen laboratories.
Both electrical exposure and foods/chemicals can cause the disruption of cell membranes: calcium sodium channels
become abnormal, with calcium flowing into the cell and magnesium and sodium flowing out. This is known as a channelopathy.
The Acumen test involves exposing lymphocytes (white blood cells) to an electrical field to establish whether a person with suspected electrical sensitivity exhibits a channelopathy. If so it may be possible to reverse this process by reducing underlying sensitivities to foods and chemicals.
Being at the forefront of this often poorly understood area of medicine, Breakspear Hospital’s tests and treatments are developing all the time so, if your particular health problem steadfastly refuses to resolve, at least one visit to Breakspear might be an option to consider.
For more information contact:
Breakspear Hospital, Hertfordshire House, Wood Lane
Hemel Hempstead HP2 4FD
Tel 01442 261333
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