Dr Downing qualified from Guys Hospital in 1972, and worked in the UK (neuropsychiatry and general practice) then in the Solomon Islands in the Pacific before returning in 1980 to set up a private practice in nutritional and environmental medicine. He was a co-founder of the British Society for Nutritional Medicine in 1983, and is the current president of its successor, the British Society for Ecological Medicine. He also cofounded the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine in 1990, and is now its editor-in-chief. He is also the medical director of the Alliance for Natural Health.
Dr Damien Downing practises Ecological Medicine. Allergy (or Immune Dysfunction). The identification and treatment of damaged or disordered immunity, which can cause loss of resistance to abnormal cells and to infections, as well as food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, inhalant allergies and other immune problems. He uses elimination diets, allergen avoidance, environmental clean-up, and desensitisation to address these problems.
Dr Downing is President of the British Society for Ecological Medicine and was for 20 years Editor of the Journal of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine. He serves on the Editorial Board of the Orthomolecular News Service. His 1988 book Daylight Robbery pioneered our understanding of how vital sunlight and vitamin D are for health. His book The Vitamin Cure for Allergies was released in 2010, and The Vitamin Cure for Digestive Disorders in 2013. He has particular interests in membrane lipids and lipid therapy, in mitochondrial dysfunction, in environmental toxic effects, and in sunlight and vitamin D.
Environment: The growing crisis of environmental pollution (in food, water, air and everyday products) exposes us all to increasing levels of many toxins, including heavy metals (mercury, lead), pesticides (organophosphates, organochlorines) and flame retardants (polybrominated biphenyls/diphenyls, PBBs, PBDEs) and volatile compounds (toluene, benzene, solvents). This poisons the immune system, the nervous system, and the mitochondria in every cell, and can trigger many cellular problems. Dr Downing uses several innovative detoxification methods to remove toxins, (phospholipid exchange therapy, metal chelation, liver support) plus nutrition and desensitisation.
Nutrition: Levels of vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids in food are declining, and at the same time we all need more of them to protect us against pollution, stress and infections. Dr Downing uses a number of laboratories in several countries to assess nutritional levels and needs, and corrects these with supplementation by oral, intravenous, intramuscular and transdermal routes.
Genomics: To the above areas we have now added Genomic Medicine; the assessment of individual chemical abilities and variations to determine strengths and weaknesses in your ability to process food, detoxify chemicals, deal with stress and resist diseases such as cancer, allergies and heart disease. Over the coming years Genomics will revolutionise the way doctors treat almost everything.
Dr Downing has special interests in two areas that contribute to the rising levels of cancer we face:
Environmental toxicity: (see Environment above) which is a part of the causation of many cancers.
Lack of sunlight and vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D from sunlight is the missing link in many currrent epidemic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the UK most people are deficient in vitamin D most of the time; correcting this can have a major impact on health.
Diagnosis: Dr Downing is partner, with Dr Nicola Hembry, in an exciting project introducing to the UK a new technique for the early detection of the changes that can lead to breast cancer. Mammovision uses a thermographic camera to take heat images of the breast and analyse them by computer to identify alterations in metabolism. The first set-up is already operational in Bristol.
Treatment: When diagnosed with cancer, people want results, fast, but this could conflict with the gentle, integrated approach of ecological medicine. Dr Downing often recommends sending a Chemosensitivity Profile test (CSP) to a laboratory in Europe. This indicates what treatments work on the cancer cells in the test-tube; although it cannot prove what is the best treatment in real life, it does help in whittling down the list of choices and planning treatment with increased confidence. Dr Downing always advises people to use nutritional and complementary approaches alongside conventional treatments, unless there is a good reason why not. In ecological medicine the best therapy is always multiple, and he advises that patients should be prepared to use anything that works, and to stack up several percentage effects to get a worthwhile result.
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