Book Feature: Healing the Planet – One Patient at a TimeHelke Ferrie September 1, 2019
Date of Publication: 2001
Published by: Ecohealth and Wellness Inc.
Book Review by Helke Ferrie
Dr. Jozef Krop Publishes Book on Life-long Environmental Medicine Work
We live in a time when the physical environment, on which our survival depends, is being spoiled by toxicants, and the human spirit needs strengthening by having our courage and rebellion stirred up. Dr. Jozef Krop, the environmental medicine physician from Mississauga, a medical rebel of skill and worth, took up the challenge to work on our spoiled world with his 2001 book, Healing the Planet — One Patient At A Time: A Primer on Environmental Medicine.
During the years of his career as a practising physician in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Dr. Krop used a small booklet he had compiled for his patients, the Ecology Guide, to teach them how to make their homes, gardens and workplaces safe, avoid environmental toxins, and what to do to become healthy again, in partnership with their doctor. Then in 1988, Dr. Krop became the subject of the longest known disciplinary investigation initiated by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (CPSO), the medical regulatory body that licenses doctors. Dr. Krop was charged with prescribing clean water, air filters, using vitamins, and mineral supplements in his treatment of multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) and Candidiasis (which the CPSO charged him with diagnosing).
The CPSO used the Ecology Guide, along with charts of successful patient cases, as the basis for finding Krop guilty in 1999 of diagnosing MCS and systemic candidiasis — both conditions, which the CPSO insists have no basis in fact. He was also found guilty of using the standard treatments of environmental medicine for treatment of pesticide poisoning and food sensitivities. He was not found guilty of having done any harm. The very patients, whose charts were used to convict him, took the stand and testified to the fact that their lives had been profoundly changed for the better through environmental medicine.
During this trial, defence lawyers tabled hundreds of medical studies from the peer-reviewed literature in support of these treatments and diagnoses; the CPSO offered none to support their condemnation of them. (Linus Pauling used to say that “when somebody isn’t up on something, they will be down on it.”) In September Dr. Krop’s lawyers filed an appeal with the Supreme Court of Canada to hear this indictment on the grounds that rectifying such nonsense is of national importance.
Trying to cope with the stress of this long defence of environmental medicine and his license, Dr. Krop found it personally therapeutic when he began to turn the Ecology Guide into a book. Working on the spoiled world and encouraging people is what a doctor is supposed to do, for the word “doctor” comes from the Latin verb “to teach,” and all teaching stirs up healthy rebellion, which Dr. Krop states is the purpose of his book.
Krop’s book is organized so that any reader can understand the biochemical basis for environmentally induced illness (roughly 2/3 of whatever ails humanity). He informs us of how triggers work in moulds, inhalants, fungi, chemicals and heavy metals, pesticide-laden foods and chemically contaminated furniture and clothing. It deals with food sensitivities, and genetic engineering versus organic produce. It has entire sections of special interest, such as ways to handle and treat autism, attention deficit disorder, hormone-and dental amalgam-related illnesses, menopause questions, premenstrual syndrome and much more. The bibliography contains sources from books, journals and the Internet for the lay reader and desperate patient. Here is an excerpt from the introduction:
“When you decide to take charge of your health you stop functioning on automatic pilot. You no longer blindly trust your doctor because you suspect he or she can’t know everything either; you doubt the government’s assurances on health matters because it is the nature of power to be in conflicts of interest; you question the advertisements on drugs because you realize that their aim is to sell drugs, not cure you and lose a customer. You listen to your body because it knows best; you are not a statistic or a population average but a unique person with an individual genetic endowment and a very personal health history requiring personalized attention. The health care industry, being as geared to mass production as the car industry, understandably finds that an inconvenience. Living things are characterized by diversity; even our sufferings are not created equal.
“Without the birth of fundamental doubt and the growth of critical thinking, health is not possible, nor is advance in medicine. Doubt is the beginning of the cure. Trusting yourself is the first step on the road to recovery. I would consider the effort of producing this book well worth it if it causes you to check out for yourself the basis for the claims the health industry and doctors make (including myself!).
“We need to know that human beings on planet Earth are like fish in a tank of finite dimensions. As the Greek master physician Hippocrates taught 2,500 years ago, our health is determined by the air we breathe, the food we eat, the soil in which we grow it, the water we drink, and the way we feel and behave towards others. All illness and all health are ultimately a function of our physical and emotional environment. Even most genetically mediated illnesses are triggered by unhealthy environments and ultimately preventable.
“Second, modern medicine, ecology and biochemistry have provided us with the answers to the prevention of illness. Medical science has gone well beyond telling you not to smoke. We now know that we have to break the lethal dependence on toxic chemicals not only in ourselves, but also for our lawns, our agricultural practices, and our industrial economy. We can prevent cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and many more illnesses . . .
“When you no longer blindly follow advice, but engage in a critical search for verifiable and workable solutions, you also begin the task of saving planet earth and human life. Like a stone thrown into a pool, the stone is small but the ripples go on and on covering immense distances for a very long time. In fact, what you actually do is to become politically engaged on behalf of life itself when you assume responsibility for what you eat and drink, what you permit to be in your surroundings, and what you will expose others to. You begin to make choices that have an effect on everything around you: your supermarket, your pharmacy, your local school, your garbage disposal, the way you furnish your home, the recreation you pursue, the car you buy, the information you spread through your friends and relatives.
“Of course, you will always act on incomplete information … but if you are in charge and engage your doctor in a critical dialogue and partnership, the result will always be better than whatever you got on automatic pilot. The truth does make us free.”
In the book, Dr. Krop tells the story of his medical training and escape from Communist Poland to Canada, his training under Dr. Abraham Hoffer in Saskatchewan in the early 1970s, and attending his first conference at the American Academy of Environmental Medicine in 1979. At that conference he went through a dramatic personal shift in understanding medicine when Dr. Doris Rapp showed a video of her work with “the impossible child” suffering from what is now labeled as ADHD:
“Dr. Rapp was testing a child for food sensitivities, and when she tested for oats the child had a dramatic reaction. This food actually had a neurotoxic effect and the child began to scream and thrash about. When Dr. Rapp finally established and administered the neutralizing dose, the child rapidly and totally recovered. Then Dr. Rapp asked the patient, ‘Do you remember anything that happened during the past two hours?’ The child, genuinely bewildered, said, ‘No, I don’t.’
“Well, at that point I got goose bumps all over and I knew, deep down and without any doubt, that this was the medicine I had to practice. Whatever I had learned in standard medicine did not even consider the neurotoxicity of ordinary foods! I was only taught about IgE mediated allergies (regular hay fever and the like). What I had just seen was something completely different, and even if the biological pathways were not yet fully understood (as is the case in IgE-mediated allergies), here was the opportunity to understand and treat conditions otherwise simply discarded as ‘psychiatric’ — unfair to psychiatry and brutally neglectful of the patient’s real needs. The notion that such reactions could be treated with neutralizing doses of the offending substance, rather than with symptom-controlling drugs, was revolutionary. What’s more, the same approach, I learned, could be taken in treating the toxic effects of environmental chemicals. The key point was that the offending cause could be found and treated. Standard medicine teaches how to classify symptoms, what drugs to use to control them, and how to use them cautiously to prevent their toxicity from killing the patient.
“I realized that I would be striking out in a 180 degree opposite direction to where all my colleagues were going. [The father of environmental medicine] Dr. Thereon Randolph used to warn young doctors, eager to learn the techniques of environmental medicine, saying, ‘You realize this is a one-way street. There is no turning back.’ Not that the training I had had so far was useless — standard bacterial infection and trauma is perfectly treated by the standard medicine I had learned. But everything else — chronic disease which has become the subject of most of medicine — only talks about symptom control, not finding causes and trying for a cure. I was devastated and actually rather scared.
“It was an intense — but not very long — war that I waged within myself. It was the patients that decided it in the end. Whenever I looked at them with the search frame of standard medicine, and then again with that of environmental medicine, I quickly knew what I had to do. The patient’s environmental exposure and nutritional history generally explained the causes of the observed signs and symptoms often quite elegantly and rationally. Symptom-control became intolerably boring. So, I took every available course, including one intense one with Dr. Thereon Randolph himself. I am still taking courses every year; none of my treatment protocols remain the same for very long: there is so much happening in this field of medicine.”
Having been through more than a decade of dealings with the CPSO, Krop has no illusions about the politics of medicine:
“After all, identifying pesticides, petrochemicals, many symptom-controlling drugs, and processed foods (to name just a few serious health hazards) as the causes of cancer and chronic diseases is not going to make a doctor very popular with the captains of industry. The findings of environmental medicine, and the demonstration that avoiding all these toxic substances can restore people’s health, constitute a most formidable critique of our modern world and its commercial values.
“Medical regulatory bodies are also as conflicted in their interests as they were 150 years ago, when bacteria were the heresy of the day and washing one’s hands, before examining a patient or performing surgery, was an affront to professional pride . . . [and] symptom-control is a multi-billion dollar business and not likely to take the back seat without a fight. Symptom-control is the market, and wealth is measured in this market, as in any other, by growth not by the diminishing returns cures would generate.
“Speaking the truth about what we see in our patients on a daily basis — carcinogens and neurotoxins in their blood, pesticides in their fat biopsies, heavy metals in their urine and stools — is nothing less than a total indictment of governments that have ceased to be regulators and protectors of society and become publicly-funded butlers serving the big corporations.”
Healing the Planet — One Patient At A Time should be in everybody’s life because the quality of our lives depends on having information — the right information from somebody whose experience one trusts.
This book is available on Amazon.
Helke Ferrie is a medical science writer with a master's degree in physical anthropology. Her specialty lies in investigative research into ethical issues in medicine and the politics of health. She started her investigative journalism career in the mid-1990s, looking at issues of medicine and environment. She has been a regular contributor to Vitality Magazine ever since. Helke has also authored books on various subjects including: "Ending Denial: The Lyme Disease Epidemic", "What Part of No! Don't They Understand: Rescuing Food and Medicine from Government Abuse", and "The Earth's Gift to Medicine".