Paradigm Shift

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How One Physician Discovered the Real Causes of Chronic Disease And Went On to Help Thousands of Children Recover from Allergies, ADD, Asthma, and More

Angels walk upon the Earth amongst us. They brandish flaming swords against injustice and protect the vulnerable; they fearlessly hammer home Truth because they love humanity. You don’t want to miss meeting one of those.

This month at the Whole Life Expo the keynote speaker will be Dr. Doris Rapp. I heard her at a medical conference in 1997 and she knocked my socks off. She apparently had the same effect on legendary talk show hosts Oprah and Donahue; her books have been New York Times bestsellers, and she often made mainstream medicine froth at the mouth. Dr. Rapp received 140,000 letters from desperate families following her appearance on the Donahue show, “… and I answered every single one of them,” she said.

As was the case with Dr. Rapp’s friends and colleagues, Dr. Sherry Rogers and Charlotte Gerson, who have graced past Expos as keynote speakers, attendees will once again be treated to impeccable medical expertise and a lifetime’s worth of clinical experience and wisdom.

“I intend to scare the hell out of all of you in Toronto in November,” she informed me during a telephone interview, “but I will tell you also what the solutions are and how to get out of this mess.”

Dr. Rapp is a board certified pediatrician, allergist and environmental medicine expert; she also is a professor emeritus in pediatrics at the University of New York in Buffalo; she currently runs the Environmental Medical Research Foundation there. And her most important qualification is her holy wrath against the current corporate and governmental disregard for the health of children. Seems like nothing can stop her from working to make the world once again safe for children.

For example, some years back she asked the mothers of seriously ill children to cut out sample pieces of carpet from those found in their children’s schools. Then Dr. Rapp took a cage with some mice in it and placed the carpet pieces in front of it. With a blower, the mice were subjected to airwaves containing whatever off-gassed from those carpet pieces. All the mice were dead within a few hours.

This grisly experimental evidence had quite an effect on some of the school boards Dr. Rapp subsequently approached, especially in Ontario. In Guelph and Waterloo some years ago, Dr. Rapp persuaded the school boards to create a “clean room,” which had no synthetic chemicals whatsoever. When those children with allergies, asthma and neurological symptoms (including those who were being home-schooled because of behavioural and health problems) were invited to use this “clean” room, they performed at optimal intellectual levels and had no health complaints.

Dr. Rapp knows the power of mothers: “If a few mothers go to their local supermarket and tell the manager, “Listen, we will no longer buy your mayonnaise, baby foods and vegetable oils if you don’t provide them in glass containers — you will get action. Guaranteed!” Those plastic bottles all contain phthalates, a carcinogen, endocrine disruptor and neurotoxin. A pregnant woman drinking out of plastic bottles may cause her baby boy to be born with undescended testicles, under-developed genitals, hormonal disturbances, as well as predispose herself and her child to cancer.

Most significant is the fact that working for children means literally working for humanity in general: Dr. Rapp’s work proves that this campaign for Life touches everybody because whatever we do, or fail to do, for children, has consequences for the adolescent, the adult and the aged — usually over time as well as for the generations living together. Dr. Rapp told me the latest research shows that in pregnant women in the industrialized part of the world, the umbilical cord carries 237 known environmental toxins into the developing fetus. After the child is born, we know that we can expect not only neurological damage to be evident starting in the toddler, but also cancer in the subsequent adult or a compromised immune system in the aging individual. Those toxins are also in the air, water, food and soil of those already born — with the same effects on all their bodily systems.


Similarly, what children are given at the breakfast table tends to be what their parents eat too: “Nobody should eat standard supermarket white bread,” said Dr. Rapp, because children, parents, grandparents and the family dog are likely to ingest alloxan, used to bleach the flour. Alloxan is what drug researchers (looking for a treatment for diabetes) give to mice to knock out the pancreas thereby inducing irreversible diabetes. “Has the government gone insane?!” Dr. Rapp thundered during my interview with her. “Are we all to succumb to diabetes?” Even in a highly dilute form alloxan affects the pancreas.

Recently, in a school in Oregon, desserts were substituted with fresh fruit, resulting in measurably improved academic performance and decreased violence and acting out.

“And does anybody know what microwave ovens do?” Dr. Rapp asked. Used so freely in homes, schools, hospitals, church basements and daycare centers for their convenience, microwave ovens damage whatever nutrients may still remain in the processed, pesticide-loaded junk that passes for food these days, she claims. “In Russia every microwave oven is sold with mandatory goggles,” Dr. Rapp informed me, “because the government knows that the use of such ovens causes cataracts in adults, destroys all the essential vitamins and fatty acids in the food and [through malnutrition as well as directly] promotes cancer for everybody in the family.

“It is furthermore estimated that about 70% of all the synthetic chemicals routinely used to clean schools are known carcinogens”, she said.

A hundred years ago, about one in 25 people developed cancer in the U.S. Today, every second male and every third female is expected to get cancer. Within about a decade, Dr. Rapp said, everybody is expected to get cancer. The Toronto Star (July 3, 2004) reported that the GTA is bracing for a 46% increase in cancer within the decade.

Until 1975 Dr. Rapp was so solidly entrenched in standard medicine that her initial reaction to environmental medicine was one of total rejection. “I practised straight pediatric allergy medicine [until] I attended a food allergy meeting in Miami. I went to hear traditional allergists speak”, but to her annoyance there were “some of those ‘quacks’ on the program [who] said that moulds and pollen could cause behaviour and learning problems. They could cause bellyaches and bed-wetting. I said ‘Come on, you’ve got to be kidding.’”

Now here is the magic moment when a fundamental conceptual shift is required which the scientifically oriented clinician is capable of, but the standard allopathic mindset cannot accept. Standard allergy teaches that while some food allergies exist that can be life threatening (such as to peanuts and shell fish), they supposedly cannot be treated and, therefore, only avoidance is possible. Standard allergy also denies that food allergies may alter behaviour and be a cause of mental illness, depression, or behavioural problems like ADHD. The concept of food allergies as causes of neurological and gastrointestinal illness is simply dismissed as well, regardless of the evidence. Finally, the notion that there are several biological pathways by which allergies may manifest, is denied.

A story from the practice of Dr. Theron Randolph, father of environmental medicine, illustrates the conceptual shift involved:

In the 1950s, while he was a professor of internal medicine at the University of Chicago, Dr. Randolph was testing a patient for milk allergy: “After retaining her in the office for some time, she was allowed to leave for home. An hour later, however, she was arrested for ‘drunken driving’ . . . she responded by telling the police, in her southern drawl, that all she had had to drink was a couple of glasses of milk in her doctor’s office.” Given her erratic driving and seemingly drunken speech, she was not believed. “When the police called me I confirmed this unlikely story . . . and explained that the test reaction to milk … can simulate alcoholic inebriation.”

Indeed, not only milk, but many other foods can adversely influence brain function, as any mother can appreciate who has tried to cope with a child gone berserk or teary-eyed after consumption of refined sugar or food additives.

Dr. Randolph’s work, and that of the environmental medicine practitioners trained by the academy he founded, not only proves through replicable clinical experience that these food allergies have neurotoxic properties, but that they can be treated successfully – a double whammy attack on the doctrines of standard allergy. Subsequently, Dr. Randolph’s research showed that in addition to food allergies, the whole devil’s kitchen of synthetic chemicals produces profound allergic reactions not mediated by the same biological pathways as your routine ragweed sniffles.

New discoveries disturb the peace, but Dr. Rapp has followed that honourable tradition of rebels with a cause with zest and dedication, to the great benefit of her patients.


While Dr. Rapp struggled with this conceptual shift, she was suddenly struck by the fact that “while traditional doctors like me were using lots of medicines, those ‘quacky’ doctors rarely had kids on steroids and didn’t order much medicine. So I said, ‘They’re lying.’” She decided to prove they were quacks and visited them in their offices to investigate and prove them fraudulent. While observing their astounding results treating food allergies, the decisive epiphany struck when the doctor she was visiting couldn’t find her prescription pad. Eureka! Medicine could be practised without drugs, allergies could be cured without drugs! Food allergies could be treated not just managed!

Dr. Rapp started on a new path of inquiry and discovered the world of environmental medicine with its huge research base — an alternative universe where patients are taken seriously and usually cured; where entire sick environments are cleaned up as well. Of course, Dr. Rapp immediately ran into problems with her peers: at conventional conferences they would not even sit at her table, “and the powers that be told me I could not use my clinical title on anything I published unless it was approved by the head of pediatrics at the hospital.”

The next shock came when she realized that no matter how good the evidence was and how painstakingly she followed the accepted methods of research (double-blind, placebo-controlled, etc.), it was ignored because it didn’t fit the reigning paradigm. “I thought all I had to do was double-blind studies and they’d listen. So I did them.” But when she tried to publish them, only minor journals would accept them. She became afraid to even mention that she was involved with environmental and nutritional medicine. Finally she cut loose from the allopathic approach to allergy and pediatrics. “I said to myself, Doris, forget it. They are never going to believe you. You are a clinician, someone who sees patients.” The results with her patients had convinced her and she hasn’t looked back since.

When I asked her if money might be a factor in the “straight” allergists’ rejection of the environmental and nutritional doctors’ verifiable results, Dr. Rapp said, “Of course! Assessing a patient by our protocols and treating them without standard drugs is extremely time-consuming and you can’t make any money that way.” Indeed, the initial history-taking process tends to take hours, and it can take days to identify the allergy-causing culprits in a patient’s environment and diet. Then it takes many more hours of education involving the whole family. On the other hand, writing a symptom-controlling prescription, according to standard guidelines, is easier, faster, and much more lucrative.

Dr. Rapp’s latest book, Our Toxic World: A Wake Up Call, provides the most comprehensive resource section I have yet seen and is testimony to how much has happened in basic research and public awareness over the past two decades, during which the incriminating data has piled up exponentially. Recent US Centre for Disease Control studies show that everybody now carries at least 13 carcinogenic chemicals, all from environmental pollution. The Canadian Environmental Law Association’s 2004 report on air pollution and its relation to asthma is as damning as the other report that same year by the Ontario College of Family Physicians on the cancer-causing properties of cosmetic lawn chemicals. The World Health Organization has published many similar reports. Flagship journals like Cancer, JAMA. and the CMAJ regularly report on environmental causes of chronic diseases, Harvard University has a department for environmental medicine, and retrospective studies on identical twins have confirmed that most diseases are environmentally caused by water, food, air and soil. They are neither genetic in origin nor are they a drug deficiency.

However, all this information would be useless if it wasn’t for the fact that solutions are available. And that is why Dr. Rapp is one of those angels walking amongst us. She can tell us exactly what we can do to turn all this around, what you can do on your own, and how to protect yourself and your loved ones. Back in 1997, when I heard Dr. Rapp for the first time, I walked on a cloud for a long time afterwards — so will you.  Guaranteed.


• H. Ferrie, Dispatches from the War Zone of Environmental Health, Kos 2004 (for stories about Charlotte Gerson and Dr. Rogers)

• P. Radetsky, Allergic to the Twentieth Century, Little Brown and Co. 1997 (source of some statements by Dr. Rapp cited above)

• T. Randolph, MD, Environmental Medicine, Clinical Ecology Publications Inc., 1987

• D. Rapp, MD, Is This Your Child?, Morrow, 1991

• D. Rapp, MD, Is This Your Child’s World?, Bantam, 1996

• D. Rapp, MD, Our Toxic World: A Wakeup Call, 2004, Environmental Medical Research Foundation, Box 60, Buffalo, NY 14223 USA, 1-800-787-8780,

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