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The Benefits Of Good Overall Health For Your Eyes

Published in Retina NZ Newsletter - February 2016
By Dr Emma Sandford

Strangely, I begin my first article for you talking about teeth!

In the 1930s there was an avant-garde dentist named Weston A. Price. He began to observe dental and gum disease, dental degeneration and deformity and questioned why it was happening. As part of this research, he embarked upon an epic, global study of native and modern cultures to ascertain the impact of the newly evolved Western diet. He noted that the impact occurred immediately, and in the first generation after, a society’s adoption of the modern Western diet. His focus was not on what was injurious, but on what was now lacking.  Weston A. Price published his work 'Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects' in 1939.

Weston A. Price's data was gathered from cultures across the planet, and yet he found 11 golden rules to which all their diets adhered. His work was done at a watershed moment in history where he photographically documented the almost instant change from previous generations to the one fed on the modern Western diet.

The changes following the adoption of a western diet included dental decay and gum disease, deformities of the facial skeleton, upper dental arch, and the development of the bones of the head, causing a narrowing of the face (a pinching below the eyes and narrowing upper teeth arch), which leads to dental crowding.

The scope of Weston's work was not just dental but also medical, the healing arts, social organisation and the betterment of the society for future generations. In some of the native cultures studied, marriage, ergo procreation, was forbidden unless six months of special nutrition had been previously undertaken.  He states that “any contributing factor, such as food deficiencies due to soil depletion, will be seen to produce degeneration of the masses of people due to a common cause.”

Notably, our upcoming generation is the first to have a reduced life span, health and vigour to its predecessor. Yes we are degenerating! We are witnessing and suffering from chronic degenerative diseases previously unknown or unrecorded and many authorities link this to our modern diet.

The more modern era has given us three Avant-Garde ophthalmologists. Many I shall be quoting are from the U.S.A. The first was the pioneering nutritional ophthalmologist Dr. Gary Price Todd, who treated eye diseases using the alternative and natural therapies that he spent years perfecting. He not only helped people see better, but also helped them to become healthier. In fact, his books focus as much on diseases of other systems as those of the eye. His books include ‘Nutrition Health and Disease’, ‘Eye Talk’, and ‘Acquiring Optimal Health: How Many Degenerative and Age-Related Diseases Can Be Prevented Or Repaired.’

Dr. Todd firmly believed that the health of the eyes and the health of the body were one and the same. He was so far ahead of his time that he was warning about the dangers of trans-fats more than 35 years ago.

Though Dr. Todd passed away in 1998, other ophthalmologists have continued with this insightful approach. Dr. Robert Abel Senior and, following in his footsteps, his son, Junior, have both practiced 'Integrated Ophthalmology', improving their patients general health at the same time as improving their eye health and saving their eye sight.  Dr. Robert Abel Junior wrote 'The Eye Care Revolution: Prevent and Reverse Common Vision Problems'.

We are very lucky to have Ophthalmologists in New Zealand who understand that herbal medicines and nutrition give a unique and safe opportunity to affect eye health. There are ophthalmologists in the U.K. including Professors, that also integrate these tools into their practice. Our own modern scientific research has added much to our understanding of nutritional and herbal intervention. We have modern science to thank for the AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study) formula, that we routinely prescribe for sufferers of Macular Degeneration.

These are subjects which I find compelling, urgent, fascinating and exciting. My hope is that you gain insight and power over your own health and destiny from this article and future articles that I intend to write for you.

There are many subjects that I shall touch upon, including soil health - mineral content and microbes, what you can do as a gardener to secure your own healthy food supply, the changes in modern farming and big agribusiness and what that means for what's on your plate and in the blood supply to your precious 'peepers'.  Digestion is a key function that, if healthy, means that all of the goodness present in your food will be digested and assimilated. It will be available to your cells. If not.... IT WON'T!

I'll be talking about your water supply and its mineral content and how this is fundamental to your general health. I'll be sharing information about the degradation of the nutritional content of our food, not just vitamins and minerals, but the great gamut of phyto nutrients on which our bodies’ health rely. I'd like to help you around the supermarket and explain some E numbers. There are many points to expound upon and I hope that this is a forum which will remain open for that discussion to take place.

There are new branches of medicine called genomics and proteomics, these fields are unravelling how individual we all are in the way our bodies work and how they interact with our environment, including our medicines. The new drive is that medicines should be tailored specifically to small genetic cohorts or genealogies rather than mass population medications. Herbal medicine has long understood that one size cannot fit all.

My first passion is nutrition and the power it has over our bodies, brain and health and how easy it is to turn your life around when attending to it. A little understanding and knowledge goes a long way. Anyone else watched 'Embarrassing Bodies ' and thought, 'No wonder, have you seen what you eat!?'.  Hippocrates said, “Let thy food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”… what a clever guy! I am most amused by the Euphemism “convenience foods” there is nothing convenient or cheap about being ill!

My second passion is herbal medicine. It has an archaeological history of at least 60,000 years. We have a long oral history and a reliable pedigree of written history of the use of herbal medicines around the world from many cultures, races and religions. We have a huge repository of scientific data on the chemistry, physiology, uses and actions of these herbs. They are accepted and legislated for around the modern world. We observe animals self medicating for a range of problems from upset digestion and infective diarrhoea to using plants as a mosquito repellent. I should like to share some information which is disease and condition specific.

I strongly encourage you to check if herbs are right for you, especially if you are on any modern synthetic drug. There are some interactions as the herb and drug often do the same thing. Many modern drugs are synthetic versions of a single constituent of a herb. Some herbs and drugs interfere with each other's break down and elimination from the body and so on.

All herbs should be treated as the medicines they are. In all earnestness; there are side effects and allergies just like anything one puts on or in one’s body.  Some herbs can't be taken when other diseases are present e.g. gall stones. Additionally there are a few important herb-drug interactions.

These articles are not a prescription. A prescription should always be personal and not generic. You aren't generic are you? Always seek the advice of professional staff in the herbal dispensaries and health shops or consult a Medical Herbalist.

I look forward to writing my next instalment to you.

Best wishes for your health and happiness