In this country we have gone through four periods of evolutionary history in the nutritional sciences. Now we are just entering a fifth phase.
The first period of nutritional science change took place during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when scientists found that selective essential nutrients in the form of certain protein constituents and other materials were necessary for bodily functions.
The second phase in nutrition progress was the revolutionary period that scientists call the “vitamin era.” Then, nutrients such as the B vitamins were identified and physicians understood the acute deficiency disease syndromes caused by the absence of those vitamins.
Phase three was the late 1930s, through the 1940s and into the early 1950s when the pharmaceutical companies in this country became interested in the promulgation of nutritional therapy as a way of increasing their profits. Industrial profits from antibiotic sales were peaking, and the pharmaceutical detail men were going out to beat the medical bushes in promotion of vitamin sales. Physicians in practice received copious quantities of vitamin samples which were declared by the detail men to cure everything from bunions to eczema. These vitamins were synthetically produced.
Phase four was a period of backlash against the exaggerated claims of the pharmaceutical companies. Vitamins given to a patient in crisis do not produce impressive and dramatic results. We know now that nutritional therapies are more applicable to the chronic degenerative diseases than they are to the acute disease crisis. It’s understandable that traditional medicine became disenchanted with nutritional therapy in the fourth period.
During this period of nutritional science regression, physicians newly graduating from medical schools were not taught that a full complement of nutrients is needed to keep patients well. They were told nothing about the restructuring of a person’s life to combat chronic diseases. In 1950 every reputable, certified, and accredited medical school had a required nutritional program in its curriculum, but by 1962 there were only two medical schools that had required courses in nutrition. And by 1965 there were no schools in this country that required nutritional courses for first and second year medical students. Nutritional science lost ground. That is the kind of reverse swing one could consider a backlash.
In the phase currently coming on the medical scene, the period of holistic medicine, physicians are starting to reeducate themselves as a result of their patients’ demands for something more than crisis intervention. The majority of infectious diseases are conquered or controlled. People are living longer. Mortality occurs today more from degenerative diseases than any other cause. The philosophy of crisis intervention is less applicable to degenerative diseases. A totally new and different sensitivity is required on the physician’s part to the utilization of vitamins, minerals and other trace constituents in the treatment of diseases. This has brought us to phase five, a swinging back of the pendulum of progress. Doctors and their patients are rediscovering a whole array of agents that had been forgotten or abandoned.
Phase five of the nutritional revolution is bringing the essential trace elements into the forefront. The presentation of trace elements to the medical community is being patterned after the introduction of vitamins during their particular era of popularity.
The biochemical adjustment of our bodies using trace elements, minerals, vitamins, and no-junk nutrition is going to bring all of us a greater stabilization of our systems and a closer optimization of our health. We will live longer and better. A shift is occurring in medicine away from crisis care and more toward preventive care. This is inevitable, and medical professionals who fight it will merely be holding a finger in the dike against progress. The dike will be exploding around them while they wonder why they are having such a difficult time practicing the old crisis way.