According to the head of the World Health Organization, air pollution is the 'new tobacco', stating that the simple act of breathing is killing seven million people a year and harming billions more (1). They also say that India is home to 14 of the 20 worst cities for air pollution in the world.
The same week I read this, I came across research undertaken by Dr. Helen Fisher at King's College London funded by the Medical Research Council and published in the Psychiatry Research Journal entitled 'Exploration of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution and mental health problems using high-resolution data in London-based children from a UK longitudinal cohort study'. (2). Between the age of 12 and 18, it has been found there was a 'substantially elevated likelihood of depression' as a result of this exposure. This is because our brains are still developing and they are likely to have less-established natural barriers in the lungs to protect against inhaled particles.
The pilot study indicates initial clues that air pollution is not only associated with physical health problems, but also with mental health ones too. Chinese medicine also reflects this conclusion as grief is the emotion of the lungs and if left untreated it is recognised it could result in depression (3).
This reminds me how homeopathy can come into own for the individual facing this threat. The homeopathic remedy - Sulphuric Acid - is known for its healing action on the effects of traffic fumes. It shows indications of both the sycotic miasm but - more importantly - the syphilitic one - with its destructive effect on both bodily tissues and the mental state of the patient. Not only does it cover lung damage as a result of this toxic exposure, but also the associated negative reaction on the mental level outlined in this new research mentioned above.
This can be evidenced by the following rubrics from the repertory (4):-
'relatives, does not recognize',
'sadness, mental depression',
'weary of life',
'weeping, tearful mood'.
On exploring other remedies appearing in these rubrics, what became very apparent to me was that other ones indicated for toxic pollution (combined with marked resulting debility) jumped out of the pages - i.e. Carbo Sulph. (specific action on the eyes, lungs and skin), Carbo Veg., (specific action on the lungs and skin), as well as Petroleum (specific action on the lungs and skin). It is no coincidence that these remedies share many of the rubrics mentioned above. This analysis also reinforces the concept that physical triggers such as air pollution - as much as emotional ones - can underpin a case displaying the deep level of depression displayed here and indicated through the corresponding rubrics.
In recent years, it has been discovered that the immune system plays a marked role in brain activity. In fact, a person with a well-functioning immune system will be better able to overcome the destructive biochemical consequences of acute stress that leads to long-term behavioural and mental disturbance (5). Sulphuric Acid is a remedy 'proved' many years ago but still holding its own with the modern day toxic challenges it faces as a new era is dawning.
Further research on this subject has been published in my article - 'Toxic Overload: The Ever-Increasing Allergens Underpinning Disease' (contained in the Autumn 2016 edition of Homeopathy in Practice - the journal of The Alliance of Registered Homeopaths)
(1) WHO, 2018; How air pollution is destroying our health; https://www.who.int/air-pollution/news-and-events/how-air-pollution-is-destroying-our-health
(2) Fisher et. al, 2018. Exploration of NO2 and PM2.5 air pollution and mental health problems using high-resolution data in London-based children from a UK longitudinal cohort study; Psychiatry Research, Volume 272, February 2019, Pages 8-17; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2018.12.050
(3) Emma Suttie, Dealing with Grief - a TCM Perspective; https://www.chinesemedicineliving.com/philosophy/the-emotions/grief-the-lungs/
(4) Homeopathic Clinical Repertory, Third Edition, Robin Murphy, 2005, Lotus Health Institute.
(5) Neuroimmunity - A New Science That Will Revolutionize How We Keep our Brains Healthy and Young, Michal Schwartz, Yale, 2015.