Marja van Engelen is a qualified medical doctor, based in Ibiza, where she has lived for the last 10 years. Although she originally trained in orthodox medicine, it didn't take her long to realise that this was not an approach which suited her: On completion of her studies, she worked in the department of internal medicine for 1 year. Here she experienced the 'normal' 95 hour working week (hard to see how a profession specialising in health could find this acceptable). She then spent a year working for a pharmaceutical company, with chemotherapeutic agents to treat breast cancer. Having witnessed, very early on in her career that drugs and surgery are pretty much the only remedies that orthodox medicine has to offer, and also noting the trauma and limitation often associated with theses methods, she became interested in approaches that work harmoniously with the natural healing abilities of the body and mind.
For the last 29 years, Marja has focused her treatments on using more natural methods. During this time she has studied a.o. naturopathy, orthomolecular medicine, heavy metal detoxification and environmental medicine. In common with all good alternative practitioners of whatever discipline, Marja seeks to understand why particular symptoms have appeared and to identify the underlying causes. Her research indicates that chronic disease is often linked with an overload of toxins that for one reason or another the body has been unable to eliminate – this is hardly surprising when one considers that there are well over 100,000 man made chemicals present in our daily environment that were not present 100 years ago. A very high proportion of these have never been tested for safety, and there are few systems in place which would enable people to report adverse reactions. In any case not all reactions are acute, but rather are likely to be hidden, as toxins slowly accumulate in cells and tissues. Sooner or later this can compromise functioning in any area of the body and lead to multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, allergies, chronic degenerative diseases and cancer.
Marja is currently very involved in writing and lecturing on preconception care, believing that the ultimate form of preventative medicine starts with preparing future parents before pregnancy (she believes malfunctions and changes in sperm and egg cells to be responsible for many avoidable diseases). In this context, she assists prospective parents in becoming healthy, at least 6 months before conception takes place. Marja also focuses on the potential of protecting people from the damaging effects of microwaves emitted by mobile phone masts, and 'electro smog', which is generated from a whole host of everyday electrical appliances, as well as electricity cables and transformers. As is the situation with the chemical toxins, these are all conditions that the human body has never before encountered in thousands of years of evolution.
In addition to the above, many people are eating poor quality food, grown on soils which have been severely depleted of minerals. This is due to our intensive farming methods, which over the last 100 years alone have robbed the soil of many essential minerals which should be present in healthy fertile soil. This type of farming also increases the chemical load the body has to deal with – Ironically, many of the minerals and other substances missing from the food, are the very ones which could have helped the body to detoxify this chemical assault. Taking all of these factors into account, it is perhaps not surprising that many people, including Marja's clients, have issues with vitamin and mineral balance, essential fatty acids, hormone balance and tired or exhausted adrenal glands due to stress.
Marja has been involved in setting up a clinic for environmental medicine in Brunete near Madrid, which focuses on diagnosis and cutting edge treatments, particularly for those suffering from multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, which along with diseases like asthma, is affecting a growing number of people. Recently the idea came up to move the clinic to Ibiza.
It seems that for many of us, an increase in awareness about products, technologies and practices which work in harmony with the body could only be beneficial. •
Text: Helen Howard