Q-I am trying to get information about 'catalytic trace element therapy' from an unbiased source. It appears that this practice is well known on the Continent, but nothing is known here. Have you
A-Our enquiries lead us to believe that 'catalytic trace element therapy' is simply another name for low level supplementation with minerals. Catalytic trace elements are sometimes referred to as 'ultratrace elements' and therapy with them is called 'oligotherapy' (oligo means 'little' in Greek).
Oligotherapy is one of four 'biotherapies' developed on the Continent in recent decades. The others are gemmotherapy (which uses fresh plant buds or embryonic tissues in the growth phase), lithotherapy (which makes use of homoeopathic potencies derived from minerals and rocks) and organotherapy (which consists of homoeopathically prepared glandular and tissue extracts) (Townsend Lett Docs, 1992; 109/110: 692-5).
The human body requires only small amounts of trace elements to function properly. Collectively, the full range of these minerals makes up about 0.02 per cent of the body. Because they are needed in such small amounts, it can be very difficult to establish deficiency. However, the catalytic function of trace elements is often blocked by the hazards of modern life (such as a debilitating lifestyle, exposure to pollutants and drugs, poor diet or stress). This can result in health problems which, proponents say, may be effectively treated by microsupplementation.
In a sense, oligotherapy can be seen as a swing of the pendulum away from the megadosing culture. And while it is not strictly homoeopathy, the doses used can be near homoeopathic (in the same way that tissue salts are not strictly homoeopathic, but work along the same principles). The minerals are also usually supplied in a pure form rather than bound to other substances. Again, proponents claim that this makes them more easily assimilated. There is, however, no published proof either way for this type of therapy.
In oligotherapy as in homoeopathy, trace elements are chosen to match either the constitution of the patient or a symptom pattern. The trace elements can be given either singly or as complexes to treat specific conditions, and may be in a water based solution or part of an herbal extract.
We know of one supplier in the UK Herbamin (tel: 01483 300 400) which produces a full range of what they call 'bio catalytic cellular micro elements'. Your own healthfood store should be able to order direct from them. However, if you have trouble obtaining what you need, London's NutriCentre (tel: 020 7436 5122) also stocks this range.