An Introduction to Nutrient Therapy in the Treatment of Mental Illness
Dr Edmond O`Flaherty MB BCh DCH DObs MICGP
This chapter is for general knowledge only and you should contact your health-care professional for your unique problem.
The number of people suffering from mental health problems is enormous and the conventional treatment still has a long way to go to treat them all adequately. Recent estimates suggest that one in four American women will take an antidepressant at some stage of her life. Millions of people will commit suicide because not all avenues of treatment are explored. One woman wrote a simple message to me: “The suicidal thoughts I had for 40 years have gone”. She had tried almost every antidepressant without success and after a few weeks on nutrients she could see light at the end of the tunnel.
Our brain is a chemical factory. It is active 24 hours a day and uses almost a quarter of the energy we get from our food. We have about a hundred billion brain cells and millions of chemical reactions occur there every second. We need a proper diet and we need the gut to break down the food into vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids and amino acids so that the specific neurotransmitters are made in the brain itself. Carbohydrates and fats are largely used for energy, but some of the fats are converted into essential fatty acids, so some fat is necessary in the diet.
Nutrient Therapy and Mental Illness
The biochemistry of depression can be usefully divided into five major chemical classifications or biotypes. This work is based on chemical analyses by American scientist, Dr William Walsh, PhD who is currently working in Chicago at a research centre for biochemical therapy, as well as teaching doctors all over the world. There is a great deal of free information available at www.walshresearchinstitute.org including several short lectures.
In the case of people who have a history of bipolar or schizophrenia, some of the drugs used have a long list of side effects which include drowsiness, akathisia (restlessness), insomnia, convulsions, significant weight gain and tardive dyskinesia (disordered face, tongue and body movements). Patients frequently come off medication, finding that the treatment gives them more grief than the disease, but then they relapse again. It is like a revolving door effect, going in and out of hospital.
Much to my surprise, I found that I can help many of these people by analysing their brain chemistry and using the appropriate nutrients. Hopefully the psychiatrists will reduce the medication over time but a small amount of medication is sometimes indicated in the long-term too. Quite a few patients have been referred back to me from the psychiatric service. I can help many of them but they also need support from a family member or a partner as otherwise there is a big problem with non-compliance of medication.
See www.biobalance.ie for more information on Nutrient Therapy for mental illness.
For the complete chapter see How to be Happy and Healthy, The Seven Natural Elements of Mental Health.