June 18, 2018

476 The Schizophrenias [18 June 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh refines Carl Pfeiffer’s biotypes of schizophrenia, and describes each in some detail as to symptoms, chemistry, and their nutrient therapy.

Walsh’s schizophrenia biotypes are (with % of occurrence):
• Overmethylation (42%)
• Undermethylation (28%)
• Pyrrole disorder (20%)
• Gluten intolerance (4%) – see Grain & Our Brain [#240 Oct 2013]
• Other (6%) – porphyria, cerebral allergy, polydipsia, thyroid deficiency; homocysteinuria and drug-induced.

The overmethylated biotype is the most common. It is characterized by auditory hallucinations, severe anxiety, paranoia, hyperactivity and depression, and is often diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia. Signs include elevated serum copper, low blood histamine, and low basophil count; with high dopamine and norepinephrine activity. Patients often have an adverse reaction to SSRI drugs or SAMe, but improve with benzodiazepines and lithium. Biochemical therapy includes zinc, manganese and vitamins B10 (folic acid), B3 (niacin), B6, B12, C and E.

The undermethylated biotype is characterized by delusions, OCD, high anxiety, and catatonic behavior, and is usually diagnosed as schizoaffective disorder or delusional disorder. Signs include low methyl/folate ratio, high histamine (subject to seasonal allergies), high basophil count, and low SAMe/SAH ratio; with low activity of serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Patients respond well to SSRIs and antihistamines but not to benzodiazepines or folic acid. Biochemical therapy includes SAMe, methionine, calcium, magnesium, zinc, serine and vitamins A, B6, C, D and E.

The pyrrole disorder biotype (also called “Mauve” from the purple color of urine) is characterized by extreme mood swings, severe anxiety, low tolerance to stress, light or noise, and a combination of delusions and auditory hallucinations. A common diagnosis is rapid-cycling bipolar disorder. Signs include very high pyrroles in the urine, severe deficiencies of zinc and B6, deficiencies of biotin and arachidonic acid, and depleted glutathione. Patients exhibit severe oxidative stress and low activity of glutamate and GABA. Biochemical therapy includes zinc, B6, and evening primrose oil.

Biochemical therapy involves high doses of certain minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients, and is different for each biotype. Diagnosis and treatment should only be undertaken by an experienced professional.

Next week – biochemical classification of depression.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.

June 11, 2018

475 Biochemical Imbalances in the Brain [11 June 2018]

In his book Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, William J. Walsh stated that he considers the greatest achievement of Dr. Carl Pfeiffer to be his discovery of different biochemical types of schizophrenia, each with distinctive symptoms and blood and urine chemistries. Pfeiffer had also developed effective nutritional therapies for each biotype. Over the last three decades Walsh refined these biotypes and their biochemical therapies.

Mental health depends on a balance of the neurotransmitters, especially serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Their concentration is largely regulated by special large molecules in the cell membrane called transporters which allow the neurotransmitters to be reused, a process called reuptake. The synthesis of transporters is in turn regulated by the relative amounts of methyl (CH3) and acetyl (CH3CO) attached to the DNA of the respective genes. The methylation and acetylation processes are strongly influenced by the presence of certain nutrients: folate (B10) and niacin (B3) promote acetylation (which enhances gene expression) while methionine and SAMe promote methylation (which inhibits gene expression). Walsh writes:
“After 25 years of searching, we finally have a convincing explanation for the apparent effectiveness of the folate, niacin, and methylation therapies developed by Abram Hoffer and Carl Pfeiffer”.
In addition to over or under-methylation, Walsh observed other biochemical imbalances that occur in unusually high frequencies in many completely different mental disorders: copper overload, B6 deficiency, zinc deficiency, oxidative stress overload, amino acid imbalances, essential fatty acid imbalances (especially DHA deficiency), and toxic overload (heavy metals, pesticides). He realized that what these had in common was playing a role in the synthesis or function of neurotransmitters.

The levels of these nutrients are well-regulated for most people, but genetic or epigenetic abnormalities can result in a deficiency or overload. Walsh found that providing the missing nutrients in appropriate doses, while slower to take effect, worked as well or better than psychiatric drugs but without the undesirable side effects.

Next week – the schizophrenias.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

June 4, 2018

474 Biochemical Therapy [4 June 2018]

In previous articles on nutrition and mental health [#297 8 Dec 2014 “Mental Health Revolution”; #300 5 Jan 2015 “Medicate or Nutrate?”; and #317 4 May 2015 “Nutritional Psychiatry”] I argued that it was time for another revolution in mental health treatment. A recent book by William J. Walsh (revised 2014), Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain, indicates that this revolution is well on its way.

Walsh worked closely with Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, a pioneer in nutritional treatment of mental illness and the first to recognize that there were different biochemical types of schizophrenia (in my personal reference library I have a 1970 copy of Pfeiffer’s book The Schizophrenias, Ours to Conquer). Walsh went on to refine both the diagnosis and nutritional treatment (which he calls biochemical therapy) of mental illness based on recent research. His book Nutrient Power summarizes many decades of research and tens of thousands of cases.

Brain biochemistry is highly complex. More than 100 different neurotransmitters are active in the brain, and mental health depends on their proper function at the nerve synapses. Each neurotransmitter depends on numerous nutrients for its synthesis and function. Special proteins called transporters embedded in the nerve cell membranes allow the neurotransmitters to be reused. Epigenetics – inheritable environmental factors which control gene expression – plays a critical role in the production of neurotransmitters and transporters. The presence or absence of certain nutrients or toxins turns on or off the genes which produce these critical proteins.

Walsh cautions readers not to try this therapy without supervision by an experienced medical professional. There are many different biochemical imbalances which cause mental illnesses, and specific tests and history analysis are required to determine which are involved and therefore which treatment to use. Too much of a nutrient, for example folate, can be as harmful as not enough. In Walsh’s words:
The challenge is to carefully identify the specific nutrient overloads and deficiencies possessed by an individual and to provide treatments that normalize blood and brain levels of these chemicals with rifle-shot precision. This is the essence of biochemical therapy.
I find this book fascinating and will share more from it in coming weeks.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 28, 2018

473 The Missing Vitamins [28 May 2018]

We all know about vitamins A, C, D, E and K and the B vitamin family of B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folic acid) and B12 (cobalamin). Did you ever wonder what happened to the missing vitamins F through J and Bs 4, 8, 10 & 11?

The early and mid 20th century was an exciting time for nutritional science. New vitamins and their deficiency diseases were being discovered every decade. The deficiency diseases, like scurvy and beriberi, were, of course, known for centuries but their causes remained elusive. Part of the problem was that a disease caused by NOT eating something was unheard of. The discovery of microbes as a cause of disease was well accepted by then (although that too was a hard sell in its day – see my story about Semmelweis, #021 July 2009) and all diseases were thought to be caused either by a pathogen or a toxin.

By 1912 (the year biochemist Casimir Funk coined the term “vitamine”) the idea was just starting to become accepted that scurvy, rickets, beriberi and pellagra were each caused by a deficiency of some unknown substance. The next few decades led to the discovery and naming, in alphabetical order of discovery, of the current family of 13 vitamins. To be classed as a vitamin it must meet two criteria: 1) be essential for health; and 2) not be synthesized in the body so must be obtained through diet.

The missing letters and numbers are compounds that were initially thought to be a new vitamin but turned out not to be. Vitamin F turned out to be essential fatty acids which were given their own nutrient class. Vitamin G was vitamin B2; and vitamin H was B7. Vitamin I was a nickname for the drug ibuprofen, so was passed over in the naming sequence. Vitamins J and L were found to be synthesized by the body. Vitamin M turned out to be B9. Vitamins O, P, S and U are all also synthesized by the body. Similarly vitamins B4, B8, B10 and B11 were also disqualified from vitamin status due to synthesis in the body.

To complete this discussion, pseudovitamins are a small group of compounds that act like vitamins but don’t meet the strict definition. This group includes inositol, choline, lipoic acid and PABA. A good B complex supplement will include all or most of these.

Source: Accidental Medical Discoveries – How Tenacity and Pure Dumb Luck Changed the World. Robert W Winters, MD, 2016

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 21, 2018

472 Preserving Muscle [21 May 2018]

A few weeks ago [#470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned several supplements that help preserve or rebuild muscle in the elderly. Let’s take a closer look at these.

The first is protein powder. Whey works best and is fine for nearly everyone even those with dairy issues. A whey protein will increase muscle, improve liver and kidney function, and increase white blood cell and lymphocyte count (reducing colds and flu infections by half).

Branched Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) are special amino acids that do not require processing in the liver so can be used without stressing the liver or kidneys. They are particularly beneficial in preventing muscle loss in elderly or ill people and in enhancing healing of injuries including burns. BCAAs are available in tablet or powder form.

We usually think of creatine as a supplement for athletes and body builders but it is also beneficial for maintaining muscle in the elderly. Dr. Philip Rouchotas believes everyone over 70 should be supplementing with creatine daily. It will even prevent muscle atrophy in a limb that is in a cast from a fracture. Creatine is especially beneficial for neurodegenerative diseases. It will slow the progression and improve survival in ALS, and in Parkinson’s will improve upper body strength, improve mood, and most significantly slow the requirement for increasing doses of dopamine. A low dose of 2.5 g per day is perfectly safe for the kidneys.

Exercise, both aerobic and resistance, is essential in building and maintaining muscle, but without the above nutrients will not be nearly as effective. In one study adding whey protein doubled the amount of muscle gain from resisted exercise. Exercise of course has many other benefits which I have previously discussed including cancer prevention [#361] and increased life expectancy [#420].

But building muscle is only half the equation of strength. The other half is energy, which is produced in the mitochondria of our cells. B vitamins (or a good multi), coenzyme Q10, and Acetyl-L-Carnitine will all improve energy in the elderly; see my articles on mitochondria for more on these.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 14, 2018

471 The Mediterranean Diet [14 May 2018]

In two recent articles [#464 Heart Health Protocol and #470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly] I mentioned that the Mediterranean Diet is the basis of the protocols recommended by Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario. Let’s examine it more closely this week.

While potential benefits of what came to be known as the Mediterranean Diet (MD) were reported in the 1960s and 70s, it was the Lyon Diet Heart Study, published in 1999, that brought it widespread recognition. This study followed 605 people with existing heart disease for 4 years, comparing the Mediterranean Diet with the American Heart Association’s then-recommended STEP 1 diet. The MD group had 56% lower risk of all cause death and 67% reduction in risk of cardiovascular-related complications. In comparison, beta blocker drugs reduce all-cause mortality by 22% and fish oil by 25%.

Surprisingly it wasn’t until 2013 that the Mediterranean Diet was tested for prevention of cardiovascular disease in the general population. This study published in the New England J of Med in 2013, followed 7,447 people randomized to two variations of the Mediterranean Diet and a control for 5 years. The MD groups had 28% and 30% lower risk of major cardiovascular event (heart attack or stroke).

So what is the Mediterranean Diet? It is usually shown in the form of a pyramid (click here or drop in and ask me for a printed copy). At the base is physical activity and enjoyment of food with others – a great start!

Next is plant foods. Daily, each meal should be based around a variety of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, seeds, herbs and spices. Olive oil and nuts are an important source of fats.

The third step is fish and seafood to be eaten often, at least twice a week.

Fourth is poultry, eggs, cheese and yogurt, in moderate portions, daily to weekly.

Finally, at the top is red meat and sweets, to be used sparingly.

Drinking sufficient water is important. Wine is allowed in moderation.

The Mediterranean Diet is very general, so can be customized to your family’s tastes and preferences. In my opinion the significant lessons are: eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, grains and seeds; replace most red meat with fish and seafood; and restrict sugar and other refined carbs.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner.

May 7, 2018

470 Nutritional Support for the Elderly [7 May 2018]

In a recent webinar Dr. Philip Rouchotas ND of the Bolton Naturopathic Clinic in Ontario, shared his nutritional protocol for his elderly patients, especially those with neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, MS, and Parkinson’s, and those with mild cognitive impairment or traumatic brain injury. He believes most people over 60, and everyone over 70, will experience rapid and significant benefits from this program.

The base of the program is the Mediterranean Diet (more on this another week) along with physical exercise (aerobic and resistance) and mental exercise (chess, bridge, video games).

Step 1 deals with nutritional deficiencies which are “epidemic” among North American seniors for three main reasons: loss of appetite (they eat less); change in appetite (they prefer saltier, fattier, less nutrient-dense foods); and digestive impairment (they absorb fewer nutrients). Step 1 supplements:
• A good multivitamin with trace minerals and activated B’s
• Whey protein (30g) – prevents muscle loss; halves number of viral infections (colds)
• Creatine (2.5g) – prevents muscle loss (even while in a cast); with Parkinson’s slows requirement for increasing dopamine dose
• Fish Oil (1000-2000mg total EPA + DHA) – a 2:1 ratio works best

After a few months on Step 1 the elderly should have regained some strength and be ready to add a few more products from Step 2 to further improve their health:
• CoQ10 (100mg x2) – improves mitochondrial function, increases energy for muscle and brain function
• Acetyl-L-Carnitine (2g) – cofactor in mitochondria, necessary for burning fat for energy; doubles survival time in ALS patients
• Melatonin (as needed up to 20mg) – nerve cell antioxidant, benefits elderly even if sleep is not an issue
• Ginkgo biloba (120-240mg) – use if meds allow (blood thinners are a contraindication); improves cerebrovascular function (blood flow to the brain)
• Lion’s Mane (1g x2) – prevents cognitive impairment due to amyloid beta plaque; improves brain function in Mild Cognitive Impairment

I appreciate that Dr. Rouchotas’ protocols are backed with multiple human (not just animal) placebo-controlled studies so we can be confident in their safety and effectiveness. I plan to write more about some of these products in future articles.

For more information on this or other natural health topics, stop in and talk to Stan; for medical advice consult your licensed health practitioner. Find this article on my website for links to sources and further reading.