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.