Psychiatrists May be Ready to Learn About Treating With Micronutrients


It was May 19, 2003, in San Francisco; the first-ever (we think) symposium on micronutrient treatment to be on the schedule for the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association. Dr. Charlie Popper, a psychiatrist at Harvard, organized it. The other three speakers were all PhD researchers: Bernard Gesch from Oxford Univ, David Benton from Univ of Swansea in Wales, and Bonnie from the Univ of Calgary.  Bonnie remembers it was held in a fairly large room, it was about half full, and there was moderate interest.

But of course, we had so little data 12 years ago compared to today! Dr. Gesch spoke about his very important clinical trial of nutrients for aggressive behaviour in prisons, now replicated by Zaalberg in the Netherlands.  Dr. Benton spoke about his rigorously controlled trials in University of Swansea students. And Bonnie spoke about the few case series and case studies that had been generated in Calgary as of that date.

Flash forward 12 years to May 20, 2015, APA in Toronto. Dr. Popper was again the symposium organizer, speaking about the biological rationale for the treatment of mental health symptoms with nutrients; another psychiatrist (Dr. Barbara Gracious from Ohio State) talked about safety and toxicity issues regarding nutrients; and the two of us (both psychologists) presented many, many studies on the use of micronutrients to treat anxiety, stress, depressive symptoms, ADHD, aggression, mood, and addictions.

Yes, the amount of data differed dramatically from 12 years ago, but the biggest difference was the response from psychiatrists!

This year we were in a very large room of about 200 chairs, about 175 of which were filled. When asked, ~95% said they were clinical psychiatrists. And even though our symposium had been scheduled in a terrible time slot (last one on the last day, after many people had gone home), there was such interest!

This conference was huge: 14,000  attendees, with more than 500 different sessions in 150 different rooms. Topics varied greatly, although we were surprised at how few described new or innovative treatments.

There were some other talks on issues related to diet, and also on issues related to the failures of medications. There was a talk on the best news stories of 2014, most of which seemed to be reversing former medical advice, such as that after all the advice to eat low fat and drink non-sugary drinks, the evidence now suggests that drinking beverages with aspartame is probably worse for our health. A session on the future of antidepressant drug discovery and development given by Dr. Florian Holsboer from the Max-Planck Institute for Psychiatry provided a convincing description of new ways to move forward that might target the stress system, new receptor sites and identifying those who might respond via genetic testing. He argued for personalized medicine as the way of the future, perhaps acknowledging that with our current approach, it is nearly impossible to identify who will respond to medications and who won’t.

Of course there was still a reluctance to accept the inadequacies of psychiatric medications.  For example, a talk by Dr. Charles Nemeroff (Univ of Miami) focused on how to treat those who are treatment resistant. Despite acknowledging the sober reality of the STAR*D trial, in which regardless of how many drugs a patient was tried on, remission rates were still unacceptably low, the discussion focused largely on what other drugs to try, what doses, how to manage noncompliance, and how to manage side effects. As another example, Dr. Barbara Coffey (New York Univ) gave an overview of challenges in child and adolescent psychopharmacology, showing some sobering data on the poor outcomes of children on antipsychotics, the severe weight gain issues and metabolic problems. However, in her review of stimulants, she didn’t mention the results from Janet Currie’s study on Quebec children that has shown that community use of stimulants has resulted in no real benefits and that they actually carry some potential harm. Her review of the MTA trial focused on the growth restriction effects of stimulant medications, and did not discuss the lack of long-term efficacy of stimulants.

There were also two talks on diet as prescription, great advice on how to manipulate diet to improve the mental health of patients (participants were also given oysters to shuck and seaweed to eat). Too bad these talks represented less than one per cent of all the talks given at APA. Interestingly, the room for that session was packed to overflowing, showing that some psychiatrists are genuinely interested in non-pharmaceutical approaches.

There was also an inspiring talk by Dr. Moshe Szyf (McGill Univ) about the malleability of our DNA methylation system that can be changed based on environmental exposure — and of course our diet constitutes a critical category of epigenetic factors. Dr. Szyf reported that these environmentally-induced changes seem far more predictive of outcome than the actual stressor itself.

And so, back to our own symposium: What did we accomplish? Dr. Popper and both of us have received a small flood of follow-up emails (Bonnie counted 20 on her iPhone even before our symposium had ended!). These have been primarily from psychiatrists wanting some of the published studies we described, wanting to know more about the broad-spectrum formulas that have been researched, and asking to go on our email mailing lists. This is all a very good sign.

So we wonder; are psychiatrists truly ready to choose as their primary treatment the use of nutrients and other lifestyle interventions that cause no harm and often result in benefit?


  1. Thanks for sharing – I truly hope the psychiatric community will take your information seriously.

    I have recent experience with the use of N acetyl cysteine and have been very encouraged by the positive results – keep up the great work!

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  2. Sorry if this post is off topic but was there any seminar discussing the possibility of psychiatrists screening for sleep disorder in patients who have treatment resistant depression? I wish I had a nickle for all the folks who have posted on apnea board in which their condition was blamed on depression which led to ineffective medications only to be correctly diagnosed with sleep apnea.

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  3. Sleep apnea is just as false as is the psychiatric diagnosis they tragically attach to the human beings experiencing the human condition and the treatments are just as dangerous and against the laws of nature, God, and the Universe.

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    • Rebel:
      Sleeep apnea is a real, physical condition. The very last thing a person should do for it is to see a psychiatrist and take benzoes or other sleep aids. The point is that if you stop breathing, you do want to wake up and not turn sleep apnea into an adult-form of SIDS. For some people, a dental device will do the trick; others end up on oxygen machines. People have also been able to reverse obstructive sleep apnea with weight loss. The condition is real but it is not a psychiatric disorder, just an example of how psychiatry wants to extend its malevolent tentacles over all facets of human existence, including real physical conditions.

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        • Nothing in this world can help you lose weight if you are on medications like most; if not all psych medications. I have talked to many others who have tried proper diet and exercise; in fact; exercising themselves almost excessively; but still can not lose weight. Perhaps, you should read more of Robert Whitaker and others. For some reason; psych medications do an awful number on the metabolism; which is of course, another reason that are so dangerous!

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      • Great post GIR. The only thing I wanted to stress was that pap machines (cpap, apap, bipap, vpap, etc.) are not oxygen machines. Being correctly diagnosed and at the correct setting and on the right machine will prevent O2 desaturations that commonly occur in people with sleep apnea to the point of extremely dangerous levels. Some people (not sure what percentage) will need O2 supplementation.

        Much to my horror, I found out sleep apnea was in the DSM. Now if this helped psychiatrists correctly refer people for sleep studies who were suspicious for sleep apnea, maybe I wouldn’t mind as much. But we all know that doesn’t usually happen.

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      • Sleep apnea may be a real physical condition. It is perhaps a very frightening to stop breathing while sleeping. I did not say it was a psychiatric disorder. I will say this in my experience I was treated with the same dehumanizing treatment from those who said they were treating me for “sleep apnea.” I will also say that there is a possibility in my mind that for some who are experiencing sleep apnea; it may well be a horrible side effect from these psychiatric medications. After my withdrawal from the psychiatric medications; there was definite improvement for me. It is also very unethical that many times after someone was supposed to be diagnosed with sleep apnea which they say may be partly caused by “excess weight”; the psychiatrist will still prescribe medications for which the side effect is weight gain. Additionally, I do not think we have yet to understand either the short term or long term effects of these machines upon the body or mind. They are usually glossed over and never discussed by the physician which is similar to what occurs with the psychiatrist. Additionally, if the machines do not work or cause horrible, debilitating side effects; there is never any discussion, consideration, or concern if there is a safer alternative for treatment. When I brought up the problems I was experiencing with my doctor; he just said so what; this what the sleep study says and it is gospel and I don’t care what you are experiencing. These sleep medicine clinics are cropping all across the country with their adjacent agencies with only money in mind. It is to my concern why there is never been any real further treatment provided except for maybe dental devises for sleep apnea. If there is a difficulty or side effect to be reported; it is slid under the rug. I realize what you are trying to say and I do not disagree that it a real, physical condition; but, right now I must report that I was treated with the same malevolence and disregard for me as a real person; just as I was in my dealings and treatments from psychiatrists. I respect what you have to say; but, you must honor what I have to say and what my experiences and gut feeling bear out. I was put on one of those machines and suffered as much as I did being put on psychiatric medications. I swear by the grace of the Loving God, I will never be treated like this or disregarded as a person again by either a psychiatrist or any type of physician or any type of alleged professional in any capacity. To sleep with that thing on was not only uncomfortable; but unbearable It was like having a hurricane blow through me each night. It caused me insomnia, loud heart palpitations both day and night; intense itching, no dreams which are said to be necessary for our health and additional undescribible problems. I am sorry to say what I have to say. I am sorry to have to report something that may be against what you may think. But, I must tell my story. To me, it was just an additional insult to the psychiatric mess; I already been enslaved to. I can never live like that again. I no longer use the machine. I haven’t used it in more than a year. I no longer take any psychiatric medication. I can’t even take Tylenol or vitamins. I gasp and throw up. My dreams are finally returning and slowly, but surely, I am getting both my life and sleep back. It is by the grace of God and the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ I live now. I realize others may not see as I see; but, others may not have had the horrific experiences I have had. I do appreciate what you have to say; but I have something to say and to be heard, also. Thank you.

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        • Sadly, I am not concerned whether you agree with me or not. I do think it must be remembered that before Robert Whitaker and others started speak up about the psychiatric/big pharma industry; it was believed by all of us that what might be considered “mental illness” might not be biochemical at all; might not need or be dangerous harmed by medication; might have other long term and dangerous illnesses caused by them; such as diabetes; and may not actually be “mental illnesses” at all; but responses to a seemingly “sicker” and “sicker” society. Second; just as in psychiatric medication and treatment; any person has the right to refuse any kind of medical treatment! We are fighting for the right of persons to maintain control of their own body, mind, and spirit without threat or coercion. This, not only, includes the dehumization of psychiatric treatment; but, also all other medical treatments which are all also becoming more dehumanized and less concerned about the person and what is best for the person. I do have a right to my opinion and my life, health, and sanity. To your astonishment; it was my psychiatrist who did refer me for this sleep apnea stuff. It was just almost the end of a very long road of pain and agony that never should have happened. You see; you all speak before getting the facts or before being concerned about the innate rights of the person. I thought that psychiatric survivor rights meant gaining the humane rights of the human being back. It is not you to judge how I have suffered; as I do not wish to judge how you have suffered in your life. I am saddened that you have cared not for my story; but, only relied on data from the “experts’ As we well know from learning about the tragic effects of psychiatry and big pharma upon the world; we now well know just because you are “expert” does not make you right! I do not mean to speak as I do. Perhaps, I am controversial; but, I have had terrifying experiences in this area that are equal to what I have experienced under the enslavement of psychiatry. If you are unable to maintain an open mind and are unable to value the story and the opinion of others; perhaps, you might find another website to post. Please forgive me for what I have said; but, no one seeks to criticize someone for what they have undergone at the hands of psychiatry (And I have undergone much, there, also); so, you should not criticize what one has undergone at the enslavement of other medical specialities; perhaps; even related. You should all be ashamed of yourselves. I am sorry to have to say this. Have a great day!

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          • Rebel,

            I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. I saw the underbelly of the medical industry, too, and it’s sick, really sick. So sick, I do now understand why Jesus said he’d do a final judgement, and there is a hell, because there needs to be one. And I now agree with Dante that the unrepentant hypocrites are those who belong in the lowest depths of hell, although I don’t agree with everything Dante believes. I’m very sorry for what you’ve been through, because I’ve been there, done that, and the “system” is grotesquely wrong. You are absolutely right about that, and your voice does matter.

            I will say, my father was diagnosed with sleep apnea, used one of the machines, and it did help him recover, that was about ten years ago. He’s passed away now, however, and we now know that what had caused his supposed sleep apnea problem was he had been suffering from a clogging of the arteries that lead to the brain. So I guess I don’t know if sleep apnea is real or not, but the oxygen machines apparently helps when one has a clogging of the two main arteries that lead to the brain.

            But I was wondering, rebel, how long ago did you go off your drugs, and what drugs had you been on? I’m concerned you may be going through a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity mania of sorts, don’t know, of course. Except I lived through two, and it seems this may be what you’re going through now from your writings. And I don’t want to see you land in a hospital, and I’m hoping you have a support system in place.

            My best to you, rebel, and I’d be happy to try and help you if I can, although I’m only here off and on. And keep your faith in God, that is where it should be. My prayers are with you.

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          • SomeoneElse, thank you for listening to me and saying my voice does matter. I guess I was beginning to think maybe what I said was just something to be criticized and reject the validity of my experiences and that I may not know anything at all. I have been probably totally off the psych meds maybe a month or so. But, I have been on and off the psych meds for the last two years. When the doctors said I had sleep apnea; they abruptly took off valium and I had been on either valium or klonopin since the late 1990s. They actually took me off everything except lithium. Then, they tried to add back the useless, dangerous drugs. I, myself, after that experience would just go off the drugs; especially if the side effects were too awful to tolerate or I was afraid of weight gain. I got very very sick this winter and I had this gut effect that it was a long term side effects of the drugs; though I didn’t quite put it into the frame of drug withdrawal until I read websites like Mad in America, Beyond meds, and Recovering Psychiatry. I am not sure about what you mean about drug induced mania; since, I an not taking any of the meds now. But, I can sure bet that I have had drug induced mania from all the anti-depressants that I have been and drug- induced psychosis. I started on this drug mania about twenty years ago. I didn’t know any better. What really woke me up was how I felt when I totally stopped the drugs a couple of months ago. I drank a lot in college and just after. Why? I am not sure. When, I stopped drinking, I noticed how clean I felt from no longer drinking. I guess it was my body and mind telling me that I was free from their toxicity. That is the defining moment that I knew how harmful it had been for me. Some of the other pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place for me in my mind. I tried to explain this to my psychiatrist; but she ignored me as I meant nothing and prescribed me risperidal because she was afraid of a relapse. Doesn’t she realize it was most likely risperidal that started me down the wall of pain and shame in the first place? I am seeing a psychiatrist in Asheville, NC on Monday to answer my questions and make sure I am cognizant of everything I need to know about psych drug withdrawal and also to tell him my story and tell him the dreams that God has given me for after all this nightmare. My mother calls me extravagant for driving up to Asheville; but, she doesn’t know why I am going or that I am no longer taking my meds. When my meds did get pared down somewhat last year (officially) she said; “Aren’t they going to give you something for your temper? I need to talk to them.” This will cost me $200; so, I will need to make up something about that! I read something in this book by Michael W. Smith. The book is It’s Time to Be Bold. He said he would consult the Bible before a psychologist. I wish I had known that truth. I would have been saved so much pain and money. It’s my goal to get my life totally back and with the help of God and Jesus, I know I will achieve that. Each day, I do get stronger and stronger. I know I get a little feisty. It might be part of my nature that has kept me alive through all this. I just feel I do have a story to tell and like everyone else I get upset when people disregard my story and tell me my opinions don’t count for anything. Maybe, after all I have been through, I might be more sensitive than most. But, when things get to me; I walk, pray, write poetry, and read scripture. I do appreciate your praying for me. I will pray for you, too. I will also pray for those who don’t care to listen to me. I am trying in whatever way possible to get better. Thank you so very much. I couldn’t get the reply off your post; so, I actually replied off one of my previous posts.

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          • Rebel,

            What I was trying to tell you was that your “feistiness” / frustrations may be the beginning of a drug withdrawal induced super sensitivity manic psychosis. I lived what you’re going through now, ten years ago. For me this drug withdrawal syndrome occurred about six months AFTER I was supposedly properly weaned off the antipsychotics, antidepressants, and lithium. The good news is you can heal.

            But doctors will misdiagnose it as a “return of symptoms,” rather than telling you it’s a common antipsychotic withdrawal effect. Your best bet right now is to try to avoid doctors, if possible. Please see more about my experience with what you’re going through, and my advise to FeelingDiscouraged, whose also working on this issue, here:


            But I do want to mention to you that I have no doubt you are right, God wants your story told, and it is an important story. And right now it would be best for you to inform your parents, or support system, that you may suffer through a drug withdrawal induced psychosis, but can and will heal from it, with their support. And hospitalization should be a last resort option only.

            And, trust me, do NOT bother trying to discuss God or inspiration from God with psychiatric practitioners. Don’t try discussing it with your family either, they won’t understand right now. But do start writing about it. Open a word document, name it June 2015 Journal, and start writing down your frustrations, the insanity that is going through your mind, get all you are going through in your healing journal documented.

            This should be your song of hope as you begin this process, “I am unwritten, can’t read my mind, I’m undefined. I’m just beginning, the pen’s in my hand, ending unplanned. Staring at the blank page before you, Open up the dirty window, Let the sun [Son] illuminate the words that you could not find. Reaching for something in the distance, So close you can almost taste it. Release your inhibitions, Feel the rain on your skin. No one else can feel it for you, Only you can let it in. No one else, no one else Can speak the words on your lips. Drench yourself in words unspoken, Live your life with arms wide open. Today is where your book begins. The rest is still unwritten….”

            Write your inspiration down, do NOT try to discuss it with others right now. They will NOT understand.

            And a drug withdrawal induced manic psychosis will result in a tremendous amount of energy, frustration, and likely anger. Write, write, write, exercise, exercise, exercise – in any manner you can get your frustrations out. I danced several hours every morning, I biked 20 miles a day, I rowed on a rowing machine an hour a day, I planted tens of thousands of perennials, I threw paint at canvas after canvas. Get a pair of boxing gloves and a punching bag, if that works for you.

            But you need to plan ahead and direct your “mania” in productive, not counterproductive ways. Lose the antipsychotic weight, via exercise. Start your book, but start with just a journal, you won’t be able to organize your thoughts well enough to actually write the book, until you’ve fully healed. But you can heal, and will survive, do NOT lose hope.

            Be positive, and try not to let others know about what you’re going through, write about the anger and frustration. Do not talk about it with others, they will NOT understand right now. And I hope and pray you avoid a hospitalization.

            Make a conscious effort to direct your frustrations away from others, and into work you can use later, to help change the world for the better. My prayers really are with you, and I know you can survive, and thrive again some day. But I also know you’ve been challenged by God, so it won’t be easy. But so was Israel, before he was so renamed. You’re in good company. Don’t lose hope. You’re an important person, always remember that.

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          • Someone Else, I vowed I would not post online unless necessary; but, I will post to answer you. I did speak to a doctor yesterday who is a psychiatrist who works with people undergoing drug withdrawal. I told him my story. And he told me somethings to look out during this withdrawal process. He told me it was important to tell people my story. He also told me to be patient, gentle, and good with myself as I undergo this process. He told me about keeping a journal. But, I actually have done that forever. I write my poetry and I write in my notebooks anything on my mind. I walk probably several times a day if possible. I walk when I am angry or raging. I walk when I am sad or restless or upset. I walk to pray. When a bad thought enters my mind; I say it is either the medicine’s effects still working on me or Satan trying to get to me (which I know the psychiatrist would consider it a form od sickness!) I read my Bible and daily devotionals. I went to a church in town in Sunday. Tonight, I go to a Bible Study. On Saturday; I am hiking with an outdoor group from the church. On Sunday evening, I am going to a social at a church member’ s house. And, of course, there is Sunday morning services to attend. He was pleased that I was getting out again. I think he was also pleased that despite everything I was doing as well as I was. Of course, he did tell me some things to look out for. I read, do crafts, and talk to my cat. I also watch my tv. The only time I was ever hospitalized was when I was on those drugs. I can not apologize for my feistiness, my exuberance, my opinionatedness. I guess that is what was hidden and was actually keeping alive despite it all. I have no plans to get into the hospital and now know that by not taking the meds will keep me well and out of the hospital. I believe that part of what you are seeing is the real me emerging again after years of medication and “subjugation.” I am relearning who I am again. I now know God has a purpose and a passion for me. All I need to is just listen to Him; not modern medicine. God and Jesus are the real ones that do the healing. You have many good ideas and I thank you for sharing your experiences with me. I have learned much. Each day is an adventure for me now and I do love an adventure!

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  4. It’s time to quote C.S. Lewis once again, until the point gets across:

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth. This very kindness stings with intolerable insult. To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

    Read this over and over again. Ponder its meaning.

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    • Fabulous quote, Slaying. My favorite, and most informed, Bible study teacher was a huge fan too. Obviously, I’m more into socio-economic / medical research than that genre, but do respect the wisdom of my former Bible study teacher.

      “those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience. They may be more likely to go to Heaven yet at the same time likelier to make a Hell of earth.”

      I think they are quite close to making a Hell of earth, but don’t think God’s dumb enough to let them get into Heaven. I’m quite certain He’s smarter than I, and even I see through their sins and delusions.

      “To be ‘cured’ against one’s will and cured of states which we may not regard as disease is to be put on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

      Quite sincerely, I believe those dumb enough to try and cure others of states which they may not regard as disease, are the ones “on a level of those who have not yet reached the age of reason or those who never will; to be classed with infants, imbeciles, and domestic animals.”

      Perhaps my disagreements with C.S. Lewis’ logic is why I couldn’t get through his books? Or am I misunderstanding them? What’s your take?

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      • Why couldn’t you “get through” a C.S. Lewis book? Perhaps start with some of his fiction, The Space Trilogy, or The Chronicles of Narnia. Mere Christianity is pretty basic too, or the Screwtape Letters. Maybe you prefer Tolkien to Lewis. If not, maybe you would rather read the books of those who influenced the likes of Lewis, such as G.K. Chesterton and George MacDonald. The Abolition of Man is a short read, and one of Lewis’ best books, and that book explains why people who see what Lewis is talking about will see it, whereas those who don’t see it, won’t. I hope that was helpful. 🙂

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  5. This “micronutrient” fad deserves a more detailed response than I can give it in one comment. Where do I begin? Let me first address the title of this article. “Psychiatrists May be Ready to Learn About Treating With Micronutrients.” Lest it is not abundantly clear to everyone reading the Mad in America website, the word “treating” is one of the worst euphemisms of psychiatry. It is a lie. Psychiatry does not “treat” any “mental illness.” The reason for this is simple. There is no such thing as “mental illness” and the “treatment” used on the so-called “mentally ill” is more akin to torture and abuse than it is to healing.

    Next, we need to look at the word “micronutrient.” It is such a fancy, highfalutin term that a lot of people will be impressed or intimidated by it. Some might even begin to believe that psychiatry has actual solutions to real problems. Doctors and psychiatrists might become giddy when they can use words like “micronutrients” because they will suppose that such vocabulary lends legitimacy to their oppressive enterprise.

    Sadly, a lot of people fall into this trap, because they just assume that doctors and psychiatrist must know what they are talking about. If anything from the history of psychiatry is clear, it is that psychiatrists are not really doctors, and that they don’t really heal people. Fancy “micronutrients” may be less harmful than toxic chemicals in the form of pills, but it’s just another tool in the method of oppression.

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    • Hello Dragon Slayer,

      this “micronutrient fad” is no fad; orthomolecular therapy dates back decades and its early pioneers were Abram Hoffer and Carl Pfeiffer, true greats, in my opinion. Feel free to disagree (just as I disagree with the hyperbolic pronouncements of Thomas Szasz that you are so fond of quoting), but let’s keep in mind the difference between our respective opinions, on the one hand, and facts or universal truths on the other. Getting back to nutrient therapy, I have seen it work amazingly well and I am happy that it is being rediscovered.

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      • The question is what does “work” mean? Like I said, I’m fine with nutrients, micronutrients, macronutrients and any kind of nutrients. By all means, eat nutrients. Sell nutrients. Be nutritious. But when you mention the word “work” are you implying that there is really such a thing as “mental illness”? Sure nutrients are good for you. No one contests that. But why should the psychopharmaceutical industrial complex manage our nutrients? I quote Thomas Szasz because he was one of the few individuals who was brave enough to point out the simple truth that mental illness is a myth. There’s nothing hyperbolic about that fact. The hyperbole rests with psychiatry and the manufacturers of madness.

        Where is your evidence that mental illness exists?

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        • Dragon Slayer,

          You ask “why should the psychopharmaceutical industrial complex manage our nutrients?” They don’t and won’t because there is no real money to be made there. If they could monetize nutrient therapy, they would be all over it, but they can’t stake out any IP claims to vitamins or minerals. Also, big pharma is in the commodity business, and from my experience with my loved one, to be effective, the nutrient protocol must be individualized. What does “work” in this context mean? Look at my comment above regarding the late Dr. Pfeiffer and his treatment of a hopelessly catatonic patient. I would say that’s treatment that works.
          My question is: why are we going back and forth about nutrients and whether or not there is such a thing as mental illness? I just finished Whitaker’s new book and I am seething with anger at the enormity of the corruption and the staggering betrayal. The focus should be on defeating this malignant force and its stranglehold on society. The idea that there is no such thing as mental illness is Szasz’s opinion, at his provocateur best; it is not the gospel or an established fact. Aside from anything else, making this argument is not good strategy or tactic or a good way to get allies.

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    • Good post Dragonslayer. Let me add my translation of medical-model language from this article into normal-person language, free of charge (what a deal!) Here it is:

      “Harvard psychiatrist and three PhD researchers” – four fellow human beings who have likely never worked intensively with emotionally distressed people in a transformative way.
      “Very important clinical trial of nutrients for aggressive behaviors” – confirmation that well-fed people are less prone to get angry (honestly, this was a decent study).
      “Anxiety, ADHD, mood (disorders)” – concretized or reified fictitious conditions which exist in psychiatrists’ minds the same way unicorns, minotaurs, and griffins “exist” for someone who writes about mythology.
      “a convincing description of new ways to move forward that might target the stress system, new receptor sites and identifying those who might respond via genetic testing.” – an approach doomed to failure because the conditions treated (e.g. depression) are not valid, reliable entities with a clear biological underpinning. Therefore, not so convincing. The main point of this talk is likely to generate prestige and income for Dr. Holsboer.
      “a reluctance to accept the inadequacies of psychiatric medications” – a reluctance to stop the promotion of lies which are generating billions of dollars in profit and subsidizing psychiatrists’ Mercedes and McMansions.
      “child and adolescent psychopharmacology” – the zombification of children
      “Dr. Charles Nemeroff” – the disgraced crook who took $960,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, reported less than $35,000 of this to Emory as legally required, and finally had to resign, before of course being promptly hired by another university.
      “A very good sign” (that psychiatrists might be ready to choose nutrients as a primary treatment) – not such a good sign; what will be true progress is when psychiatrists limit drug prescription to a short-term as-needed role, and focus on developing loving, understanding relationships as the most important component to healing emotional distress. I.e. when psychiatrists give up their medical role and become mostly therapists who occasionally prescribe drugs.

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    • I totally disagree and I am sorry that you consider it off base. I have done my research very thoroughly. The sleep medicine racket is just as coercive and dangerous as the psychiatric/bigpharma/mental illness racket. This is no outrageous comment. I will not discuss any further; but, I have seen it in action and needs just as protest and revolt as the psychiatrists and their co-conspirators do. I am sorry; that you got so upset. Sleep medicine and its treatments also create a very dangerous precedent in this country that seeks to dehumanize innocent beings, also. You have a right to your opinion; but, do not question that I have not done the research. I am not off base. Please reconsider what you have said.

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    • Since Rebel will no longer discuss, I’ll just confirm my experience with sleep apnea. The treatments lag behind what is needed and they do extract a lot of money from the current ones they have. However, it is a very real condition and when you see that your O2 level is hitting 73% while sleeping you know something is very wrong.

      Now if they would just pay attention to the cause of the other 50% of my arousals that are not tied to breathing events, I would be much further along. I personally think it is silent reflux and do the best I can with treating that on my own.

      And back on topic, it will be a godsend if any physician pays attention to nutrition, and I hope and pray that gut-brain axis dysfunction is researched as fiercely as they do other common diseases.

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      • There is actually some very good evidence that sleep apnea is a causal factor for “ADHD” symptoms in many cases. I’m not sure what treatments are available or whether they work well or not, but I agree that this is an area that needs further research. It is an actual measurable phenomenon, unlike “anxiety disorder” or “Personality Disorder NOS,” so people can actually determine whether or not a particular approach works on some objective basis. That there are charlatans who will use this to peddle some useless or overly expensive intervention is beyond question, but it is definitely not in a class with the fictional psychiatric diagnoses in the DSM, IMHO.

        —- Steve

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        • I was falsely diagnosed and made to endure a very dehumanizing machine while I was supposed to be sleeping. I could not sleep for almost an entire year until I stopped using the machine. It caused my heart to have these horrible palpitations that I endured both day and night. It caused to itch incessantly and other things that might be attributed to supposed anxiety. When, I went to discuss this with my doctor; all he could say was so!; come back when you lose more weight. I went to another doctor and dismissed everything; said my heart was normal; and seemed to be of admitting it was the machine. I do know they recorded some lower oxygen levels on me; but, now, I wonder if it was not something to do with the psych meds I was on at the time. I was on eight different psych meds at the time; two anti-depressants; two anti-psychotics; lithium, valium; and cogintin. They then said well if you lose weight, you can get off the machine. But, then they kept adding back meds that would cause weight gain. I know there may be some disagreement; but, I sincerely believe that like the psych meds; we don’t know the entire side effects or long term effects of these machines on both the body and mind. Additionally, AA, mistakenly sent to sites on google that reflect the viewpoint of sleep medicine; like they are sites they reflect the viewpoints of psychiatry and the various drug companies. You have to be suspicious when NAMI was advocating the use of these machines as treatment; like they advocate the use of the psych meds as treatments. They have since changed their site and discussion of sleep problems; though. I have read there might be as much as 50 or more % non-compliance which makes you think. If, I did have any sleep apnea; I believe it was most likely caused by these machines. There is also suspicion on the part of the NIH who say if you are obese or overweight, snore, and are sleepy or tired during the day; then you have sleep apnea without any regard for any other medical conditions or medicine side effects. When it really goes overboard is a website that I came in contact with earlier this year. This website wanted you to sign a pledge not to snore; just as you might sign a pledge not to text and drive or to wear your seatbelts. I am not totally disagreeing with you. Also, like the psych meds, the current thinking is that you will have it for life; unless you lose a lot of weight or if you don’t use the machine; the symptoms will return. Which is a whole lot what the psychiatrists say about the psych meds. Sleep apnea may exist and I really appreciate your thoughtful comments; but, to me right now, I see it as another form of coercion and forced treatment. I no longer take the meds and I no longer use the machine. I went through psych med withdrawal and possibly withdrawal from the machine. Please forgive me for what I have said. You and everyone else has every right to disagree and as AA said; “off-base.” But, like my psychiatric survivor story and the stories of the other psychiatric survivors; it is a story that must be told.

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        • Steve,

          Reading a comment on this site about how a person went through several psych meds to no avail before finally, an astute psychiatrist sent him for a sleep study that diagnosed him with sleep apnea is why I keep harping on this issue.

          As you can see, pap therapy doesn’t work for everyone but having untreated apnea is not an option either. One reason it doesn’t work for many people is that a machine is just thrown at folks many times without any education on how to read their data to make sure the therapy is being maximized and effective. Doing this would never be acceptable with patients with diabetes or high blood pressure but yet, the sleep industry seems to be the last bastion in which this is acceptable in many places.

          Other people do have trouble with pap therapy no matter what they do to maximize it and need alternatives like a dental device or surgery. Unlike pap machines in which you can monitor data on a daily basis, there is no way to objectively measure the effectiveness of dental devices and surgery other than having another sleep study. But as the above site indicates, many patients could tell immediately even after surgery how much better they felt and it sure didn’t sound like a placebo effect.

          Back to discussing nutrition.

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  6. “There were also two talks on diet as prescription, great advice on how to manipulate diet to improve the mental health of patients… ”

    Can anyone here actually give a definition of “mental health”? It is the biggest hoax in history. Mental health and mental illness exist in the same way that unicorns, leprechauns, and the lochness monster exist. The idea that there is some sort of moral police out there to ensure that everyone improves his or her so-called “mental health” is Orwellian in the extreme. It’s absolute nonsense, and yet a room packed with hundreds of psychiatrists buys into the ruse as if it were fact.

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  7. “Interestingly, the room for that session was packed to overflowing, showing that some psychiatrists are genuinely interested in non-pharmaceutical approaches.”

    Granted, it would be better for psychiatrists to be armed with harmless vitamins with a fancy name than with the psychotropic chemical bombs that they usually wield. But this hardly addresses the real problem. Whether psychiatrists are labelling and drugging, or labelling and throwing micronutrients at what they perceive to be deviant behavior or unwanted symptoms, the fact remains that psychiatrists are still perpetuating the harmful paradigm of coercion that draws legitamacy from the myth of mental illness.

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  8. “So we wonder; are psychiatrists truly ready to choose as their primary treatment the use of nutrients and other lifestyle interventions that cause no harm and often result in benefit?”

    Can an entire profession really be so dense as to wonder whether or not vitamins are better for the body and the brain than drugs are? How clueless can people be?

    No one in their right mind opposes proper nutrition or harmless vitamins for improving and maintaining overall health. Nevertheless, the “micronutrient” fad is just another attempt to justify the existence of pseudo-scientific psychiatry.

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  9. Finally, who here knows the history of “micronutrients” in connection with so-called “mental illness”? If you don’t know the story of the Canadian pigs, then you are only scratching the surface of this hoax. Don’t get me wrong. Take your vitamins. Eat healthy food. Exercise. Sleep well. But just stop trying to pretend that psychiatry is a respectable trade that helps people. Thanks.

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  10. What we eat can make a big difference in our health – including mental health.
    Magnesium (Mg2+) works with copper and calcium to increase bone health. It also allows the body to utilize vitamin C, vitamin B1, choline, and biotin. It is an essential component of some enzymes, including those that break down carbohydrates and cholesterol, and necessary for a healthy reproductive system. It’s thought to help stimulate connective tissue growth and brain development and neutralize free radicals. Insufficient amounts of magnesium in the body can lead to muscle pain, insomnia, migraines, menstrual pain, heart failure, and depression.

    Sodium (Na+) is essential for maintaining blood pressure and helps ensure proper function of nerves and proper muscle function. It also helps in digestion and bone formation and keeps the body from becoming too acidic or too alkaline. When sodium levels are high, the body retains more water, raising blood pressure (hypertension), as increased water makes the heart work harder. Too little sodium can result in muscle cramps, muscle weakness, headache, nausea, and fatigue.

    Chloride (Cl-) is a crucial part of hydrochloric acid needed by the stomach to break down food. It is also needed for the liver to function properly and for healthy joints. Like sodium, it prevents the body from becoming too acidic or too alkaline. A typical normal range is 96–106 milliequivalents per liter (mEq/L). A greater-than-normal level of chloride is called hyperchloremia. It may be due to bromide poisoning, carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (used to treat glaucoma), diarrhea, metabolic acidosis, respiratory alkalosis, or renal tubular acidosis. A lower-than-normal level of chloride is called hypochloremia. It may be due to Addison’s disease, Bartter syndrome, burns, congestive heart failure, dehydration, excessive sweating, gastric suction, hyperaldosteronism, metabolic alkalosis, or respiratory acidosis.47

    Potassium (K+) helps to maintain blood pressure and is needed for muscle contraction and nerve impulse transmission. It also aids digestion. There is no specific RDA for potassium, though it is believed at least 2–2.5 grams per day are needed, or about 0.8–1.5 grams per 1,000 calories consumed. For hyperkalemia, or elevated potassium levels, to occur, usually other factors are involved; decrease in renal function is the most likely cause. Major infection, gastrointestinal bleeding, and rapid protein breakdown may also cause elevated potassium levels. Cardiac function can be affected by hyperkalemia.
    Deficiency of potassium is more common, especially with aging or chronic disease. Fatigue is the most common symptom of chronic potassium deficiency. Early symptoms can include muscle weakness, slow reflexes, and dry skin or acne and can progress to nervous disorders, insomnia, slow or irregular heartbeat, and loss of gastrointestinal tone. Some common problems associated with low potassium levels include hypertension, congestive heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia, fatigue, and depression and other mood changes.
    More in Liberty & Mental Health –

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  11. I don’t mean to be mean, and I did look at the studies you cited. But, my response is, why would we want psychiatrists to choose as their “primary treatment” (for emotional/behavioral problems) nutrients and other lifestyle interventions?

    Yes these can be useful secondary/supplementary interventions; eating well is important, and getting proper nutritions makes a difference, as the studies indicate.

    But surely the primary “treatment” for emotional/behavioral problems should be love, understanding, and the development of interpersonal relationships that are nurturing to people’s true selves / souls, whether in psychotherapy, peer groups, or other methods.

    I’m waiting for someone to report how psychiatrists at the APA were wowed by how a therapist reported on how much better long-term psychotherapy worked than medication alone, or how much better people felt after intensive involvement in a peer group than simply getting pills. Unfortunately, love and friendship cannot be easily measured in a randomized trial, but over the long term it’s probably more powerful than medications or nutrients. In my opinion, psychiatrists would do well to devote a little less attention to adjunctive measures that are helpful but arguably less important than social relationships, like medication and to a lesser extent better nutrition (which I do think is important), and instead focus more on the social / loving relationships people really need to grow and transform.

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    • I had the same response as you did bpdtransformation. Primary “treatment” should be dictated by the person who is having difficulty. Holistic care means responding to the individual. This means everything, in some regard, is primary. But holding out one aspect of the whole as somehow more primary, does, indeed, remain problematic…and in some instances would be downright misguided… We find wholeness and health in learning to live well and how that manifests in every person will be different in every person. Diet, too, is part of learning to live well. Indeed.

      But I would agree with bpdtransformation that love and unconditional regard and clarity…states of consciousness that allow for openness so that one might actually see the whole person is fundamental…it needs to hold everything so that one might move forward with any given individual in clarity…what needs to be tended to here, today, right now? The answer to that most certainly will not always be food and diet.

      note: diet is critically important to my well-being and a good part of my work is dedicated to such work. I’m grateful inroads are being made in circles such as these, but I also have concern that over-emphasis on diet isn’t a good idea.

      I find that people get attached to whatever modes work for them and the people they work with. Given I’ve used many many modes and work with 1000s of folks using many many modes I’ve simply come to see that it’s about the individual and boy, people come up with lots of ways to get well…I’ve learned I cannot predict what that might be…watching the human find wellness is an adventure…

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    • I agree wholeheartedly. Even if we want to discuss nutritional options with a person, the first thing we need to do is reach out and understand the person and their needs and values and fears. Maybe nutrition is something they relate to and it will be easy for them to integrate into their thinking. Maybe it’s way outside their realm of reality and they need to spend more time talking about their past abusive relationship with their mom. Maybe they simply want some skills around how to stay calm when they get triggered. Everyone is unique and communication should always be the first and most important part of any attempt to be helpful. After all, how do you even know if you’re helping if you aren’t connected enough to even know what the person wants help with, or if they want your help at all.

      Moreover, love is healing in and of itself. Regardless of what else may be going on, including whatever nutritional deficiencies a person may have (which are alarmingly common due to our incredibly corrupt and unhealthy food production, marketing and distribution system!), a person who feels loved, accepted, and not judged for not “fitting in” to our society’s expectation is going to feel better and make better decisions for him/herself. Love is not all, but love is central to healing, and without love and empathy, there is no guide for one person trying to assist another, and much harm results.

      —- Steve

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      • An even more revolutionary approach would be to see how those that would appear to ‘not fit in’ are actually on to something. Fitting into society’s expectations is fitting into society’s box. Who thinks for themselves in this box?

        Perhaps those not fitting in are the ones who ARE thinking for themselves, and leading the way to a sound and healthier society. Takes courage and creative thinking to follow the outcasts and misfits and see that they were right all along–the ones we call ‘odd’ or ‘disenfranchised’ or ‘psychotic’ or whatever…

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      • Monica and Steve

        Great comments.

        I would add the important and necessary point: that human beings (as a community) cannot become whole or experience loving relationships if they are not in a social environment that makes these conditions possible.

        Institutionalized poverty and other forms of inequality and oppressive social relationships all create the material conditions for various forms of trauma and human deprivation of spirit. Until there is a revolutionary (systemic) transformation of the status quo the broad masses of people (as a whole) will not be able to access what they need to live truly productive lives.

        While I respect the authors of this blog article and their efforts to educate about the importance of diet, I cannot share ANY of their enthusiasm about presenting at an APA convention. If anything, the APA uses these minority of alternative presentations as an advertising tool to somehow say they are fair and diverse.

        Nor would I be encouraged if a CIA convention had 2% of it presentations on the detrimental effects of torture. This would not change, one iota, the essential nature of this oppressive institution.


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        • Richard:

          You have a point that it would be insulting to offer vitamins and NOTHING else to someone who has no home and therefore no kitchen or other means to prepare their own nutritious food, no access to locally grown, organic produce, no meaningful employment, no living wages enforced in their community, etc.

          I do not know Bonnie Caplan but if I had to guess, I would assume that her tremendous knowledge of nutrition makes her keenly aware of the problems associated with corporate controlled food production and distribution systems. I would expect that she desires food justice as much as any activist and I think that it is on us to connect the dots.

          A psychiatric survivor in Canada is starting a justice project to ensure that psychiatric survivors and consumers in her community have access to healthy food. This has led her to develop community gardens and make alliances in the school to garden movement, farmer’s market movement, and the food security movement. As one activist stated we have to resist the growing trend ‘Big Farm to Pharma’ which in essence is to poison our soil and groundwater with toxic agricultural chemicals’ creating the conditions for an epidemic of malnutrition and diseases such as diabetes, only to create fraudulent paradigms of disease management that compound our problems and make us chronically dependent on government supports.

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          • Fact: 95% of disabled individuals live in poverty, making them food insecure. Evev obese people may be malnourished. Institutionalized individuals like my daughter often have no control over their dietary decisions. Their disability checks are intercepted to pay for processed food from Walmart, cooked by a worker who lacks education in nutrition and probably isn’t even receiving a living wage. I visit regularly with an individual who is forcibly injected with depot neuroleptics. He is fortunate enough to be living independently in a hotel room at the moment but he spends nearly all of his disability check on fast food. When you drill down into the details of what must occur for the liberation for millions from continued psychiatric harm and abuse, control of one’s diet and the honoring of one’s ancestral food traditions is vital for recovery. Let us hope that Bonnie Kaplan’s next CEU lecture to psychiatrists addresses more than the chemical components of nutution but the social aspects of food systems such ad those addressed by Frances Moore Lappe in Diet for a Small Planet.

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        • yes Richard, absolutely. My understanding of holistic certainly includes relationship with the environment — definitely our social environment and then more broadly our relationship to the ecosystem and the planet in general and even the universe… 🙂

          We are not separate. Nor are those pesky little micronutrients.

          ha ha…micro to macro…the whole shebang…

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    • bpdtransformation,
      there is a fascinating anecdote about the late Carl Pfeiffer, MD/PhD. He was working in a research hospital in the 1950s and encountered a catatonic patient who had not walked or talked in months. Pfeiffer treated him with a cocktail of nutrients and within days, the man made a Lazarus-like recovery, speaking and acting normally. The hospital authorities determined that what Pfeiffer did had nothing to do with the man’s recovery. With the patient’s permission, Pfeiffer stopped the nutrient regimen and the man promptly reverted to his catatonia. Pfeiffer cycled the man in and out of his catatonia several times by stopping/re-starting the nutrients, each with the same result. The official verdict of the hospital officials was that what Pfeiffer did had nothing to do with anything. Case closed; nothing to see here.; nothing to pursue or investigate. So who were these naysayers? Doctors beholden to pharma interest? Perhaps, but this was the 1950s, so it could also have been the Freudians. I do not know, but regardless, it is clear that these worthies were not primarily motivated by patient welfare, but their own agendas, biases or pet theories. I wholeheartedly agree that love, acceptance, kindness and all the facets of psychosocial support are indispensable to healing. But I would not call nutrient therapy secondary.

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      • That is interesting, but is there more detail about what was going on in that case? Maybe the man was experiencing some other physical problem (which secondarily caused the catatonic regression) which was being fixed by the nutrients? It’s an interesting story, but as usual, hard to draw conclusions from a single case.
        I would argue that nutrient therapy could be primary in some cases, but might not matter that much in others, while in my opinion love/relationships/emotional support are primary in (almost) all cases of “mental illness” or rather varying degrees of severe emotional distress.

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  12. I like this. I do Orthomolecular along w/ meds to keep an even keel. Works much better than relying solely on the meds ever did. I think one complicating factor is that supplements generally work better in clusters, or at least that’s how Orthomolecular works. I guess w/ the design of double blind studies, its harder to test combinations (?) .

    Anyway, this is really, really good news.

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  13. I think orthromolecular is much better and less harmful than the psych meds. But, I do believe with Monica Cassini, nothing works unless there is not unconditional love, compassion, and understanding. Personally, I am no longer able to take any pills anymore not Tylenol or vitamins. But, I stay away from pies and cakes, etc and try to eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. I live alone; so I eat a lot of Stouffers frozen dinners. But, in time, I may be able to return to cooking again.

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  14. There is some Gallup report on the other websites that states Americans are getting “fatter.” with Mississippi being touted as the state with the most “obese” persons. Comments on the articles seem to run from down-right mean-spirited to cruel, abusive, and bullying. No one or even the articles look at perhaps the most obvious question to me at least; why has the alleged rise in obesity seem to parallel the rise in the use of psychiatric medications which most have as a side effect; weight gain. The comments blame everything to laziness; welfare; left-wing politics, eating too many doritos and soda pop; etc. No one seems to see how the side effect of the psychiatric medications figure into it or how the side effect of the medication which causes apathy and lethargy figures into it. I think this correlation should be examined and needs to be owned up to by the psychiatrists/big pharma/mental illness industry. The blaime should not be just upon the “allegedly obese” but these psychiatric influences must be established. Until this is done, their mean-spirited numbers will rise. There are a lot of victims and it has nothing to do with Democrats and Republicans; liberals and conservatives. Both parties are in collusion with the psychiatric/bigpharma/mental illness conspiracy industry!

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  15. The blog authors concluded their piece with this statement:

    “So we wonder; are psychiatrists truly ready to choose as their primary treatment the use of nutrients and other lifestyle interventions that cause no harm and often result in benefit?”

    I took this to be a *challenge* to psychiatrists, to begin to use *nutrients* and *other lifestyle changes* as primary means of *medical* treatment. I did not take it to mean that these things were in any way *secondary* to love, which is the greatest healer, as I think most adults who have been around the block a few times have come to understand.

    I’m all for the study of nutrition, as one of many ways people can heal, become “weller than well” and thrive. I don’t understand some of the controversy over this. This blog is coming from the vantage point of two researchers who have seen amazing results with nutrients, who are sharing their findings – not only with clinical research, but the changing attitudes out there, even among some psychiatrists. This is good news. Sure, love is the greatest healer. I’m grateful for the love these two seem to have with their work, and the impact that work is having to improves lives!


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  16. Of course love is so important, and just knowing someone loves you even though neither you or they understand what your going through can help you weather the impossible. For example like me going through the heavy metal poisoning of mercury via mercury laden so called amalgam fillings even adding one or two every year. Thats all without knowing they are making me madder then a hatter. Then being diagnosed and dosed on top of the mercury poisoning with psychiatric chemical lobotomy poisons , Heah , you better believe someone loves you cause the only other thing that kept me going is the curiosity as to why this was all happening to me and trying to figure it out. Why , what the hell is going on ? And if you really believe what I’m talking about is rare and doesn’t involve millions of people, the vast majority of whom don’t understand what’s happening to them, you would be absolutely wrong . One in six people have trouble excreting mercury from their bodies. And yes it does get into the brain. I went through hell and high water before I figured out how to correct this problem. I’ve talked about it in other comments on various blogs here at MIA.
    Micronutrients anyone ? You want micronutrients get Health Force’s VITAMINERAL GREEN best green formula I ever found no I don’t sell or make the stuff I just scan the internet for the lowest price for it I can find . For other stuff Swanson’s is generally the cheapest place I’ve found that has quality vitamins in their line up. As far as trusting psychiatrist’s to do anything , forgetaboutit. The experts on diet and it’s relation to health are not nutritionist’s or psychiatrists . They are and do deserve a drumroll, Traditional Naturopaths !

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  17. “after all the advice to eat low fat and drink non-sugary drinks, the evidence now suggests that drinking beverages with aspartame is probably worse for our health”

    Really? It really does not take a genius to figure out that all these low-fat low sugar foods full of synthetic chemicals are not good for you. And they taste like a tabloids newspaper too.

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  18. In my daughter’s recovery process, we have long breathtaking conversations. She has righteous anger teetering on rage. Her self esteem is in the pits. Given that she has been civilly comitted, medicated against her will, forgotten by her ‘friends’, isolated, coerced into accepting treatment and forced to live in communities not of her own choosing, this is understandable. Despite every horror psychiatry can throw out, one thing shines through: her love of nutritious food and her gift of hospitality. She dreams of having her own kitchen again and cooking for herself and others. Many who are are in the psychiatric system are treated like infants or imbeciles, in group homes staffed by paid babysitters, and rarely have the opportunity to grow in a collaborative community to reap the benefits of interdependence. Instead, they remain stuck in the role of sick dependent. One of the most cruel things that we take from individuals when we give them stigmatizing labels and force them to see themselves as chronically disabled is their confidence to nourish themselves and others.

    Food, from the garden to the table, is one of the pathways my daughter needs to experience healing on many levels. I just want to get out of her way even as I long to find a supportive role.

    When families are healing together, food plays a central role. Breaking bread together forms community and strengthens the bonds of love that bind us together.

    The slow food movement gets it. Slowing down long enough to prepare a delicious meal together, saying thanks together and blessing the food; even washing the dishes together while enjoying the privilege of running water (if you have it!) Binds us together and heals.

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    • yes, beautiful madmom.

      food works this way in my life too. I know most of the farmers of the food I eat. Food is love. I think this is another reason I’m not keen on supplements (though there is a place for them, no doubt) …it really takes away from what you speak to here though madmom…if the importance of food isn’t underscored too.

      and once one has a profoundly healthy diet supplements too can largely fall away for most people. This too is true.

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      • Monica, in addition, growing one’s own food, to the extent possible, is a great joy and part of the healing. For some, this could be the best option for obtaining wholesome, organic produce. I would just add one point of clarification regarding the difference between nutrition/nourishment/diet, on the one hand, and nutrients (minerals, vitamins and amino acid supplements), on the other hand, They are not one and the same, though they work in tandem and both are important. It is best to get as much of the nutrients as possible from food. But the nutrient regimen that has done so much good for my daughter and made withdrawal possible requires vitamins/nutrients/amino acids in much greater doses that one can obtain from food.

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        • yes, of course, I agree. I’ve needed targeted supplementation at certain junctures too. But with foundational good diets less people would ever need to resort to synthesized nutrition and I move towards being able to avoid it completely myself. Once healing is achieved much of it can be let go and in some instances all of it…that’s the point I’m making.

          herbs, too, are nutrient powerhouses. most nutritionists (in general) don’t have the foggiest idea how to use them. I eat them as a whole food. I harvest them and when I can’t get them fresh I buy them dried and organic. They remain whole real food.

          we have a lovely garden with about 10 different herbs and veggies that tend to be prolific like zucchini, green beans and tomatoes….I love the garden more than I can say.

          In the end I am always pragmatic. Sometimes psych drugs are appropriate too given the reality we live in today.

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          • the issue in my mind is that what happens (too often) with supplements is that an allopathic approach to health is maintained rather than moving towards the dynamism of a more holistic approach. This is to be expected in our culture unfortunately…but the more we start understanding the whole the more supplements and drugs, too for that matter, will be used in a sane and more profoundly healing way…rather than as modes for maintenance. Our bodies can do amazing things and shouldn’t need much help from such substances if we are feeding them and tending to them appropriately from the get go. As it stands now we are relearning what our ancestors already knew. How to eat and nourish ourselves.

            I still use a couple of supplements and never say never to just about anything. My body has had to lived in a challenged capacity for many years. I do whatever it needs to heal. It’s an incredible resilient communicative animal that I am coming to deeply love.

            Learning to be in correct relationship to my body is a wonderful journey.

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          • I love and agree with everything you’re saying here about food, nourishment, and our bodies, Monica. I had to make a significant transition into that awareness, myself, after ditching all the meds, and it was like you say, a really beautiful journey. In fact, I had no idea what I was about to discover, just how self-healing my body really is.

            I really enjoy and benefit enormously from applying all that I learned about our inner ecology and naturally maintaining our auto-immune system. The body does have the wisdom to heal itself, if we nourish it appropriately–and by that I mean whatever is appropriate for each one of us at any given time. Our bodies are unique, no two are alike. We all experiment with this, and draw our own conclusions for ourselves, based on how we feel.

            I think the challenge is due to so many things having to do with media and consumerism and all the money made from synthetics and junk foods, filled with chemicals and other things unnatural to our systems. Our society was raised on this and are in these habits. We’ve been taught such confusion from overtly mixed messages about food. We need to untangle this, and find a way that everyone can access natural foods. So not only is it not accessible to everyone, due to cost, availability, etc.–or at least so it would seem–but also, our bodies have become programmed to crave synthetic foods. There are a lot of habits to transmute, both physical and thought-form. I know that was the case for me, it was a hard transition. But one well-worth making, because it serves me in the most positive way for the rest of my life.

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          • Monica,

            the challenge is that, as time goes on, our foods have fewer and fewer nutrients. This point was made in the article Vitamin Cure by Susan Freinkel about 10 years ago (the article is the story of the genesis of TrueHope, and Bonnie Kaplan and Charles Popper, mentioned in her most recent post, figure as real heroes in that story; you can get the article by googling it). The article said that, when they compared produce grown in the 1980s vs. produce from the 1930s, there was a huge percentage drop in nutrient content. You can imagine that it has only gotten worse since then. So, like it or not, that may necessitate continuing reliance on supplementation.

            The orthomolecular regimen that my daughter follows is based on William Walsh’s “Nutrient Power.” Walsh (a colleague, collaborator and intellectual heir of Abram Hoffer and Charles Pfeiffer) believes that many mental illnesses are epigenetic in nature, resulting from trauma-caused errors in gene regulation (the turning off or switching on of the wrong genes). In Walsh’s experience, when people stopped the nutrient protocol, they regressed. Because the protocol has worked so exceptionally well, I could not imagine not continuing the supplements.

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          • while some loss of nutrients in the food supply in general seems to be true there are so many intensely and densely nutritious foods that this isn’t really a sound argument for not getting most of our nutrients from diet if we so choose…it’s possible to learn to eat the right mixture of foods for ourselves…optimal diet is unique to everyone.

            that said, as Alex points out we’re all different and these foods are also not all available to everyone (for a lot of different reasons) and some people will simply have other paths to follow that doesn’t make learning to get all their nutrition from foods feel like an imperative. This is legitimate and totally fine. This is my path. One of whole foods and learning and knowing the body in this deep and intimate way. It is my path and it is what I share with others who want to know it. It is what I am coming to know on a cellular level. It is not necessary for everyone to know or experience this. It remains true for me and I’ve watched many other people heal from all sorts of illnesses. My path took me hear because I developed severe intolerances to virtually all supplements. I HAD to learn to do without and now I know it’s possible. Someone who doesn’t need to learn this won’t learn it…that’s all good. We are endlessly diverse.

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          • oh, and the beautiful thing is the whole food diet is healing my body so that I have fewer and fewer of the intolerances that drove me to be forced to eat whole foods…it’s kind of a beautiful catch-22…now I tolerate more and more all the time…and am able to take more supps but simply no longer need them. I find that rather interesting.

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          • and lastly I should say…I saw 3 different orthomolecular doctors…some quite well known and all of them made me ill … I gave up on that route … especically when they behaved like other psychiatrist and blamed me for the negative responses I had to the synthetic nutrients they put me on.

            so there you go…I did give it a shot. several shots. it didn’t work and I ran into some of the same ugly behavior in standard medicine…and it seems to me it’s because they were, in the end, still totally caught up in an allopathic mode of medicine that for me is unhealthy and not at all recuperative.

            I didn’t lead with that fact because I like to share what works…but the fact is my body did not like Orthomolecular supplementation at all. I got some of the popular ortho diagnosis and all that too….my body/mind/spirit had other ideas about how I should heal…and hence here I am.

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          • Monica,

            thank you for your last round of comments. We are a family that continues to benefit from the information that you share, and we are grateful more than we can say. I was not arguing for synthetic supplements vs. natural nutrients from whole food. I hope that nutrients will not continue to be depleted from food sources and also, in my daughter’s case, her orthomolecular regimen is such that it would be difficult to get everything from her (whole food) diet, though we try.

            It is very dismaying but, unfortunately, not surprising to hear that your experience with orthomolecular treatment was not a good one. I see the alternative field as bit of the wild west. Not everyone who is alternative/holistic/homeopathic/anti pharma is competent, well-motivated, respectful of the patient or willing to learn. We had our own disappointments with alternative providers along the way. Finding the right helpers is a task in and of itself. But I was very glad to see what Dr. Judy Tsafrir had to say about Dr. Walsh (author of Nutrient Power) and Dr. Mensah (trained by Dr. Walsh) who is our daughter’s orthomolecular doctor. She took the words right out of my mouth. For our daughter, orthomolecular treatment has worked, and I would encourage others to give it a try.

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          • I love Dr. Judy Tsafrir … she’s a lovely human being who is willing to learn from non-MDs (there are truly very few such people…alternative or otherwise)…we’ve exchanged information on a number of occasions.

            I’m glad your daughter benefits from Orthomolecular (and I’m glad that others do too)…in the end that is what matters…that people are able to live better and healthier lives…if she is in the hands of practitioners that care about her and listen and she is happy to be there that is a wonderful thing.

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  19. Focusing on nutritional eating is integral healing. I think it’s also important to enjoy what we eat, that it satisfies and feels fulfilling to our bodies. This is how we show ourselves love, by respecting our body’s needs and signals for nourishment. Self-love is powerful healing, as is self-respect.

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  20. There is just so much information, misinformation, disinformation, etc., out there, everywhere, that it often becomes overwhelming when trying to evaluate it all when seeking a course of action after years on toxic psych drugs.

    It does seem this micronutrient hype has certain things in common with the vitamin and supplement panaceas of our time.

    Similarly, I’m now reading all types of credible-sounding websites and articles, all reporting with great certainty that supplements and vitamins are (1) Amazingly beneficial and absolutely essential for good health (2) Of little use, basically a waste of money (3) Totally useless and often harmful. Which is it???

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    • Similarly, I’m now reading all types of credible-sounding websites and articles, all reporting with great certainty that supplements and vitamins are (1) Amazingly beneficial and absolutely essential for good health (2) Of little use, basically a waste of money (3) Totally useless and often harmful. Which is it???

      it’s none and all of those things depending on the situation…discernment is the most important thing to develop on this journey…I decided to develop my own rather than rely on professionals and it’s served me well. We really do have within the the capacity to do that…and when it’s appropriate that discernment will also let us know who to trust on those occasions a professional is called for.

      I agree, though, the information age is overwhelming and learning to take care of oneself is no small thing.

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  21. Dear MIA readers, thank you for all the interesting comments. We are, however, always struck by the huge number of negative comments we receive on our blogs. Our research confirms what many of you are saying: there is suffering that can be alleviated by means other than medications.

    Our research happens to show this with nutrients. Please do not assume that we don’t think other treatments aren’t valuable, or that there aren’t other factors that play a role in how well people recover from trauma, or that we shouldn’t focus on the nutrient density of the food we ingest. We completely agree that these factors and others are vital to healing our bodies and our brains.

    We hope our work results in fewer medications and more of a focus on lifestyle modification, diet, exercise, and other treatments that carry fewer side effects and hopefully can do some good. Our studies and those of others support the huge potential of nutrition as a viable and primary way forward for many but not all. So if we could put aside our differences in the terms we use, and focus on the suffering of so many people, then hopefully we can all agree that to find alternatives to our current approaches has got to be a good thing.

    For those who ask about the research to support nutrients as a primary treatment of symptoms, please see our earlier blogs where we provide the research and the references for those interested.

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    • I have just read Jill Littrell’s post on the mind -body connection and had an ‘aha’ moment as to how nutrition and relationships (and of course other lifestyle factors ) could be so intertwined as precipitating factors in someone’s extreme distress. I had often thought of persons who experiencing ‘breakdowns’ as having a more susceptible nervous system (hence the reason why ‘trauma’ for one person may not seem like a huge ‘trauma’ to others). The ideas of this ‘inflammation’ factor makes so much sense in so many ways such as how many people speak even in conservative psychiatry talking about the importance of reducing stress, and how reducing stress can help prevent ‘relapses’. It also makes sense that different types of inflamation (resulting from poor diet , missing certain nutrients, relationship issues, trauma etc,etc, ) could take the primary role in different people. Also it makes sense that providing support in other areas (say nutrition) could result in the overall decrease of ‘inflammation’ in someone who say primary issues are say ‘more relationship driven.’ This would also ties in with how taking ‘fish oil’ is now seen as a preventive measure for pscyhosis. Sorry if I am stating the obvious or mixing up any information, but it is just since reading your article and then Jill’s that this idea came to me as bigger picture.

      Would this ‘inflammation -stress connection be similar to what you are talking about with micronutients?

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  22. I am so grateful for all the work you are doing in this area. As we try to help our loved one recover from severe distress, we are trying a variety of non drug treatments including nutrient supplements.

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  23. I think supplements as treatment is a good idea, personally. Like I posted above, I do Orthomolecular+meds. No side effects from meds, I’m stable, and…life is better, sometimes even good. I think the problem is that there’s a growing disconnect from those who receive (or have received) treatment of all sorts and the pros who provide treatment.

    Personally, I did OM myself. No alt docs around, so I got some Hoffer books and put together a program. That is, personally, one thing that appealed to me about alt mental health: the ability to adjust things w/o a professional. No Rx required, low up front cost…sort of de-medicalized suffering, for me at least. That I think may be the core of the problem a lot of us have…the medicalization of deviance and suffering.

    Again, I think your work is excellent, and hopefully (probably?) a step in the right direction for others in the field.

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  24. “Dear MIA readers, thank you for all the interesting comments. We are, however, always struck by the huge number of negative comments we receive on our blogs. Our research confirms what many of you are saying: there is suffering that can be alleviated by means other than medications.”

    Julia, some are saying this, but many others are saying something that hasn’t quite registered: There is suffering that can be alleviated by eliminating psychiatric oppression. Let people take vitamins, by all means. Let people eat healthy, exercise, and take care of themselves. Great. But please take note of the fact that suffering cannot be effectively alleviated until the root causes are correctly understood. Even then, removing suffering isn’t always a good idea. Psychiatry CAUSES the very problems that it is alleged to resolve, and throwing vitamins at people who have been ostracized and labeled with harmful psychiatric diagnosis may actually exacerbate the problem. Telling a kid that his brain is broken, that he’s mentally ill, that he is ADHD, Bipolar or Schizophrenic, and then trying to fix him is not going to help. No amount of vitamins can resolve the real dilemma: psychiatry is marketing madness. Whether with drugs or with pig pills, psychiatry perpetuates the myths that harm millions of innocent people.

    On positive thing that vitamins may accomplish, however, is that they may be helpful to those who are trying to withdraw from psychotropic drugs. People should have that options available to them, as long as they are not “prescribed” as some sort of a “cure” for fictitious “mental illnesses.” Does that make sense? I hope so. Otherwise the myth of mental illness carries on under the new guise of vitamins.

    Here is a quote, something to ponder in addition to the C.S. Lewis quote above, from the devil Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust:

    “I am part of that power which eternally wills evil and eternally works good. . . .”

    A more fitting description of psychiatry could not be found.

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    • Dear Slaying_the_dragon_of_psychiatry:
      Sorry for the slow response, I was pondering on your perspective. I hear what you’re saying, that some of the symptoms that are being targeted by nutrients shouldn’t be the target at all. I appreciate that there are lots of faults in the psychiatric system. And that you are challenging whether vitamins as a treatment reinforce the current paradigm rather than challenge it.

      We think that there might be room for a different perspective: that *some* people are not functioning to their optimum because of suboptimal nutrition.

      Some of the work I have been involved in addresses suffering that has arisen from environmental catastrophe. I live in Christchurch, a city that was hit with thousands of earthquakes over a year, causing huge damage, huge suffering and challenges to many to cope. We have used nutrients successfully to help some people cope post earthquake without medications. Better nutrition, less inequity, addressing poverty, a different social environment might address these symptoms similarly. But I am delighted that a simple approach helped many.
      I agree that people can often heal themselves on their own. Our research supports that. We can’t and don’t want to supplement the whole population. We are showing that nutrients /food can heal but better yet, might prevent problems from developing in the first place that bring about suffering.

      But I hear you challenging the research I do on psychiatric diagnoses like ADHD, a diagnosis I think I understand you wish to eliminate entirely. It would take a book to have a discussion on this point. But our research brings attention to a fundamental issue that plagues our society: access to good nutrition. If good nutrition can help kids learn better, then that speaks to the nutrional quality of our food supply. Or that some need more nutrients than is currently available to them. Exposing that has to be a step in the right direction. It shifts the blame from the genetic makeup of the kid or bad parenting to an environmental issue that may or may not interact with genetics. We can debate whether the symptoms in themselves should be a problem, but we do know kids who have those symptoms have a less than desirable trajectory in many cases. It would be nice to change that path.
      There are many battles to be fought, but battles need to be chosen carefully.

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  25. Psychiatrists may be interested in the Walsh Research Institute’s “Mastering Brain Chemistry” Physician Education Workshop. The workshop offers unique opportunities for physicians and medical practitioners to learn advanced, drug-free, nutrient therapy protocols for their patients challenged by behavior disorders, ADD/ADHD, anxiety, clinical depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and neurodegenerative disorders.

    For more information, visit

    William J. Walsh, PhD, president of the non-profit Walsh Research Institute, is an internationally recognized expert in the field of nutritional medicine and has developed biochemical treatments for patients with behavioral, learning and mental disorders that are used by doctors throughout the world. His book, “Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain”, describes the evidence-based nutrient therapy system.

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