By Walter Last www.health-science-spirit.com
Schizophrenia – Mania – Depression – Paranoia – Neurosis
Serious mental diseases are much more common than generally suspected. Up to 3% of the population may develop schizophrenia and another 1% manic depressive psychosis. In addition, there is a widespread incidence of serious depression, anxiety neuroses, paranoia and dementias. It has been estimated that about 10% of Australians require institutionalised psychiatric treatment at some time during their lives.
In conventional medicine and psychiatry there is no real understanding about the causes of mental diseases, and the commonly used treatments with sedatives, stimulants, electro-shock and psychotherapy are purely symptomatic and of limited value.
In contrast, natural medicine offers important insights into these conditions, and is usually able to offer genuine help. As a general rule, the two main influences on the development of mental diseases are nutrition and stress, in particular emotional stress. In most cases there are combinations of different nutritional factors and varying amounts of stress.
However, in general the nutritional factor has the more decisive influence. On a high-quality diet and without any allergies or vitamin, mineral and enzyme deficiencies, we are able to regard even serious problems in our lives as challenges, which help us to grow mentally and emotionally. On a poor diet, on the other hand, even minor problems can become insurmountable obstacles and cause extraordinary stress. With correct nutrition it will be so much easier to overcome the remaining non-nutritional factors.
NUTRITION AND YOUR MIND
The two most basic requirements for the normal operation of our brain are a sufficient energy supply and an optimal presence of biochemicals involved in transmitting messages.
The most common brain fuel is glucose, but in addition also the amino acid glutamine can be used. Furthermore, the brain uses a massive 20% of the total oxygen supply of the body. This demonstrates the importance of having a good blood circulation to the brain as well as efficient free-radical protection, both of which which may be severely impaired in many cases of dementia and depression. Energy production inside the brain cells, as in other cells, can be disrupted in two fundamental ways: either the breakdown of glucose is too fast as in ‘fast oxidisers’ or hypoglycemics, or it is too slow as in ‘slow oxidisers’.
If hypoglycemics eat fast digesting food, such as sweet food and fruit, their blood glucose level rises too high initially, but then too much insulin is released and excessive amounts of glucose rush into cells. Cells cannot store glucose and must try to process it. Usually a deficiency of oxygen and oxygenating enzymes develops and much of the glucose is only partially metabolised in an anaerobic way (without the use of oxygen) to form lactic acid.
High lactic acid levels have been shown to trigger anxiety attacks and all kinds of phobias in susceptible individuals. In addition, an excessive amount of otherwise normal metabolic acids, such as citric acid may be formed and contributes to make the body overacid.
Nevertheless, during the period of elevated blood glucose a surplus of energy may be generated in the brain and this can lead to mental agitation and irritation. In children hyperactivity is likely to result, and in adolescents the outcome may be violence. In mentally unstable individuals it may trigger a manic episode that is a period of great, uncontrollable excitement. When the burst of energy has past, there is a lack of energy and this may lead to a lethargic, listless or depressed condition. This may be the case with fast-cycling manic-depressive or bipolar disease.
With slow oxidisers, glucose enters the cells too slowly; also energy production inside the cells may be obstructed. Brain cells do not need insulin as muscle cells do for glucose to enter. Therefore, an insufficient supply of glucose to the brain is mainly due to a heavy diet high in meat and fat and low in carbohydrates. With elderly individuals this may be in addition to an impaired blood circulation to the brain.
A variety of B vitamins and minerals are required to convert glucose and glutamine into brain energy. These are mainly the vitamins B1, B2, B6, nicotinamide, pantothenic acid and the minerals magnesium, manganese and zinc. If any of these are deficient, the brain cannot produce sufficient energy and periods of lethargy, stupor and depression may result.
The state of excitement following sweet food intake by fast oxidisers is usually short lived and within hours may swing to depression and back to excitement after another intake of sweet food. On the other hand the energy deprivation caused when slow oxidisers eat predominantly heavy food may last for months and years.
However, both conditions, in combination with hidden allergies and vitamin, mineral and enzyme deficiencies may produce a wide range of abnormal or exaggerated mental conditions, such as paranoia, delusions and phobias. In such cases it is not always apparent if the metabolism is fast, slow or normal. Therefore, an important step in healing mental disorders is to determine the state of the metabolism.
The most prominent distinguishing feature is usually the level of histamine in the blood. Fast oxidisers are overacid. This liberates histamine, which may be bound to proteins, and histamine levels rise. The result is a very sensitive skin, which reacts strongly to insect bites and irritants such as wool, chemicals, nylon and some other synthetics. The blood pressure is usually low, less than 120/80, and hands and feet are cold in cool weather. Inflammations and sunburns from sunbathing are common, and pain generally is felt strongly.
Slow oxidisers, on the other hand, usually are too alkaline due to their deficiency in metabolic acids, and this causes histamine levels to be too low. Therefore, the blood pressure is elevated, usually above 120/80, and the skin is rather insensitive to cold, insect bites and irritants. Inflammations are uncommon and not much pain is felt.
If conditions, mainly sensitivity to cold, skin irritants and pain, are normal then the metabolism is probably balanced. With this, we have the first important step in healing mental illness: select a diet according to metabolic requirements. Fast oxidisers must use slow-digesting food; slow oxidisers use fast digesting food, and balanced oxidisers select normally digesting food. Slow-digesting foods are mainly protein and fat or oil rich foods while fruits are the main fast-digesting food.
Allergies, mostly in the form of food allergies, are most obvious in fast oxidisers, but may be present in all types. Hidden allergies may lead to prolonged periods of brain irritation and, with this, to periods of uncontrollable excitement, anger, thought dissociation and all kinds of mental abnormalities.
Manic periods may last for months at a time or even become chronic. Sometimes, after weeks or months the body adapts to this continuing allergic irritation through hormonal changes and the inflammation response, which caused the irritation, disappears, sometimes permanently, at other times only temporarily.
In one case of mental illness the skull had been opened and an inflammatory swelling of the brain tissue after ingesting wheat could be observed. Wheat products and gluten grains in general are most frequently linked to the development of schizophrenia. Allergies in mental diseases are also common to cows’ milk products as well as to unbiological chemicals in our foods, such as artificial colours, flavours, preservatives, pesticide residues etc.
Many of these food additives are classed as Excitotoxins. These are taste or flavor enhancers that release glutamic acid or glutamate. Also aspartic acid and cysteine are brain-active amino acids. The best-known example of an excitotoxin is MSG or mono-sodium glutamate, a salt of glutamic acid. High blood levels can cross the normally protective blood-brain barrier. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is present in the extra-cellular fluid only in very low concentration. If levels are inappropriately raised then neurons fire abnormally, and at higher levels brain cells begin to die. Oxygen deficiency and lack of fuel (hypoglycemia) both interfere with the energy production of brain cells to make them susceptible to damage by these excitotoxins. This may be an important factor in the development of neurological diseases and especially in overactive or manic conditions.
Excitory amino acids cause problems mainly when they are used either in high concentrations or in free form while bound, as in most natural foods, they are slowly released and therefore harmless. Most processed foods contain excitotoxins, especially if any kind of commercial taste or flavor enhancers has been added, such as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, soy protein extract, yeast extract, beef stock and caseinate; commercial soups, sauces and gravies are usually most affected. On the label any of these products may just be called ‘natural flavoring’. Aged proteins, processed meat, cheeses and tomato puree have higher levels of free glutamate as well but fresh tomatoes are fine. All of these should be avoided by sensitive individuals who are prone to overactive mental conditions.
In addition, if the intestinal wall has been damaged by a high gluten intake, by local inflammations due to Candida, food allergy, and also by the frequent use of aspirin and similar drugs, then bacterial and fungal breakdown products from the normal intestinal flora may be absorbed. It has been shown that specific protein fragments (peptides) from wheat, cows’ milk and bacterial decomposition products have a special effect on the chemistry of the brain and cause a so-called cerebral allergy. This may then express itself in a wide range of mental and emotional disorders.
Some environmental allergists claim that over 90% of schizophrenics treated by them have allergies on average to about ten different foods each. However, the most frequent type of schizophrenics with low histamine levels is rather insensitive to conventional allergy testing, and only a strict elimination diet will bring results. Actually, there are reports from varying sources claiming that most schizophrenics became symptom-free during a water fast of about one week. Therefore, rule number two: test for sensitivities and allergies to foods and chemicals, see Allergy Testing. To read Walter’s entire article please go to: http://www.health-science-spirit.com/mentaldisease.html For even more information on Allergy and Biocompatible Food & Product Testing to to Nutritionist, Barbara Bourke’s website www.freeofallergies.com