Skip to comments.Vitamin Cure? (Can common nutrients curb violent tendencies and dispel clinical depression?)
Posted on 04/13/2005 5:33:59 PM PDT by blam
Can common nutrients curb violent tendencies and dispel clinical depression?
By Susan Freinkel
DISCOVER Vol. 26 No. 05 | May 2005 | Biology & Medicine
The brain and other complex mechanisms of the human nervous system rely on 40 or so basic nutrients to run smoothly. The lack of any onebe it zinc or magnesium, chromium or folic acidcan cause a malfunction, leading to depression, irritability, or worse.
When pigs are penned in close quarters, some become so irritable they savage their pen mates ears and tails, a problem farmers call ear-and-tail-biting syndrome. David Hardy, a Canadian hog-feed salesman from the farmlands of southern Alberta, knew that behavior well. Years of experience had taught him something else: All it takes to calm disturbed pigs down is a good dose of vitamins and minerals in their feed.
That came to Hardys mind one November evening in 1995 when an acquaintance, Tony Stephan, began confiding his troubles. His wife, Deborah, had killed herself the year before after struggling with manic depression and losing her father to suicide. Now two of his 10 children seemed headed down the same road: Twenty-two-year-old Autumn was in a psychiatric hospital and 15-year-old Joseph had become angry and aggressive. He had been diagnosed as bipolar, a term for manic depression, but even with medication he was prone to outbursts so violent that the rest of the family feared for their lives.
The boys irritability sounded familiar to Hardy. I dont know a whole lot about mental illness, Hardy told Stephan, but Ive seen similar behavior in the hog barn, and its easy to cure.
So the two men set out to create a human version of Hardys pig formula. They bought bottles of vitamins and minerals from local health-food stores and spent nights at Stephans kitchen table concocting a mixture. On January 20, 1996, they gave Joseph the first bitter-tasting dose. Within a few days, Joseph felt better than he had in months. After 30 days, all the symptoms of his illness were gone.
Stephan next turned to Autumn, whose mental state had been steadily deteriorating for years. Now she was psychotic, convinced she had a gaping hole in her chest from which demons emerged. Just released from the hospital where shed been on suicide watch, Autumn required 24-hour supervision to ensure she didnt hurt either herself or her 3-year-old son.
Stephan forced her to take the nutritional formula. After just two days of treatment, her rapid swings between mania and depression stopped. After four days her hallucinations vanished. I remember saying, Oh my gosh, my hole is gone, she recalls. By weeks end, she felt well enough to quit all but one of her five medications.
Nine years later, both Autumn and Joseph remain symptom free, medication free, and devoted to taking what they call the nutrients each day. Autumn Stringam, her married name, is an articulate woman with bright eyes who revels in being a full-time mother to her son and the three daughters shes had since getting well. I dont feel Im cured, she says. I feel Ive got something that allows me to manage and have a normal, functional lifemaybe even better than functional.
Its easy to write off the Stephans treatment as just one more crackpot cure in a field rife with fraud and false hope. The supplement they took has yet to be proved in large clinical trials, while scientists who have studied it have been caught in the cross fire between converts, willing to take the supplement on faith and anecdotal evidence alone, and skeptics who look askance at all alternative medicine. Yet the idea of treating mental disorders with supplements makes sense, experts in the field say. Micronutrients help build and sustain the brains architecture and fuel its biochemistry. They are critical in countless ways to the working of cells throughout the body, including the brain. We need 40 essential micronutrients in our dietvitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids, says Bruce Ames, a biochemist at the Childrens Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Ames has explored the impact of zinc and iron on brain cells. If you dont have enough of one, youre fouling up your biochemistry.
A number of diseases caused by nutrient deficiency, such as scurvy, beriberi, pellagra, and pernicious anemia, display psychiatric symptoms like irritability and depression. But while severe deficiencies are rare in the developed worldwhens the last time you met someone with beriberi?many of us fall short of getting all the nutrients we need. In 1997 a British study compared the mineral content of fruits and vegetables grown in the 1930s with the mineral content of produce grown in the 1980s. It found that several nutrients had dropped dramatically, including calcium (down nearly 30 percent), iron (down 32 percent), and magnesium (down 21 percent).
Some researchers suspect that even mild deficiencies can affect the psyche long before any physical symptoms appear. Stephen Schoenthaler, a sociologist at California State University at Stanislaus, has been exploring the link between nutrients and mental health by giving basic vitamin and mineral supplements to prison inmates and juvenile detainees. Again and again, since the early 1980s, Schoenthaler has found that when inmate nutrition improves, the number of fights, infractions, and other antisocial behavior drops by about 40 percent. In each case, he has found, the calmer atmosphere can be traced to the mellower moods of just a few hotheads. The inmates most likely to throw a punch, he has discovered, are the ones with the least nutritious diets and the lowest levels of critical nutrients.
Schoenthalers findings have been undermined by less than sterling research methods: His papers have failed to describe the precise methods by which he analyzed the inmates blood. (In January, a committee at his university recommended that he be suspended for a semester without pay for academic and scientific misconduct in later, unrelated research.) So in the late 1990s, an Oxford University physiologist named Bernard Gesch decided to put the theories to a more rigorous test. Gesch divided 231 prisoners in one of Britains toughest prisons into two groups. Half were given a standard vitamin and mineral supplement each day as well as fish-oil capsules and omega-6 oil from evening primrose. The other half received placebos. The results, published in 2002 in The British Journal of Psychiatry, drew headlines on both sides of the Atlantic. They were also almost identical to Schoenthalers. Over the course of approximately nine months, inmates taking supplements committed about 35 percent fewer antisocial acts than the group taking placebos. A few weeks after the study started, the prison warden told Gesch that the administrative report that month showed no violent incidents had occurred. As far as he was aware, this had never happened in the history of the institution, Gesch says.
For what in is worth I believe that proper nutrition insures that your body can produce adequate amounts of neurotransmitters in your brain. Don't roll your eyes back in your head now. For example, 50% of all the neurotransmitters used in your brain in acetylcholine. Choline is found in most B vitamin formulas and it is available in eggs. I take B vitamins to insure that my brain produces enough acetylcholine. Similarly for the other ones. Do a little research, and change your diet.
Agree...this is an intriguing article.
bump for later
I remember seeing a tv show about this guy and his vitamin formula, I think it was on the discovery channel.
Interesting. My father (68) was diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease last year, but in January a new doctor said his symptoms were caused by pernicious anemia (iron deficiency) and Vitamin B-12 deficiency. Since he started iron supplements and B-12 shots, we all think his memory and other mental functioning is improving.
I've been saying this for many years.
Does he think so as well?
My husband-to-be lost his father to Alzheimer's last year, but it started before we met, so I never actually knew my father-in-law.
I don't know as much about ALS as I should or need to.
We went through the same thing with the cool mist vaporizer...which became the thing. After trying it, the best solution to the problem was turning the bathroom into a sauna. NOW, she has gone back to the old "steam" vaporizer. We use bay leaves and make tea for "gas" pains, lemonade for headaches and sinus'.
But I need something for a friend who has arthritis in his hands real bad?? Help!!
If you think you might be suffering from vitamin deficiency go to "DoctorYourself.com" for the latest information on treating disease with vitamins/minerals.
There's a Scripture that says there's nothing new under the sun. That tells me, that the latest 'break-through', a drug company 'found', ISN'T.
I'm convinced that the most horrible disease/illness DOES have its cure. But, it seems to be dependant on WHERE one puts their 'trust'/faith. And, it IS a very difficult decision to make, for most people.
"Can common nutrients curb violent tendencies and dispel clinical depression?"
No, because the drug companies can't make any money off of them.
Tell him to try fish oil capsules. Make sure to get some that are tested for mercury in them, though. Carlson's is a good brand.
I wouldn't be surprised if these people cut back on their sugar intake too.
If he's taking 250 supplements a day its probably because he need them to survive because is eating nothing, probably less than 1500 calories a day. Starvation is the ONLY proven method of lengthening your life span.
Also I think they got the cause and effect mixed up. They are stating that the deficiencies cause the violent behavior as if its a side effect. I personally believe its more likely that the body recognizes the deficiency and then it compensates for it by making you more violent/aggressive and thus more likely to get food you need. With the pigs, it is common to chew on the tails of the other pigs, but it was n't because of some weird side effect of a deficiency, its because they have a deficiency and eating the blood of another pig will help them solve that deficiency. As soon as one pig bites the tail of another and draws blood and tastes the minerals it wants more and in fact all of the other pigs will then join in attacking that same bleeding pig to get a taste of the blood. thus the violence is beneficial at least to the individual pig.
I for one don't like the implications, we are men and should act like it. The thought that my actions may not be entirely of my own choosing places me on the same plane as an animal which I reject out of sheer principle.
Dad thinks he's more "together" than he was a few months ago. He's also got a pacemaker, and part of his mental problems may have been caused by the slow/irregular heart function ... not enough oxygen to the brain. The vitamin and mineral supplements aren't an instant antidote; it can take quite a while to see any effect. However, my husband and I, and my mother, all agree that in the last three month or so he's been better.
68 is early for Alzheimer's to really kick in, so we were all pretty stuned by the original diagnosis. My parents live in a retirement community in Florida, so the GP just saw what he expected to see, without doing a full neurological workup and blood scan. Dad is also very hard of hearing, so I was telling myself that it wasn't that he didn't remember, just that he hadn't heard whatever we said! (My husband has a similar problem: his hearing checks out normal, so he's just "hard of listening"!)
A vegetarian diet, heavy on tomatoes, is recommended for arthritis. I don't remember why, but some looking around on the internet may pull up some research for you.
"A vegetarian diet, heavy on tomatoes, is recommended for arthritis."
Some people's arthritis is made worse by eating vegetables from the nightshade family, like tomatoes, bell peppers, etc.
You can accomplish a lot just by stabilizing their blood sugar.
Well, so much for that! Other vegetables, I guess :-). I was told this by a very spry old gentleman in my church in Oklahoma, so it's strictly anecdotal.
A stable blood glucose level assures proper neurotransmitter production and re-uptake.
What foods influences glucose levels? What causes it to be high/elevated?
You have mail
That is the whole story in a nutshell! Vitamins, Minerals, and nutritional supplements are villified because they can't be patented.
We need to be vigilant, that is about to change, there are forces at work to pass laws that will place control of vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements under control of the Corrupt FDA, then a prescription will be required to buy them.
Look what researcher is publishing more studies! ;-)
I'm a firm believer in the efficacy of vitamin supplementation, especially given the pathetic diets most of us eat. But Schoenthaler is a researcher with a very questionable track record.
Read Adele Davis and Carlton Fredericks if you're interested in more solid writing about better health through good nutrition. :-)
do you have some other links on the subject?
Most physical and mental diseases are treatable with nutrition and supplemental vitamins, amino acids and minerals in conjunction with, or as a replacement for, drug treatment which is often ineffective. The field is called "Orthomolecular Medicine" and was developed over 30 years ago by Nobel prize winner Linus Pauling and Canadian psychiatrist Abram Hoffer.
Schizophrenia: The first clinical trials in the field of psychiatry were not with drugs, but rather with vitamins against schizophrenia, a chronic and devastating mental disease that often strikes in the prime of life. Using large doses of a common nutrient, vitamin B3, has helped many thousands to full recovery.
Depression: Many viable treatment options other than drugs.
Phenyalanine, calcium, 5-htp, and others.
Cancer: In controlled clinical trials, massive doses of vitamin C and other nutrients have definitivly shown to slow the progression of metastatic cancer and extend useful lifespan in terminally ill cancer patients.
Athersclerosis: There are many nutritional interventions which can treat angina, heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders
Now why wouldn't these simple, non-toxic and effective therapies be the first line medical choice for the vast majority of our diseases?
Well, to start, since vitamins, amino acids and minerals are naturally occurring substances, they cannot receive patent protection. The typical investment for FDA approval of a new new drug is 70 million dollars. This expense is recouped by the granting of a 14-year patent for the developers.
Since there is zero financial incentive for investigating or promoting naturally-occurring agents for chronic degenerative diseases, the first line treatments we get for our medical problems are rarely based on pure science or treatment efficacy.
Ah, him again. LOL!
Thanks for the ping.
Pernicious anemia is caused by one reason for B12 deficiency. It's caused by a lack of intrinsic factor produced in the stomach. It causes an anemia with macrocytosis, i.e. abnormally large red blood cells. If folks have pernicous anemia, B12 must be given by injection.
Folic acid deficiency also causes anemia with macrocytosis.
Iron deficiency anemia causes microcytosis, i.e. abnormally small red blood cells.
All of the above can occur simultaneously in the same person. If a person was borderline anemic on a CBC, i.e. complete blood count, the only hint would be an increased red cell distributon width, which usually is provided with an automated CBC.
If your father eats meat, especially red meat, he should get enough iron. Did your father ever have colonoscopy? Maybe it's time that he had another if he didn't have one in a while. Ask the new doc why your father had iron deficiency anemia. The cause of any anemia needs to be explained.
Folic acid deficiency is usually from inadequate dietary intake. B12 deficiency can also be caused by other reasons as well as diet.
Pernicious anemia comes with illness or old age from changes in the stomach. The stomach releases a substance called intrinsic factor that binds to B12 in order for it to be absorbed in the small intestine. Pernicious anemia results from the decreased amount or absence of intrinsic factor.
Hormonal insufficiency can be associated with anemia. In the setting of suspected dementia, thyroid evaluation is indicated.
My doc told me to take one 325mg aspirin, 400 IU vitamin E and 500mg vitamin C daily. (I take 1000 C, the only difference.) She said that statistically it really lowered heart attacks in men (and that there was some indication of lowered risk of colon cancer.)
When I had a heart catheterization (you don't want one) a couple of years ago, the examiner said I was clean as possible. Maybe the doc was right (she's a cardiologis.)
I would imagine that there are degrees. One can certainly trigger mental problems with nutritional deficency. On the other hand, if the body just doesn't produce the right stuff, diet won't be a cure (thyroid, diabetes, various neurotransmitters.)
Has anyone ever tried Triple Greens?
I heard some of the radio infomercial the other day; sounds interesting.
I have a juicer/extractor I use several times a week; usually a carrot/broccoli stalk mix I like.
Thanks! I'm going to write some of this down and mention it to my mother!
Don't know, but I do know that I feel better when I make sure I take my vitamins on a regular basis. Esp. B complex
Don't know, but I do know that I feel better when I make sure I take my vitamins on a regular basis. Esp. B complex
Take a look at WWW.LEF.ORG. I have had a good experience with their stuff and a painful and stiff right hand. (Arthromax) A good place for real info, also.
I know that Calcium helps my moods. A quick blurb on the Today show a few days back said the sux nutrients most Americans were deficient in were:
I also think most folks are Zinc deficient too.
This is really quality versus quantity. Most of the farmlands in the US are depleted of some of the more essential minerals like Chromium and Selenium.
"We need to be vigilant, that is about to change, there are forces at work to pass laws that will place control of vitamins, minerals, and nutritional supplements under control of the Corrupt FDA, then a prescription will be required to buy them."
They did that in the EU but they have just repealed it. I suppose I would have to start smuggling then.