NUTRITIONAL APPROACH TO MENTAL ILLNESS
On April 23 NOHA Honorary Member Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, from Victoria, Canada, spoke for NOHA to a packed auditorium at the National College of Education, Evanston, on "Nutritional Approach to Mental Illness." The following is a summary of his talk .
Over thousands of years human beings were adapted to foods that were "alive, whole, nontoxic,1 variable, indigenous, and spartan." We need to be cautious in changing these conditions to which we became adapted. For example, the Indians on the West Coast of British Columbia were adapted to a diet of 50 percent salmon; when they gave up their traditional diet, alcoholism became rampant among them.
Human food technology has seen many changes. Fire came into use a half million years ago; agriculture was developed ten thousand years ago ("to make beer"),2 and there was a concurrent population explosion. Grinding of grain was introduced 3,000 years ago. In l800, chemists produced pure sugar and added lead to flour to make it look white. Since l950, we find that food is "dead"; that food is fractionated"; that "fast foods drive out good foods," contain "toxic additives," and are "monotonous" (for example, single foods such as corn are "dressed up" and put in almost all processed foods); and that modern food is "in surplus."
There is a "growing body of evidence" that maladaptation to our present diet is contributing to conditions such as cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, senility, arthritis, depression (20 percent of the population), schizophrenia (3 percent), alcoholism, hyperactivity (rarely seen before l950), and learning disabilities.
Epidemiologically, schizophrenia was scarce before l800; it was first described in l905. In Australia, among l00,000 people who follow their traditional lifestyle on a high, inland area, there is no schizophrenia. However, in the coastal cities there is the same percentage as in Canada and the United States. Therapeutically, when physicians treat their schizophrenic patients with changes in diet plus added nutrients, they observe their patients' favorable responses.
Treatment used over 32 years with 5,000 patients has consisted of, first, no junk food and no added sugar. (Sugar includes many additives; also, it is "more implicated in cardiovascular disease than are fats.") One should "shop around the walls" of supermarkets for the whole foods and avoid the middle aisles with their processed foods. Second, "don't eat what makes you sick; discover your allergies." [Dr. Hoffer is well aware of the cerebral allergies and food addictions that NOHA Professional Advisory Board Member Theron G. Randolph, MD, has studied for so many years.] General changes in diet plus added nutrients do not help patients who have failed to eliminate foods to which they are sensitive.
Nutrients particularly effective are vitamin B1, vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin C--in optimal doses, particularly of vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The RDAs (Recommended Daily Allowances) only induce "minimal health."
Niacin is helpful in schizophrenia, learning disabilities, arthritis, and senility. In cardiovascular problems it lowers cholesterol, increases high- density lipoproteins (HDL) and lowers low-density lipoproteins (LDL). Also, it apparently repairs DNA breaks and , in this sense, is an anti-cancer agent. In moderately high doses, niacin can produce skin flushing, probably by releasing histamine. In high doses, niacin depletes the body of histamine, so that there is not enough left to produce vasodilation and flushing. On beginning doses, niacin should be taken after a meal and not with a hot drink. Aspirin or an anti-histamine can minimize the flush. As vitamin C destroys histamine, it can counteract the flushing. Both vitamin C and niacin can be helpful in severe allergic reactions.
Vitamin C reduces anxiety and is an anti-viral treatment. High dosages have been successfully used for AIDS and for withdrawal from tranquilizers. "It is impossible to get well on tranquilizers. Patients become permanently dependent."
Vitamin B6 is useful in the treatment of arthritis and premenstrual syndrome. Vitamin B6 and zinc can be used for pyrolurics. 3
In conclusion, all nutrients play an important role in recovery from mental illness.
2 We are reminded of the research of John P. Cleary, MD, indicating that niacin from game meat reduces aggression (the "predator response") and that when it is not available people resort to various forms of alcohol to quiet their craving. In the Summer l987 NOHA NEWS. , we referred to Dr. Cleary's work and the excellent concentration of nutrients including niacin, in wild game liver. --Eds.
3 Pyrolurics have the kryptopyrrole in their urine that is one of the characteristics of certain categories of criminals, as described by William J. Walsh, PhD, in his article, "Chemical Imbalances and Criminal Violence," in the Spring l988 NOHA NEWS. --Eds.
Article from NOHA NEWS, Vol. XIII, No. 3, Summer 1988, pages 1-2.