BIOCHEMICAL TREATMENT AND IMPROVED MENTAL FUNCTIONING
by William J. Walsh, PhD, NOHA Professional Advisory Board Member, Executive Director, Director of Research, and Founder of Pfeiffer Treatment Center and Health Research Institute
The Health Research Institute (HRI) recently celebrated its 25th anniversary of conducting research and studies in human biochemistry. The early years concentrated on the development of nutrient therapies for behavior disorders and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with the able assistance of Carl C. Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, founder of the Brain Bio Center in Princeton, New Jersey. HRI is a 501c (3) organization and its clinical arm, the non-profit Pfeiffer Treatment Center (PTC), was founded in 1989. We have treated more than 20,000 patients including clients from more than 75 countries at our Centers in Warrenville, Illinois, and Oakdale, Minnesota, or at one of our four U.S. outreach clinics. Our extensive fundamental and clinical research on body chemistry, brain chemistry, and nutrition has been presented at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Senate, Office of the U.S. Surgeon General, American Psychiatric Association, Neuroscience Society, and many other venues. The past five years have seen a great acceleration in our research and development efforts; and we have achieved new insights into the molecular biology of mental disorders and developed improved nutrient therapies.
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center, the medical clinic of HRI, has studied more than 5,000 patients in the autism spectrum and has amassed a database of more than 600,000 chemical assays of blood, urine, and hair. In 1999, we were the first to report that more than 90% of persons with autism exhibit undermethylation (too few methyl groups, carbon with three atoms of hydrogen, CH3). In 2000, we were the first to report copper overload and metallothionein (MT) protein deficiency as distinctive features of autism. In 2002, we were the first to measure MT in the bloodstream of humans, and found that most persons with autism have low levels of this protein that protects against mercury and other forms of oxidative stress.
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center, the medical clinic of HRI, has studied more than 5,000 patients in the autism spectrum and has amassed a database of more than 600,000 chemical assays of blood, urine and hair. . . . In 2002, we were the first to measure MT in the bloodstream of humans, and found that most persons with autism have low levels of this protein that protects against mercury and other forms of oxidative stress.
This summer, a collaborative study with the University of Pennsylvania Medical School was published in the Archives of Neurology (Volume 6, pages 1161-4, 2006). The principal finding of this study was increased oxidative damage to vascular tissue and fats in children with autism, compared by age and gender to matched controls. Since these were the only two areas that were studied, the implication is that oxidative damage may occur throughout the body and brain of persons with autism. This may explain why most young persons with autism appear to be very bright (albeit troubled), whereas most adults with autism exhibit severe mental retardation. We conclude that autism may be neurodegenerative, resulting in a gradual loss of brain cells and IQ, unless antioxidant therapy is provided.
HRI recently completed a study comparing hormone levels in male children with autism and age-matched controls, funded by the BHARE (Brenen Hornstein Autism Research and Education) Foundation. We found that testosterone and estrogen levels were identical in both groups, but that the DHEA (dehydroepiandrosterone, a precursor of sex hormones) was extremely low and SHBG (sex hormone-binding globulin) very elevated in the children with autism. Previously, several experts had theorized that the 80/20 male/female ratio in autism was due to elevated levels of testosterone in the males with autism. Our study indicates that this theory is incorrect, at least for male children with autism.
The analysis of data is incomplete, but it is clear that major chemical abnormalities are present in the brains of persons with autism. We have found that males and females with autism exhibit abnormal chemistries that are completely different by gender, suggesting that males with autism may be genetically different from females with autism.
In collaboration with U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, we recently completed chemical analysis of 176 tiny autism and control brain tissue samples prepared by Johns Hopkins University Medical School in Baltimore. Using the Advanced Photon Source Facility we scanned two tissue arrays of 99 samples each. Each array included eight samples of brain tissue (cerebellum, white matter, and two areas of the cortex) from 11 different individuals. In addition, we tested 22 samples of liver, kidney, skin, and other tissues for our chemical assays. These data appear to represent the world's first meaningful chemical assays of elemental values in autism brains. The analysis of data is incomplete, but it is clear that major chemical abnormalities are present in the brains of persons with autism. We have found that males and females with autism exhibit abnormal chemistries that are completely different by gender, suggesting that males with autism may be genetically different from females with autism.
In 2004, HRI published a paper entitled, "Reduced Violent Behavior Following Biochemical Therapy," Physiology & Behavior, (Volume 82, pages 835-9, 2004) This paper reported a 92% reduction in the incidence of physical assaults in children and adults who complied with individualized nutrient therapy. A total of 58% of these families reported that the assaultive behaviors had completely stopped. These efficacy levels are much higher than those reported for Ritalin, Adderal, and other medications.
This  paper reported a 92% reduction in the incidence of physical assaults in children and adults who complied with individualized nutrient therapy. A total of 58% of these families reported that the assaultive behaviors had completely stopped. These efficacy levels are much higher than those reported for Ritalin, Adderal, and other medications.
A two-year National Recreation Foundation project at Chicago's Ariel Elementary Community Academy was completed in 2006 that involved nutrient therapy for 50 at-risk students from this high-poverty neighborhood. Most of the families reported significant improvements in behavior and academics following treatment. HRI is currently organizing a much larger clinical intervention program for students in high-poverty areas of Chicago's west side.
A research article, by John Crayton, MD, and the author, has been accepted for publication by the peer-reviewed journal, Trace Elements in Biology and Medicine. The findings indicate strong evidence of elevated serum copper levels in females with a history of post-partum depression, compared to depressed women who never experienced post partum. Blood serum levels of copper rise sharply during the nine months of a normal pregnancy, but the protein system for normalizing copper levels after birth appears to be genetically impaired. Elevated copper levels have been associated with elevated levels of the norepinephrine (a neurotransmitter) and reduced levels of another neurotransmitter, dopamine, in the brain. The Pfeiffer Treatment Center has hundreds of patients who reported that their post-partum depression was overcome by nutrient therapy to normalize copper levels.
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center has initiated a novel antioxidant treatment program for patients with Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and other forms of dementia. This program involves a new therapy called "Metallothionein-Promotion Therapy" that is aimed at slowing or halting the progression of the disease. We have provided this powerful antioxidant treatment to pioneering AD patients since 2000, and have received many exciting reports of partial return of lost memory followed by stabilization of mental functioning that has continued for years. These reports have been verified by improved scores using the Mini-Mental Test and computerized CANTAB (Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery) testing. Although these early results are promising, this treatment must be considered as "unproven" until double-blind, controlled studies can be successfully completed.
We have provided this powerful antioxidant treatment to pioneering AD patients since 2000, and have received many exciting reports of partial return of lost memory followed by stabilization of mental functioning that has continued for years.
Recent published research suggests that degenerative brain diseases are associated with severe oxidative stress in the brain and low levels of metallothionein (MT) proteins. Published research indicates that Alzheimer's Disease may be primarily a disease of oxidative stress, involving a proliferation of free-radical metal ions. Key features of AD include the accumulation of beta-amyloid plaques, tau protein, and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles. These abnormalities appear to be associated with elevated levels of metal free-radicals and excessive oxidative stress. Free-radicals metals such as iron, copper, aluminum, lead, and mercury appear to accelerate the formation of beta-amyloid plaques that are a distinctive feature of the disease. In healthy individuals, MT proteins can effectively bind to free-radicals in the brain, rendering them harmless. However, MT protein levels in Alzheimer patients have been shown to be generally less than one-third of normal levels. Restoring MT proteins to normal levels could potentially slow or halt the progression of the disease. In 2000, HRI submitted a claim to the U. S. Patent Office for a novel formulation of 22 nutrients known to enhance the synthesis or functioning of MT proteins. If MT-Promotion proves to be effective in slowing or stopping the progression of Alzheimer's, this therapy may also represent an effective approach for prevention of this devastating disease.
Following the highly promising results achieved in our Alzheimer's Disease study, the Pfeiffer Treatment Center is now routinely accepting patients with mild-to-moderate AD. These services will include periodic testing with the CANTAB system for assessing memory and other cognitive functions.
HRI is pleased to announce that testing has begun on antioxidant and anti-inflammation therapy for victims of Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis. In each case, we are testing 25 pioneering patients who are being intensively studied to determine if this novel therapy provides benefits. Persons interested in participating in these studies should contact Aditi Gulibani (Research Associate) at 630-505-0300, ext. 265.
HRI is pleased to announce that testing has begun on antioxidant and anti-inflammation therapy for victims of Parkinson's Disease and Multiple Sclerosis.
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center has developed an international physician training program, based in Sydney, Australia. Last year we trained 16 physicians from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Ireland in advanced nutrient therapy for persons with behavior disorders, autism, ADHD, depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia. The next training sessions will be held in April 2007 in Sydney and we expect up to 30 physicians from around the world to participate.
For further information on the Health
Research Institute and Pfeiffer Treatment Center, please visit the website at
www.hriptc.org and attend one of their upcoming
free public informational seminars typically held on the third Wednesday of
each month. To register, please call 630-505-0300, ext. 216.