Back in the late 1960's I recall a line of glowing faced, normal weight, happy people queuing along Darlinghurst Road in Kings Cross. They were patient and didn't seem to mind that the line was moving slowly - it was an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine, have a chat with the strangers ahead and behind you, and just generally be yourself. This queue snaked its way into the newly opened "new fangled" premises of Colonel Saunders' store "Kentucky Friend Chicken". The people bought a box containing a couple of pieces of chicken, some instant potato smothered in "gravy' and some sugar - laced coleslaw.
Opinions of the diners were fairly consistent that this wasn't "real food"- it obviously didn't have much nutrition, the slaw was too sweet for most palates, the 'bun' seemed to be made of cotton wool, and the 'gravy' was a joke. The best bit was the little moist towel they gave you to wipe your face and fingers. Still it could be a stopgap if unexpected guests arrived- especially if you weren't too fussed that they might not come again. Like fairy-floss it could be considered a novelty with not much goodness in it and definitely something that you wouldn't try to live on.
Of course those people had been spoiled by their normal diet of mostly whole foods grown and cooked without additives. In the ensuing years many more fast food outlets have opened and peoples eating habits have been modified to be more accepting of pre-packaged additive laden meals that are usually high in unsaturated fats, preservatives, colourings, flavourings and calories.
Over the same time period we've had to learn some new words and phrases: "road rage","attention deficit hyperactivity disorder"(ADHD) and "home invasion" are just a few. We've noticed that more and more people are more often depressed and rare problems like autism and dyslexia are becoming more common. People aren't as friendly or trusting, they seem more selfish and impatient, they certainly don't seem to be as happy or well balanced.
Could there be any connection? Could the food that you eat effect your mental wellbeing? Psychiatrists mostly dismiss the possibility considering that psychotic patients have severe biochemical imbalances that can best be treated by appropriate medication. It isn't often considered that inappropriate medication with various chemicals (eg food additives) might in fact be the cause of many of the problems they see.
Dr Abram Hoffer, a psychiatrist in Canada, many years ago suggested that schizophrenia could be due to a vitamin B3 dependency and that when some people went short of the vitamin their withdrawal symptoms were essentially the same as the schizophrenic patients. By using the vitamin with institutionalised patients he showed that the schizophrenic patient often "woke up" and started to behave normally. In spite of this amazing result this therapeutic approach is still not widely used.
ADHD kids who are deprived of their normal intake of sugar and food chemicals and forced to survive on natural wholefoods quickly re-stabilise but governments are still only thinking that just maybe it could be a good idea to encourage tuckshops to remove some of the junk-foods that they peddle in favour of healthy choices.
Back in the 1930's the ETA peanut butter company used the advertisement slogan "What you eat today, walks and talks tomorrow" to encourage people to be aware of the quality of the foods that they were eating. It made sense to people back then - of course you can't be healthy and strong if you try to run your body on inferior fuel. But somewhere along the way we've forgotten this simple message. Many of today's people are showing us that what walks and talks if you fuel up on non-foods are "people look-alikes" who don't have the emotional and mental equilibrium that is part of being a real person.
So why isn't the message getting out there? The pharmaceutical industry is making obscene amounts of money pushing drugs for the symptoms of "people look-alikes" not to cure them but to control their symptoms. After all there isn't any money in curing someone - you need to keep them coming back for more. Some of those profits are then used to convince nutritionist and medical practitioners that what is being offered is the best that is available.
The food and drug administration (FDA) is the aptly named controlling body in the USA that determines what will go into out bodies. Food and drugs are linked in many ways not least in that many drugs makers are also food additive makers. So the companies that turn people into" look-alikes" are also benefiting by providing relief for their symptoms. The Australian, and other countries, governments are then fed the results of the FDA determinations. It should be kept in mind that the pharmaceutical industry is in control here and not the other way around.
The only good news in this science fiction scenario is that with proper nutrition and weaning away from the toxins the aggressive, mistrustful, dumbed down behaviour also disappears and we get a happy healthy person back.
Psychological and psychiatric disciplines however are still replete with classifiers who are interested in putting people's symptoms into little boxes and naming them. This is reminiscent of the 19th century entomologists who stuck butterflies on boards according to the colour and, size, and shape of their wings. It tells us nothing about the "why" of things. Similarly to label someone 'bi-polar', 'schizophrenic', 'obsessive- compulsive', etc, etc tells us nothing about the 'why' of things. And prescribing drugs which don't fix the problem, but may pacify the patient, is not good medicine. In fact Montague (1999) considers that all such drugs are nothing more than placebos because they don't cure anything.
Nevertheless some light is being shed on these problems. The World Health Organisation whilst not as powerful as it was has produced many papers advocating clean food and water as essentials of health. Individual researchers, when they can get the grant money, have produced insightful guidelines that show the way.
One of the more recent pieces of research is done by Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride who has an autistic son and is interested in helping him. That she holds a doctors degree in Medicine and Postgraduate degree in both Neurology and Human Nutrition gives her voice more weight than would otherwise be acknowledged. In her clinic in Cambridge (UK) she specialises in nutrition for children and adults with behavioural and learning disabilities, and adults with digestive and immune system disorders. In her recent book, Gut And Psychology Syndrome" (2004) she shows in a step by step way how the intestinal flora and fauna determines what will circulate in the body and be used by the body as the building blocks of not only the tissues of the machine but also how it will operate. Because she is writing for other mothers with problem children she is clear and easy to read, she also has valuable information that could, and should, turn psychology on its head.
By analysing what happens in the gut and how foods are processed into the fuel for the body, she shows precisely what happens when we attempt to substitute alternatives for real food with the fuel that we need. The pollutants that we ingest from vaccinations, the air we breathe, the water (and other things) that we drink and the food (and non-food) that we eat all walk and talk tomorrow. Natasha Campbell- McBride shows admirably just what this means in today's world.
She states that schizophrenia is that big bag, that psychiatrists put all the patients who are difficult to understand. There is a considerable overlap between depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, dyslexia and schizophrenia.Quite often a patient will be diagnosed as bipolar to be later re-diagnosed as schizophrenic. Depression is often the only symptom present in a patient for years before worse symptoms including schizophrenia develop.
Members of the family of schizophrenic patient often suffer from dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression, bipolar disorder, autism, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Just as it is with childhood learning disabilities we see that psychiatric patients do not fit neatly into our diagnostic boxes. Is it because we are missing some underlying problem, which may be causing all these different conditions in different people?
The only treatment modern psychiatry can offer schizophrenic patients are antipsychotic drugs. The use of these drugs is often based on trial and error and though in many cases they do control psychotic symptoms, they have serious side effects and do not cure the patient. Like most drugs, used in modern medicine, they are symptomatic, which means that they only reduce the symptoms without treating the disease. On average anti-psychotic drugs reduce symptoms only by 15 - 25% which mean that 75 - 85% of symptoms are left unresolved.
Before the era of pharmaceuticals ruling medicine, psychiatrists routinely recorded that psychiatric patients not only have psychiatric problems, but are also very ill physically. The most common physical problems are digestive, cardio-vascular, diabetes, lung and urogenital infections, autoimmunity and other signs of immune abnormalities. In an old textbook of Psychiatry by Henderson and Gillespie, published in 1937, it is clearly stated: "A thorough physical examination is absolutely essential in every case - schizophrenics are commonly poorly nourished."
Recent research proves it to be correct. Deficiencies in vitamins (such as niacin or B3. B6, B12, B1, folic acid, vitamin C) and many minerals (such as magnesium, zinc, manganese, etc) are routinely recorded in schizophrenic patients. An American doctor Carl Pfeiffer has studied more than 20,000 patients and showed that treating them with nutritional supplementation and diet can be far more effective, than using prescription drugs.
Why do schizophrenic patients have nutritional deficiencies? We already know that the answer will be found only in their digestive systems. French psychiatrist Pinel almost 200 years ago wrote, "the primary seat of insanity generally is in the region of the stomach and intestines". Professor Curtis Dohan, MD devoted many years to researching what connection digestive abnormalities in schizophrenic patients may have with their psychological state. It had been noticed previously that there is a considerable overlap between coeliac disease and schizophrenia and Dohan found that symptoms of schizophrenia could be dramatically relieved by cutting all grains out of the diet. He also found that some cultures in the South Pacific, which never consumed grains, had no schizophrenia. Only when they adopted a western diet full of grains did they start getting cases of schizophrenia.
Another good example is Ireland where people did not consume wheat until the potato famine in 1845. Before then there were no cases of schizophrenia or coeliac disease recorded in Ireland. Since adopting wheat as a staple food the Irish have one of the highest incidences of coeliac disease and schizophrenia in the world. In the late 1970's it was discovered that gluten from grains and casein from milk can be turned into opiates in the digestive system, which absorb into the blood, cross the blood brain barrier and affect the brain. These opiates were found in the urine of schizophrenic patients and those with depression and autoimmune conditions. Later on Dr Reichelt (2000) in Norway and Dr Shattock (2004) in the UK found the same compounds in the urine of autistic children. That is how schizophrenia and autism found themselves in one company. It became clear that both groups of patients could not digest gluten from grains and casein from milk.
Schizophrenic patients usually develop psychotic symptoms in their teens or early twenties. Mothers of these patients almost invariably have abnormal gut flora and associated disorders. It means that she would pass her abnormal flora to her baby. A large percent of schizophrenic patients were not breastfed as babies, which would further compromise their digestive flora and immune system. From the childhood health history it becomes clear that the patient was physically ill long before developing psychotic symptoms.
Digestive problems, allergies and reactions to food, eczema, asthmatic episodes, malnutrition, lack of stamina, hyperactivity, attention deficit, dyspraxia, dyslexia, fatigue, irritability, poor sleep, night terrors are all common. All these symptoms indicate that the child had abnormalities in the gut flora with all the usual consequences: immunity and toxicity coming from the gut. A mixture of these toxins obviously was not right for making the child autistic for example, but was enough to cause other problems. In these cases schizophrenia does not come from nowhere.
Seeing that schizophrenic symptoms usually appear around puberty it is reasonable to suspect that puberty plays some role in the onset of schizophrenia. It is possible that the hormonal turmoil of puberty in some way interacts with the toxins in the child's body and tips the child into a psychotic state. It is also possible that the hormones open the blood-brain barrier for some of the toxins, which were in the child's body all his/her life, but could not get into the brain before.
Another interesting possibility is something wrong happening in the maturation process of the brain. Apparently through different stages of growth the brain prunes its receptors. The most active pruning goes on around two years of age and at puberty. It is possible that at puberty opioid peptides and other toxins escaping the gut of the youngster interfere with this natural pruning process and tip the brain into psychoses.
Hopefully future research will explain these issues. What is obvious is that psychotic manifestation is only a progression of the physical problem in the child's body and not a new disease appearing out of no where.
The toxicity produced by abnormal microbial mass in the patient's digestive system affects the brain and causes the symptoms of schizophrenia. So, in order to help the patient we need to get rid of this toxicity. In order to do that we need to treat the patient's digestive system.
As a result, the patient starts digesting and absorbing food properly. The gut stops being the major source of toxins in the body and becomes the major source of nourishment, as it is supposed to be. As the nutritional deficiencies and toxicity go away the psychotic symptoms go away with them.
By including lists of food to avoid as well as those to seek out, and by providing food recipes Campbell-Mc Bride has produced a useable book for sufferers and their carers as well as a knock out punch to the professional Psychological and Psychiatric communities.
References Campbell-McBride, Natasha (2004) Gut And Psychology Syndrome. Cambridge. Medinform. Dohan, F.C., Jr., Rubman, R.H., and Torriani, A.: In vitro synthesis of Escherichia coli alkaline phosphatase monomers. J Mol. Biol. 58:469-479, 1971 Henderson and Gillespie (1937) textbook of Psychiatry. New York. Souvenir press Hoffer, Abram. Orthomolecular treatment of Cancer. In Nutrients in Cancer prevention and treatment. Ed. Prasad, KN, Santamaria, L & Williams RM. Pages 373-391, 1995, Totowa, New Jersey. Human Press. Montagu, Ashley (1986) Touching: Human Significance of the Skin. London. Harper & Row Reichelt Kalle Collected net articles: http://glutenfree.org/reichelt.html Shattock P, Hooper M, Warning R. (2004) Letter to the editor: Opioid peptides and dipeptidyl peptidase in autism. Development Medicine & Child neurology 46:357