Nutritional Solutions to Emotional Problems
New Research Supporting Nutritional Solutions For Emotional Problems
Neurotransmitters (NTs) are essential chemical messengers that regulate brain, muscle, nerve and organ function. The most common neurotransmitters are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. Low levels of these important chemicals are extremely common in the general public, due to innumerable lifestyle, environmental, and dietary factors. This article is intended to help the reader determine whether they may be deficient in neurotransmitters and how evaluation and treatment of this disorder can help.
Dopamine, Acetylcholine, GABA and Serotonin are probably the most important brain neurotransmitters, with dopamine being the "precursor" for norepinephrine and epinephrine
People with neurotransmitter deficiency disorder can suffer from one or more of the following conditions: obesity, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, insomnia, attention deficit, learning disorders, panic attacks, migraines, pms, menopausal symptoms, digestive complaints and many more.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Celexa, etc. are currently some of the most commonly prescribed drugs. They work by artificially increasing the amount of serotonin in the synapse of the nerve which allows a temporary improvement in the chemical messaging system.
The problem with this approach is that these drugs DO NOT increase serotonin levels; in fact they deplete reserves of the NT. This occurs because the SSRI class drugs cause an increase in an enzyme called MAO. It is common for people to experience only temporary improvement due to this effect.
The natural treatment for optimizing the neurotransmitter levels is to provide the basic amino acid precursors, or building blocks, so the body can replenish the inadequate neurotransmitter levels.
The Nutritional Basis of Depression, Anxiety, Anger and Cognitive Dysfunction, and what to do about it.
A growing percentage of the population is now beginning to experience anxiety or depression symptoms that seem to be uncontrollable without the simple fix of drugs, prescribed by doctors or otherwise. Ground breaking work by Dr. Carl Pfeifer, Dr. George Samra and others in the nutritional basis of such symptoms has given us some clinical guidelines that consistently produce results.
We found that a percentage of clients seemed to respond to traditional psychotherapies better than others. On introducing high quality nutrition to our counseling regimen we found a startling increase in effectiveness.
The reasons seem to be as follows:
People who have been under high levels of stress for an extended period of time, or who have placed their bodies under physiological stress through high levels of adrenaline or incorrect nutrition often experience severe perceptual problems or emotional symptoms which “won’t go away.” Stress depletes the level of serotonin (a neurotransmitter) in the brain which has a profound effect on cognitive ability and mood. Medications such as Prozac and other Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) do not elevate the levels of serotonin in the system. Nutritional therapy will increase the systemic serotonin levels. Therapeutic doses of B Complex, in unison with tryptophan and other supportive nutrients, are far more effective in replacing serotonin that has been depleted by chronic stress. Michael J. Norden, M.D. a Psychiatrist at the University of Washington has written a very interesting book, “Beyond Prozac: Brain Toxic Lifestyles, Natural Antidotes & New Generation Antidepressants” Please read it!
By way of a simple explanation, mood disorders and cognitive problems begin or are worsened because of shortages in certain vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that are critical to the correct functioning of the biochemical pathways of the brain and other parts of the body. Such deficiencies create havoc in the transmission of signals in the brain and hence in the automatic functions of the body. In the same way, excesses of hormones or neurotransmitters can cause the body to overcompensate. Ultimately, after a period of time in this state, the whole body begins to change, causing symptoms such as:
Warning indicators such as these usually cause distress and even, eventually, symptoms of emotional disorders appear. The distress, and the resultant anxiety, create further biochemical imbalances, which in turn cause higher levels of anxiety, which in turn .......
And so, on it goes. Over a period of time you become locked into an anxiety cycle that seems impossible to break. In reality you are not going “nuts”! It is those biochemical reactions that maintain the high levels of anxiety. Such biochemical imbalances can also cause violent and/or even suicidal thinking. It is essential, therefore, that such physiological disturbances be treated before changes will be made at deeper levels.
If the physically induced symptoms are not dealt with first, psychological strategies will most likely be ineffective or at best temporary. Physical symptoms which reoccur after such backward therapy cause it to appear that the therapy has not worked. That suggestion compounds itself. Once the physiological reactions are removed from the equation the therapy can have succeed with the desired results.
This information covers only the nutritional basis of depression and anxiety. By applying the mechanisms herein described most people are able to eliminate nearly 50% of the intensity or frequency of their symptoms.
WARNING: Under no circumstances are you to reduce or stop your existing medication without consultation of the physician managing your medications. Once effective results are obtained from a nutritional program, your doctor can help you decide about reducing or eliminating your medications. Take particular notice of the section on detox effects.
Your body is made up of tissues, which, in turn, are made up of tiny cells. In appropriate environments each of these cells can survive and most varieties can replicate to produce more cells. Each cell has its own powerhouse to provide it with energy, and its own manufacturing plant to provide it with everything it needs to survive and reproduce. Some cells, like those in your stomach and intestines, replace themselves every few days. Others take longer.
In every case, the structure of the body, the circulatory system, the digestive system, the nervous system, the lungs and every other organ, work to keep up the supply of essential nutrients, eliminate wastes and create a state of harmony and balance.
Anything that upsets this state of balance can cause reactions which present themselves initially as changes in feelings (often ignored by us) and eventually states of dis-ease, followed by physical illness.
Such disturbances can be caused by:
1. oversupply of hormones such as adrenaline, which the body tries to balance. Adrenaline causes the release of higher than normal levels of glucose so the muscles can go into “flight or fight” mode and get you out of danger! The pancreas tries to balance this by pulling the excess glucose out of the system. It becomes so good at this that eventually it removes more than you can supply, and the brain starves for energy. The brain then drives you to find a quick fix of sugar or alcohol. You feel better for a while. Then you go back into feeling bad, until the next fix.
2. undersupply of essential nutrients. One serious mistake made by many nutritionists and much of the medical profession, is not supplying the body with ALL the micro-nutrients needed to make the main biochemical reactions work. This is especially important for the nervous system where microscopic deficiencies can cause such significant problems! I’m sure you know what I mean. For example, the nerve impulses that carry messages around the body rely on the exchange of sodium and potassium ions in and out of the cell. The neurotransmitters that convey these signals from one cell to the next are also basically a chemical reaction.
If you don’t supply all the nutrients required, or if you eat foods that strip the body of essential nutrients, then the appropriate reactions cannot occur and the system fails. We have been finding that processed grains, like white flour and rice, tend to strip the body of essential B vitamins. B3 and B6 are used in the energy system and the development of neurotransmitters. If the necessary nutrients are not consistently supplied your energy is depleted and the nervous system will not function as it should, often creating a state of chronic depression or anxiety. While there are a multitude of examples of similar deficiencies and excesses, suffice it to say that our clinical experience with chronic depression or hyper anxiety reveals some common fundamental problems.
1. There is usually an underlying high stress environment when the client is very young—often as simple as living in a house where the parents argue a lot, or where there is physical violence.
2. The high adrenaline levels often combine with poor diet, high in sugars and white flour, to create a serious biochemical imbalance over a period of 10 - 25 years. The symptoms first surface as low energy, mood swings and foggy thinking. This often raises anxiety levels.
3. Most clients suffer from cravings for sweet foods, coffee, white flour based products like bread, pasta, pizzas, or alcohol that is processed in the body in a similar way to sugar.
So, What Can I Do?
1. Significantly reduce your sugar and sweet food intake over a period of 3-4 days. Watch packaged foods carefully and avoid those with high sugar content. Even cereals are often a problem!
2. Eliminate processed grain based foods and replace with whole grains. This includes pasta, bread, biscuits, cakes, pizza, etc. Vegetable pasta is fine.
3. Increase your protein intake immediately so your body can derive a more stable energy source. Especially chicken, fish, beans, lentils, etc. Get a non-genetically modified, soy based, high protein powder and mix a high energy protein drink when you get up in the morning. Have regular high protein snacks throughout the day.
4. Have lots of fresh vegetables. Don’t overcook them. The closer to raw you can eat them the better because our processing methods do destroy the nutritional content. (By the way, if you are currently eating lots of commercially produced fruits and vegetables you are not necessarily getting an appropriate level of essential nutrients. Foods these days are grown for profit, not nutrition, and then are often stored too long before reaching the consumer. Recent research showed that nutritional value is reduced in foods that are not eaten on the day they are picked by as much as 85%! And on top of that we cook them!
5. Cut out tea and coffee over a couple of days to prevent withdrawal headaches! Replace with mineral water or herbal teas (chamomile is good for anxiety).
6. Drink a couple of liters of water per day. Preferably use reverse osmosis filtered water. This helps with the detoxification process and eliminates the build up of toxic biochemical waste which is produced as a normal part of our metabolism.
7. Get a high dose of a cold processed Vitamin B Complex into your system on a regular basis. It should have a balanced B vitamin mix, including a minimum of 250mg B3 (niacinamide) and 25mg B6. The bottle will probably say take only one a day. Not enough! Experience shows you need TWO with each meal. SIX per day is minimum maintenance dose for the stress filled lives of most of us. Therapeutic dosages are even higher (10 to 20 per day). —best with food to avoid a possible hot flush.
8. Find a high quality, cold processed multiple vitamin and mineral supplement to fill in the cracks in your nutritional regimen. B sure to include an immune booster and a natural detox program to help you remove the accumulated toxins already stored in your cells.
What Can I Expect?
If you maintain the above regimen this is what you will probably find.
1. In the first few days you may feel a little “spacy” as you detox. Make sure you drink plenty of water to flush the system -- 6 - 8 glasses per day.
2. After that, usually within 7 -- 10 days, thinking will start to clear, energy levels will increase, anxiety and/or depression will start to disperse.
3. Within two to three weeks you will find you are handling difficult situations better than you have for years. You will be sleeping more soundly, have more energy, and will be thinking clearly enough for psychotherapy to be more effective.
4. In three months the combination high quality nutrition, exercise and psychotherapy will have given you the opportunity to enjoy a rich, satisfying life.
Warning: There is much misinformation and lack of knowledge about vitamin supplementation. Below is a helpful summary of research work being done by Dr. Michael Pazdon, at the University of New Hampshire. His report is as follows:
“Of the vitamin supplements being marketed in the United States today, we found that there are basically three types (1) Synthetic (chemical), (2) Crystallized (heat processed) and (3) Lyophilized (low temperature dehydration).
These three types were tested by chromatograms prepared by the method of Pfeiffer (BioDynamics 50, 2t), with slight modification.
Will the Real SAM-e Please Stand Up?
SAM-e (pronounced "Sammy") is one of the hottest natural supplements to hit the U.S. market. Some call it a "Wonder Drug", even though it has a dietary supplement status in the United States. It has received much favorable media attention from such news organizations as Newsweek, USA Today, and ABC News and has been touted as a promising treatment for several types of diseases including depression, liver disease, arthritis, and Alzheimer's disease. However, SAM-e is sold in many forms based on the stabilizing compound used to prevent its molecule degeneration, and the amount of stabilizing compound used can greatly impact the amount of SAM-e active ingredient available in the final product.
What is SAM-e
SAM-e is a nickname for S-adenosyl-methionine, a naturally occurring substance found in all human tissues in the body. It is composed of the essential amino acids adenosyl and methionine and is an important component for the activation, metabolism, and synthesis of hormones, neurotransmitters, nucleic acids, proteins, and phospholipids. With the help of B vitamins, folate, and B-12, SAM-e transfers single carbon units or methyl groups to other molecules. This methylation process helps the body perform a number of important functions including maintenance of cell membranes, removal of toxic substances from the body, production of mood-enhancing neurotransmitters (dopamine and serotonin), and production of cartilage components. Because of its methylation process, SAM-e is thought to be effective in the treatment of depression, arthritis, and liver disease. It is especially appealing as a natural anti-depressive treatment, since it has fewer side effects than antidepressant drugs.
The History of SAM-e
SAM-e has been available in Europe since 1976 and has been approved as a prescription drug in Italy, Russia, Spain, and Germany. SAM-e was first introduced to the U.S. in February 1999, where it is sold as an over-the-counter dietary supplement. Since its introduction, SAM-e has become one of the top three best selling supplements in the United States, even rivalling the sales of Osteo-Bi-Flex, the top glucosamine/chondroitin supplement brand on the market.
SAM-e is very expensive to manufacture and is highly unstable in raw form due to its hydroscopic nature. Its instability makes storage and transport of SAM-e both difficult and costly. In Europe, SAM-e supplements are refrigerated to ensure stability. However, salts are added to SAM-e supplements prior to tabulation in the United States. The types of stabilising salts used for this purpose include butanedisulfonate, tosylate, disulfate tosylate, and disulfate ditosylate. Thus SAM-e products vary from one company to another due to the type of stabilising salt used.
The SAM-e Controversy
No standard exists on the type or amount of stabilising salt required in SAM-e supplements. The stabilizing compounds that are used can weigh as much as the SAM-e molecule itself and can impact the amount of active ingredient in the final product. Therefore, customers may not always get what they pay for when buying SAM-e supplements. An independent study conducted by ConsumerLab.com evaluated thirteen different brands of SAM-e to determine if the amount of active ingredient conformed to labeled amounts and found that six brands did not meet this criterion. The brands that failed had less than half the active ingredient reported on the label.
Which Type of Stabilising Salt Works Best?
Although there is no recommended standard on what type of stabilising salt should be used, many within the industry feel that butanedisulfonate is the most effective SAM-e stabiliser. Companies that market the butanedisulfonate form of SAM-e usually advertise in their literature that they are selling the most stable form of SAM-e on the market. BASF Corporation is the largest commercial producer of SAM-e and holds a patent on the butanedisulfonate stabilising compound. BASF's primary customers are General Nutrition Companies (GNC) and Pharmavite Corporation, who are both licensed to used butanedisulfonate in their SAM-e supplements. Other companies such as Natrol and Twinlab use alternative stabilising salts like tosylate, disulfate tosylate, or disulfate ditosylate in their SAM-e products. Below is a list of selected companies marketing SAM-e supplements with the form of stabilising salt identified for each company's SAM-e brand.
Using Molecular Medicine and Orthomolecular Psychiatry
Orthomolecular is a term that comes from ortho, which is Greek for "correct" or "right," and "molecule," which is the simplest structure that displays the characteristics of a compound. So it literally means the "right molecule."
Two-time Nobel Prize winner, and molecular biologist, Linus Pauling, Ph.D., coined the term "Orthomolecular" in his 1968 article "Orthomolecular Psychiatry" in the journal "Science."
Orthomolecular medicine describes the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body.
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." - Hippocrates, The Father of Medicine