In my office, I now have had several experiences with patients in tears, because of the relief they feel after years of feeling lousy. In almost 30 years of practicing as a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I have never had a treatment modality to offer that is so regularly helpful. These tearful patients have had numerous dispiriting trials of psychiatric medications which caused them to feel tired and blunted, cognitively dulled, with weight gain and sexual dysfunction. Many have also had years of competent psychological treatment. The patients who experience the most profound shifts are those who not only take the nutrients, but who also make dietary and life style changes, including exercising, minimizing alcohol consumption and attending to their emotional and spiritual lives.
I am developing expertise in weaning patients from psychiatric medications. My current approach is to do the Walsh testing and to develop an individualized nutrient protocol based upon the results to normalize blood chemistry, as well as to recommend dietary and life style changes, including psychospiritual considerations. After a patient has been on the protocols for several months, we begin to wean their medications very conservatively, typically 10 % a month to avoid withdrawal effects. This holistic procedure typically allows for either a complete discontinuation of medication or a significantly reduced dosage.
Conventional psychiatrists are completely unaware of this safe powerful treatment modality, based on Dr. Walsh’s research with 1000’s of patients. They only know about recommending pharmaceuticals or procedures. Some commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals cause irreversible damage, like the widely prescribed atypical anti-psychotics, which have been proven to cause cortical shrinkage. This is not only heart breaking but enraging, given that psychosis is often very responsive to treatment with nutrients, which frequently permits at least a significant reduction in dosage.
These days it is common for patients to have genetic testing and to learn that they have the MTHFR gene. Well meaning but poorly informed practitioners automatically prescribe folate to them. This is a misguided and dangerous practice, without knowing an individual’s biochemistry. Just because you are homozygous for the MTHFR gene, does not mean that you need folate. In fact, in the small group of people who also have low serotonin, it can literally cause harm by inhibiting methylation, worsening psychiatric symptoms and even increasing vulnerability to cancer. Before prescribing folate, histamine levels need to be measured, in order to determine methylation status. There is an inverse relationship between methylation and histamine. If histamine is high, a person will be under methylated, but if they also have low serotonin, they should avoid folate supplements. In cases of overmethylation, folate would be helpful. It is not possible to infer the methylation status from the mere presence of the MTHFR gene. This can only be determined by measuring histamine level and then correlating with psychiatric symptoms.
Similar principles apply to the recommendation for multivitamins. A person who is under methylated and has low serotonin, should not have folate, and a person who is copper overloaded, should not supplement with additional copper, both common ingredients in multivitamins. A multivitamin is an indiscriminate shot gun approach which can be harmful.
So many health recommendations, particularly dietary, could be refined by knowing an individual’s biochemistry. If a low serotonin person is undermethylated, they feel better with a high protein diet which supplies methionine, a key amino acid in the methylation pathway. I had one severely undermethylated patient whose psychosis seems to have been precipitated by a vegetarian diet, which according to Dr. Walsh, is not uncommon. This patient feels so much better with adequate animal protein. Those low serotonin persons who are undermethylated would also be advised to eschew green drinks, which are high in folate, and which can aggravate undermethylation. Conversely, those who are overmethylated should eat lots of leafy greens because of their high folate content. Patients who have copper overload should only eat shellfish very infrequently, as it is extremely high in copper. Other high copper foods include, raw kale, mushrooms, seeds and nuts, beans, dried fruit, avocados, goat cheese and fermented soy.
The testing that Dr. Walsh recommends measures oxidative stress in the body, which is correlated with auto-immune conditions and inflammation. These nutrient protocols often improve an individual’s immune status by providing needed nutrients. Many report improved gut health. Low zinc levels are associated with yeast overgrowth. More psychiatric symptoms result from an overabundance of nutrients, such as too much histamine or copper, rather than a deficiency. The nutrient protocols, rebalance and normalize blood chemistry, which often is an essential key to well being. I am so grateful for this knowledge and believe that psychiatrists need to know about it. We are in desperate need of a revolution in medicine. Nothing short of it will do.
To find a Walsh trained practitioner in your area, here is a link to the Practitioners Page
Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain
by William J. Walsh, PhD, FACN