Nutrient Power – Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain

Dr. Bill Walsh's long-awaited book, Nutrient Power, is now available through the Walsh Research Institute. Excerpts from the book communicate the flavor of the text and some of the technical highlights – courtesy of Latitudes

is the on-line newsletter of the excellent Association for Comprehensive NeuroTherapy, a non-profit American organisation which explores non-drug based, often nutritional, approaches to treating anxiety, autism, attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, tics and Tourette syndrome, and learning disabilities.

This book presents an advanced nutrient therapy system that can help millions of persons with mental disorders. This approach recognizes that most humans have nutrient imbalances due to genetic and environmental factors, and these imbalances can cause mischief in various ways:
• serotonin, dopamine, and other key neurotransmitters (NT's) are continuously produced in the brain from nutrient raw materials that may be at improper concentrations;
• nutrient imbalances can alter epigenetic processes that govern NT activity at synapses;
• deficiency in antioxidant nutrients can cripple the brain's protection against toxic metals.

Good mental health requires proper neurotransmitter (NT) activity at synapses. A dominant factor is "reuptake" in which NT molecules are whisked away from the synapse and returned to the original brain cell like a vacuum cleaner inhaling dust particles. This process is enabled by transporter proteins16,17 embedded in the cell membrane that act as a conduit for the returning NT's. The population of transport proteins generally has a more dominant effect on synapse activity than the amount of NT present. Genetic expression (production) of key transporters is enhanced by certain nutrients and inhibited by others.

For example, methylation of chromatin proteins is a primary mechanism for "silencing" genes that produce NT transporters. The net result is that undermethylated persons generally have reduced serotonin activity and a tendency for depression. In another example, overmethylated persons may have excessive dopamine activity and a tendency for anxiety and paranoid schizophrenia.

In most cases, mental illness cannot be overcome by a special diet or indiscriminant supplementation with amino acids, vitamins, and minerals. The challenge is to identify the specific nutrient overloads and deficiencies possessed by an individual, and to provide treatments that normalize blood and brain levels of these chemicals with rifle-shot precision. This is the essence of advanced nutrient therapy.

The Repeat Offenders

For several years I was perplexed by the repeated presence of certain biochemical imbalances in completely different mental disorders. For example, copper overload is present in most cases of hyperactivity, learning disability, post-partum depression, autism, and paranoid schizophrenia. In another example, undermethylation is often present in antisocial personality disorder, clinical depression, anorexia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizoaffective disorder. The primary repeat offenders are copper overload, B-6 deficiency, zinc deficiency, methyl/folate Imbalances, pyrrole disorder, and amino acid imbalances. Eventually I realized these factors had something in common — a direct role in the synthesis or functioning of a major neurotransmitter. With respect to mental health, the nutrient SAMe is a natural reuptake inhibitor for serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Folic acid is a natural reuptake enhancer that can combat excessive dopamine activity. The individual levels of methyl and folate in the brain are not as important as the methyl/folate ratio.

It's not a coincidence that methylation is a dominant factor in epigenetics, and methylation abnormalities are common in mental illnesses. Recent advances in epigenetics provide a roadmap for nutrient therapies that have potential for overcoming mental disorders and eventual elimination of the need for psychiatric medications.

Epigenetics research has identified several nutrient factors that have a powerful impact on transport proteins at NT synapses, including methionine, SAMe, folic acid, niacinanide, and zinc. These are the same nutrients pioneered by Hoffer, Pfeiffer and the author that have produced thousands of reports of recovery from schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, ADHD, and behavior disorders.

Common features of the different types of schizophrenia include (a) relative normalcy followed by a mental breakdown, (b) psychosis, (c) cognitive deficits, (d) loss of social skills, (e) high anxiety, (f) enlarged brain ventricles and smaller volumes in cortex and other brain areas, and (g) benefits usually achieved using atypical antipsychotic medications. There is a common thread in these disorders, despite their very great differences in biochemistry. Eventually I realized that the three major schizophrenia phenotypes shared the following important features:
• vulnerability to epigenetic errors that can alter gene expression, and;
• weakened protection against oxidative stress.

These insights led to my theory of schizophrenia which is presented below.
In 1978, inspired by Carl Pfeiffer's success in classification of schizophrenia, I began collecting laboratory chemistries for persons diagnosed with clinical depression. After 20 years, the database amounted to more than 300,000 assays of blood and urine for 2,800 depressed persons. Examination of this data revealed that this depressed population was biochemically different from the general population. The database also contained detailed information for symptoms, traits, medical history, allergies, response to medications, etc. Eventually, I discovered that the depressive population could be separated into five major chemical classifications or biotypes.

The Final Battleground in Autism

While treatments to enhance health, eliminate toxics, reduce inflammation, and overcome oxidative stress are essential, the greatest potential for progress lies in treatments aimed directly at the autistic brain. These treatment initiatives may be divided into two general categories: (1) enhanced development of immature brain cells, and (2) therapies that promote formation of new dendrites, receptors, and synaptic connections. Brain-directed therapies may be the best way to make decisive advances in cognition, speech, and socialization, but have received relatively little attention.

An Oxidative Stress Theory of Autism

Many of the mysteries regarding autism have been resolved and this terrible disorder is gradually coming into clear view. In the history of science, progress has often been hastened by the development of theories that attempt to explain the mechanisms of poorly understood phenomena. In this spirit, I present the following model of autism that is largely based on the research advances and dedicated efforts of others.

The reality is that most children with terrible behavior were born with chemical imbalances that predispose them to this conduct. Flawed life circumstances can aggravate this condition, but the underlying cause is usually bad chemistry. The best way to reduce crime and violence is to identify children with antisocial tendencies and to provide effective treatment before their lives are ruined. Until this capability is achieved, behavior-disordered children will continue to develop into criminals and our nation's horrific rate of crime and violence will persist...

Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain
Hardcover . 320 pages $29.95

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