Depression, anxiety, behavioural disorders (ADD, ADHD) and autism have a profound affect on our selves, our family & our society. There are a multitude of factors at play that may lead to the development of these disorders, thus requiring a broad-spectrum approach to their treatment. Psychiatric medications have served an important place in the treatment of metal Illness, but they are not a cure-all. It is definitely time to consider alternative approaches, and Natural medicine is emerging with some highly successful treatments.
We all carry innate factors that determine many of our physiological & personality traits. It is now clear that many people are born with nutrient imbalances that play a role in many diseases, including mental illness. It all comes down to our brain chemistry and our epigenetics (how are genes are expressed). Having a healthy brain chemistry requires a complex balance of nutrients that can produce healthy levels of neurotransmitters -serotonin, dopamine, GABA & norepinephrine- these are the chemical messengers in our brain that give us our baseline level of happiness & calmness.
Various mental disorders are associated with certain biochemical imbalances. The underlying aim behind treating these disorders, therefore, lies in correcting the individual biochemical imbalance.
Common biochemical imbalances
- Vitamin B6 deficiency: B6 is found in the brain at 100 times the concentration of the blood. It is required for the synthesis of dopamine, serotonin & GABA and low levels are associated with irritability, depression, poor memory, sleep disorders, ADHD & psychosis.
- Zinc deficiency: this is the most commonly observed imbalance in mental health patients. Adequate Zinc status is crucial as it is involved in many aspects of brain function as well as in immune function, growth, hormone balance & antioxidant function. Many mental illnesses are associated with high levels of oxidative stress, requiring vast supplies of antioxidants to overcome this.
- Copper overload: copper is important in the formation of neurotransmitters. Some individuals, however, are biochemically unable to regulate their copper levels and it can become toxic. Copper overload may be of significance in postnatal depression, autism, ADHD, bipolar disorder & violence.
- Methylation imbalance: Up to 40% of us carry a defect on the MTHFR gene that controls the methylation cycle. Nutrient therapy to normalise folate & methyl levels can be very successful in alleviating depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses.
- Pyrrole disorder: some individuals have genetically-acquired high pyrrole levels which results in significant deficiencies of zinc & B6. Classic symptoms include morning nausea, poor recall of dreams, anger, mood swings, high anxiety & many white spots on the nails.
- Glucose dysregulation: low blood sugar levels can be the trigger for many symptoms of mental disorders
- • Toxic overload: high levels of toxic metals, pesticides & organic chemicals are found in many patients with mental health issues. Elevated levels of lead, mercury & cadmium are especially common.
Approach to treatment
We take a detailed look at the big picture of you. You will be asked to complete a comprehensive questionnaire detailing your history, symptoms & lifestyle. She will likely order a serious of blood, hair & urine tests that pinpoint what your biochemical imbalance may be. From here, a treatment program will be developed for you focussing on specific nutrients that will help to rebalance your brain biochemistry and assist the removal of toxins from the body. Regular monitoring is required, with nutrient dosages continually being modified according to your response to the treatments.