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Not all in the head

MagazineDecember 1991 (Vol. 2 Issue 9)Not all in the head

Allergy can make you irritable, overactive and restless, but more often it causes you to feel tired, lethargic, sluggish and drowsy

Allergy can make you irritable, overactive and restless, but more often it causes you to feel tired, lethargic, sluggish and drowsy. It can cause you to suffer from "brain fag", characterized by mental confusion, slowness of thought, depression, fee

Such patients are almost never properly diagnosed. They have "graduated" to this condition through a number of previous levels of physical and mental distress. They often have thick medical files, filled with long lists of complaints, many of them seemingly of mental origin. In truth, their mental problems are basically physical problems, as they are directly caused by food/chemical allergy. Such patients are among the prime recipients of mood altering drugs, electric shock therapy and psychotherapy. However, none of this does much good. As time goes by, they tend to get progressively worse, as the general course of an untreated allergic illness is usually downward.

F. C. Donan and J. C. Grasberger (American Journal of Psychiatry, June 1973) studied schizophrenic patients, who on admission to a locked ward were randomly assigned to a cereal grain free, milk free diet. Schizophrenics on the milk and cereal free diet were able to be discharged from the hospital twice as rapidly as control patients. When wheat gluten was added secretly to the cereal free diet, it abolished this effect. This study, as well as Dohan's previous findings, indicate that cereal grains may be involved in the pathogenesis of some schizophrenias.

W. H. Philpott (who published his findings in A Physician's Handbook on Orthomolecular Medicine, Keats Publishing, 1977) studied a random sample of 53 hospitalized schizophrenic patients and found that 92 per cent were found to be allergic to at least one or more common substances, including wheat, corn, cow's milk, tobacco and petrochemical hydrocarbons.

Numerous researchers have also demonstrated that so called psychiatric illness stems from a myriad of physical complaints, many caused by nutritional deficiencies. R. C. Hall and others (Arch Gen Psychiatry September 1980) gave a thorough physical examination to 100 patients admitted to a psychiatric hospital in order to find out if a physical cause could be found. Out of 100 patients 80 per cent were found to have a previously undetected physical illness. In 56 per cent of these the physical illness was thought to be causative or at least contributory to their psychiatric symptoms. Sixty one per cent of them showed an immediate clearing of their psychiatric symptoms as soon as their underlying physical disorder was treated.

"Schizophrenia" was found to be directly caused by such underlying physical disorders as folic acid deficiency, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, severe anaemia, diabetes, malnutrition and hypoglycaemia. Some of the schizophrenics were also found to be suffering from allergic conditions and systemic candidiasis. Thirteen per cent of the patients were found to be substantially malnourished and had evidence of vitamin and other dietary deficiencies. Eight per cent got well by eating a proper diet with added nutritional supplementation alone, while the remaining 5 per cent required additional treatment.

These studies suggest that at least one quarter of patients lingering presently in psychiatric wards are not even mentally ill, but suffer from a physical illness which causes them various "mental" symptoms. I firmly believe that the majority of mental problems are often only chemical problems, and once the brain's chemistry has been corrected, the "mental illness" is corrected as well. Whenever we are confronted with any mental or physical disorder of an unknown cause, we must always consider diet or allergy as a factor.

Excerpted with permission from An Alternative to Psychiatry (The Book Guild, 25 High Street, Lewes, Sussex).

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