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Schizophrenia and diet

MagazineJuly 1993 (Vol. 4 Issue 4)Schizophrenia and diet

Q:I was astounded to read your book review of Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin (WDDTY Vol 4 No 1) which suggested that mental illness can be treated merely with counselling

Q:I was astounded to read your book review of Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin (WDDTY Vol 4 No 1) which suggested that mental illness can be treated merely with counselling.

Having some experience of schizophrenia in a family member, I would say that the two basic causes of mental illness, particularly schizophrenia, are allergies and vitamin/mineral deficiencies (notably B3) exacerbated by stress, hormone imbalance, etc.Two American psychiatrists, A Hoffer and H Osmond, have written a book, How to Live with Schizophrenia (Morrison and Bigg, London) outlining their enormous success in treating patients with vitamin B3(niacin). Because B3 is not a new wonder drug, nobody can make much money from it.

Drugs are definitely not the answer to mental illness as they merely suppress symptoms, leaving the basic cause untouched.

I have recently heard of a woman saved from committal to a mental hospital by the discovery that she was allergic to paraffin.

Unless the problem of allergies is properly addressed and understood, counselling and TLC, while obviously helpful, will not bring long term relief from these illnesses. H J, Ilkeston, Derbyshire.......

A:You may be interested in a recent report, which appeared in the Daily Telegraph (12 May 1993), of a study showing that schizophrenia may be caused by a deficiency in fatty acids. The study by the Highland Psychiatric Research Group in Inverness, which appeared in the US journal Schizophrenia Research, found that out of a group of 250 schizophrenics, 70 were lacking in the fatty acids AA and DHA.

Dr Iain Glen, head of the research unit, said it was not clear whether schizophrenics eat the wrong food, or whether their bodies fail to absorb the fatty acids. However, growing evidence suggests that diet is a key factor schizophrenia is more common among people on a poor diet; and babies fed on breast milk, which is rich in the acids, are less likely to develop the condition than those fed on powdered milk. Fatty acids AA and DHA are found in polyunsaturated foods.

There is also substantial evidence that many symptoms of so called schizophrenia depression, hallucinations, apathy, violent or aggressive urges, exhaustion can be eliminated or alleviated simply by cutting out dairy products, grains (or just gluten) and refined carbohydrates from the diet. In her excellent cookbook Good Food, Milk Free, Grain Free (Keats Publishing, New Canaan, Connecticut) Hilda Cherry Hills quotes the original findings of M Singh and S R Kay writing in Science magazine (1976; 191, 401-2). These have been confirmed by many subsequent studies in the British Journal of Psychiatry showing that a grain free diet (that is, one free of wheat, oats, barley, rye, corn, millet or rice) helps to calm symptoms of schizophrenia. Other allergists find that sugars, potatoes or even additives can cause the problem. This evidence, plus that noted by Keith Mumby and many other allergy specialists of so called "brain allergies" or patients with high histamine reactions developing symptoms of mental illness, lends further weight to your argument that schizophrenia emanates more from the body than the head alone.

The organization doing the most work in this field is the Princeton Biocenter, in Princeton, New Jersey. The philosophy of the centre is to do nutritional assessments on individual patients, and then to order a specially tailored dietary and supplement programme.

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