On the back wards, where the sun doesn't shine, time is measured in the burning of a cigarette. Behind a two-inch-thick steel door and diagnosed with schizophrenia, I felt sealed in a tomb of hopelessness as I lay on the rubber mat, my muscles turned to Jello by the highly toxic neuroleptic drug called thorazine.
It was Christmas day, but I had no visitors, and the outside world seemed hopelessly out of reach. In this setting, after being forced out of college by my illness, I struggled for four long years to hang on to a shred of hope. I wanted to resume a life put on hold, and hoped some day to have access to orthomolecular medicine, a nutritional therapy that had helped my aunt and several cousins to heal on a cellular level via the natural substances that comprise the proteins that make up each and every one of our cells: vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements and hormones.
Aunt Jane sent me three books on orthomolecular medicine. At first, I couldn't concentrate well enough to read them, but I became determined to bring about enough of a physiological change to allow me to at least glean their essence.
The hospital had taken away the one thing away that had helped: long distance running around the perimeter of the grounds. Release of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine (noradrenaline) from the running was a natural antidepressant, and helped me to detox from the drugs they gave me and to cope with the stress of my situation.
They told me they wanted to stop me from 'running away from my problems' and stuck me into a locked ward, where I was the only non-smoker. After my eventual orthomolecular recovery, I was to learn that exposure to cigarette smoke (as well as to several foods), to which I am allergic, caused my histamine levels to rise, which contributed greatly to my debilitating symptoms.
On this locked ward, I compensated for running by doing yoga, push-ups, sit-ups, tai chi, meditation and prayer. To get away from the cigarette smoke, I spent as much time as possible in my room with the window open. Finally, I was able to read albeit with great difficulty - if I read with my finger and re-read a page at least 10 times, I could retain enough to go to the next page.
In this way, I struggled through Mental and Elemental Nutrients by Carl C. Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, after first reading an account by Mark Vonnegut, son of the well-known American writer Kurt Vonnegut, about how this man's methods had helped him to recover.
Since Pfeiffer had also helped my aunt and my cousins, I was more than a little interested in trying this nutritional approach, but my doctor arrogantly and vehemently insisted that it was 'unproven quackery'.
My dad was also dead-set against the idea because his physician friends had advised him that Pfeiffer was a 'quack', but my mom was more open minded - and saved my life by taking me to see Dr Pfeiffer, who carried out a battery of lab tests that no one else had known how to do.
Armed with the proper nutrients, I smuggled them back into hospital and took them on the sly, while spitting my other medications down the toilet. I hid my vitamins in a foam mattress since they did room searches for contraband and would have confiscated my vitamins as if they were cocaine or 'grass'.
After three weeks of taking my supplements, I was given a full medical discharge while the doctors scratched their heads, wondering which of their drugs had helped me. That was 23 years ago.
Pfeiffer discovered that food and inhalant allergies caused me to overproduce histamine, which is stored in blood cells called basophils and in mast cells. Basophil counts of over 50 cells/mm3 and histamine levels over 70 ng/mL are considered diagnostic of histadelia. This is a condition which causes suicidal depression, paranoia and obsessive thoughts. The average histamine level in histadelic men is 111 mg/mL and 107 mg/mL in women, according to a 1975 study. My histamine levels were as high as 126 - significantly higher than the 42 and 46 mg/mL seen in non-histadelic men and women, respectively.
The amino acid methionine detoxifies histamine, and calcium (as calcium salts) reduces the release of the body's stored histamine. Zinc and manganese aid the calcium and methionine.
Pfeiffer also found that I had very high aluminium and copper levels, and an overproduction of an enzyme called kryptopyrolle, which robbed me of zinc, which is a copper antagonist that eliminates excess copper which, in turn, was contributing to my concentration difficulties, thought disorder and severe depression.
In essence, high copper levels were 'shorting out' my brain and interfering with neuronal firing. Zinc, manganese and vitamin C lower a copper burden. The amino acids L-tyrosine and L-tryptophan boost norepinephrine and dopamine levels, respectively, which also help to alleviate depression.
The EU Vitamin and Herb Directives as well as the Medicines Directive threaten to ban people's access to the nutrients that helped me heal and allow me to maintain my health in the face of genetic biochemical imbalances. They threaten the lives and health of people not only in the European Union, but also those of all people around the world via the United Nations' Codex Alimentarius Commission.
It is therefore essential that freedom-loving people everywhere actively oppose these draconian, drug-biased regulations. For me, it is literally the key to my sanity.
John Hammell, a health freedom activist and political lobbyist, is also president of International Advocates for Health Freedom (www.iahf.com). For more on orthomolecular medicine, see www.orthomed.org.