The effect of nutrition and lifestyle on cognitive processes has long been studied. Dr. Gina will be covering newly described influences of key brain nutrients and lifestyle factors on cognitive function that provide neuronal protection and improve brain metabolism.
The presentation will be delivered live from 6:30 to 8:30 PM Pacific time tonight.
Click below for more information.
Hope to “see” you there!
The relative amount of one amino acid, like tryptophan, to the others, is what makes the difference when it comes to mental health. Dr. Michael Greger, MD of NutritionFacts.org posted an interesting video about the importance of high tryptophan levels, relative to other amino acids, when it comes to boosting serotonin levels and treating depression. So eating animal protein, for example, isn’t helpful for boosting serotonin, whereas consuming seeds (pumpkin, sesame, butternut squash, etc), which have a particularly beneficial tryptophan to protein ratio, is helpful. I would advise eating raw (and sprouted if possible) seeds, as roasting the seeds alters the amino acid ratios.
We have long been testing the blood for amino acid imbalances in patients with mood disorders. Formulating the appropriate amino acid blend to create healthy amino acid balance, based on symptoms and the blood test results, makes a big difference in producing positive change. The most impressive changes I have witnessed in practice are with patients facing the challenges of anxiety, depression and autism disorders.
I recently read a good summary by journalist Sheila Casey of the benefits of the mineral lithium orotate (not to be mistaken with the prescription medication lithium carbonate) for protecting the brain from challenges like Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, mood disorders including depression, alcoholism, and brain injury, and to enhance brain function, increasing the number and the quality of new brain cells.
Lithium protects the brain against toxins of all kinds, including alcohol, and environmental toxins we all face. At HealthBridge we test the blood for lithium in patients who are challenged with mood disorders and often find an extreme deficiency of this mineral. I will prescribe the mineral when it is appropriate, while monitoring blood tests to make sure thyroid, kidney and liver function remain healthy.
Some food sources of lithium to incorporate into your diet include kelp (1000-2000mg taken daily) and pistachios (just a handful, 2-3 times per week).
Miracle Mineral Protects the Brain By Sheila Casey / RCFP
Numerous studies have found that a common mineral heals the brain by stimulating the growth of new brain cells and protecting brain cells from every known neurotoxin. It has been shown to reduce the incidence of violent crime, homicide, suicide, and drug addiction, while preventing the brain shrinkage and memory loss that otherwise occurs naturally with age, as well as helping people with alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, cluster headaches and traumatic brain injury.
Although occurring naturally in tomatoes and in the water supply in many places, this mineral is rarely found in any vitamin-mineral supplement, and is not even commonly found in brick and mortar health food stores. Its name may surprise you: Lithium.
Most people think of lithium as a drug for crazy people. While high doses of lithium carbonate are used to treat bipolar disorder, and are available only as a prescription, both lithium orotate and lithium aspartate are available cheaply over the counter, in much lower doses, at outlets such as vitacost.com and iherb.com. (Note: We have no financial connection with either outlet.)
According to the controversial, and now deceased German orthomolecular physician Dr. Hans Nieper, the orotate form of lithium is more effectively transported inside cells, making it more effective at lower doses than the prescription form, lithium carbonate.
Lithium has also been shown to be effective at ultra-low doses, such as those found naturally in tap water. A ten year Texas study found that the incidence of rape, homicide, suicide, burglary and drug addiction was significantly lower in counties where the water supply contained 70-170 micrograms of lithium per liter, compared to counties where there is little or no lithium in the water. A similar study in Japan found that lithium in the water supply significantly reduced the risk of suicide.
Even a very thirsty Texan who drank three liters of water a day (100 ounces) would still be getting only a half a milligram of lithium per day, if they lived in an area where there is 170 mcg. of lithium per liter of water. Compare this to the amount commonly taken by bipolar patients: 900 mg/day of lithium carbonate, which contains 165 mg of elemental lithium. Put another way, the startling results of the Texas study were achieved with doses that were one-third of one percent of the amount taken by bipolar patients.
These highly beneficial effects from low dose lithium have prompted some researchers to call for adding lithium to the water supply in the amounts found naturally in the high lithium Texas counties.
One of these is Jonathan Wright M.D, author, founder of the Tahoma Clinic in Renton, Washington, and a member of the medical advisory board for the non-profit Life Extension Foundation. Dr. Wright first began working with lithium in the 70s, when research at a VA hospital showed that it dramatically reduced recidivism (otherwise known as “falling off the wagon”) among alcoholics. Not only were these vets drinking less, their families reported less anger, aggression and violence in the men, and less moodiness, weepiness and depression in the women. They were also sleeping better, and generally calmer and happier.
Wright later began using low dose lithium with the children of alcoholics, who often have some of the same mood problems afflicting their parents. (A February 2010 article published in the journal Addiction showed that kids with a family history of alcoholism are more likely to crave sweets, suffer from depression, and become alcoholics themselves.)
But Wright didn’t start using low dose lithium himself until 1999, when an article in the British medical journal The Lancet reported the astonishing finding that just four weeks of high-dose lithium therapy caused a three percent increase in brain volume — translating into billions of additional brain cells. These findings turned on its head the conventional wisdom that we are born with all the brain cells we will ever have, and that brain shrinkage is an unavoidable consequence of aging.
In the past ten years, says Wright, there has been an “avalanche of research” about lithium. In addition to proving definitively that lithium stimulates the brain to grow new cells, it has also been shown to be, Wright says, a “wonderful neuroprotective agent from any type of toxin there is.” This neuro-protective mechanism is so strong that one respected lithium researcher said, according to Wright, that it “verges on malpractice to prescribe any psychotropic medication without lithium to protect the brain.” Psychotropics include antidepressants, anti-anxiety meds, and sleeping pills.
Dr. Wright has even heard, anecdotally, from numerous patients, that when they are taking lithium they don’t get bad hangovers. Lithium protects the brain from the damaging effects of alcohol, reducing the pain the morning after. Wright cautions that one can’t simply pop a tablet of lithium along with a pitcher of margaritas to achieve this effect, one would have to be taking it regularly, prior to a night of overindulgence, to protect brain cells.
Likewise, it has been shown that if the blood supply is suddenly cut off to the brain, such as with a stroke, brain cells suffer much less damage if the stroke victim has been taking lithium. (It does not work to take the lithium after the stroke, when the damage has already occurred.)
Mentioning that a recent medical journal carried a story with the headline “Can lithium prevent Alzheimer’s disease?” Dr. Wright said, “You know when you see a headline like that, that in another ten years you’ll see the same headline without the question mark.” He then enumerated multiple ways in which lithium interferes with the Alzheimer’s disease process.
Although he has no family history of mental illness or alcoholism, Wright has been taking 20 mg/day of elemental lithium (in the orotate form) for over ten years, purely to protect his brain and keep his IQ and memory in tip-top form, for as long as possible, as he ages.
In over 30 years, Wright has encountered only two or three people who have had a possible reaction to a dose of 20 mg/day or less: they thought it might have caused a slight tremor — which went away when the lithium was discontinued. On the other hand, he’s had dozens of patients report that their benign tremor improved on low dose lithium
Wright cautions that every patient is different and it is wise to also take fish oil and flax seed oil, if one is taking lithium. These healthy oils are routinely used to treat lithium toxicity in patients who are so severely bipolar that stopping their lithium is not an option, and they add an extra layer of safety for those using over the counter lithium without a doctor’s supervision.
Wright defines low dose lithium as anything up to a maximum of 55 mg of elemental lithium per day, which is the equivalent of a single 300 mg. capsule of prescription lithium carbonate, or 11 tablets of over the counter lithium orotate or aspartate, which typically contain 5 mg. of elemental lithium per tablet. No one, he says, should consider going higher than that without regular blood testing to insure that they are not toxic, and damaging either their kidneys or thyroid gland. Symptoms of lithium toxicity are: tremor in the hands, rising blood pressure, and flu-like symptoms.
Given the many amazing neurological benefits of lithium, why has there been so little it in the press? A search at nytimes.com for “lithium alcoholism” brought up just two relevant articles: from 1973 and 1975. A search for “lithium Alzheimer’s” at both MSNBC and CNN brought up no relevant articles.
Dr. Wright has a theory about this, and it’s not flattering to either science writers, pharmaceutical companies or biosciences academics. The problem begins, he says, with the fact that lithium cannot be patented, so no real money can be made from selling it. Thus, there are no armies of press agents blanketing science writers with press releases touting its eye-popping benefits. And science writers, Dr. Wright says, “do not dig, and they have not been digging into this lithium at all.” If they don’t receive a press release about it, says Wright, science writers are unlikely to find out about new discoveries.
Not only is there no money to be made selling lithium, lithium represents direct competition to drugs that are currently earning many billions of profit for pharmaceutical companies. The central nervous system (CNS) drug market is expected to increase to $64 billion this year. By comparison, lithium aspartate is available at vitacost.com for less than $6 for a 30 day supply.
I asked Dr. Wright “If everyone were taking low dose lithium, as you are, wouldn’t there be a greatly reduced market for psychotropic drugs, Alzheimer’s drugs, alcoholism drugs?” and he replied:
“Yes. I don’t know when the news about lithium will break through into public awareness. When it does, it will probably be opposed, because there are so many professors who are on the payroll of patent medicine companies. Anybody who comes out and promotes something that is in competition with a product from the patent medicine companies is going to be called crazy and a quack by those on the payroll of those same patent medicine companies.”
The news that lithium is good for our brains raises some compelling questions. Is lithium an essential nutrient for human health that is deficient in our water supply and the soil that grows our food? With so many people now filtering their water or drinking purified bottled water, are we eliminating even trace amounts of lithium from our diets? Lithium is one of the most abundant minerals in the sea, with 50 micrograms in a tablespoon of seawater. Could that be part of the reason why people the world over flock to the sea, and feel so relaxed and calm after a day spent splashing in the waves?
Until these questions are answered, one thing seems clear: your brain has a good friend in lithium.
Sheila Casey is a DC based journalist. Her work has appeared in The Denver Post, Reuters, Chicago Sun-Times, Dissident Voice and Common Dreams.
Exercising in the green, natural environments has long been known to boost – not necessarily the physical health benefit – but one’s mood, self-esteem and odds of avoiding mental illness such as depression and other psychological conditions. But a study has pinpointed exactly how much time spent working out in green environments – not sitting around outside but actually exercising in those parks, gardens, nature trails and nature-heavy environments – is required to achieve maximum mental health benefit. And it’s a mere five minutes. The study conclusions were released on May 1, by the journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Click here and type in “depression,” “anxiety” or any other mood-related health challenge in the search bar to learn more about what you can do to enhance your outlook and stave off depression and anxiety. Another helpful site is SickSyndrome.com.
Below is a summary report prepared by Rebecca Estepp for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that LTP Natural Medical Center supports. The report discusses two articles published in Pediatrics that make the association between gastrointestinal imbalances and Autism Spectrum Disorder. I am pleased to see that mainstream medicine is beginning to acknowledge the connection between the gut and the brain. 100% of our patients with Autism are tested and treated for gastrointestinal imbalances. There is no question that doing so generates positive results. For more information on treating brain/biochemical disorders visit www.sicksyndrome.com. This site discusses the link between brain dysfunction and inflammation in the body, and ways to treat the condition using Naturopathic Medicine. One of the most significant ways to reduce inflammation in the brain is by testing for and treating digestive disturbances.
There is an old saying known in the Naturopathic Medical community that the gut is the second brain. Modern research is now starting to validate this notion.
Pediatrics Looks at Gastrointestinal Disorders and Autism
January 4, 2010
Prepared by Rebecca Estepp
Two reports were released yesterday in the American Academy of Pediatrics medical journal, Pediatrics. Both articles focused on gastrointestinal disorders in individuals with autism. The first report entitled Evaluation, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Gastrointestinal Disorders in Individuals With ASDs: A Consensus Report is a review of available medical literature surrounding autism and gastrointestinal symptoms from a panel of experts. These experts came to the following conclusions:
• Medical disorders, including gastrointestinal problems, occur commonly in individuals with ASDs, but because symptoms may be atypical these medical conditions may be undiagnosed.
• Individuals with ASDs whose families report gastrointestinal symptoms warrant a thorough gastrointestinal evaluation.
• The care of individuals who are non-verbal or have difficulties in communication or who display self-injurious or other problem behaviors present special challenges. Nevertheless, the approach to evaluation and diagnosis of possible underlying medical conditions, in particular gastrointestinal disorders, should be no different from the standards of care for persons without ASDs. (emphasis added)
• The communication impairments characteristic of ASDs may lead to unusual presentations of gastrointestinal disorders, including sleep disorders and problem behaviors.
• Management of co-occurring gastrointestinal problems in individuals with ASDs usually begins with the primary care provider and may eventually warrant multidisciplinary consultation.
• Anecdotal reports that restricted diets may ameliorate symptoms of ASDs in some children have not been supported or refuted in the scientific literature, but these data do not address the possibility that there exists a subgroup of individuals who may respond to such diets.
• Integrating behavioral and biomedical approaches can be advantageous in conceptualizing the role of pain as a setting event for problem behavior, facilitating diagnosis and addressing residual pain symptoms to enhance the quality of life.
The second report, Recommendations for Evaluation and Treatment of Common Gastrointestinal Problems in Children With ASDs. provides health care providers guidelines in treating abdominal pain, chronic constipation, and gastroesophageal reflux disease. This report recognizes that the expression of gastrointestinal disease can be diverse in individuals with ASDs. It also concludes that unusual behaviors can be a result of gastrointestinal disorders.
TACA views these two reports as giant leaps forward for treatment of gastrointestinal symptoms that cause unnecessary pain to many individuals with autism and their families. This landmark paper will pave the way for pediatricians across the country to start treating children suffering through different gastrointestinal maladies. We sincerely hope this is the first step towards individuals with autism receiving the medical treatments they need and deserve.
Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism. For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments. TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them, allowing them to share stories and information to help people with autism be the best they can be.