A few years ago, I was introduced to Dr. Amen’s work. Daniel Amen, MD is a psychiatrist who has revolutionized the treatment of brain disorders through his integrative approach of neurofeedback, nutrition, hyperbaric oxygen, lifestyle medicine, pharmaceuticals, and herbal therapy.
Dr. Amen utilizes a functional psychiatry approach. By implementing SPECT scans (Single-photon emission computed tomography, a nuclear medicine imaging technique), Dr. Amen is able to determine over, under, or optimal activity in the brain or if there is damage in certain areas from trauma, drugs or other factors. Through this approach, the brain is given nutrients and medicines based on which PART of the brain needs support, not on the diagnostic label. This can mean the difference between Columbine and antidepressant miracles!
I require Dr. Amen’s brain checklist to be completed by all my new clients. For most, this survey and symptom review will assist me in determining which neurotransmitters or nutrients would be most beneficial for optimal brain support and function. Furthermore, I can run functional tests to analyze how if there are problems in formation or utilization brain neurotransmitters.
The fact is one third of adults meet the criteria for diagnosable mental disorders. However, what if part of these distinguishable pathological mental patterns were related to nutrient deficiencies? Doesn’t that make sense? If your car engine doesn’t have the proper amount of fluid, wouldn’t it act a little funky?
Authors Shaheen Lakhan and Karen Vierira found just that. After their rigorous review of various studies, they concluded:
Here we have shown just a few of the many documented nutritional therapies that can be utilized when treating mental disorders. Many of these studies were done in the 1970s and 1980s, but were soon discontinued because they were underfunded. Nutritional therapies have now become a long-forgotten method of treatment, because they were of no interest to pharmaceutical companies that could not patent or own them. Instead, the companies that funded most clinical research spent their dollars investigating synthetic drugs they could patent and sell; these drugs however usually caused adverse side effects.
There is tremendous resistance to using supplements as treatments from clinicians, mostly due to their lack of knowledge on the subject. Others rather use prescription drugs that the drug companies and the FDA researches, monitors and recalls if necessary. However, for some patients, prescription drugs do not have the efficacy of nutritional supplements and they sometimes have far more dangerous side effects.
Here are some clinical pearls from their research:
Major Depression may manifest in the absence of the following:
-magnesium, EPA, DHA, various neurotransmitters, and B vitamins
Bipolar Disease may manifest due to:
“biochemical abnormalities in people with bipolar disorder include oversensitivity to acetylcholine, excess vanadium, vitamin B deficiencies, a taurine deficiency, anemia, omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies, and vitamin C deficiency“
I encourage you to read their article in full (listed below). Feel free to visit my previous blogs on this site and my homepage (dr-lobisco.com) for more references on this subject.
1. Kessler RC, Chiu WT, Demler O, Walters EE: Prevalence, severity, and comorbidity of twelve-month DSM-IV disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Archives of General Psychiatry 2005, 62(6):617-627.
2. Shaheen E Lakhan & Karen F Vieira. Nutritional therapies for mental disorders. Nutrition Journal 2008, 7:2. January 2008. doi:10.1186/1475-2891-7-2