Book Corners: Mental Illness and Nutrient-Based Therapy


Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders (2nd edition) by Eva Edelman

Borage Books, 3762 West 11th Ave., #188, Eugene, Oregon 97402 USA

Phone 541-683-8720; fax 541-345-9249; email:

Softbound, ISBN 0-9650976-6-8, 1998, 238 pp, $24.95 (US), $33.25 (CDA)

"This is the most useful volume on nutritional methods for mental illness written in the past 20 years. I believe that it will be a valuable resource for researchers, clinicians, and families alike. It is required reading for our research and medical staff."

William J. Walsh, PhD, President, Health Research Institute & Pfeiffer Treatment Center (Naperville, Illinois)

"Eva Edelman has compiled a magnificient and needed contribution to the field of mental health. She has created both a scholarly text and practical guidebook detailing the biochemical/nutritional aspects of both the causative factors of and treatments for schizophrenia and other mental illnesses...."

Ralph Golan, MD, Author of Optimal Wellness

"Ms. Edelman has provided a superb, detailed account of orthomolecular treatment, with enough detail so that any physician with only the material here presented could begin to use the treatment."

Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, Father of orthomolecular medicine

The back cover of Eva Edelman's book Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders (2nd edition) is graced with several such accolades. It deserves every single one of them. Schizophrenia is the label given to people who exhibit mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders that indicate an altered reality, separating them from their environment and other people. Withdrawal, disorganized or agitated thought processes, delusions, and hallucinations (auditory or visual) are among the possible symptoms. Conventional psychiatry uses antipsychotic drugs and electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) to suppress and control symptoms. Orthomolecular psychiatry, on the other hand, views schizophrenic symptoms as signs of biochemical imbalance that can be treated with optimal (often large) doses of vitamins, minerals, and other substances normally found in the body.

Over the past 50 years, orthomolecular psychiatrists have identified four biochemical conditions that underlie schizophrenic behavior: very high blood histamine levels (histadelia), very low blood histamine levels (histapenia), excess urinary kryptopyrole (pyroluria), and cerebral allergies to foods, chemicals, or airborne substances. Each biotype is associated with a set of symptoms. Histadelia, for example, is linked to deep depression and suicidal compulsions while histapenia tends to manifest with paranoia and hallucinations. Pyroluria, which is an inherited tendency, tends to bring on depression, tension, and irritability. Physical symptoms include headaches, sensitivity to cold, and a sweet acetone breath and body odor. People who excrete excess kryptopyrole in their urine (and not all pyrolurics are schizophrenic) find that their symptoms increase when they are under stress. Kryptopyrole binds with B6 and then zinc, which depletes the body of these nutrients associated with str ess resistance. Cerebral allergies, the fourth condition, tend to cause radical mood shifts, erratic thought processes, and fatigue. Other physical conditions such as blood sugar irregularities, heavy metal toxicity, endocrine and organic brain disorders, and candida can also produce schizophrenic-type symptoms. Neurotransmitter imbalances are also common. As Edelman points out, a person may suffer from several of these conditions at the same time.

Although orthomolecular psychiatrists will use pharmaceutical drugs to control symptoms if necessary, they primarily rely on optimal doses of nutrients to treat these biochemical conditions. Orthomolecular doctors focus on supporting the body with natural substances rather that overstimulating the body with drugs that produce a quick, but artificial, change. "With this approach, nutritionally-oriented physicians find improvement tends to be relatively gradual (compared to drugs), but steady and sustainable, taking anywhere from a few weeks to several years or longer to produce substantial changes. Moreover, in the major disorders physicians typically advise lifelong nutritive support, as such patients usually have permanently heightened requirements for specific nutrients," Edelman explains. Carl C. Pfeiffer, PhD, MD and colleagues at the Brain Bio Center (later called the Princeton Bio Center) reported that over 95% of their 5000+ schizophrenia patients had at least one biochemical d isorder. Ninety percent of the patients whose biotype had been identified showed great improvement, even recovery, when they followed an appropriate nutrient-based program. Edelman has included a reference section that profiles the nutrients known to have a role in brain function and in the treatment of mental disorders.

Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders contains more than detailed explanations of the biochemical conditions linked to schizophrenia and the nutrients that promote recovery. It also looks at nutrient therapy for clinical depression, suicide, and violence and delinquency. Edelman also explains the benefits of nutrient therapy in treating children, including those with autism. Substances with known neurotoxic effects such as tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, nightshades and solanine, pesticides, organic solvents, and heavy metals are profiled. Edelman also includes information on the effects of electroconvulsive therapy and antipsychotic drugs as well as nutrients and herbs that may be used in their place. In her appendices, she profiles physical, biochemical, and psychological tests that help identify factors that are contributing to a person's mental disorder. Listings of orthomolecular treatment centers, diagnostic labs, orthomolecular organizations and other resources are also included. A glossary helps laypersons navigate the medical terminology. Throughout the book, Edelman has included many quotations from doctors and patients in sidebars. These quotations, which I really appreciated, were obviously carefully chosen for their ability to emphasize key information and to provide insight into the patient's experience.

Double blind studies and decades of clinical experience "have consistently demonstrated a sustainable recovery or great improvement in 75-85% of schizophrenic patients (approximately 90% of acute, 60% of chronic patients)," according to Edelman; yet conventional psychiatry continues to rely on neuroleptic drugs. Although the drugs may relieve symptoms in some patients, well-designed scientific studies have not shown them to be very effective. In one of her sidebars, Edelman states: "An extensive 1989 review of the literature by Paul Keck, et al., published in the American Journal of Psychiatry found that out of over 1300 establishment studies on neuroleptics, only five were adequately controlled. None of the five confirmed benefits of neuroleptics over placebo or sedatives." Edelman also cites a meta-analysis of outcome literature during the past 100 years of treating schizophrenia by J. D. Hogarty and R. J. Baldessarini, et al. [Am J Psychiat., 151: 1409-16; 1994]. This analysis foun d that "the outlook before the introduction of neuroleptics about the same as at present." Another article [J. Clin. Psychiat., 48: 94-97; 1987] reportedly found "70% hospital readmissions in neuroleptic-treated patients compared to 40% for other diagnosed schizophrenics." In addition to its questionable effectiveness, long-term drug use causes irreversible damage to neurological function as well as other adverse effects. Nutrient-based therapy has fewer adverse effects usually reversible, and often results in improved physical, as well as mental, health.

Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders provides a detailed and invaluable map for understanding the physiological factors that underlie mental illness and for using orthomolecular methods to treat it.

3rd edition, 2001, now available.

ISBN: 0965097676; $26.95


By Jule Klotter

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