A Holistic Approach To Psychiatric Illness:
The Cutting Edge
In recent years we have seen a plethora of psychiatric illnesses, especially in children, including obsessive-compulsive disorder, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as depression. With the recent FDA warning about the use of antidepressants, especially in children, including the possibility of suicidal ideation, the question arises as to what alternatives exist for these problems.
Concerning depression there are several nutrients that may be helpful including omega 3 fatty acids found in fish oil supplements (EPA/DHA which supports serotonin synthesis), 5 hydroxytryptophan (which is a mild sedating serotonin precursor), inositol which is an isomer of glucose that is necessary for serotonin activity, B-complex vitamins (since low folic acid status was detectible in many depressed members of the general U.S. population), and noting that B-complex vitamins are necessary for the metabolism of SAMe. SAMe is essential in the manufacture of brain neurotransmitters, which include dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, serotonin, as well as the phospholipids, phosphatidylcholine, and phosphatidylserine. SAMe enhances the binding of the neurotransmitters to their receptor sites, enhancing their activity. In addition SAMe enhances cell membrane fluidity, therefore improving communication between neurons.
In a recent publication in the archives of General Psychiatry, in a dose ranging study on the effects of EPA in patients with ongoing depression despite apparently adequate treatment with standard drugs, it was found that treatment with 1000 milligrams of EPA per day was effective in treating patients who remained depressed despite adequate standard therapy. In fact, higher doses of omega 3 fatty acids, including EPA/DHA, have been used in schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder with much success. Interestingly the brain is approximately 60 percent fat and needs omega 3' fatty acids to function properly. Early clinical trials done in Boston and England have gotten impressive results using higher doses of omega 3 fatty acids for treatment of schizophrenia and depression.
In addition SAMe has also been found to be essential for the rebuilding of connective tissue and the manufacture of joint and cartilage, which enhances joint and connective tissue function in addition to supporting liver function, for regeneration, detoxification, bio-production, and the production of glutathione, (the livers natural anti-oxidant), thus aiding the liver in neutralizing toxins, free radicals and carcinogens.
Concerning autism, in a recent publication in the annals of neurology, autistic children were found to have inflammation of their brain. Further studies have shown that many children have lower melatonin levels as well as low anti-oxidant and glutathione levels. Supplements that may be helpful in this condition include omega 3 fatty acids, which are natural anti-inflammatories, melatonin, L-Carnosine, and alpha-lipoic acid which supports the production of glutathione.
Furthermore many children and adults suffer from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and are often treated with stimulant drugs, including Ritalin, which are fraught with side effects. Supplements that may be helpful in this condition are omega 3 fatty acids, 5 hydroxytryptophan, magnesium and dimethyl amino ethanol (DMAE) found in such foods as sardines and anchovies.
Finally, obsessive-compulsive disorder, which like depression has been primarily associated with an imbalance involving serotonin (a neurotransmitter responsible for mood, sleep and the brain-body connection), is often treated with antidepressants including Prozac. Non-drug alternatives for this condition include behavioral therapy, 5 hydroxytryptophan, melatonin, fish oil (EPA/DHA), magnesium and B-complex.
In closing, patients should be aware that there exist evolving complementary alternative treatments to these various psychiatric disorders which continue to plague our society. In future years we look forward to continuing advances, which will result in better patient outcomes with fewer side effects. Patients should discuss these options with their physicians to see if they may be potential candidates and if no contraindications exist.
Best in Health,
David M. Rekar, M.D.
Universal City Medical Wellness Group (UCMWG) is a Multidisciplinary & Complementary Alternative Medical Group near Universal Studios, Studio City, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Burbank & Toluca Lake, in L.A.
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