Pharmaceuticals Anonymous

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Is Caffeine Driving You Crazy?

Drinking copious cups of coffee isn’t just bad for your health, it’s also more likely to drive you crazy, or at least crazy enough to hear voices. According to a study published in the academic journal “Personal and Individual Differences,” people who consumed the equivalent of more than seven cups of coffee per day (330 mg) were more likely to have hallucinations than those who consumed less than one cup (10 mg).

The articles link, link claim that they have not quite worked out why this is so. However, caffeine, an alkaloid, was known as a psychoactive to the Cherokee in America before written history,
and caffeine psychosis was identified in Western medical literature at least as early as 1936. Go here to see Blogger StoneSoupStation's great collection of coffee craziness links.

For decades, orthomolecular physician and psychiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer has recommended elimination of caffeine from the diets of his schizophrenic patients - and they get well:
'The majority of scientists and psychiatrists subscribe to the dopamine excess theory of schizophrenia--that too much dopamine is largely responsible for the symptoms of psychosis. However, since 1952, Dr. Abram Hoffer, the founding father of orthomolecular medicine, has researched, published, and expanded upon the adrenochrome theory of schizophrenia. (1,2) He and his colleagues, Drs. Osmond and Smythies, came to this theory by studying and researching the effects of substances such as mescaline, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), and amphetamines--all of which can cause a clinical syndrome in normal individuals that would be clinically indistinguishable from schizophrenia.

Hoffer noticed that mescaline had a similar chemical structure to that of adrenaline, and since both can be converted to indoles in the body, the potential schizophrenic toxin might be an indole derivative of adrenaline with similar neurochemical properties to that of mescaline or LSD. He eventually deduced that the schizophrenic toxin was an oxidized derivative of adrenaline known as adrenochrome. Since the early 1950s, Hoffer's adrenochrome theory has been validated due to the following findings:

* that adrenochrome and its close relatives--dopaminochrome (from dopamine) and noradrenochrome (from noradrenaline)--are present in the human brain, (3-5)

* that these compounds probably induce a combination of neurotoxic and mind-mood-altering effect, and (3-5)

* that reducing adrenochrome and its close relatives is therapeutic for the treatment of schizophrenia. (6)

The majority of schizophrenic patients (about 90%) who receive mainstream treatments remain unwell and nonfunctional for the rest of their lives despite receiving the most advanced drugs and social services currently available. (7) Estimates of first episode schizophrenics are a little more optimistic, reporting that of five recently diagnosed patients, one will recover sufficiently to live an almost normal life without medication or with very low doses of medication. (8) The economic costs of schizophrenia to society are enormous, amounting to approximately two million dollars for each schizophrenic patient over a 40-year course of the illness. (9)

In a recent publication examining the economic burden of schizophrenia in Canada, the direct and non-direct heath care costs associated with this disease were estimated to be 2.02 billion Canadian dollars in 2004. (10) In addition, when these figures were added to the high unemployment rate with additional productivity, morbidity, and mortality losses, the estimate reached 4.83 billion Canadian dollars, for a total cost estimate of 6.85 billion Canadian dollars in 2004. The authors of this report arrived at the following conclusion: "Despite significant improvements in the past decade in pharmacotherapy, programs, and services available for patients with schizophrenia, the economic burden of schizophrenia in Canada remains high."

The purpose of the report is to highlight the problems with the standard medical treatment of schizophrenia and to demonstrate that the addition of orthomolecular medicine provides patients with the best opportunity of living a reasonable quality of life. Common orthomolecular treatments are reviewed, including summaries of relevant clinical studies and prescribing information. Four patient cases are described to show the reader the potential benefits of this approach, as well as the difficulties with this approach when certain essential treatment components are lacking.'

You can read a short article on Hoffer's methodology here, and
see Dr. Hoffer's book on nutrition and mental health, PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER, here. Hoffer's work remains the gold standard in the field and he is a hero and savior to many.