Did Vivien Leigh suffer from "classical" Bipolar Disorder - or could she have had another biochemical problem? Much can be done with tests and nutrition to identify and correct mood problems today.
Material below from the wonderful site of Blake Graham
Nutritional healing for Bipolar Disorder
Conditions > Bipolar Disorder
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Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition in which periods of mania alternate with periods of depression. Mild cases of bipolar disorder can often go undiagnosed, with symptoms being mistaken for normal mood swings. Bipolar Disorder was formerly know as Manic Depression.
The are three main classifications of bipolar disorder:
- Bipolar I Disorder (mania with or without major depression)
- Bipolar II Disorder (hypomania [mild mania] with major depression)
- Cyclothymia (hypomania with mild depression)
Omega-3 fatty acids and Bipolar Disorder
Andrew Stoll M.D. is director of the Psychopharmacology research lab at Boston's McLean Hospital and assistant professor of Harvard Medical School Department of Psychiatry. He has published research on the relationship between omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorder. His research found that high-dose, concentrated omega-3 fatty acids (EPA & DHA) have effective mood stabilizing and antidepressant effects for many people with bipolar disorder. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential components of brain cell membranes, including those of neurotransmitter receptors. Omega-3 fatty acids also alter signal transduction and electrical activity in brain cells and control the synthesis of chemicals such as eicosanoids and cytokines, which may have a direct effect on mood. The following is an overview of a lecture by Dr. Stoll:
The Omega-3 Connection: The Groundbreaking Anti-depression Diet and Brain Program
by Andrew Stoll, 2001.
In this book Stoll outlines the evidence for omega-3 fatty acids in treating illnesses such as bipolar disorder anddepression.
Research relating to bipolar disorder by Dr. Stoll:
- Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, Arch Gen Psychiatry 1999 (full text pdf file)
- Omega-3 fatty acids and bipolar disorder: a review, Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1999
Psychiatrist Jerry Cott, PhD has a graph available on his site comparing the lifetime prevalence of bipolar disorder against seafood consumption. (It should be noted that association does not necessarily mean causation.) This corresponds to Dr. Stoll’s findings concerning omega-3 fatty acids, which are concentrated in fish:
Pfeiffer Treatment Center protocol
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center (PTC) possesses an extensive database of biochemical data from more than 1500 patients they have treated for bipolar disorder. The PTC express their concern that many nutritional treatments offered are highly generalized and can produce unpleasant effects. Their research has found that a subgroup of bipolar disorder patients are deficient in arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid. They have developed three primary biochemical classifications of bipolar disorder as follows (written by and printed with permission of co-founder and chief-scientist of the PTC, William Walsh, PhD):
- Undermethylation: This condition is innate & is characterized by low levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, high whole blood histamine and elevated absolute basophils. This population has a high incidence of seasonal allergies, OCD tendencies, perfectionism, high libido, sparse body hair, and several other characteristics. They usually respond well to methionine, SAMe, calcium, magnesium, omega-3 essential oils (DHA & EPA), B-6, inositol, and vitamins A, C, and E. They should avoid supplements containing folic acid. In severe cases involving psychosis, the dominant symptom is usually delusional thinking rather than hallucinations. They tend to speak very little & may sit motionless for extended periods. They may appear outwardly calm, but suffer from extreme internal anxiety.
- Overmethylation: This condition is the biochemical opposite of undermethylation. It is characterized by elevated levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, low whole blood histamine, and low absolute basophils. This population is characterized by the following typical symptoms: Absence of seasonal, inhalent allergies, but a multitude of chemical or food sensitivities, high anxiety which is evident to all, low libido, obsessions but not compulsions, tendency for paranoia and auditory hallucinations, underachievement as a child, heavy body hair, hyperactivity, "nervous" legs, and grandiosity. They usually respond well to folic acid, B-12, niacinamide, DMAE, choline, manganese, zinc, omega-3 essential oils (DHA and EPA) and vitamins C and E, but should avoid supplements of methionine, SAMe, inositol, TMG and DMG.
- Pyrrole Disorder: This condition, also called pyroluria, is a genetic stress disorder associated with severe mood swings, high anxiety, and depression. The biochemical signature of this disorder includes elevated urine kryptopyrroles, a double deficiency of zinc and B-6, and low levels of arachidonic acid. Pyrolurics are devastated by stresses including physical injury, emotional trauma, illness, sleep deprivation, etc. Symptoms include sensitivity to light and loud noises, tendency to skip breakfast, dry skin, abnormal fat distribution, rage episodes, little or no dream recall, reading disorders, underachievement, histrionic behaviors, and severe anxiety. They usually respond quickly to supplements of zinc, B-6, Primrose Oil, and augmenting nutrients.
Table 1. Bipolar disorder subtypes
|Subtype patient distribution||35%||25%||~18%|
|Potentially harmful supplements||Folate, choline, DMAE,|
copper and histidine
phenylalanine, St. John’s wort, tyrosine, copper, TMG and DMG
|Histidine, copper and|
omega-3 fatty acids
The following on site link is a tabulated catalog of typical characteristics of these subtypes, which may be used to determine an individuals subtype in many cases, although laboratory tests are required to be certain:
- Major mental illness biochemical subtypes as described by Dr. Carl Pfeiffer and the Pfeiffer Treatment Center
The Pfeiffer Treatment Center claims that due to the diverse chemical nature of these different biochemical subgroups, a number of nutritional supplements for each group can exacerbate biochemical imbalances and be harmful for the individual. Biochemical sub-groupings must be determined with the help of a health professional before taking any of the supplements listed in the potentially harmful row above.
- Neurotransmitter deficiency and excess symptoms
- Omega-3 fatty acids and mental health
- The role of minerals and vitamins in mental health
The True Hope Institute is an organization dedicated to helping the mentally ill through nutritional supplementation. They place a major focus on bipolar disorder. True Hope has designed a nutritional supplement called Empowerplus, containing a range of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and other components. The following three studies have been published concerning the Empowerplus nutritional supplement:
- Effective mood stabilization with a chelated mineral supplement: an open-label trial in bipolar disorder, J Clin Psychiatry 2001 Dec;62(12):936-44
"RESULTS: For those who completed the minimum 6-month open trial, symptom reduction ranged from 55% to 66% on the outcome measures; need for psychotropic medications decreased by more than 50%."
- Nutritional approach to bipolar disorder, J Clin Psychiatry 2003 Mar;64(3):338
"It [was] clear that the effectiveness and safety of EMP remain to be established in controlled trials, but this approach does appear to represent an exciting potential direction for new research in bipolar disorder."
- Treatment of mood lability and explosive rage with minerals and vitamins: two case studies in children, J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2002 Fall;12(3):205-19.
“These cases suggest that mood lability and explosive rage can, in some cases, be managed with a mixture of biologically active minerals and vitamins, without using lithium or other traditional psychopharmacologic agents.”
Unfortunately, these studies have limited value as they were not placebo-controlled. A more individualized approach, as performed by thePfeiffer Treatment Center, balances biochemistry with more precision.
Hypoglycemia and bipolar disorder
Hypoglycemia is characterized by abnormally low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia can reduce the glucose supply to the brain, contributing to mood swings and depression.
Sensitivities and bipolar disorder
Food and chemical sensitivities can contribute to bipolar disorder. Some people find hidden food sensitivities are a major contributing factor. Common sensitivities include:
- Gluten (a protein in many grains such as wheat, rye, oats and barley)
- Aspartame (an artificial sweetener) [Biol Psychiatry 1993 Jul 1-15;34(1-2):13-7]
- Casein (a protein found in dairy products)
- Brain Allergies: The Psycho-Nutrient Connection by William Philpott, MD, 1980
(In memory of LMGSK)