Alternative to Meds Center knows that nutritional psychiatry continues to transform the ways we think about improving mental health. Such a fundamental “sea change” in a subject as ancient as psychiatry must rely on evidence-based results observable today to become even more widely accepted.1-13
Has Nutritional Psychiatry Made Medications Passe?
Not at all. Medications fulfill important tasks in many treatments. Therapeutics that fight infections are a prime example of successfully treating disease. What about “psychiatric” conditions? Do we have medicinal cures? Although prescription medications play a role in treatment, unfortunately, we do not have medicinal cures for mental syndromes and distress. However, a growing body of evidence shows that alternative treatments for psychiatric conditions have found their rightful place, based on the fact that they work, and they are without the liabilities associated with drug-based treatment, electric shock, or other extreme treatments. Drug-free treatment spans a wide horizon of treatment targets, including trauma-related, anxiety-related, and sleep-related issues, as well as disorders such as schizophrenia, and many other conditions.11-13
One example is the amazing success that adjusting the diet can have on chronic schizophrenia-like symptoms. Better results than antipsychotic medications? Some evidence leans toward the side of natural healing to help with symptoms of what is widely termed “schizophrenia.” And more good news, nutritionally based psychiatry can reduce or eliminate the long-term health consequences of staying on heavy neuroleptic drugs.4
In many cases, nutritional treatments have demonstrated surprising efficacy, at times equal to or better than results attained through medication alone. And unlike many medications, nutritional treatments do not bring about unwanted side effects such as those caused by drug therapies. Certainly, the human psyche, based on more than “meat and potatoes” remains a highly complex and many-faceted subject. Nonetheless, clinical observers offer much important insight as shown in the writings of health professionals concerning the connections between mood and food.2
The Transformative Power of Food
Some health professionals remain cautious or even skeptical of the power of nutrition. However, despite the complexities found in understanding and treating mental health afflictions, most health professionals would agree on the following: fixing nutritional deficiencies, removing toxic elements of diet and environment, and providing a clean, well-planned diet can produce positive changes in mental health.
The clearest advantage is that these changes can be attained without suffering the side effects caused by prescription drugs.
For example, a diet that includes fermented food will assist the gut microbiome (gut bacteria) in breaking down and absorbing vital nutrients. You can find more information about the importance of a healthy gut microbiome detailed in “The Microbiome and Mental Health“. Protein is needed for building neurotransmitters. Some food allergies can result in inflammation and block the absorption of nutrients. Allergies can be tested for and addressed with diet rather than drug therapy, which would not address but would nglect the root of the problem. More transformative suggestions are discussed below.
Fueling Mental Wellness
Clearly, we are more than our brains. However, the brain is a vital organ, which can become a burden if undernourished. On the other hand, much is to be gained in benefits if we can keep it fit and functioning well. As a society, we probably spend more time and effort thinking about the “health” of our automobiles than about our grey matter.
The human body contains its own “pharmacy” of naturally produced “medicines.” In the most simple terms, if you give your body/brain the raw materials it needs, a person will feel better, think more clearly, have more energy, sleep better, and these benefits can make the difference between cheerfulness and energy, versus depression, fatigue, stress, tension, etc.6
But, one has to know more about the needed fuel components. Testing will help discover the weak links, so these nutritional gaps can be corrected. Clean foods, without pesticides, colorants, or other chemicals are best. Supplements produced not synthetically but from whole foods, can increase the efficacy of natural, nutritional healing. Whole-food-derived raw materials are valuable. It may or may not be possible to eat a pound of raw walnuts daily, but it certainly could be approximated with tinctures, extracts, and the like. Research nutrition for your best food and supplement choices.5
Superfoods Pack a Much-Needed Nutritional Punch
Some stellar examples of superfoods that can reduce symptoms of mental distress:
Blueberries: high in Vit C, Vit K, Manganese, antioxidants, and many other nutrients that can reduce stress
Pomegranates: copious amounts of antioxidants, the protective agents against free radicals that can damage brain cells, cause inflammation, etc.
Nuts, in general, are amazing superfoods. Rich in antioxidants, proteins, and vitamins, nuts also help maintain and restore gut health.
Walnuts in particular are a great source of protection against telomere attrition. Telomeres are the pattern of DNA residing at the ends of chromosomes, which among other functions, regulate the cellular aging process. Good length telomeres mean longevity. Walnuts provide the raw materials for the ample production of telomeres.7
In the 21st century, we live in a “garden of Eden” with nearly unlimited food choices. Anyone can begin to learn which types of foods promote mental wellness and can provide the super fuel needed for natural mental health.6
The Value of Testing in Nutritional Psychiatry
Treatment planning at Alternative to Meds Center has always included testing for nutritional deficiencies. As well as taking a “snapshot” of one’s nutritional deficits, other tests demonstrate the presence of heavy metals and other toxic materials that can wreak havoc on one’s mental health.8 Also, some genetic factors may also be discovered that may potentially affect metabolism or produce other important influences on neurochemistry. By way of supplementation and dietary change, it is possible to mitigate certain genetic factors that can lead to improvements in overall mental health.9 Additionally, the presence of allergens is also informed through testing, leading to helpful nutrient regimens and other effective treatments.3,10
For More About Nutritional Psychiatry at Alternative to Meds Center
We invite you to contact us directly for more detailed information about the inpatient treatments the center offers. Alternative to Meds Center has been a leader in holistic mental health treatments for many years. We treat mental health issues including addiction in our world-class facility applying holistic and nutritional psychiatry as well as functional medicine in all of our treatment programs.
This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.
Dr. Samuel Lee
Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente. He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.
Diane is an avid supporter and researcher of natural mental health strategies. Diane received her medical writing and science communication certification through Stanford University and has published over 3 million words on the topics of holistic health, addiction, recovery, and alternative medicine. She has proudly worked with the Alternative to Meds Center since its inception and is grateful for the opportunity to help the founding members develop this world-class center that has helped so many thousands regain natural mental health.
Medical Disclaimer: Nothing on this Website is intended to be taken as medical advice. The information provided on the website is intended to encourage, not replace, direct patient-health professional relationships. Always consult with your doctor before altering your medications. Adding nutritional supplements may alter the effect of medication. Any medication changes should be done only after proper evaluation and under medical supervision.