Bipolar children – what are they missing?

I am sure you have noticed that newspaper articles on bipolar children never mention alternative therapies. In my opinion, diet and nutrition are part of the picture, but not necessarily all of it. Psychotherapy also has an important role. doctoryourself.com makes a good case for the importance of nutrition and vitamins in treating these childhood behavior problems. You often hear people say, “oh vitamins, I’ve tried them and nothing happened.” However, if you investigate closer, as the article below shows for niacin, the doses probably aren’t high enough. Most people are scared off by “dangerously unproven” megavitamin therapy.

Bipolar Kids Need Nutrition, Not Junk Food and More Drugs
(OMNS, October 16, 2008) The NY Times Magazine’s cover story, “The Bipolar Kid” (September 14, 2008), is a very bleak article. While emphasizing the miseries of living with such a child, Jennifer Egan’s article offers little hope except for ever-increasing doses of lithium. Long on discussions of definitions and diagnoses, it is remarkably short on treatment alternatives. Not a word about diet. Not a word about vitamins. Indeed, in this 9,500 word feature, describing the daily life of an out-of-control, beyond-ADHD boy, the word “nutrition” is not mentioned at all. Neither are the words “sugar” or “caffeine.”

What astounding omissions. Pediatrician Lendon H. Smith, M.D., nationally famous as “The Children’s Doctor,” was very plain in stating that sugar causes profound mood disorders. He specifically advised parents to give their children a “sugarless diet without processed foods.” (1) It is not easy. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has reported that children between the ages of six and eleven drink nearly a pint of soda pop a day. 20% of toddlers drink soda pop, nearly a cup daily. (2) And, of the seven best selling soft drinks, six have caffeine in them. In sensitive persons, caffeine can cause psychotic behavior. (3)

Food colorings and benzoate preservatives increase childhood hyperactivity, according to research published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, June 2004. (4) The study, involving 277 preschool children, also demonstrated that withdrawing these chemical additives decreased hyperactivity. When additives were reintroduced, there was once again an increase in hyperactivity. “Additives do have an effect on overactive behavior independent of baseline allergic and behavioral status,” said lead author Dr. J.O. Warner. So many parents, and any of us who have taught school the day after Halloween, can verify this.

It is possible that the children profiled in the NY Times story are unusual in that they do not consume any sugar, or any artificial food colorings, or any benzoate preservatives, or any caffeine-laced soft drinks. But it is much more likely that they do. The article ignored these important factors even though health professionals are increasingly aware that the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system is nutrient-dependent and additive sensitive. Ian Brighthope, M.D., says, “What is going on in the mind can be influenced by the nutrients and chemicals going into it. You can’t get anywhere with a patient with psychiatric symptomatology if their brain is hungry, starved, or poisoned.” (5)

Yet in the entire Times article, the words “allergy” and “junk food” are not mentioned, not even once. Children’s learning and behavior problems often begin in their parents’ grocery carts. Allergist Benjamin Feingold, M.D., was convinced of the negative effect of food chemicals on children’s behavior and the role of good nutrition in treatment. (6) Says the Feingold Association: “Numerous studies show that certain synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior, and/or health effects for sensitive people.” (7)

Another word totally absent from the Times article is “vitamin.” Psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, M.D., has had decades of experience and considerable success treating children’s behavioral disorders with vitamins. High doses of vitamin B-3 (niacin, or niacinamide) were first used by Hoffer and colleague Dr. Humphrey Osmond in the early 1950s. The trials were double-blind and placebo controlled. Over half a century later, vitamin therapy has still been largely ignored by the psychiatric profession, and, evidently, by some newspapers.

What a loss to patients and their families. I know and personally observed a preadolescent who was having serious behavioral problems in school and at home. Interestingly enough, the child had already been taking physician-prescribed little bits of niacin, though totaling less than 150 mg/day, but evidently it wasn’t enough to be effective. When tried, drugs (especially Adderall) actually made him worse: far more angry and dangerously confrontational. I was present when his parents had to hold him down while he screamed death threats at them. In desperation, his mother finally tried giving him 500 mg of niacin, three times daily (1,500 mg total). There was some improvement. With about 500 mg every two hours (an astounding 6,000-8,000 mg/day), the boy was a new person. He was now a cheerful, cooperative, affectionate youngster. Adding vitamin C and B-6 to his regimen helped even more. His school performance soared, the teachers loved him, and they repeatedly said so. At age 15, his maintenance dose was about 3,000 mg/day. He has since graduated from high school and is successfully employed. This is exactly in line with what Dr. Hoffer has repeatedly demonstrated for over 50 years. (8)

People often ask, “If this treatment is so good, how come my doctor doesn’t know about it? How come it is not in the newspaper?” Those are good questions.

The NY Times should know that reporting one side is not good reporting. To tell the whole story, we need nutrition. So do bipolar children.

References:

(1) Smith L. Foods for Healthy Kids. Berkley, 1991. ISBN-10: 0425127087; ISBN-13: 978-0425127087

(2) Jacobson MF. Liquid Candy: How soft drinks are harming Americans’ health. http://www.cspinet.org/sodapop/liquid_candy.htm Accessed Sept 18, 2008.

(3) Whalen R. Welcome to the dance: caffeine allergy, a masked cerebral allergy and progressive toxic dementia. Trafford Publishing, 2005. ISBN-10: 1412050006; ISBN-13: 978-1412050005. Reviewed in J Orthomolecular Med, 2005. Vol 20, No 3, p 215-217 and at http://www.doctoryourself.com/news/v5n11.rtf Synopsis at http://www.doctoryourself.com/caffeine_allergy.html

(4) Bateman B, Warner JO, Hutchinson E et al. The effects of a double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Arch Dis Child. 2004. Jun;89(6):506-11.

(5) Interview, in the documentary film, Food Matters. Permacology Productions, 2008. http://www.foodmatters.tv

(6) Feingold BF. Why Your Child is Hyperactive. NY: Random House, 1985. ISBN: 0394734262. List of Dr. Feingold’s publications: http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_feingold.html

(7) http://www.feingold.org/pg-research.html and http://www.feingold.org/pg-news.html Free email newsletter available.

(8) Hoffer A. Healing Children’s Attention & Behavior Disorders: Complementary Nutritional and Psychological Treatments. Toronto: CCNM Press, 2004. ISBN-10: 1897025106; ISBN-13: 978-1897025109. List of Hoffer’s publications: http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_hoffer.html See also: http://www.doctoryourself.com/review_hoffer_B3.html

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Damien Downing, M.D.
Harold D. Foster, Ph.D.
Steve Hickey, Ph.D.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.
James A. Jackson, PhD
Bo H. Jonsson, MD, Ph.D
Thomas Levy, M.D., J.D.
Erik Paterson, M.D.
Gert E. Shuitemaker, Ph.D.

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Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )

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Like diabetics need insulin

I must confess that reading Robert Whitaker’s book Anatomy of an Epidemic is getting me down. He has nailed the human carnage that usually begins with the psychiatrist saying to the patient, “you have an incurable disease and you are going to need meds for the rest of your life just like a diabetic needs insulin.” We have all heard this Orwellian phrase and it is absolutely untrue but that is what we have all been told. So begins the slippery slope that we have all been on. And when I say “we” I include people like me in this because I am collateral damage. I suffer too from being told my son is incurable and needs the drugs.

Someone on another blog, a psychiatrist no less, accused Robert Whitaker of sensationalizing the negativity, especially when it comes to the drugs. I don’t see it and the fact that a psychiatrist doesn’t see this is troubling, especially if he’s taken the time to read the book. Whitaker’s book is factual, he interviews psychiatrists, researchers and patients alike, and what they report is what I know to be true. People used to have mental illnesses and got over them or suffered from them episodically. Whitaker links the rise of the number of people collecting disability for mental illnesses to the long term use of drugs – they are being treated as if they have an immediate, life-threatening, chronic illness.

Teenagers, a group in which depression was almost unheard of a few decades ago, are particularly vulnerable. Antidepressants can kick start a lifetime merry-go-round of drug use. The number of young people in the book who went in for depression, were treated with an antidepressant, went manic and told they were bipolar is not surprising. I have learned enough on my own to know this happens. We are not anecdotal evidence. We are real and numerous.

Who ever heard of bipolar disorder a few years ago? I hadn’t until about fifteen years ago when a friend went fairly loopy. Now, bipolar disorder is the flavor du jour – seems like everybody has it and may include those who would prefer not to say they might be schizophrenic. You are never not bipolar these days, probably due to the drugs that you need to take like a diabetic must take insulin. I had heard of manic-depression, but only knew of one person over the course of my life who was diagnosed with it. Every so often she would flip out and have to be hospitalized and take her lithium. Otherwise she carried on as the life of the party – and died at a fairly ripe old age.

Nobody today is going to die at a ripe old age if they permit their doctor to turn their personal coping skills into a biological disease. Judging from the swollen ranks of those collecting long term disability they won’t even be working.

Bipolar Chris

Chris came home from his first 45 minute Alexander Technique lesson a week later a different person. He was more decisive about where his body was going. He threw off the gloom that had been dogging him and became practically ebullient in his expressed enthusiasms. He was back on track, or so it seemed, for a few days. He rejoined the choir, signed himself up for another credit course at university and was beginning to establish a better sense of what he was doing in a room. This newfound enthusiasm lasted about a week and then, boom, he began to become unglued again.

When I walked through the door at night would I get the lady or the tiger? Sometimes I came home and Chris seemed more or less together and sometimes I came home and he would be staring off into space and showing the old hesitancy. Over the course of the next couple of weeks I noticed that his speaking voice dropped an octave or two. I shrugged off this weird new development as just another possible effect of the Alexander Technique and probably a good thing, but I wasn’t sure why I thought so. It may have something to do with my perception that lower toned voices signal confidence.

He appeared to be going through a somewhat manic phase, immediately signing up for a fresh course so quickly after dropping the other two, speaking more quickly and interrupting Ian and me with emphatic but off-base observations. One can only imagine what his classroom performance was like. I began to fear that he would have to drop the credit course he had only recently started. After discovering that he blew through his monthly allowance in one week, we began to dole it out to him in smaller amounts. The bipolar Chris was new to us.

Then his holistic psychiatrist phoned. “I have it!, she announced. “I think I can explain why Chris has been having problems recently.” She had stopped prescribing a certain amino acid supplement since August, believing that Chris no longer needed it. However, she had come to learn that it was important for her patients to continue this supplement for longer periods in order to bring the elevated dopamine levels within a normal range. What Chris had been going through was called protracted withdrawal.

Her muscle testing revealed that Chris’s dopamine levels were elevated in his glands and in the central nervous system. As the dopamine system is affected by the serotonin system she recommended an essential amino acid which synthesizes serotonin and niacin. We endured two more weeks of Chris’s quirky behavior before the needed product arrived in the mail. The change in Chris after only a few days on the added supplements was astonishing. He was able to sit with us at night and converse in a normal way, not from two rooms away. His sense of humor and playfulness came back.

This again reminded me again of the importance of getting the biochemistry right. I had been focusing of late on Chris’s problems as psycho/spiritual in origin, and had been discounting the importance of the biochemistry behind his actions. Once I began to appreciate that extra supplementation could indeed help him regain normal, I felt better and more optimistic about his immediate prospects than I had in a long time.

The second thing I learned is exactly the opposite of the first, meaning that if I thought that Chris’s problems were just a matter of getting the biochemistry right, then I would miss the importance of what I have earlier in this blog called the X-factor in schizophrenia. This is a most confounding, unpredictable condition. If you think you know it, you do not. It is also a chicken and egg thing. Does the biochemical imbalance come first, thereby causing mental trauma, or does the mental trauma come first, thereby causing biochemical imbalance? The wisest course of healing action is to keep an open mind and not place all your eggs in one basket.

Split assemblage points and trauma

Assemblage points can shift due to sickness, medications, or trauma. Assemblage points can split. Dr. Blaen has found that split assemblage points are often associated with trauma to the energy field earlier in life. Both schizophrenics and bipolars are found to have two (and sometimes three) energy shadows or split assemblage points. The schizophrenic’s assemblage points are often found equidistant from the center, in high left and high right positions, front and back. Sometimes a low right point is also found. People with bipolar disorder often have a manic position at the back of the chest and a lower depressed position at the front of the chest. Misaligned assemblage points can be corrected, according to Dr. Blaen.

In 2001, Dr. Blaen became the first person in the world to measure the energy of the assemblage point from front to back and back to front. The measurements were conducted using stone sensors developed by a physicist and dampened with a standard isotonic solution.

The link between schizophrenia, trauma, and the body’s vibrational energy was beginning to reinforced in my mind, not only from learning about the assemblage point but also about energy medicine in its various forms, such as through the visualization work that Chris was doing with the help of his psychiatrist and by learning about Dr. Emoto’s water molecules. It is also noteworthy that Dr. Hamer measured two and sometimes three Hamer Herds resulting from trauma in the schizophrenic’s brain and that the assemblage point can also divide into two and three splits or shadows. Both Dr. Hamer and Dr. Blaen have linked this to an earlier trauma in the individual’s life.

Dr. Whale goes back even farther than that. According to him, the assemblage point is “assembled in the womb through the navel by the vibrational energy of the outside universe and that of the mother and everything to do with the mother.” Once the umbilical cord is severed, the universal mind connection is broken and the child develops a new perspective.

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Jon Whale interview on Stationary Assemblage Point (SAP), http://www.whale.to/a/whale.html

Does schizophrenia need celebrity endorsement?

I am discouraged of late that schizophrenia isn’t getting the press it deserves. More people (1 in a 100) have schizophrenia than autism (now 1 in 150), though autism seems to be catching up fast. Autism is a relatively recent phenomenon. The term “infantile autism” was coined by Dr. Leo Kanner in the 1930s. Schizophrenia has been around since the dawn of time.

Schizophrenia has built-in problems that might prevent it getting a full campaign à la Jenny McCarthy’s with autism. Schizophrenia occurs in adults. Autism attracts attention because it happens to children (and yes, it is a devastating problem). Money pours into children’s causes. Adults, let’s face it, are a harder sell. Another problem: Nobody wants to admit publicly to having schizophrenia. Better to be bipolar. Bipolar seems to be enjoying a wave of popularity right now, right up there with depression. The distinctions between bipolar and schizophrenia are artificial and tend to fold into each other over time. The drugs to treat them are the same. I wasn’t at all surprised to hear rumours that Britney is bipolar. Schizophrenia is a career killer. Britney is still out there and trying her best, even if she has her off days.

Where is the outrage? Schizophrenia has a natural recovery rate of 30%. Imagine that a little dedicated effort could double that rate and make recovery happen sooner. By dedicated effort I do not mean more meds. I mean less meds or no meds. My celebrity would endorse a holistic approach to health and talk openly about helping people to help themselves. My celebrity would speak about the value of vitamins, diet, family support, love, and provide a more balanced view of the role of medications than what we have been hearing up until now. I would love it if a little pill could cure our ills without creating more problems, but I gave up on that fantasy a long time ago. The real discrimination in schizophrenia is that people are not being helped to get better in bigger numbers sooner. Mentally ill people will have limited access to employment and other opportunities many of us take for granted as long as they remain mentally ill.

Jenny McCarthy was outraged. She did something about it. I read her book Louder Than Words. I was turned off at first. She throws four letter words around like rice at a wedding. This detracts from her message. But I looked past that and I realized that she was absolutely right to be outraged and to not accept the bleak prognosis her son was handed. She did her homework and she got going. So did the gay rights lobby. Back in 1973, homosexuality was dropped from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a mental illness. Psychiatrists were not at all happy about that because they still considered homosexuality a mental illness. But they could not withstand the onslaught of the gay rights movement picketing their offices and conventions. A mental illness wiped out by the stroke of a pen. The success of the gay rights lobby raises interesting questions about the nature of mental illness and of how it is determined and it shows what outrage will do.

Who am I? What am I here for? Why you might be interested in what I have to say.

“Who am I and what am I here for” are the fundamental questions of our existence on this planet.

I am Rossa Forbes, a pseudonym for me. I became a new me, a wiser and more focused me, when my oldest son was diagnosed as having schizophrenia. That was six years ago when “Chris” was 19. His diagnosis forced me think about many things in a different way.

My blog is for people who expect more out of recovery than what they are currently achieving.

I was naive when I started on this journey. Over time I became very critical of the medical treatment Chris was receiving when I realized he wasn’t getting better, despite the huge amounts of money being spent. I expected “better”. I expected “well”. Doctors instead spoke about “recovery”. Recovery is such a vague concept. It seems to be associated with quality of life, another term that I abhor when it comes to schizophrenia. Who wants to be spoken of in terms of “quality of life” when you are young and your whole life is ahead of you?

BS (before schizophrenia) I thought life was pretty good. I still do, but it is much more meaningful. Schizophrenia is not like other illnesses. I do not really consider it an illness, so if you are looking for advice on medications and how to deal with schizophrenia as a brain disease, this blog is not for you. I do consider schizophrenia a “problem”. Something isn’t working well for the individual and it is certainly a huge problem for the family members. Problems can be solved, however. They take time and effort. Nobody said this was easy. A brain disease, on the other hand, sounds final. And, of course, expensive medications are prescribed for this brain disease. These medications also have rather serious side effects.

While I hesitate to even use the term “schizophrenia” in this blog, it is useful shorthand for a collection of characteristics related to someone who is having difficulties with living.

The purpose of my blog is to do the following and more:

1. Introduce you to holistic therapies that my son underwent (I tried most of them, too.)

2. Explain why a holistic approach is better than a medication only approach. Holistic allows that low doses of medication can be useful and often necessary, but should not be considered a long term strategy.

3. Stimulate a positive and even humorous perspective about the condition

4. Encourage you to think that the expected outcome of this condition is to achieve total health

5. Demonstrate that writers, artists, poets often have a better understanding of schizophrenia than your doctor does

6. Establish a platform for the book that I am writing (feedback is most appreciated!)