Recovery: Pushing them too soon?

In case you’re getting impatient with the slow progress your relative may be demonstrating, I thought I’d share Chris’s experience taking courses. The ability to pay income tax (and, by my inference, to succeed at training courses) is almost the gold standard for recovery (in addition to getting along well within the family and the wider community) according to Doctor Abram Hoffer.

Here’s a long list of the courses Chris attempted, beginning at about age 21, a year after he was first hospitalized.

  1. Audited an art history course (managed to hang on mainly due to the heroic efforts of the professor to accommodate his behavior)
  2. Passed a political science semester course
  3. Quit another polysci course due to worsening symptoms
  4. Enrolled in a month long physics course and lived away from home – didn’t keep up with assignments and, obviously, failed. Final grade about 5%, if I recall.
  5. Failed to submit final work for a communications course
  6. Took refresher math lessons with a tutor; too distracted to concentrate
  7. Enrolled in a three-week French course – quit about day 3. Too anxious.
  8. Took an online music theory certificate course for a semester – I think he passed. It was so long ago.
  9. Resumed piano lessons – didn’t practice much. Stopped the lessons.
  10. Enrolled in a three-week computer course. Passed first module
  11. Enrolled in second three-week computer module. Failed second module
  12. Enrolled in an intensive French course – passed
  13. Enrolled in the next level of the French course – passed
  14. Enrolled in a sound engineering certificate program for one year – not quite making the grade. Quit.
  15. Enrolled in online math course – in progress
  16. Resumed taking piano lessons – as of last week

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t have encouraged Chris to become a student until he was much older and further into his recovery. Chris simply wasn’t ready until HE decided he wanted to do something more, which began around the age of 28 (course number 11 onwards). Getting there has been slow and unpredictable, but Chris has changed a lot and is finally seeing that he if wants to make something of his life, only he can do it.

 

Coconut oil

I’m passing on some news about the purported benefits of coconut oil when treating alzheimers, dementia, epilepsy, Parkinsons and schizophrenia.

The video clip states that coconut oil raises the overall cholesterol score, but actually that is because it raises good cholesterol. This is also what niacin (Vitamin B3) does. I had my yearly medical check-up recently and the doctor reported, once again, that my overall cholesterol reading was really high. “But, don’t worry,” she reassured me. “That’s because your good cholesterol is extremely high and it has raised the total score.” Dr. Abram Hoffer recommended niacin to his schizophrenia patients and he also said that the vitamin was good in preventing dementia/alzheimers.

Here’s the consumer’s view of coconut oil. Gianna Kali at Beyond Meds has allowed me to reprint her comment in the main body of this post. I like her idea of using coconut butter as a substitute for peanut butter.

Coconut in general and coconut oil are both foods of the gods…especially if you’re eating a grain free diet like I am…it’s a great substitute.

I eat coconut flour for baked goods and coconut butter to replace peanut butter and cheese…and yes…it helps as a substitute…totally…I miss cheese and it sort of is like a spread that works…I also make homemade coconut milk since I no longer drink cow’s milk and then the coconut oil I use in all sorts of cooking and baking too.

It’s a wonderful food all around the coconut…it’s high in protein and fiber and the fat is good for your brain and body in general.

I eat tons of saturated fat…both animal and plant (coconut oil is a saturated fat…my cholesterol went DOWN when I stopped eating grains and increased healthy fats…people don’t know that grains and carbs is what make cholesterol go up in a lot of people….not fats!! and the grains and carbs will mess with people with blood sugar problems too.

Animal fat needs to be grass fed to be really healthy…in any case both my cholesterol and glucose levels have returned to healthy levels since eating this way.

“Doc Martin” calls vitamins “placebos”

Following my post yesterday about the British television show “Doc Martin” and the use of placebos, I deliberately avoided revealing what the placebos actually were in order not to distract from the main points I wanted to raise. The “placebos” that Doc Martin and his predecessor gave the patient were vitamins.

Now, if you, like me, are a fan of another doc, “Doc” Abram Hoffer, you may object to calling vitamins, “placebos.” Niacin in very high doses in combination with an equal amount of vitamin C and other B-vitamins, is very effective in reducing psychotic symptoms, anxiety, and increasings one’s focus. Ever since I learned about niacin and started giving it to Chris to help his psychosis, I also put myself on three grams per day of niacin,vitamin C, and I added a B-complex and zinc. I got amazing results in just three days. My ability to focus increased about five-fold, my hair got thicker and my skin got smoother. I was less anxious.

People are unique in their nutritional needs. People under stress need much larger amounts of certain B vitamins than they get from eating an otherwise healthy, well-balanced diet. Smoking depletes vitamin C, alcohol depletes the B vitamins, and so on. Don’t assume that vitamins are worthless just because someone calls it the placebo effect.

B vitamins for brains

Here is yet another B vitamin study raising tantalizing links between ingestion of high doses of B vitamins and staving off dementia. Dr. Celeste de Jager of Oxford University, who led the trial, said, “A lot of the time brain changes start in your forties and fifties before you get clinical symptoms. I would think that in middle age people should start thinking about their vitamin levels.”

A full scale national (U.K.) trial to establish whether the breakthrough can actually delay the slide into Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia is expected to begin within the next year.

Let’s not forget that Dr. Abram Hoffer also endorsed high doses of B vitamins, especially Vitamin B3 (niacin) for not only schizophrenia but also for preventing dementia, although, in the latter case, he did not conduct clinical trials. Anecdotally, he noticed that after he started recommending niacin to his older relatives, over a twenty-five year period, none developed dementia. He recommended a daily 3 grams of niacin or niacinimide for people in their fifties and older, along with an equal amount of vitamin C and a B complex.

The endorsement surrounding B vitamins, and vitamins in general, is rather timid, and vitamins may never become officially sanctioned by the medical profession because, after all, vitamins in their pure form can’t be patented. They are low cost. If you want to get serious about getting the best benefits from them, you often have to take megadoses, and that’s when it gets tricky. Very few doctors will go on record to endorse high doses of vitamins. Their patients, on the other hand, often take their health concerns into their own hands. Nobel prize winning chemist Dr. Linus Pauling collaborated with Abram Hoffer in research into high dose vitamin C as an adjunct cancer therapy.

Here’s what Dr. de Jager has to say. It’s hardly bold. To my way of thinking, if you want results, you probably need consistent and high daily doses of certain vitamins targetted to the specific condition.

“People should not begin taking supplements without consulting their doctor because they can have a harmful impact on other conditions such as cancer,” she added.

Asked if she would take the vitamins as a precaution, Dr de Jager said: “I would ask the doctor to check my B12 and my folic acid levels for starters.”

“I take supplements when I’m feeling a bit low, I don’t take one every day but I would certainly have multi-vitamins and B vitamins in my cupboard.”

An excellent web site with factual information on vitamins and supplements is www.doctoryourself.com

Alcoholism and niacin

The relationship of Bill W., one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, with niacin therapy is controversial. I first became aware of Bill W. and A.A. in Dr. Abram Hoffer’s book How to Live with Schizophrenia. ‘PASS IT ON’ the biography of Bill Wilson also discusses this chapter in A.A.’s development.

Dr. Abram Hoffer used megadoses of niacin to treat his schizophrenic and alcoholic patients because his research indicated that they were suffering from a vitamin B3 deficiency, similar to what is seen with pellagra. Pellagra is cured by introducing B3 into the diet just like scurvy is cured by ingesting vitamin C. One indication of a possible vitamin B3 deficiency is nicotine or alcohol addiction, another is severe acne.

I wish I had known about vitamin B3 when Chris developed severe acne as a teenager. Instead, I put him on medication. There may be no causal connection whatsoever, but within a few months of going off the medication, Chris was starting to develop psychosis. He may have already been developing early signs of psychosis due to the acne.

Vitamin B3 also lowers blood cholesterol. I can personally attest to this. I take 3 grams of niacinimide every day and six grams of vitamin C, along with a B complex vitamin. Every two years I see the company medical service for a check-up. The doctor remarks that while my good cholesterol is somewhat elevated, my “bad” cholesterol readings are the lowest she has ever seen.

I am a big fan on megavitamin therapy because I have personally experienced the results. So it is a bit troubling to read that Bill W., who also found niacin therapy very helpful in treating his addictions, parted ways with A.A. over niacin.

‘PASS IT ON’ describes the rift that developed over Bill W. endorsing a product or ethos that was outside of A.A.’s considered mandate. Now, apart from the fact that Bill W. may have been overzealous in trying to convert others in the organization to the benefits of niacin, I question why an organization dedicated to helping people with alcohol problems wouldn’t be more open-minded on the subject of vitamin therapy. Vitamins are not patented. You can buy whatever brand of niacin and vitamin C you choose, and they will all be more or less the same. Bill W. didn’t appear to be saying that A.A. should be aligning itself with a certain vitamin producing company or brand of vitamins. He was saying that A. A. could be aligning itself with the belief that alcoholics could also improve their health with niacin.

Having read both Dr. Hoffer’s and A.A.’s book, I now understand how the alcoholism came to be viewed as a disease. Prior to the vitamin research done in the 1940s, alcoholism was viewed as a moral weaknesses. The beginnings of A.A. grew out of the Oxford Group, which took a more Christian attitude to the problems of alcoholism. Indeed, it was Carl Jung who advised Roland H. to find a religious experience if he was ever going to beat this. Bill W. got quite far in his recovery from alcoholism by subscribing to the A.A. 12 steps, but he also became interested in the biochemical model of alcoholism when he met Doctors Hoffer and Osmond, who had initially introduced him to LSD. He felt that the LSD experience was beneficial, and he further benefited from the niacin work done by the same doctors.

To me, Bill W. was doing what responsible people should when it comes to their own health, which is to be open-minded to more than one intervention. A.A. embraced the alcoholism as disease concept, but fell short of presenting further information to its members about vitamins that they could choose to follow or not. There is a lesson here about organizations and your freedom to choose. Take the best of what they can offer, but keep in mind that your allegiance is to your own health. There will often be a conflict.

A. A., LSD, and SZ

Doctors Abram Hoffer and Humphrey Osmond had a pronounced biochemical approach to alcoholism and schizophrenia. Their research showed niacin (vitamin B3) was an effective treatment in combination with vitamin C and other B-vitamins. Bill W. and A.A. had taken a more spiritual approach to the understanding of alcoholism, which had been derived from the teachings of the Oxford Group (later renamed Moral Rearmament).

Bill W. was introduced to these doctors in the 1950s, initially because of their work using LSD and mescaline on their schizophrenic and alcoholic patients in Saskatchewan. In the case of alcoholics they noticed that many who had once experienced an attack of delirium tremens swore off alcohol for good. Hoffer and Osmond thought that if they introduced LSD under controlled settings to alcoholics, it would give them a taste of what was in store for them if they continued to drink.

Bill W. at first resisted the idea of giving alcoholics more drugs, but later changed his mind. His thinking was not what Hoffer and Osmond were thinking, though. “It was not the material itself that actually produces these experiences. It seems to have the result of sharply reducing the forces of the ego — temporarily, of course. It is a generally acknowledge fact in spiritual development that ego reduction makes the influx of God’s grace
possible.”

Many psychiatrists at this time also acknowledged that a high percentage of alcoholics were also schizophrenics and reasoned that LSD was one way of shortening the long process of psychotherapy. I couldn’t agree more. Should we have to wait for a random chance encounter with God’s grace if there is some way we can experience it sooner?

The non-chemical experience that Chris has been undertaking recently with the sound shaman seems as close to LSD as you can get and still be legal. Chris tells me he feels happy, but he knows he doesn’t look especially happy and he is very unsure of what he wants. Chris these days reminds me of Aldous Huxley’s quote. “The man who comes back through the Door in the Wall will never be quite the same as the man who went out. He will be wiser but less cocksure, happier but less self-satisfied, humbler in acknowledging his ignorance but better equipped to understand the relationship of words to things, of systematic reasoning to the unfathomable Mystery which it tries forever, vainly, to comprehend.”

A.A. outside of Bill W. wasn’t keen to align itself with LSD. It was nonetheless a controversial drug and only became more so once it found its way into street use in the 1960s.

___________
From ‘PASS IT ON’ The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Service, Inc. 1984, pg. 383-385.

Niacin prevents Alzheimer’s disease

I have been exchanging a flurry of e-mails with my older sister over the past few days. Since my mother developed the signs of dementia/Alzheimer’s (does it really matter which?) in her late seventies, her three daughters have been understandably concerned about preventing it.

I first learned about prevention of dementia from Dr. Abram Hoffer. He experienced great success with his own mother and went on to recommend it for other members of his family, none of whom developed dementia. I immediately started on the same combination of vitamins that Dr. Hoffer recommends for schizophrenia. I felt there was a connection between my mother’s dementia and Chris’s schizophrenia. Both are related to the nervous system.

I saw dramatic results within three days. These results have stayed with me. I am faithful to my daily regime of 3 grams Vitamin B3, 3 grams vitamin C, 3 B complex tablets, omega 3 and zinc.

Dramatic results:

1. Sharp, focused thinking
2. Improved skin
3. Thicker hair

Dr. Hoffer advises that you reverse dementia if you catch its early signs, which he did with his mother, but that once dementia has set in, there is no turning back the symptoms. He also advises that if you begin the regime in your sixties, you need straight niacin, not niacinimide or flushless niacin.

Here’s an interesting background story on niacin preventing Alzheimer’s disease from the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, dated December 9, 2008
http://www.orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v04n25.shtml I urge you to read it.

Niacin to the rescue

While we waited for the niacin cream to arrive, I had a rather amazing stroke of insight. I asked for guidance from God/the knowledge field and I got the answer the next morning. It is rather simple. I remembered that Dr. Hoffer wrote of a young man and his worried parents who came to see him. Dr Hoffer prescribed his standard niacin/vitamin C/zinc, etc. mixture and the young man went away. He came back from time to time for a check-up. Dr Hoffer asked him how he was managing and the young man replied that he still enjoyed his fantasies but when he felt he was going too far over the edge, he simply downed a bottle of niacinamide. Dr Hoffer was taken aback that the young man would take so many in one go, but reasoned that it worked for him so why criticize the unorthodox method? This young man was on the brink of psychosis or perhaps was even swimming in it and yet he managed to pull himself back by taking large amounts of niacin.

I looked at how much niacinamide Chris was prescribed and it was only one gram a day, although his doctor had told me to raise it to two while we waited for the niacin cream to arrive. So, Chris was taking two grams a day. Would doubling it to four grams or even five grams a day keep Chris from losing total contact with reality? Dr Hoffer recommended anywhere up to six grams a day for his patients with an equal amount of vitamin C (to prevent possible liver damage) and a B complex to make the niacinamide work efficiently. So, without consulting with his doctor, I simply upped Chris’s dose and added the requisite amounts of vitamin C and B complex. Previously, I would have been concerned about doing anything without first checking with his doctor, but now I felt free to do what I felt was right.

The diagnosis food chain

My cherished holistic recovery program lay in a heap of ashes on the floor. I wasn’t even sure if I was up to the job anymore. I had so many questions in my mind that I was unable to answer. With all that Chris has gone through over a period of six years and all the interventions he had undergone, why wasn’t he better off? How is it that Dr Hoffer claimed such good results, even with young men? How is it that other people claim victory on vitamins alone? Why was unskilled me having to feel my way all by myself? Having to do this all by myself, and reaching this new low, I no longer knew if down was up or if up was down.

I was angry with the public face of the psychiatric profession. Psychiatrists spend more time fighting among themselves over theories of madness and therapeutic interventions than doing something constructive, like putting down their differences and saying to the patient “this particular therapy might just work for you!” Instead, they demonize the opposition by calling their ideas “dangerous” or ““untested”.

If I could wring anything positive out of the past few months, it was that Chris was moving up the diagnosis food chain. To those who care about a label, moving to what looks like depression and/or bipolar (to me schizophrenia and bipolar are one and the same) or schizoaffective or OCD, is an improvement over schizophrenia. Becoming angry, hostile and at times tearful seemed like a needed improvement over apathetic, ambivalent Chris.

Poetry and play reading

Before and after our visit to the shaman, Chris attended a daily outpatient program for young people with mental health problems. He was an enigma to the staff. During our monthly meetings with his doctor, it was difficult to convince him to lower Chris’s medications because Chris’s “clinical” presentation was so poor. Chris was fairly happy and moderately talkative at home, but assumed the role of a mental patient at the program.

My exasperation sometimes spilled over. “Chris, can’t you just fake it for once?” I would complain. “Dr. ‘L’ holds the keys to the insane asylum. You need his blessing to get him off my back and agree to lower the medications. He is GO. You have to pass GO to collect the two hundred dollars. Get it?”

No, Chris didn’t get it. He appeared not to be able to fake his way out of whatever it was that was keeping him labeled “hopeless” at the program. Dr. ‘L’ told us in our next meeting that the staff were instructed to treat Chris especially gently. He obviously considered Chris a “nut case,” although he didn’t use that word. Instead, he said that he and the other doctors thought Chris was very bright, but they just didn’t know what the problem was. He pointed out that Chris had difficulty using scissors to cut paper during art therapy. “But, you know,” said Dr. ‘L’ earnestly, “we are amazed he is very good in acting class.”

I realized that I didn’t care any more what kind of clinical impression Chris gave. Maybe the clinic was the problem, I thought. True, it didn’t look good not to be able to cut paper, but then why was Chris able to do these things and more at home? He could quite dexterously handle tools to help fix things around the house. Maybe there was something wrong with having to perform for others at a clinic, to be judged by those around you, and to be compared to an apple when you are an orange, or maybe even a grape. Whatever the clinic was doing, it wasn’t doing it for me or for Chris. I had seen enough by then to realize that inside an institution was possibly the last place anyone would get well.

I had internalized some messages that now guided my thinking. Message number one (from Dr. Hoffer): Nobody who relies on drugs alone will ever get well. Message number two (from Dr. Klinghardt): The root of schizophrenia is often found at the fourth (intuitive) level of healing; if the problem doesn’t clear with therapies aimed at the first (physical) level, look to level four.

Dr. ‘L’ suggested that we read Waiting for Godot, as Chris reminded him of that play. It was easy enough to see why—the meaninglessness, indecisiveness, and inertness in the play mirrored Chris’s existence. Thereafter, for a brief period, Ian and I enlivened our lives, which had become confined to our couch, our television, and a nightly bottle of red wine, with a little play acting. We certainly appreciated where Dr. ‘L’ was coming from on this one. Ian assigned everybody roles. Taylor was Pozzo; Chris was Vladimir; Ian, Estragon; and I was the narrator. Chris read his part like a seasoned professional. He stepped outside of himself for once. His face took on an enthusiasm and a flourish. The play was the thing for him.

After spending several evenings on Waiting for Godot, we switched to poetry readings. Each of us read a favorite poem. Chris, in a clear and confident voice, with evident feeling and from memory, immediately volunteered this poem by Robert Frost:

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

(Fire and Ice by Robert Frost)

I recognize this poem as a very appealing to a schizophrenic sensibility. Fire/ice, love/hate. Ambivalence and death with a dollop of guilt thrown in.

We had informally approached Level 4 through our play reading and poetry. I saw the positive effect this had on Chris. More of this approach was needed to appeal to what was going on in his mind. We had done all we could at the base level of vitamins and electromagnetic interventions. We had yet to approach level 4 formally through therapy.