Mother of a Schizophrenic Boy Keeps a Diary of Holistic Cures


  This article was originally published by MasterJules.net.


Read more at: http://holisticschizophrenia.blogspot.ca/.

Took Chris to Doctor.
Doctor's 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.Cranial osteopathy versus cranial sacral osteopathy

Prior to the voice training workshop and his introduction to the Alexander Technique, Chris underwent a series of cranial sacral massages. Cranial sacral massage is related to cranial osteopathy. Cranial osteopathy was developed by osteopath William Sutherland in the early 1900s. He observed that the temporal bones of the head near the ears move very slightly, rather like the gills of a fish. Cranial osteopaths and cranial sacral osteopaths believe that there is something called a cranial rhythm, which is present in all body tissues and results from the pulsing of the cerebrospinal fluids surrounding the brain, spinal cord and sacrum. Disturbances to this rhythm put pressure on the cranial bones and other parts of the body, leading to bodily and nervous dysfunctions. The rhythm can be disturbed by birth trauma, forceps delivery, accidents, etc. Both cranial osteopathy and cranial sacral osteopathy detect and correct the cranial rhythm through gentle massage.

Stephanie Marohn devotes a chapter of her book, The Natural Medicine Guide to Schizophrenia, to cranial osteopathy as of potential benefit for schizophrenia. The finer distinctions between cranial sacral osteopathy and cranial osteopathy were unclear to me and I booked cranial sacral massages for Chris and me thinking they were one and the same. Chris reported suddenly hearing new age music while undergoing his first massage, and he knew there was no music playing in the room at the time. I, on the other hand, experienced nothing so dramatic. My massage was pleasant and relaxing. I had no reason to think that this particular massage could be anything but beneficial.

On returning from the vacation and college tour in late August (and missing his flight), Chris began to become unfocused. In addition to not hearing what Ian and I said to him, he soon failed to keep up with his course assignments at the local university. At choir practice, he was out of sync with the others. Chris and I talked about this at length. He confessed that he felt his perceptions were changing. “Take that police siren we are hearing right now off in the distance. Now it seems like it's just a siren, but before I used to think about all the bad things that had happened to someone or the crime that had been committed. I am still stuck halfway between the old perception and the new one and it gets disorienting. I also feel that my physical reality is changing and I don't know where to look or put my feet.” Chris was not so sure that the new reality was going to be better than the old one.

I began to worry that I had inadvertently "killed" Chris by mixing up cranial osteopathy and cranial sacral osteopathy.

The Alexander Technique


Just before leaving on our family vacation, Chris took a week-long voice training workshop under the tutelage of his choir director. Several hours of the training involved the Alexander Technique, a technique familiar to many musicians, dancers and actors and people wanting relief from back pain. The Alexander Technique part of the workshop was taught by a highly experienced AT teacher. (Note: The Alexander Technique is not a therapy.)

F.M. Alexander was an Australian actor at the turn of the last century who developed chronic laryngitis. Repeated visits to physicians yielded no solution to his problem so he began to study what it was about his body position that may have contributed to his condition. It took him nine years. He started with the premise that it was the way he held his neck. He needed to move his head forward and up, away from his body, to lengthen his spine. When that did not make the problem go away, he realized that rather than start by correcting specific movements, he needed to look at the general misuse of body movements.

He came to the remarkable insight that even though he felt he was moving correctly, he often was not, and therefore he could not trust his own feelings. Old body habits die hard and try as he did to correct, he would revert to his old habits. He developed a method to execute the procedure even though his body was telling him the procedure felt “wrong”.

“I would stop and consciously reconsider my first decision, and ask myself "Shall I after all go on to gain the end I have decided upon and speak the sentence? Or shall I not? —and then and there make a fresh decision to

a. not to gain my original end
b. to change my end and do something different, say, lift my hand
c. to go on after all and gain my original end

“In each case I would continue to project the directions for maintaining the new use.”

The method forward in this statement by Alexander reminds me very much of Hamlet's famous “to be or not to be” soliloquy (Act 3 Scene 1), which can be interpreted as an action/no action oriented dilemma. The method could lead to destabilizing behavior when executed by someone like Chris, who was struggling with his perceptions of reality in the first place. Some people can become very emotional because the technique can open up a flood of suppressed feelings and emotions.

Wishful thinking


Trying to be endlessly understanding of Chris, Ian and I grew frustrated and tired of continuing to support him in “activities” that were keeping him occupied but not leading to a job or education. We were getting panicky about lost time. We wanted desperately to launch him into independent living, away from us, preferably as a full time university student. We felt we had micro-parented him far too long. Making Chris the focus of our attention had alienated Taylor and Alex.

Ian and I found a small college that offered environmental and music courses and a work program in a tranquil mountain setting. We arranged to visit the college with Chris when we took our vacation in August. We were hoping he could possibly start as early as January 2009 if he could see himself in that setting. We were also very concerned that Chris would be feeling lonely and left behind now that his youngest brother Taylor was leaving home soon to begin university. Alex was still away at university. Of our three sons, there would be just Chris at home now.

There were problems with our strategy, which the coming months would prove to be a big mistake. Chris continued to have difficulties, even though he could now "pass for normal", in social situations. Chris still had a great capacity to intellectually complicate a simple thought. He seemed to know where he was going with it and what the connection was, but it was obscure to the rest of us. Five and a half years after his acute psychotic breakdown, he was hesitant in his physical demeanor, lagging behind others a bit, not sure how to enter a room and when and where to sit down in it. All this signaled to me an unease with his environment, a body/mind disconnect. He was so much better overall and looking so well, that many mothers may have stopped there and thought this is it, this is the most I can expect, given all that has happened and all that is predicted about the chronic nature of schizophrenia. I wanted Chris to be even better because I knew he could be. I also wanted him cured. I had been operating under the assumption that the vitamin therapy would bring his biochemistry in line and this in turn would clear up his convoluted thinking and odd physical mannerisms, but not so.

I was also very aware that if Chris was ever going to be able to live away from home it was well worth taking the time to allow him to recover more, to do more therapies, even if this precipitated a further crisis.

The ride on the recovery rollercoaster begins.
There is an overwhelming urge, when a person seems well, to want to rush back to “normal” life. This is almost always a mistake. Insight and healing take time and effort. Probably years. I have deliberately used the words “seems well,” and “acting well” when it comes to Chris's recovery. Recovery is not just about getting off the medication. It's a fantastic start, of course, but you are still faced with the original problem of you and how you got to the predicament where you found yourself in the first place.

In his book Nutrition and Mental Illness, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer states that there are 29 medical causes of schizophrenia, ranging from pellagra to drug intoxications, to heavy metal toxicity, to wheat-gluten insensitivity, to chronic candidiasis, to a host of other rare and not so rare ailments. That does not necessarily mean that your schizophrenia can be pinned down to one of these 29 medical causes. What I find incredible is that no doctor in Chris's hospitals bothered to ask me if there was a family history of any of these ailments or called for tests to rule them out.

It is worth noting that Dr. Pfeiffer is referring to 29 "medical" causes of schizophrenia. Half the fun of schizophrenia is figuring out the non-medical, i.e. psychological causes of schizophrenia. Understanding and treating the emotional underpinnings of schizophrenia has been pushed aside over the past few decades in favor of the biochemical model. I am getting ahead of myself here. There will be plenty of time to delve into this fascinating subject in later blogs.

Using holistic therapies, he achieved social breakthrough after seventeen months of vitamin supplements, eight months after the assemblage point shift, six months after Family Constellation Therapy and after three months of seeing Dr. Stern once a week.

He began phoning up friends he hadn’t seen for years to suggest that they get together. He wanted to be around people. This was huge. For Ian and me, it was like a stone had been lifted from us.

>From February 2007 on, Chris continued to improve. Dr. Stern and Chris's holistic psychiatrist worked together over the next year to gradually eliminate his medications while continuing his weekly psychotherapy. His weight dropped as the medications were lowered. By March 2008, he was off all his medications. To illustrate the extreme caution that needs to be exercised when lowering medications, it took almost one whole year for Chris to come off 25 mg of clozapine. By June 2008 his weight was normal once again and he was able to exercise more.

I mentally began adding up the alternative treatments Chris had undergone: colonics; acupuncture; vitamins and supplements; energy medicine, including the magnetic mattress and a magnetic bracelet; Emotional Freedom Technique; and assemblage point shift. On a scale of 1 to 10, if Chris was a 10 when he was first hospitalized, then I would have to say he was now about a 5, a 4 at the most. He just was not visibly normal, meaning that he seemed somewhat nervous, was not comfortable around people in large or small groups and was not able to motivate himself. I attributed a lot of this to the effects of the medications, which I believed kept him in an anxious state, but I didn’t attribute all of it to the medications.

I felt that we were on the right track with all the interventions we had done up until that point, but that there was still a missing X factor that had not been addressed. The good that the vitamins had accomplished this far were undermined by the still heavy doses of meds. I believed that the benefits of the assemblage point shift would reveal themselves over the next few months and hopefully lead to a complete cure. We weren’t there yet. I still had not tried to approach Level 4 of the healing pyramid in a formal way.

As the shaman predicted, Chris gradually began to express his thoughts and convictions more. It was subtle, but it became increasingly apparent in the next few months. He more frequently expressed his preferences and sometimes lingered to talk a bit more. What surprised me is that I also felt that I was becoming more real. I became even more direct and focused. ---

The implication that human consciousness, like water molecules, can access knowledge nonlocally, across space and time, opened a new world for Chris and me. Through muscle testing we learned that Chris was allergic to wheat, dairy and eggs.

Energy medicine is one of the five sub-classifications of complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), as defined by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a division of the National Institutes of Health. Energy medicine proposes that many illnesses of the human body can be rectified by rebalancing the out-of-balance energy fields of the human body that have caused illness in the first place. Energy medicine can be sub-divided into therapies using veritable (measurable) energy fields, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), various kinds of laser surgery and light and sound therapy, and therapies involving putative energy fields (biofields), the subtle energy fields of the body that have so far eluded scientific measurement. Therapies in this latter category include but are not limited to Reiki, Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM), acupuncture, Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), distance healing and prayer.

Applied kinesiology or "muscle testing" allows you to access all kinds of useful and accurate information about your body by asking questions that elicit a "true" or "false" (strong or weak) response by measuring your body's resistance to applied physical pressure. For example, extend one arm and hold it rigid while another person pushes down on it with two hands while posing a question that can only elicit a true of false answer. You can begin by repeating “two plus two equals four” while resisting the downward pressure on your arm. Since this is a mathematically correct statement then your muscle resistance should be strong. The statement “two plus two equals five” is false and harder for our muscles to resist. The arm will will not be able to resist the downward pressure as well as it could for a true statement. This effect will be the same even if you are asked questions in an unfamiliar language. Your body knows what is true and what isn't true even if if your conscious will tries to override it.

A person like your doctor can elicit information about you nonlocally by muscle testing. You don't even have to be in the same room or on the same continent. This can be done by making a closed circle with the thumb and pointer fingers of the left hand. Insert the thumb and pointer finger of the other hand into the circle, making sure it is a snug fit. While concentrating on the test subject and asking a specific question regarding that person’s state of health, try to force the fingers apart. A weak response (the circle broken) indicates false, a strong (unbroken circle) true. The key to doing this successfully and receiving true indicators as to what is going on is to be very specific in the question asked (e.g., Is this [name of particular substance] good or bad for the person's liver function?) and to apply consistent pressure between the fingertips and consistent force against the circled fingers while trying to force them apart.

Substances such as sugar will weaken the muscles whereas therapeutic substances will strenghthen them. This can be demonstrated by holding a small bag of sugar against the body with one hand while trying to resist downward pressure on the other arm, extended in front of you.

Thoughts and emotional stimuli produce these same responses. For example, the word “War” or “Love ” could be written without your knowlege on a piece of paper and placed in a box that you hold against your body. Or you could imagine something like your family pet. The person doing the muscle testing will know by the reaction of your muscles whether this is a positive thing for you or a negative thing. Posted by Rossa Forbes at 12:30 AM 0 comments Links to this post Labels: applied kinesiology, complementary/alternative medicine (CAM), Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) distance healing, energy medicine, muscle testing, prayer

The secret life of water molecules.
In Japan, Dr. Masaru Emoto photographed the molecular changes in untreated, distilled water crystals when thoughts and words are directed at them. He placed labels on glass jars of water, with phrases such as “Thank you” or “You Fool” and left them overnight. The changes in the water crystals were amazing. Positive words created pretty, healthy-looking crystals. Negative words produced the opposite.

Both spoken and written words convey vibrational energy that is picked up by the water. In fact, everything in existence has a vibration. Dr. Emoto found that intention and prayer can influence the water structure. Distance didn’t seem to matter.

As the adult human body is more than 70 percent water, and the level of water content at birth is 90 percent, the effects of vibrational energy on the human body and mind of both positive and negative thoughts, words, and actions are staggering.

This simple, yet profound discovery has major implications when looking at illness.

In his book Nutrition and Mental Illness, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer states that there are 29 medical causes of schizophrenia, ranging from pellagra to drug intoxications, to heavy metal toxicity, to wheat-gluten insensitivity, to chronic candidiasis, to a host of other rare and not so rare ailments. That does not necessarily mean that your schizophrenia can be pinned down to one of these 29 medical causes. What I find incredible is that no doctor in Chris's hospitals bothered to ask me if there was a family history of any of these ailments or called for tests to rule them out.

It is worth noting that Dr. Pfeiffer is referring to 29 "medical" causes of schizophrenia. Half the fun of schizophrenia is figuring out the non-medical, i.e. psychological causes of schizophrenia. Understanding and treating the emotional underpinnings of schizophrenia has been pushed aside over the past few decades in favor of the biochemical model. I am getting ahead of myself here. There will be plenty of time to delve into this fascinating subject in later blogs.

Using holistic therapies, he achieved social breakthrough after seventeen months of vitamin supplements, eight months after the assemblage point shift, six months after Family Constellation Therapy and after three months of seeing Dr. Stern once a week.

He began phoning up friends he hadn’t seen for years to suggest that they get together. He wanted to be around people. This was huge. For Ian and me, it was like a stone had been lifted from us.

>From February 2007 on, Chris continued to improve. Dr. Stern and Chris's holistic psychiatrist worked together over the next year to gradually eliminate his medications while continuing his weekly psychotherapy. His weight dropped as the medications were lowered. By March 2008, he was off all his medications. To illustrate the extreme caution that needs to be exercised when lowering medications, it took almost one whole year for Chris to come off 25 mg of clozapine. By June 2008 his weight was normal once again and he was able to exercise more.

I mentally began adding up the alternative treatments Chris had undergone: colonics; acupuncture; vitamins and supplements; energy medicine, including the magnetic mattress and a magnetic bracelet; Emotional Freedom Technique; and assemblage point shift. On a scale of 1 to 10, if Chris was a 10 when he was first hospitalized, then I would have to say he was now about a 5, a 4 at the most. He just was not visibly normal, meaning that he seemed somewhat nervous, was not comfortable around people in large or small groups and was not able to motivate himself. I attributed a lot of this to the effects of the medications, which I believed kept him in an anxious state, but I didn’t attribute all of it to the medications.

I felt that we were on the right track with all the interventions we had done up until that point, but that there was still a missing X factor that had not been addressed. The good that the vitamins had accomplished this far were undermined by the still heavy doses of meds. I believed that the benefits of the assemblage point shift would reveal themselves over the next few months and hopefully lead to a complete cure. We weren’t there yet. I still had not tried to approach Level 4 of the healing pyramid in a formal way.

As the shaman predicted, Chris gradually began to express his thoughts and convictions more. It was subtle, but it became increasingly apparent in the next few months. He more frequently expressed his preferences and sometimes lingered to talk a bit more. What surprised me is that I also felt that I was becoming more real. I became even more direct and focused.

Why diet isn't everything.
The state-of-the art research that I mentioned in my last post links many disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, autism, etc. to wheat and gluten intolerances. Chris's doctor determined that he suffers from candidiasis, a systemic overgrowth of the yeastlike fungus Candida albicans. This fungus is normally found in the intestines, but an overpopulation can occur due to a number of factors, among them weakened immunity, poor digestion, a diet high in foods that tend to foster yeast, or the use of antibiotics, which kill off essential helpful bacteria that aid in maintaining the proper balance of flora in the intestines.
Candidiasis can be a lifelong problem. It interferes with digestion and nutrient absorption, which in turn affects physical and mental health. Nutritional deficiencies further contribute to intestinal dysfunction and candidiasis. The two produce a negative feedback loop toward deteriorating mental health. Eventually the brain itself becomes overwhelmed by yeast. Various combinations of vitamins and minerals are prescribed in addition to restricting or eliminating wheat, gluten and dairy products from the diet. In addition to the wheat/gluten/dairy intolerance another widely implicated factor in schizophrenia is excess copper.

Some people have been known to recover quickly from schizophrenia by taking just supplements and changing their diet. A lot of people do not. Dr. Dietrich Klinghart, a German physician who with practices in Germany and in the United States, maintains that if schizophrenia is not cured at the physical level (level I - vitamins, herbs, nutrition, etc.) the problem most likely resides at level IV of the healing pyramid. Level IV is the intuitive level of dreams, trance, meditative states, out-of-body experiences, and the collective unconscious. Dr. Klinghardt’s five levels of healing form a healing pyramid, with the upper levels exerting a trickle-down effect on your state of physical and mental health. Healing cannot take place at a lower level if there is an unresolved issue at a higher level.

I lined up all his supplements for the week ahead and taped them into little paper packets, twenty one packets in all. I labeled them "1" "2" and "3" for swallowing at morning, lunch and dinner. He was now taking sublingual lithium drops and sulfur drops twice a day in addition to the mood stabilizer and the other supplements. I measured out the drops and stood over Chris twice a day to make sure he kept them under his tongue. I poured two liters of water in containers for him every evening and in the morning I mixed the powdered and liquid supplements in the distilled water for him to drink throughout the day. I slathered a detoxifying cream over his liver twice a day, and dabbed a special niacin cream that is supposed to work wonders with psychosis on both temples, wrists and the back of his knees. I supervised his detoxifying epsom salt baths which he did every second day. I watched while he put his detox footpads on every second night before bed.

In short, I was becoming a bloody psychiatric nurse. Actually, I was doing more than a psychiatric nurse would do. A nurse at least gets to go home and isn't concerned with administering supplements. I entertained fantasies of putting Chris in the mental hospital to relieve me of my round the clock caregiver duties. The only thing that prevented me from doing so is that he would have been immediately put on an antipsychotic as the price of admission.

A slight change in his supplements, the addition of the mood stabilizer and my spending a lot of time talking to him about his feelings and his responsibilities over his actions enabled Chris's condition to stabilize a bit over the Christmas period. This intense experience convinced me that Soteria and Kingsley Hall and the Jacqui Schiff home based approach worked better than what the critics reported. However, their approach needs a staff. I was simply exhausted and doubted whether I was up to the job.

How many supplements can a human being take?
Throughout the rest of January, Chris fluctuated between semi okay and not okay, but the clear trend was down. I grew weary from lack of sleep. Chris was still able to sleep through the night, so that was not a problem, but it was my worrying that prevented me from getting a good night's sleep.

I was beginning to hate the supplements almost as much as I hated the medications. Part of the reason is that every supplement (thirty-five in all) seemed absolutely essential. I was terrified of running out of one or of forgetting one. This becomes a tyranny. And, conversely, when one supplement becomes especially critical, as the holistic psychiatrist now claimed the niacin blend cream had become, then one begins to question its value when all thirty-five of them were supposed to be so critical and the patient is still doing poorly.

Towards the end of January we ran out of his crucial niacin mixture cream and had to wait until it arrived by mail. It was getting tou

~^~^~^~^~

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.ch and go that the cream would arrive before Chris went completely bonkers. There were many people who knew Chris who were beginning to urge us to put Chris on medications. With much regret, we asked the holistic psychiatrist to prescribe an antipsychotic for Chris in addition to the mood stabilizer he was on.

Having worked with many of the therapies discussed in Dr. Klinghardt's healing pyramid I am mindful that all the good work that vitamin and diet support can accomplish can be overruled by the mind. Until the mind is ready, the body will not follow. I have seen this recently in Chris. He was doing really well, he was no longer on medications, he was taking vitamin supplements and he was adhering to a recommended diet. We were all in shock when he started to become unravelled. His mind, I am convinced, put the brakes on further progress. He was becoming a victim of his own success. Heartened by his progress up up until then, my husband and I had begun to encourage him to go back to university full time, to develop himself further as a musician, to think in terms of possibilities. He panicked. Psychosis was his escape hatch.

Why he panicked is goes to the heart of the matter. Getting to the essence of cause is where schizophrenia begins to get really, really interesting.
The trip is a long one.
--
In the 1950s, Dr. Abram Hoffer, together with Dr. Humphrey Osmond, successfully treated hundreds of schizophrenic patients at the Saskatchewan Hospital, with supplements aimed at correcting the body’s biochemical imbalances, a treatment approach later termed “orthomolecular medicine.”

Dr. Osmond and his student Dr. John Smythies noticed that schizophrenic hallucinations are like hallucinations suffered by otherwise normal people who have taken a bad mescaline trip. Mescaline belongs to a family of psychedelic compounds known as phenethylamines. It is present in several cactus species of the American Southwest and the Andes mountain range of South America and used by native American tribes in certain religious and mystical practices. Adrenaline, which is naturally produced in the body, is similar in its properties to mescaline.

Drs. Hoffer and Osmond hypothesized that schizophrenics produce an excess amount of an amino acid similar to adrenaline (which they called “adrenochrome”); this amino acid is also produced naturally in the body. Dr. Hoffer determined that adrenochrome belongs to a different family of psychedelic compounds known as “indoles.” (LSD is an indole.) Dr Hoffer prescribed niacin in high doses to reduce adrenochrome levels. It works.

Dr. Hoffer defines recovery from schizophrenia as threefold: The person is able to function well with friends and family, is free of signs and symptoms, and is able to pay income tax.

Dr Hoffer is still in the minority of doctors and institutions who think so optimistically about schizophrenia. The standard medical opinion is that the most one can expect is managed recovery, quality of life, and part time work if any. Dr Hoffer expects more. Why are most so-called experts setting the bar so low? It surely has something to do with the word "cure". Many people shudder at the use of the word cure” in the context of schizophrenia. A cure simply means that someone with an illness has become healthy again or it can be the solution to a problem. If you rely solely on pharmaceutical solutions, curing schizophrenia is difficult, if not impossible.

Be wary of institutions that talk about ending discrimination of the mentally ill, e.g. the problem with mental illness is "stigma". No, the problem with mental illness is that people are not getting well in sufficiently large numbers. The mentally ill have been discriminated against because they haven't been seriously helped to get well. Most institutions promote mental illness as chronic and hopeless. Let's not set the bar so low. Why, for heaven’s sake, instead of celebrating people whom they seem to regard as chronically disabled, don’t these organizations say that they are dedicated to helping people with serious mental illness get over it and get on with their lives? Why not, indeed?

I am still trying to figure out how Dr Hoffer got such great results using a small amount of supplements with no recommended changes in diet (e.g. elimination of gluten and sugar) and no talk of psychotherapy. I believe he got these results because his patients didn't get side tracked by competing claims. A reader has pointed out to me that Dr Hoffer does indeed recommend eliminating or restricting dairy, gluten, sugar and junk food in the diet. That is absolutely correct. However, for many years before the importance of diet became recognized in treating mental health disorders, Dr. Hoffer just carried on with his basic vitamin recommendations (and medications when necessary) and got good results.

For the past thirty years or more we have been told that the newer (atypical) antipsychotics are better than the older (typical) antipsychotics. We have gotten further and further away from challenging whether antipsychotics are really needed in the first place. We have allowed ourselves to become managed by pharmaceuticals, but never cured. Is it possible that this same thing is happening with vitamins?

Today, vitamins are big business. They are state-of-the-art. They are well-researched, very good and adaptive. Alas, I have become immobilized through too much specialization and choice. I'm afraid of getting it wrong. For vitamin C you have a wide choice of delivery and added benefits, e.g. powder, liquid, capsule, with varying combinations of other vitamins and minerals. Buying vitamins is like ordering a coffee at Starbucks. I'd just like a regular coffee, thanks.

Chris is taking way more vitamins than Dr. Hoffer ever recommended, and he still isn't in a position to pay income tax. Here's what taking 35 supplements a day entails. The pills, powders and liquids have to be carefully measured, the pills put in packages and labeled. There is no plastic thingy big enough to hold all the pills so I put them all in paper packs, which I cut, fold, tape and label. Enough to last seven days or 21 paper packs in all. This goes on week in, week out. All the vitamins have to be shipped to our home. There is always the danger of running out. All of these vitamins, Chris's doctor has told me, are crucial to his some aspect of his functioning.

I would love to scale the vitamins back to just the Dr Hoffer basics. My husband and Chris don't seem inclined to rotate the position of chief pill dispenser. They are not as methodical as I am about the procedures involved. This is why women are entrusted with childcare, I remind them. Dr Abram Hoffer is the dean of orthomolecular psychiatry. He is the first, the starting point, the base, for anyone who wants to learn more about what schizophrenia is and how best to treat it using vitamin support. Orthomolecular is a term coined by Nobel laureate Dr Linus Pauling. It means "the right molecule". It is using supplemements to correct biochemical imbalances.

Dr Hoffer is still going strong at over 90 years old. I like Dr. Hoffer. I wrote him a fan letter in 2005 after Chris had been on his recommended combination of niacinimide (vitamin B3), vitamin C, B-complex, omega 3 and zinc for only a few weeks. The changes in Chris after such a short time were noticeable, despite the fact he had been on meds for over a year. He was more focused and engaged. His skin became clearer. His hair, which was becoming alarmingly thin for someone his age, became thicker.

Dr Hoffer's book, How to Live with Schizophrenia, is a must read. It is positive and upbeat, unlike some other well-known and widely quoted authorities on schizophrenia. It is loaded with good tips and really interesting observations. He respects his patients and learns from them.

I also have been faithfully using his recommended combination of vitamins since 2005. Interestingly, what works for schizophrenia also works to prevent alzheimers/dementia, according to Dr Hoffer. Here, there are a couple of things to keep in mind. The first is the word "prevent". Once dementia begins, vitamins are ineffective. The closer in age you are to dementia (for all practical purposes in your sixties) you should substitute niacin for niacinimide. If you are in your fifties, you should begin with 3 grams of niacinimide per day and an equal amount of vitamin C (to prevent liver damage), a B complex (to make the other vitamins work more efficiently), and throw in an omega 3 and a zinc or another B vitamin (B-6, B-12). Niacin produces a burning sensation in your body. It is harmless, but nonetheless rather scary if you don't know what to expect.

I never plan to be without Dr Hoffer's recommended schizophrenia/dementia vitamins. People laughingly refer to "senior moments", but in my early fifties I was having trouble focusing. At the time I attributed it to the stress of juggling family and work responsibilities, but I feel now that my brain was tired. After only a few days on the niacinimide formula, I felt on top of my game intellectually. I could push through to complete a complex series of thoughts. I now had intellectual energy whereas before I had little. I began reading more complex books. I began to write my own book. Like Chris, my skin became amazingly clear. My hair grew back its former thickness. I was much calmer.

If you think of holistic health as a pyramid, orthomolecular medicine is the broad base of the pyramid. Proper foods, vitamins and minerals are the building blocks of good health.

Here is Dr Hoffer's vitamin package, courtesy of the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation.

SUPPLEMENTS: Vitamin B3 (niacin or niacinamide) 0.5 – 2 grams 3 times daily. Vitamin B6 (for many) 250-500 mg daily. A general B vitamin formula. Vitamin C, 3 or more grams daily. Zinc (gluconate or citrate) 50 mg daily. Manganese 15-30 mg daily (if there is danger of tardive dyskinesia).

CURE THEM AT HOME: ASYLUMS/ HOSPITALS dangerous places.


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