A few weeks ago I finished reading this book:
Nutrient Power- Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain
written by William Walsh PhD
Earlier this year our daughter had an adverse reaction to a nutritional supplement that we were trying with her (based on her medical team’s recommendation) in an effort to improve her health. Unfortunately, after this happened, there were few clues or explanations as to what or why her response was the way it was. In one of the many facebook groups I belong to, filled with incredibly astute parents with backgrounds in engineering, medicine, law, and even biochemistry, I stumbled upon this post that someone had linked to. These words (from Dr. Walsh) jumped off the page at me:
“There is increasing evidence that folates act as deacetylase inhibitors that enhance gene expression of SERT reuptake proteins known as “transporters”. Serotonin reuptake is a far more dominant factor than the amount of serotonin present. Folate supplements (together with B-12) are very effective in improving methylation in most undermethylated persons. However, folate supplements should be avoided for undermethylated patients who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental disorders that involve low activity at serotonin receptors.”
“The benefits from improving methylation are overwhelmed by weakened serotonin neurotransmission for these persons. Methylfolate supplements are a clever approach for coping with undermethylation in persons with MTHFR enzyme weaknesses. However the potency of methylfolate has been greatly exaggerated. The methylation cycle spins constantly with more than a million methylation reactions per second. The methylation cycle somewhat resembles the Indianapolis Speedway with traffic constantly spinning around the track. Methylfolate is what I call a “suicidal” nutrient, that is, a nutrient that acts only once. After a single pass through a portion of the cycle, methylfolate loses its identity and becomes part of the garden-variety THF pool. Methylfolate is somewhat more effective that folic acid and folinic acid, but is not as effective as advertised. The bottom line is that methylfolate and other folate supplements are very effective in enhancing methylation for autism and other conditions that are not dominated by low serotonin activity.”
My interest was PEAKED and I was interested to learn more. Why? Because until I read this passage, I had never heard ANYONE allude that there may be a group of individuals who methylfolate supplementation may not be ideal for. Off I went to the library to get Dr. Walsh’s book and learn more. I already was well aware of the healing properties of balancing one’s biochemistry, so to assume brain disorders could be healed by balancing this biochemistry also, made perfect sense in my own chemistry (turned biochemistry) brain! ;)
Here are my top 10 takeaways from this book- Many of which I am researching further. This book does contain a biblography full of references, but much of Dr. Walsh’s research seems to have been presented at scientific meetings and in poster presentations that I have not been able to access (since I am not a member of those medical groups or did not attend the meeting).
1. Histamine is inversely proportional to methylation status- ie. High Histamine= undermethylation, low histamine= overmethylation
2. because of #1, Whole Blood Histamine blood test can be used as a measurement of methylation status. (Sam/Sah ratio is also a very reliable measurement for methylation, however this test is difficult to obtain commercially). Whole blood Histamine can be done at Labcorp or Quest.
3. Walsh provides an albeit technical but thorough overview of Epigentics and how they impact Mental Health. He defines (scientifically) terms such as methylation, histone modification and chromatin and how they relate to nutrient therapy and epigenetic disorders including OCD, ASPD, Anorexia, and Autism, to name a few. Chapter 4 is a must read if you are struggling with the nature vs. nurture mentality of genes vs. environment. Clue- It is BOTH.. and how they interact and genes only are NOT our destiny!
4. Schizophrenia- Walsh describes in chapter 5 the 3 Major subtypes of Schizophrenia including over, under methylation and pyrrole disorder. He also give an excellent historical background on the disorder and the theories who have preceded his work. You can hear him speak here about some of his work with schizophrenics:
5.Depression- There are 5 different types of depression that Walsh classifies in his book, rather than the ONE diagnosis of depression that mainstream psychiatry uses which equals one size fits all pharmaceutical= anti-depressant. I am sure you know someone who has done WORSE on an antidepressant Walsh explains why through explaining these different types, based on biochemical markers.
6. Autism- a topic near and dear to so many of our hearts. Walsh presents a list of Biochemical features found in Autism that include: low glutathione, under methyation, elevated blood toxins, copper overload, zinc deficiency, vitamin A deficiency, low magnesium, and deficiency of selenium and cysteine (to name a few). He covers oxidative stress and shares biochemical therapies that he has found to work with the autistic population that he has worked with including normalization of methyl/acetyl levels and reversal of deviant gene marks. He also provides a strong warning about the use of Risperdal and the lessons we should have learned from Thalidomide babies.
Listen here for more of Walsh speaking about Autism:
7. Walsh shares some of his early volunteer work in Prison with inmates in the 70’s , that is fascinating. More here. This quote/study was particularly shocking to me-
“Our test group consisted of 24 pairs of brothers who lived in the same household and attended the same school. Each pair consisted of a child with a history of delinquency and violent assaults and a brother with ideal behavior and good academics. In essence we found 24 families with a proverbial child from hell and an all-American boy living in the same family….The samples were coded and blinded to the testing laboratory and the researchers. After breaking the code we learned that the most of the well-behaved controls had the expected levels of the trace metals tested. In contrast, most violent subjects exhibited abnormal levels, especially with respect to copper, zinc, lead, and cadmium. In general, the violent children exhibited higher lead and cadmium levels than did the controls. However the test group was about evenly split between children with elevated Cu/Zn ratios and others with depressed Cu/Zn ratios. Note of the well-behaved children exhibited a Cu/Zn imbalance.”
He describes a second study where 96 extremely violent males and 96 nonviolent male controls from the Chicago area were tested. Half of the violent group was incarcerated and the other was living in society. The findings found 35 violent subjects had elevated Cu/Zn ratios, 57 had low Cu/Zn and the remaining 4 tested normal. 3 non violent had abnormal ratios and 93 did not. This led to research funded by the Violence Research foundation which blinded samples were sent from California Prisons as well as non-violent controls. Walsh’s lab was successful in identifying the CRIMINALS in better than 90% of the cases based on chemistry alone!
Here is a speech he gave on the work he has done with the prison and criminal populations.
And another article he wrote here.
And an article featured in Crime Times on sub-types found in killers and criminals.
And a feature in Science News here.
8. On Walsh’s website, he presents a fascinating School Shooter hypothesis based on the nutritional deficiencies and biochemistry abnormalities he describes in this book- you can read some of his theory here or watch it here:
9. Copper/Zinc imbalance can cause a whole host of mental and medial issues- including Post Partum Depression in new mothers, autism, schizophrenia and aggressive and criminal behavior. This is one of the themes and abnormal biomarkers that can be found throughout this book.
10. Video Cliff note version: well worth 2 hours of your time to listen to this lecture from Dr.Walsh himself.
This book has opened up some BIG doors (or should I sayBIG rabbit holes) for my research. Big clues for our family were found on page 24 and 25 as walsh talks about METHIONINE and FOLATE in a subgroup or people.
Extra: Walsh’s comments about a number of conditions archived from a message board here.