Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Vitamins work, but sometimes not enough

I got to thinking about the role of vitamins in recovery early this morning (4 a.m.) when I suddenly woke up from a deep sleep. That's funny, I thought. I haven't even had a drop of alcohol, I went to yoga; so why am I waking up? Then blinding insight struck. Waking up must have been to bring my perspective to Marian's and Duane's recent exchange of comments on the chicken and egg subject "is it mental or is it physical?" Yes, that was it!

I probably have got some of their points wrong, so please read the comment string at the bottom of the post. Marian, Duane and I agree more than disagree about the importance of vitamins for good mental health. For Duane, recovery seems more about the vitamins correcting underlying health conditions that can lead to psychosis. For Marian, it's more about healing the trauma that produced the symptoms. Marian feels more strongly than Duane that original trauma lies at the heart of an eventual schizophrenia diagnosis. Duane has experienced success when supplements were administered to his teenage son, so naturally, he sees the value of this strategy. Duane's not alone, because there are thousands of people who have credited their recovery to orthomolecular therapy. I have seen instant turn-around in myself when I use vitamins for specific health problems.

Actress Margo Kidder, recovered from bipolar disorder, always says that the first thing you need to do is get a hair test. I took her advice for my youngest son, Taylor, who was beginning to worry me back in high school. This was after Chris got his "diagnosis." Taylor's rebound was phenomenal and you can read about it here.  I only wish I had known about hair tests and orthomolecular therapy before Chris fell into the mental health maze. Based on what I observed with Taylor, it is very possible that Chris would have recovered quickly if I had got to him around the age of sixteen when he first began showing symptoms. (Severe acne may be one of the symptoms, according to Dr. Hoffer, as sufferers from pellagra, a vitamin B deficiency, have the same skin problems.)

You don't have to be as young as sixteen to experience turn-around on vitamins alone, but then there are the people, like Chris, and like many others, who have become psychotic, and that's where I think it gets tricky. It is possible that once someone experiences psychosis, recovery on vitamins alone is more problematic, not because it can't happen, but because it takes longer, or perhaps because the person begins to "enjoy" certain aspects of the psychosis and/or starts to question every aspect of existence. If you experience a spiritual awakening, also known as a kundalini crisis, once the djinii is out of the bottle, it gets harder to put it back in. The crisis begins to take on a life of its own. Kundalini crises don't resolve overnight.

The problem is, and always will be, the meds. It becomes very hard to untangle what is actually going on once meds enter the picture. I have no doubt that many more people would recover quicker than they do if megavitamins and dietary changes were introduced at the outset instead of the meds. Many more people would also recover quicker if they encountered the right kind of therapy or found the right person who said the right thing at the right time.

That's why I don't play up the role of vitamins as much in my blog as much as some readers would wish. Much of the impetus for my blog comes from wanting to show people that the "harder" cases, the so-called chronic or "treatment resistant" cases are often the people where it just means you have to work harder to get at the roots of the problem. I have seen my son improve when vitamins were introduced on top of the meds, I've seen him do very well when he was off the meds and on vitamins alone, and I've seen him relapse after doing very well on vitamins alone. Some people have recovered never having been introduced to vitamins at all.


  1. Rossa,

    Thank you for this post. I think it says a great deal about how different approaches work for different people.

    I suppose at the end of the day, we are all unique. I appreciate your getting the word out about alternative methods of treatment - real treatment, through integrative medical approaches, nutrition, and counseling/therapy; the risks of long-term use of psychiatric drugs; and giving people hope in finding things that work!

    My best,



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