Dr Mercola interviews Dr Walsh; Role of nutrients for treating autism, anxiety, depression and dementia.

 

It only a matter of time before Dr Walsh and his nutritional protocol for treating mental disorders becomes mainstream. Thanks to popular health advocates such as Dr Mercola, Dr Walsh will get the exposure that is needed to wake up the medical community.

With the ever increasing ill effects on our epigenetics from the environment and the blind mis-use of medications to treat mental disorders, there is no better time than now to pay close attention to the research and perspective of Dr William Walsh in the treatment of autism, depression and all other mood and behavioral disorders.

Dr Mercola interviews Dr Walsh at a glance:

By Dr. Mercola

  • There are four biochemical types of violent people. Many have severe zinc deficiency, pyrrole disorder, low blood spermine and methylation defects — an unusual combination of bad biochemistry
  • While there are hundreds of nutrients that are important for health, in the brain, six or seven dominate. These are nutrients that are either involved in synthesis or functioning of neurotransmitters
  • Nutrients that have a powerful influence on mental health include zinc, copper, B-6, selenium, folates and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)

Can you use specific nutrients to improve your mental health? Yes, you can. William Walsh, Ph.D., president of the nonprofit Walsh Research Institute in Naperville, Illinois, and author of “Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain,” specializes in nutrient-based psychiatry and nutritional medicine.

He and I are both  fellows of the American College of Nutrition. He’s designed nutritional programs for Olympic athletes, NBA players and major league baseball players. More importantly, he’s spent a great deal of his career seeking to improve mental health through nutrition.

“I started off in the hard science. I was an experimentalist,” Walsh says. “I worked, in the beginning, in the nuclear field … with places like Los Alamos, the Institute for Atomic Research and University of Michigan Research Institute. I wound up at Argonne National Laboratory. While working as a scientist there, I started a volunteer project at the local prison, Stateville Penitentiary.

I eventually got really interested in why people were violent …  [W]hen we started the ex-offender program, I got to meet the families that had produced a criminal. I found some wonderful families, caring and capable families, that have other children who turned out just fine …

I began to realize we didn’t understand why people had bad behavior. We then asked the question, ‘Could it be something related to their brain chemistry or the body chemistry?’… I started doing lab studies of their blood, their urine and hair. I found out that they were very, very different from the rest of the population. That’s how I got started.”

Biochemistry and the Criminal Brain

Walsh received valuable direction after meeting Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, who was doing work on heavy metals and schizophrenia. As it turns out, levels of metals, including copper, zinc and manganese, were all abnormal in criminals compared to the general population.

Walsh discovered four biochemical types of violent people. One of these was the sociopaths, all of whom had severe zinc deficiency, pyrrole disorder, low blood spermine and undermethylation. In all, it’s an unusual combination of bad biochemistry. A collaborative investigation with Pfeiffer resulted in nutrient therapies for each of the behavior types.

Pyrrole disorder is a stress condition commonly found in brain disorders. A urine test developed by niacin expert Abram Hoffer and Pfeiffer is the gold standard test for this genetic condition, which involves altered  biochemistry in your bone marrow and spleen.

People who have pyrrole disorder may produce five to 10 times more pyrroles than normal — a byproduct of natural reactions, like the formation of hemoglobin. While harmless in and of itself, pyrroles bind to and draw out anything that is an aldehyde, such as B-6. It also sharply depletes zinc.

As a result, people with pyrroles disorder have exceptionally low levels of B-6, and zinc which can have serious effects on brain function, affecting their memory and ability to read, for example. B-6 deficiency is quite common among children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as well.

The Earlier the Treatment the Better the Results

“Eventually, [Pfeiffer] and I jointly evaluated 500 patients, mostly violent adults and violent children. We got our best results with the kids, young people with the same kind of chemistry, who were mostly very violent,” Walsh says.

“I have to say we didn’t really succeed in finding a way to help the adult criminals. They would get better for six to eight months, and then I’d find out they were back in prison. That had a lot to do with the fact that they were abusing alcohol and illegal drugs … At about 1990, we decided to focus on children …

It’s been very successful. If we can get a child before their lives are ruined, before they pass puberty perhaps, our success rate [is] very high … The doctors report a striking improvement in behavior. Most of these kids, of course, [are] on drugs, everything from Ritalin to powerful antipsychotic  medications. Usually when we’re finished and [have] balanced their chemistry, they can wean off the medication. They usually are fine without it …”

Nutrients Involved in Synthesis or Functioning of Neurotransmitters Dictate Mental Function

Later on, Walsh expanded to also include children with autism and ADHD. Fond of numbers, Walsh began amassing enormous databases. At present, he has one of the world’s largest chemistry database for autismdepression and behavior disorders.

“When you look at these millions of chemical analyses of blood, urine and tissues, it’s obvious that there are very great differences,” he says. “I found that for mental disorders, about six or seven chemical imbalances dominate mental function. There are hundreds and hundreds of important nutrients in the body, but in the brain, there are about six or seven that [seem] to dominate everything. Eventually, I found out why …

[T]hese are the nutrient factors that are either involved in synthesis of a neurotransmitter or the functioning of a neurotransmitter. They include methylation — undermethylation or overmethylation. In our database, 70 percent of all humans in the United States have normal, typical methylation; 22 percent are undermethylated … 8 percent are overmethylated.

About 70 percent of all people who have a mental disorder have one of these methylation disorders. The symptoms are completely different, and the treatment they need is completely different. We also found that most people [who have mental disorders] are depleted or deficient in zinc. That’s the most common [deficiency] we see … Virtually everyone with a mental disorder seems to need zinc and improve on it.”

Copper Overload Linked to Autism, Schizophrenia and Postpartum Depression

Copper is another important trace metal, as it plays a distinct role in the synthesis of norepinephrine, a major neurotransmitter. Divalent copper (Cu2+) is a dramatic factor in the ratio of dopamine and norepinephrine. Read more here…

The Importance of Methylation and Folates in Mental Health

Walsh was among the first people to alert the world to the importance of methylation in mental health, especially autism. The No. 1 causes of undermethylation are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or mutations in the enzymes for the one-carbon cycle (the methylation cycle).base. The largest phenotype … is undermethylation. Read more here…

Changing the Face of Psychiatry

Walsh is convinced the use of psychiatric medication will eventually fade away as we learn more about normalizing brain function through nutritional interventions. “These powerful drugs … they do not normalize the brain. They cause an abnormal condition,” he warns. “They might correct depression or anxiety, but you wind up with something that’s not normal.”

The Walsh Research Institute is a public charity with no financial interests, and they are slowly but surely helping to change mainstream psychiatry. Walsh has given talks at the highest levels, including the Surgeon General’s office, the U.S. Senate and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He’s also spoken at American Psychiatric Association (APA) annual meetings several times.

“The last time I went there, they finally listened to me … I was there about two and a half years ago. I gave an invited talk on depression. I basically explained to them they’re doing depression wrong. They actually listened to me. I showed them our huge chemistry database and explained that depression is a name given to at least five completely different disorders, each involving different symptoms and each involving different neurotransmitters that are malfunctioning.

Then I described each one of these biotypes and actually showed them that if they would simply do some inexpensive blood and urine testing, they could identify which people would be good candidates for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or which ones would do better on benzodiazepine, but even more importantly, how they can correct it with nutrients.”

There were 17,000 psychiatrists at this meeting from all over the world, and Walsh was 1 of 4 speakers at a well-attended session. Afterward, there was tremendous demand for more information, which gives hope. Walsh also offers a training program for doctors. In the U.S., 45 psychiatrists went through the program last year. In all, 500 physicians and psychiatrists in 32 countries have taken his program so far.

Full Transcript at Dr Mercola’s Website

To learn more about Dr Walsh, visit www.WalshInstitute.org. There you can also purchase Walsh’s book, “Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain.” Questions and information requests can be sent to Dana@WalshInstitute.org, or you can call (630) 506-5066.

“Our website has a resources section that recommends quality labs, compounding pharmacies and a list of doctors who we’ve trained, who are now able to do this kind of therapy,” Walsh says.

Dr Mercola interviews Dr Walsh on role of epigenetics, methylation and folates in mental health.

The Importance of Methylation and Folates in Mental Health

In his interview with Dr Mercola, Dr Walsh, who pioneered the role of methylation in mental health and autism.  discusses methylation. According to Walsh, the No. 1 causes of undermethylation are single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) or mutations in the enzymes for the one-carbon cycle (the methylation cycle).

“The No. 1 factor is the methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR), which is one of the enzymes. That’s the rate-limiting step for that whole cycle, for most people,” Walsh explains. “Genetic testing services such as 23andMe can provide this kind of information.

However, most human beings have enormous numbers of SNPs. They’ve already found 10 million snips (or mutations) in the human genome. Every human being has thousands of these SNPs. A really high percentage of people have even the more serious MTHFR SNPs — the C677T, the A1298C that people are always talking about.

The thing that is often mistaken by nutritional scientists is that if a person has the homozygous, the double copies of the C677T, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re undermethylated. It certainly doesn’t mean that they will benefit if you give them methylfolate. That’s one of the problems that we’re finding.

The reason is epigenetics. You have to consider the epigenetics and the methylation at the same time. There are three nutrient factors that affect epigenetics more than anything else: folates, methionine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe). These have a really powerful impact on epigenetics.”

How Folates Affect Epigenetics

Folates are serotonin reuptake promoters. However, even if an individual is undermethylated and has a problem related to low serotonin activity, such as depression or anxiety, folates should not be given, Walsh warns. The reason? If you give folate, their methylation will improve and the patient will actually get worse.

The reason for this worsening is because, epigenetically, folates act as deacetylase inhibitors and sharply lower serotonin activity. Most autistic individuals will not have a serotonin problem and will thrive on methyl folate. However, an estimated 10 percent of autistic children and adults do have a serotonin issue and will severely regress if given methyl folate.

“We’ve had thousands of patients who were undermethylated depressives. I’ve seen more than 3,000 cases of clinical depression. I’ve got this huge database. The largest phenotype … is undermethylation.

But if you gave them any form of folate, they would get worse. Their methylation would improve, they would get worse, because it has a dramatic impact on serotonin reuptake. In contrast, methionine and SAMe are natural serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

They do essentially the same thing that Prozac and Paxil do. Folates have the opposite effect. Folates are wonderful if you want to knock dopamine level down in schizophrenics or people who have high anxiety — overmethylated people. It’s counterintuitive because folates are excellent methylating agents..”

To reiterate, some undermethylated people are intolerant to folates, and some overmethylated people thrive on folates even though folates improve methylation. As you can see, there are epigenetic complexities involved here, making self-diagnosis and self-treatment highly inadvisable.

It could be quite risky to take these bits and pieces of information and try to apply them on your own. There are simply too many variables. So, the bottom line here is to make sure you’re being treated by a certified walsh practitioner.

Why SSRIs Induce Violence

One major problem with SSRI antidepressants is the risk of self-harm and aggression as a side effect. Overmethylated, low-folate depressors are intolerant so SSRIs, and evidence suggests this genetic intolerance may have been a factor in many school shootings. Walsh, who has studied this phenomenon, notes 42 of the 50 major school shootings in the U.S. since 1990 were done by teens or young adults taking an SSRI.

“I discussed this … before the APA … I tried to explain to them that they … can do a blood test; they can find out which children or which adults are more likely to become violent if they get an SSRI. I’ve written about this several times; published it in magazines …

If you buy Prozac or Paxil, the insert inside warns that some people … are prone to suicidal or homicidal behavior. We now know which ones they are!”

Signs and Symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorders

An summary of characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorders

Provided by helpguide.org

In both children and adults, the signs and symptoms of the autism spectrum disorders include problems with social skills, speech and language, and restricted activities and interests. However, there are enormous differences when it comes to the severity of the symptoms, their combinations, and the patterns of behavior.

Keep in mind that just because your child has a few autism-like symptoms, it doesn’t mean he or she has an autism spectrum disorder. The autism spectrum disorders are diagnosed based on the presence of multiple symptoms that disrupt your child’s ability to communicate, form relationships, explore, play, and learn.

Where does your child fall on the autism spectrum?

The three autism spectrum disorders share many of the same symptoms, but they differ in their severity and impact. Classic autism, or autistic disorder, is the most severe of the autism spectrum disorders.  Milder variants are Asperger’s Syndrome, sometimes called high-functioning autism, and PDD-NOS, or atypical autism. According to the Autism Spectrum Resource Center, only 20% of people on the autism spectrum have classic autism. The overwhelming majority fall somewhere on the milder range of the spectrum.

Since the autism spectrum disorders share many similar symptoms, it can be difficult to distinguish one from the other, particularly in the early stages. If your child is developmentally delayed or exhibits other autism-like behaviors, you will need to visit a medical professional for a thorough evaluation. Your doctor can help you figure out where, or even if, your child fits on the autistic spectrum.

Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders: Social skills

Basic social interaction can be difficult for children with autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms may include:

  • Unusual or inappropriate body language, gestures, and facial expressions (e.g. avoiding eye contact or using facial expressions that don’t match what he or she is saying).
  • Lack of interest in other people or in sharing interests or achievements (e.g. showing you a drawing, pointing to a bird).
  • Unlikely to approach others or to pursue social interaction; comes across as aloof and detached; prefers to be alone.
  • Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings, reactions, and nonverbal cues.
  • Resistance to being touched.
  • Difficulty or failure to make friends with children the same age.

Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders: Speech and language

Problems with speech and language comprehension are a telltale sign of the autism spectrum disorders. Symptoms may include:

  • Delay in learning how to speak (after the age of 2) or doesn’t talk at all.
  • Speaking in an abnormal tone of voice, or with an odd rhythm or pitch.
  • Repeating words or phrases over and over without communicative intent.
  • Trouble starting a conversation or keeping it going.
  • Difficulty communicating needs or desires.
  • Doesn’t understand simple statements or questions.
  • Taking what is said too literally, missing humor, irony, and sarcasm.

Signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders: Restricted behavior and play

Children with autism spectrum disorders are often restricted, rigid, and even obsessive in their behaviors, activities, and interests. Symptoms may include:

  • Repetitive body movements (hand flapping, rocking, spinning); moving constantly.
  • Obsessive attachment to unusual objects (rubber bands, keys, light switches).
  • Preoccupation with a specific topic of interest, often involving numbers or symbols (maps, license plates, sports statistics).
  • A strong need for sameness, order, and routines (e.g. lines up toys, follows a rigid schedule). Gets upset by change in their routine or environment.
  • Clumsiness, abnormal posture, or odd ways of moving.
  • Fascinated by spinning objects, moving pieces, or parts of toys (e.g. spinning the wheels on a race car, instead of playing with the whole car).

How children with autism spectrum disorders play

Children with autism spectrum disorders tend to be less spontaneous than other kids. Unlike a typical curious little kid pointing to things that catch his or her eye, autistic children often appear disinterested or unaware of what’s going on around them. They also show differences in the way they play. They may have trouble with functional play, or using toys that have a basic intended use, such as toy tools or cooking set.  They usually don’t “play make-believe,” engage in group games, imitate others, or use their toys in creative ways.

Related signs and symptoms of autism spectrum disorders

While not part of autism’s official diagnostic criteria, children with autism spectrum disorders often suffer from one or more of the following problems:

  • Sensory problems – Many children with autism spectrum disorders either underreact or overreact to sensory stimuli. At times they may ignore people speaking to them, even to the point of appearing deaf. However, at other times they may be disturbed by even the softest sounds. Sudden noises such as a ringing telephone can be upsetting, and they may respond by covering their ears and making repetitive noises to drown out the offending sound. Children on the autism spectrum also tend to be highly sensitive to touch and to texture. They may cringe at a pat on the back or the feel of certain fabric against their skin.
  • Emotional difficulties – Children with autism spectrum disorders may have difficulty regulating their emotions or expressing them appropriately. For instance, your child may start to yell, cry, or laugh hysterically for no apparent reason. When stressed, he or she may exhibit disruptive or even aggressive behavior (breaking things, hitting others, or harming him or herself). The National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities also notes that autistic kids may be unfazed by real dangers like moving vehicles or heights, yet be terrified of harmless objects such as a stuffed animal.
  • Uneven cognitive abilities – The autism spectrum disorders occur at all intelligence levels. However, even kids with normal to high intelligence often have unevenly developed cognitive skills. Not surprisingly, verbal skills tend to be weaker than nonverbal skills. In addition, children with Autism spectrum disorders typically do well on tasks involving immediate memory or visual skills, while tasks involving symbolic or abstract thinking are more difficult.

Assessing Cause and Treating Autistic Kids and Autism Spectrum Adults

Focus on detoxification, immune status and brain biochemistry
A leaky gut syndrome is an inflammatory condition in the digestive track often brought on by allergies to foods such as dairy and wheat. It is also prominent with kids and adults that have elevated yeast or candida. This is either diet related, immune related or has to do with an imbalance of probiotics. The consequence is that toxins, brain toxins leak out of the digestive tract and affect the brain cells. The natural antioxidants that prevent this consequence of leaky gut includes glutathione. To correct leaky gut we test the conditions of the stool and improve the status of digestive enzymes, probiotics, HCL and status of candida.

Casein, Gluten and Autism
According to researchers from Penn State a gluten-free, casein-free diet may lead to improvements in behavior and physiological symptoms in children diagnosed with ASD.

“Research has shown that children with ASD commonly have GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms,” said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. “Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population. Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems.”

“Gluten and casein seem to be the most immunoreactive,” Klein said. “A child’s skin and blood tests for gluten and casein allergies can be negative, but the child still can have a localized immune response in the gut that can lead to behavioral and psychological symptoms. When you add that in with autism you can get an exacerbation of effects.”

“If parents are going to try a gluten-free, casein-free diet with their children, they really need to stick to it in order to receive the possible benefits,” she said.


Metallothionein and Autism – MT Therapy
In October of 2001, a team of clinicians and researchers led by William Walsh, Ph.D. then at the Pheiffer Treatment Center, affiliated with the Health Research Institute now of Warrenville, IL, made available a scientific study entitled “Metallothionein and Autism”. Metallothionein is a protein that is critical to the process of detoxification of harmful substances, particularly heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
The paper describes a study of 503 patients on the autism spectrum vs. aged-matched non-autistic patients. The conclusion of this study was that “most autistic patients exhibit evidence of metallothionein (MT) dysfunction and this dysfunction may be a universal characteristic of autism-spectrum disorders”.
Correcting an impaired detoxification system in ASD autistic children.
William Walsh PhD believes that “MT dysfunction and autism may result from the intersection of two factors: (a) a genetic defect involving marginal or defective MT functioning, followed by (b) an environmental insult during early development which disables MT.”

Dr David Epstein D.O., Medical Director at Second Opinion Physician studied under William Walsh and received certification in applying the Walsh Protocol to autistic kids and autistic adults. The focus of therapy is based on a standard set of labs that are ordered for children to identify and correct biochemical factors that disable MT proteins. These include (a) severe zinc depletion, (b) abnormalities in the glutathione redox system, (c) cysteine deficiency, and (d) malfunction of metal regulating elements (MRE’s).”

Glutathione is a key amino acid in the role of detoxifying the cells of the those on the autistic spectrum including those with aspergers symptoms. It is a product of metabolism in the methionine cycle. With autistics there are very low to no levels of glutathione produced. Low levels lead to other processes that include the dysfunction of methylation and sulfation.

The treatment protocol at Second Opinion Physician for autistic kids and adults on the spectrum recognizes the importance of the Walsh panel for brain function performance assessment. Correction is based on the restoration of the detoxification pathways for removing metals, strengthening the immune system, repair of the gut and brain cells, regulation of zinc and copper levels in the blood and prevention of yeast overgrowth.
The tests include identifying methylation status. Impaired methylation impairs suflation. Sulfation improves the digestive tract, brain function and connective tissues of the body. It also facilitates the production of glutathione and prevents cellular breakdown by removing toxic metals from within the cell.

Second Opinion Physician tests for ASD autistic disorder include the following:
1. Histamine for determining methylation status
2. Zinc and copper levels to identify degree of oxidative stress due to reactive metals causing free radical toxicity.
3. Ceruloplasmin – a copper metallothionein that neutralizes the oxidative effects of copper and other metals.
4. Urinary pyrroles – inflammatory element that depletes the body of B6 and zinc, both critical to brain function
5. Testing for Casein and Gluten allergies
6. CDSA comprehensive digestive stool analysis for evidence of yeast overgrowth, probiotic status and digestive capacity.
7. Vitamin D levels to determine need to supplement for immune improvement

Based on results from tests and historical assessment, Second Opinion Physician natural health care plan will likely include one or more supplement strategies:
1. Correcting methylation imbalance either through slowing down or increasing methylation
2. Improving MT status with a blend of amino acids with high sulfur. The formula was made available to Walsh-Certified physicians.
3. Restoring gut health with sulfur through sulfur containing amino acids and MSM.
4. Diet modification with casein free casein free diet to eliminate allergens
5. Replace probiotics and control candida yeast
6. Supplement with methionine and B12 for undermethylated ASD children
7. Increase zinc and lower copper with supplementation of proper dose and form of trace minerals.
8. Managing pyrrole disorder with B6 and zinc when tests warrant.
9. Vitamin D supplementation