I would like to discuss depression in children and adults and the nutritional approach to the problem. Apparently it's getting more frequent as we hear about the rising tide of suicides in adolescents and even in children as young as eight, nine, and ten. It just seems ridiculous that such a thing should overwhelm a child in what is supposed to be the happiest time of life.
I evaluate children and adults who are depressed. For some of them there is no apparent reason for their overwhelming sadness. They've got good relationships with other people. Their social organization is intact. They've had a good upbringing. They have a good self-image. They have good school or work performance and they're getting nice accolades from relatives and friends. Why are they depressed? It just doesn't seem right.
When we do blood tests on these people we find, in general, that there are two things wrong. One is that they're nutrient deficient. In the particular program I'm doing, we go by the deviation from the mean. If, for instance, calcium's range is 8.5 to 10.5, then 9.5 is the mean. If they're down to 9 or 8.6, the doctor will say, everything is okay. Still, if there are enough of those scores below the mean, these people don't have enough wherewithal, enough nutrients to satisfy all their enzyme requirements.
Fifteen years ago, for example, a 20-year-old woman came to see me who was depressed for no apparent reason. She came from a good family, and had a nice boyfriend and a good job. Everything seemed fine but she would still get depressed every once in a while.
At that time I was experimenting with vitamins. I thought it would be quite safe to give her a shot of the mixed B complex vitamins. I included a cc of everything from B1 to folic acid and B12. I would give about 50 mg of each one of these vitamins and 50 mcgm of the B12 intramuscularly every day.
After two or three of these shots this patient told me that it wasn't working very well for her. She asked, "Couldn't you give them as separate vitamins?" I started giving her injections of isolated vitamins. I gave her a shot of 100 mg of B1 on Monday and B2 on Tuesday. I gave her separate shots of B3, B6, B12, and folic acid.
She reported feeling terrible after receiving B1, thiamine. She asked me never to do that again. I thought that seemed odd. After the B2 she came back and said that it was okay but nothing special. She said the same thing after receiving the B3. But after B6 she came back and said, "I think you're on to something." She also really liked the B12 and the folic acid.
These three vitamins were the important ones for her. I mixed them up and gave them to her every week or two. With that combination, she was apparently satisfied.
About five or six years ago, I started a new program where we have people smell vitamins to see what they need. If it's a good smell or no smell, they need it. If it's a bad smell, they don't.
I had her open up thiamine and smell it. She said, "Good lord. Somebody must have done something awful to this." I explained to her that nothing was wrong with the vitamin but that she didn't need it. She had some bacteria in her intestinal tract that make her own thiamine. Her body was therefore rejecting it. B3 had no smell; she needed that. B6 had a good smell; she needed that. B12 and folic acid had no smell so she needed that. Her body told her what she needed, and she could satisfy its requirements. Apparently this method of using the sense of smell and taste is highly accurate in determining people's needs. It should be used rather than just taking multivitamins willy-nilly.
Craving chocolate is also a sign of depression. It usually means that people need magnesium, because there's magnesium in chocolate. Women, the day before their menstrual period, often find themselves searching through the cupboards for chocolate. They find a big canister of Hershey's and drink it down to the syrup before feeling better from the magnesium.
I had the delightful experience of giving an intravenous mixture of vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and B vitamins. Usually it has more magnesium than calcium. Afterwards if I ask patients whether they would like some chocolate they tell me they don't need it. It really is connected.
Women in the sixth month of pregnancy will often send their husbands out for ice cream because the baby is starting to grow fast. The woman has a conscious need for dairy products because she knows there is some calcium in that but she says, "Don't forget the pickles." She knows, somehow, that she needs to acidify that calcium source or the baby and she will not get much out of it and she will suffer from leg cramps.
The chemist I work with in Spokane discovered something about GGT, a liver and gallbladder enzyme called gamma glutamil transpeptidase. The range that the lab has is anywhere from 0 to 40. They find these values all over the place. The mean would be about 20.
What we've found is that if their level is below 20, they're more likely to have some of these magnesium deficiency symptoms-- short attention span, trouble relaxing or sleeping, little muscle cramps in the feet and legs, and a craving for chocolate. Most of these people don't like to be touched. They may be a little crabby. Those symptoms go with low magnesium.
Magnesium is one of the first minerals to disappear from food when it's been processed. Magnesium is also one of the first minerals to leave the body when there is stress, which accounts for how many women behave a day or so before their periods. They feel stressed because they're losing their magnesium.
We need to supply magnesium to these people. We can determine who needs it by the blood test and by the sense of smell. If people smell a bottle of pure magnesium salt--magnesium chloride is a good one--if it smells good or if there's no smell, then the person needs it. The blood test we usually use is the 24 chem screen, the standard blood test.
Many symptoms of depression, hyperactivity, headaches, loss of weight, and other conditions are related to genetic tendencies. If there is a tendency to be depressed in the family, a magnesium deficiency will allow that tendency to show up. If there's alcoholism, diabetes, obesity in the family, then low magnesium may allow those things to show up in a person. There are reasons to explain all these things and nutrition is basic to this. The patients don't have an antidepressant pill deficiency; they usually have a magnesium deficiency.
The first thing I do is ask people what they're eating. If I find that they're eating a lot of dairy products, and that as a child they had their tonsils taken out, and that they had a lot of strep throat and ear infections, then I know they're allergic to milk and they're looking for calcium. Sure enough, the blood tests will show this. That's the first thing they have to stop. Whatever they love is probably causing the trouble because food sensitivities can cause low blood sugar.
As we know--those of us who have worked with nutrition at all--low blood sugar, not just eating sugar, can do that, but also eating foods to which a person is sensitive, will make the blood sugar fall and that can lead to depression. So lack of magnesium and falling blood sugar, for whatever reason, are the two most significant things responsible for a susceptibility to depression.
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