What is Advanced Nutrient Therapy?
Advanced Nutrient Therapy is essentially the use of key vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to correct neurotransmitter imbalances, and it has become our most effective tool in managing mental health disorders including ADHD, oppositional defiant disorder, anxiety, depression, autism, and more!
Dr. William Walsh: The Pioneer
Advanced Nutrient Therapy was developed by Dr. William Walsh, PhD. He began by studying convicts with the goal of determining the root cause behind their sociopathic and oppositional-defiant behavior. A study of death row felons & other violent offenders revealed unusual levels of copper, zinc, lead, cadmium, and other trace minerals in hair tissue. He also noticed that similar chemical imbalances were found in behavioral disordered children. Along with Dr. Carl Pfeiffer MD, He began treating these individuals with key micronutrients based on their individual nutrient deficiencies, and the results were miraculous! Dr. Walsh then began to study other mental health disorders, where he made further discoveries regarding nutrient imbalances and their association with key neurotransmitters.
How Do Nutrients Work in Mental Health?
Synthesis and Metabolism of Neurotransmitters:
In any biochemical reaction, there are substrates (building blocks) and co-factors (facilitators). This is no different in the production of neurotransmitters. All neurotransmitters are synthesized from an amino acid building block and the reaction is facilitated by other key micronutrients.
For Instance, in order to make Serotonin, tryptophan (an amino acid) acts as the building block and B6, Zinc, Magnesium, and vitamin C (vitamins and minerals) are necessary co-factors.
Epigenetic Regulation of Gene Expression and Reuptake at Synapses
Epigenetics is the science of gene expression modification caused by environmental factors. Methylation is one way that we can modify gene expression through epigenetics. In the case of neurotransmitter modulation, methylation with methionine or SAMe can change gene expression and act as a natural serotonin reuptake inhibitor.
In a similar fashion, niacin can alter dopamine reuptake, folate can reduce serotonin activity, and zinc can increase NMDA activity.
Nutrient imbalances, such as undermethylation, result in a weakened ability to handle toxic metals and other sources of oxidative stress. Both oxidative stress and heavy metals can be extremely damaging to neurodevelopment, and this becomes extremely important in the pediatric population.
Common Nutrient Imbalances
Undermethylation leads to a deficiency in methyl groups, which is a molecular compound necessary for many biochemical processes within the body. Undermethylation is often associated with symptoms of low serotonin and high histamine. Common symptoms of undermethylation include perfectionistic tendencies, history of high achievement, difficulties with detoxification, good response to SSRIs (such as Paxil and Zoloft), allergies, headaches, addictive tendencies, and ritualistic behaviors.
Overmethylation leads to low levels of histamine and elevated levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. This imbalance can also lend itself to anxiety, depression, and even paranoia. Individuals who are overmethylated often respond poorly to antihistamines and SSRIs. They tend to be more artistically and musically inclined, are self-sacrificing in nature, suffer from low-motivation, and experience more sensitivities to food and chemicals.
While copper overload can affect anyone, it is an extremely common cause of depression and anxiety in females, especially during hormonal shifts. Copper overload causes low dopamine and higher norepinephrine, resulting in lack of pleasure, anxiety, panic attacks, sleep issues, and more. Copper and zinc compete for absorption, so with high levels of free copper, there are often also signs of zinc deficiency. Signs of copper overload include intolerance to birth control pills, onset of mood disorders in puberty, menopause or post-partum depression, severe fatigue, skin sensitivities, and episodic rage.
Pyrrole disorder is a condition aggravated by stress, whereby an individual creates an excessive amount of Kryptopyrroles. We all produce Kryptopyrroles during hemoglobin synthesis, but some individuals are genetically wired to produce more, especially when under stress. Kryptopyrroles themselves are not harmful to the body, but excretion of them causes B6 and Zinc depletion. Because B6 and Zinc are extremely important cofactors in the production and metabolism of several key neurotransmitters, this can result in significant mood imbalances. The symptoms of a pyrrole disorder are most dramatic in children and adolescents, and result in extreme mood swings in response to a relatively small stressor, sensitivities to lights/sounds/odors, higher irritability, and difficulty with short term memory. Other things to look out for include white spots on fingernails, morning nausea, restricted appetite, frequent illness, and little or no dream recall.
Want to Learn More?
Dr. Walsh has a wonderful book, Nutrient Power, where he goes into detail describing the particular imbalances associated with a wide variety of mood disorder.
In addition, our own Dr. Sandison interviewed Dr. Bill Walsh on the podcast Collective Insights.
Written by: Dr. Ari Calhoun, ND