Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Power of Nutrients; Edelman article

How important can nutrients be? Can they really do much for severe mental health symptoms? Two old illnesses, whose vitamin cures have been used by modern medicine for the past hundred years, will serve to provide an intuitive glimpse into the potency of nutrients in brain function.

Vitamin C and Scurvy


Consider first, scurvy, the disease of the ancient pirates, a prolific killer of olden-day sailors on long sea voyages. Symptoms included easy bruising, internal bleeding, roughening skin, and wounds which would not heal. Teeth would loosen and fall out. Scurvy also caused profound anxiety and depression, overwhelming fatigue, insomnia and, eventually, in some cases, psychosis. Late stage scurvy often resolves into fever, convulsions, and death.
Scurvy has been known for at least 2000 years, and periodically, people have tried various fresh food cures, only to lose that knowledge in subsequent generations. In the twentieth century, treatment with sources of vitamin C caught on more universally. Sufficient C not only stems the physical changes, but also reverses the often-severe mental symptoms.
Note again: Vitamin C, all by itself reverses the psychosis and mood changes of scurvy! Interestingly, many institutionalized psychiatric patients have vitamin C levels close to that found in people with scurvy.

Vitamin B3 (Niacin) and Pellagra 

Secondly, let us look at pellagra, an illness characterized classically by the 4Ds: Dermatitis, Diarrhea, Dementia and Death. That is: various skin and gastrointestinal symptoms, along with increasing weakness and depression, mood instability, aggression, insomnia, confusion eventually resolving into dementia and, in some cases, a schizophrenia-like psychosis.
In the early 1900s, liver, and then, its active ingredient, niacin, was found to cure pellagra. A few hundred mg. of vitamin B3, over several weeks, reversed the unstable mood, the irritability and violent disposition, and the pellagren psychosis.
Since then, orthomolecular psychiatrists have found niacin helpful in many cases of schizophrenia and depression, and critical in up to 90% of cases of paranoid schizophrenia.

If such nutrients can cure the severe mental symptoms of scurvy and pellagra, then perhaps they also have the power to address those same symptoms in psychiatric disorders.

About the author
Eva Edelman is a health researcher and the author of two widely-acclaimed compendiums:
For more info on these books, see

NAMI/ Lane County/ Spring 2013 Newsletter

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