Alternative Mental Health News, No. 3


Safe Harbor was founded in 1998 in the wake of growing public discontent with the unwanted effects of orthodox psychiatric treatments such as medication and shock therapy. Seeking to satisfy the demand for safer, more effective treatments, the Project is dedicated to educating the public, the medical profession, and government officials on research and treatments that, minimally, do no harm and, optimally cure the causes of severe mental symptoms. Our primary thrust is education on the medical causes of severe mental symptoms.

Contact info:
Safe Harbor
P.O. Box 37
Sunland, California 91041-0037
(818) 890-1862


In 1999 a man called the Safe Harbor office in great distress. His wife was psychotic and he was at wit’s end. His story – and the happy ending – is featured in the following article on Great Plains Laboratory, an unsung hero in this saga.

For decades various doctors have been claiming that much of what passes for mental illness is actually a variety of metabolic problems – yeast infections, unusual nutritional needs, allergies, toxic reactions, and other unseen physical disturbances – that turn normal children and adults into bizarre or disturbed ones. And many physicians have had
recovered patients to back them up.

The problem has always been: How do you test for these metabolic disturbances?

Recent breakthroughs, such as those by Great Plains Laboratory, have now made such testing possible. This is a true godsend for the autistic and others with severe mental symptoms. These tests can detect such things as food allergies which can trigger abnormal brain function.

There is a chasm of difference between being told you have a wheat allergy and being told you have schizophrenia. We congratulate Great Plains Laboratory for contributing so bountifully to the quality of life of those suffering mental disturbances.


“She has catatonic schizophrenia,” the doctor told Linda P.’s husband. No further medical tests would be needed, he added.

Linda’s husband was jolted. But he refused to accept this finding. He went through several doctors and researched the internet until he found a physician who would examine her further. The new doctor ordered a unique 62-point organic acid urine test developed by Great Plains Laboratory in Kansas.

Several abnormalities were found, including a citric acid level that was 5 times normal. The solution? Injections of a simple nutrient called glutathione plus other nutritional supplements.

Within 36 hours of her first injection, Linda P. – psychotic for seven months and virtually mute – got on the phone and talked for an hour. A month later she was perfectly normal. (Her full story is listed on the home page under Articles “Dramatic Recovery.”)

“She probably had a severe toxicity of some kind that depleted her glutathione levels,” says William Shaw, Ph.D., director of Great Plains Lab. Dr. Shaw helped create the lab’s remarkable tests. Glutathione helps clear toxins from the body.

Shaw reports that the organic acid test has been used to find underlying causes in psychosis, schizophrenia, depression, autism, attention deficit disorder, and a host of physical ailments. “A high percentage of people have benefited,” he says, “because they pinpoint the physical basis of the disease.”

The organic acid test is commonly ordered to detect the presence of Candida (yeast) overgrowth which can cause a broad spectrum of mental disorders including depression and schizophrenia.

“I usually recommend allergy tests for psychosis as well,” says Shaw. “Mold, for example, can trigger a psychotic reaction in some people. One doctor videoed a female patient who had to be restrained by three people after being exposed to a single drop of mold extract.”

In cases of psychosis or schizophrenia, Shaw recommends a standard physical examination and tests to check for underlying medical causes, such as a Chem-25 blood test, urinalysis, thyroid test, and a 5-hour glucose tolerance test. If nothing significant shows, he recommends the organic acid urine test, a comprehensive allergy blood test, and an opiates peptide urine test. This last test is unique. Psychotics commonly poorly digest wheat or milk which can result in the production of opiate (as in opium) peptides (compounds formed from amino acids). All three tests are available at Great Plains Lab.

“We don’t have any hard numbers,” says Shaw, “but I’d say that on 50% of individuals with psychosis you would find significant abnormalities in these areas [of the tests] and they would experience benefit.”

The costs of the tests are: organic acid – $200; comprehensive allergy – $200; opiate peptides – $100. They are covered by many insurance policies.

Great Plains Laboratory is in Overland Park, Kansas, at (913) 341-8949.


In recent hearings on proposed California Assembly Bill 1800 – designed to toughen involuntary commitment laws – someone raised a question about a “Medical Evaluation Field Manual.”

The 60+page manual, an extensive study of the physical causes of severe mental symptoms, gives the exact step-by-step procedures to follow to examine psychiatric patients for a basic screening of such ailments. Included are all tests to be run, questions to be asked, and details of the physical exam to be done.

It was compiled by Dr. Lorrin Koran of the Dept. of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Stanford University as part of an Assembly Bill passed by the California legislature in 1988.

The protocols, if implemented, could clearly save thousands from being misdiagnosed with psychiatric disorders when they are, in fact, medically ill.

The manual seems to presuppose that these medical protocols will be implemented throughout the California mental health system.

It appears the manual has been “lost.” When we contacted the California Dept. of Mental Health, they had a single recently-obtained copy and were in the process of having more printed.

The manual states: “For several reasons, mental health professionals working within a mental health system have a professional and a legal obligation to recognize the presence of physical disease in their patients. First, physical diseases may cause a patient’s mental disorder. Second, physical disease may worsen a mental disorder, either
by affecting brain function or by giving rise to a psychopathologic reaction. Third, mentally ill patients are often unable or unwilling to seek medical care and may harbor a great deal of undiscovered physical disease.”

The study reported that in a review of patients treated in Northern California, 39% “had an active, important physical disease” and “the mental health system had failed to detect these diseases in nearly half (47.5%) of the affected patients.”

Persons wanting immediate photocopies of the manual may obtain them from the Safe Harbor Project for $12, obtainable at the contact information above (under “Safe Harbor Project”). Others can get on the waiting list with the California Dept. of Mental Health at 916-654-2309 for a free copy at a later date.

The manual will be posted on within the next few months.


Women who suffer depression as they enter the early stages of menopause (perimenopause) may find estrogen to be an alternative to traditional antidepressants, a new study suggests.

Estrogen levels, body thermostats and mood often fluctuate in the perimenopause. A minority of women become clinically depressed. A National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) study of 34 such women found that estrogen improved mood in 80% of the cases.

The study, published in the August 2000 issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, is the first controlled study of its kind. Only 20% of the women responded to the placebo.

Relief was obtained from early morning awakening, loss of enjoyment, sadness and irritability. These were not women with abnormally low estrogen levels prior to treatment, but researchers Schmidt and Rubinow suggest that some women may be especially sensitive to changing hormone levels.


Insufficient intake of essential fatty acids (EFAs) may contribute to the onset of mental disorders, while their supplementation may relieve some symptoms, according to researchers who attended a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Workshop on the subject in September 1998.

Omega-3 fatty acids are brain-specific nutrients that are highly concentrated in the nerve endings.

“Epidemiological [disease] studies in various countries and in the United States in the last century suggest that decreased omega-3 fatty acid consumption correlates with increasing rates of depression,” wrote Jerry Cott, Ph.D. “There is evidence that deficiency of long-chain,
omega-3 polyunsaturate may contribute to symptoms of schizophrenia, alcoholism, multiple sclerosis and postpartum depression.”

EFA deficiency could lead to depression through effects on immune function and production of cytokines. A cytokine is a substance that causes living cells to grow and divide. If cytokines get out of control for some reason, they can contribute to conditions like cancer, in which cells grow without limit.

Researchers Maes and Smith wrote that “Inflammatory cytokines or lipopolysaccharide [molecules of fat-type substances and sugars] given to animals or humans provoke an extensive set of symptoms and signs similar to, if not identical to, those found in major depression.”


Elderly patients may be diagnosed and treated for senility when they are suffering from the side-effects of medication. Prescription and over-the-counter drugs used to relieve Parkinson’s disease, depression, allergies and migraine can produce side-effects that could be mistaken for dementia in the elderly.

The drugs, known as anticholinergics, can cause confusion, memory loss,disorientation and blurred vision. Unsteadiness and a rapid heartbeat can also occur.

Doctors could be misdiagnosing thousands of elderly people with dementia because they are confusing the condition with the side-effects of many common medicines, according to a report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine. Dr Jacob Mintzer of the Medical University of South Carolina and Alistair Burns of the University of Manchester said
if a patient complains of symptoms, doctors and caregiverrs should be aware that they could be caused by medication.

Elderly people are most at risk of experiencing these side-effects because many are on a number of different medications for a variety of conditions. Their bodies are also less efficient which means that the drugs stay in their bodies longer.

In the UK, elderly people account for 18% of the population but they consume 45% of all prescription drugs.


The first long-term effort to track stimulant therapy in a large population of children has reached some unsettling conclusions. The research was reported in the August 4, 2000, issue of Science. The Duke University study finds that most 9- to 16-year-olds receiving Ritalin or other stimulants don’t exhibit the symptoms of attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the only condition for which such drugs are approved.

The study adds to the public debate over ADHD, which has been a controversial diagnosis questioned by some medical professionals.

Researcher found that only 1/3 of the children prescribed stimulants actually met the criteria for ADHD. Children put on stimulants typically took them for more than 3 years, regardless of their psychiatric status, the researchers noted. Children taking these drugs proved more likely than the others to exhibit muscle tics, a side effect of prolonged stimulant use.

The prevalence of stimulant treatment among the North Carolina sample group doubled over 4 years to nearly 10 percent, supporting other evidence from medical databases of increasing numbers of stimulant prescriptions.

Stimulant treatment of children without ADHD symptoms occurred half as often among children living in poor households as among those in families above the federal poverty line.

Evidence of extensive stimulant treatment among children who don’t have ADHD symptoms is “surprising and perplexing,” remarked psychiatrist Benedetto Vitiello of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md. Researchers should do larger studies of kids in different communities to probe this issue, he said.


A controlled clinical trial on the short- and long-term psychological effects of a 12-week aerobic fitness program yielded positive results, according to the January 1999 issue of Preventive Medicine.

Following completion of the exercise program (and through 12 months of follow-up), 82 adult participants completed the Beck Depression Inventory, Profile of Mood States, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Tennessee Self-Concept Scale. The exercise participants showed a positive fitness change and mental improvement compared to a control

At a one-year follow-up, physiological and mental benefits remained significantly improved according to University of Missouri researchers.

ABOUT is the world’s largest web site devoted exclusively to alternative mental health treatments. It includes a directory of over 140 physicians, nutritionists, experts, organizations, and facilities around the U.S. that offer or promote safe, alternative treatments for severe mental symptoms.

Many of the physicians listed do in-depth examinations to find the physical causes behind mental problems. Also included are an array of articles on topics ranging from the medical causes of schizophrenia to the effects of toxic metals on mental health.

A bookstore page lists top books that cover many areas of alternative treatments with titles like Natural Healing for Schizophrenia and Other Common Mental Disorders and No More Ritalin. has been created to educate the public, practitioners, and government officials on the medical conditions that create “mental illness” and the many safe resources available for addressing and often curing severe mental symptoms.