Alternative Mental Health News, No. 57

Editor’s Comment

Possibly the greatest error in psychiatry today is the lack of recognition of the physical causes of mental disorders. Millions of people with treatable metabolic, dietary, medical, allergic, and other physical disorders are labeled with mental illness when they are, in fact, manifesting psychiatric symptoms solely or primarily from body conditions.

The negative effect of this medical error on our society is almost incalculable. The physical disorders go untreated and can thus worsen. People suffer the stigma and debilitation of mental illness for life when they may not have a brain disorder at all but a simple treatable medical problem. Most are put on meds which cause further unwanted physical and mental effects.

To help practitioners understand the mind-body connection, Safe Harbor has created a new poster called The Great Pretenders: Medical Problems That Can Look Like Mental Disorders. We hope to unveil it at our upcoming medical conference, Non-Pharma IV, discussed below. It will list virtually every physical cause of serious mental symptoms.

If you have not attended one of our Non-Pharma conferences before, you are in for a real treat. It is an amazing weekend with people who understand that mental disorders are treatable. We always get feedback on how happy attendees are to be amongst presenters and attendees who “get it,” who view mental health treatment with hope and optimism.

I hope to see you there!

Safe Harbor’s 2005 Medical Conference, June 4-5



Safe Harbor’s Fourth Annual Medical Conference:

“Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Mental Disorders”

Open to the general public as well.

Join Safe Harbor and the nation’s leading voices on safe, non-drug treatments for the mentally unwell.

  • When: Saturday, June 4, 2004, 8:30 AM to 6 PM; Sunday, June 5, 2004, 8:30 AM to 5:30 PM
  • Where: Glendale Hilton Hotel, Glendale, CA (just outside Los Angeles). The Hilton is next to downtown Glendale with an array of nearby shopping, restaurants, theaters, etc.
  • Fees: Before May 19: $140 for both days (lunch not included) After May 19: $170 (lunch not included)
  • Day Rates Available
  • 15 hours of Continuing Medical Education (CME) for physicians ($160 extra)
  • 15 Continuing Educational Units (CEU) for California nurses, LSCWs, and MFTs ($60 extra)

Register by phone – (323) 257-7338, email –

or online at:

Seating is limited!

With nearly a dozen speakers, presentations will include:

Vitamin D and Mental Health:  John Jacob Cannell, MD, Executive Director, Vitamin D Council, Psychiatrist, Atascadero State Hospital, with little-known research on the pervasiveness of vitamin D deficiency.

The Crazy Makers:  How Food Additives and Processed Foods Contribute to the Rise in Mental Disorders:  Carol Simontacchi, MS, CCN, Nationally-renowned Author, Columnist, and Radio Host, speaking on the hazards of modern-day fast foods.

Neurotoxicity of Fluoride in our Water:  David Kennedy, DDS, past president of the International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology and world lecturer on the safety of dental materials, examines the research on how fluoride and water fluoridation affect mental health.

The Role of Infection and Xenobiotics (Toxins) in Behavior Disorders:  Aristo Vojdani, PhD, immunology expert, author of over 90 scientific papers, holder of 10 patents and CEO of Immunoscience Lab.

The Integrative Medicine Approach to Depression and Anxiety – With Case Histories:  Joseph Sciabbarrasi, MD, details his protocols in treating depression and anxiety from a holistic perspective.

Is It Mental or Is It Dental? – Part 2 – How Mercury Fillings, Root Canals, Temporo-Mandibular Joint (TMJ) Syndrome, and Other Dental Issues Affect Mental Health:  Raymond Silkman, DDS, practicing holistic dentistry, orthodontics, and treatment of TMJ and related disorders since 1992, returns to our conference by popular demand to further discuss the relationship of dental problems and mental health.

The Importance of Methylation in Psychiatric Disorders:  Nancy Mullan, MD, nutritional psychiatrist, Safe Harbor medical advisor, reviews one of the most critical nutritional biochemical cycles which, when faulty, can contribute to autism, schizophrenia, depression, and bipolar disorder.

Natural Treatments for Postpartum Depression:  Nancy Lins, ND, Hawaiian specialist in postpartum health, on the common physical contributors to and nondrug solutions for the post-birth blues.

Can Visual Correction Improve Symptoms of ADHD, Anxiety, Depression, Learning Disorders, and other Mental Symptomology?  Herbert Solomon, OD, presents his research spanning forty years on the remarkable connection between vision and mental health and how visual correction can improve it.

Safe Harbor’s 2005 Recovery Panel:  6 people tell there personal stories of recovery without drugs.

And MUCH, MUCH more…

(ACAM-approved. Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, Provider Number 13857 for 15 contact hours – Course meets the qualifications for 15 hours of continuing education credit for MFT and/or LCSWs as required by the California Board of Behavioral Sciences – CA BBS Prov. No.: PC2516- No refunds after May 27.)


On Wednesday, May 11, Safe Harbor will hold it’s monthly Los Angeles support group featuring an hour of group discussion followed by a presentation by one of our most popular speakers, Prof. James Croxton. Prof. Croxton, who has taught nutritional mental health for over 30 years, will speak on brain nutrition with a focus on Vitamin B-12 and tryptophan.

The meeting place will be at Glendale Adventist Medical Center.

Please RSVP to the Safe Harbor office at (626) 791-7868.

When: 7PM-9PM, Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Where: Glendale Adventist Medical Center Committee Room C 1509 Wilson Terrace Glendale, California (Note: Parking lot is a maximum of $6 – there is free street parking outside the lot.)


If you have a new postal mailing or e-mail address, please send it to, so that we can keep our databases current. We will be sending out the information on this year’s fourth annual medical conference (Non-Pharmaceutical Approaches to Mental Disorders) soon, so don’t miss out. Send us your updates. Thanks.


Would you like to find out how the GI (Glycemic Index) Diet could help your mental and emotional health and well-being, as well as being effective for weight loss?


  1. Back issue no. 1 of the project’s newsletter contains key facts about the Glycemic Index and mood:

  1. The Mind Meal, featuring:
  • Wheat-free pasta with pesto sauce and oil-rich fish
  • Avocado salad and seeds
  • Fruit and oatcake dessert
  • no wheat, no dairy:

“The Mind Meal is an excellent idea — good, simple food that can help you to feel different about life. I have found that eating regularly enough to keep my sugar levels from dropping and choosing food that isn’t enormously processed does seem to keep me on a more even keel.” — Nigella Lawson (Top UK TV chef and columnist) in The Sunday Express

  1. Order your copy of the Food and Mood Handbook and read Chapter 8, “Emotional Roller-coaster Rides,” featuring a 10-point plan for controlling blood sugar levels:

The Food and Mood Project: dietary self-help for emotional and mental health. Started in 1998 with a MIND Millennium Award.

PETITION TO IRISH MEDICINE BOARD (you need not be Irish to sign)

Safe Harbor received the following from Dublin, Ireland:

I am an Emergency nurse in Cork University Hospital. I have launched a public government petition to improve the way prescription drugs are regulated in Ireland once licenced to trade. After losing my husband to SSRIs-induced suicide when the dangerous adverse effects of these drugs were not all made public as the pharmaceuticals withheld the necessary safety information for financial gains causing harm as a result. This present system needs to change.

Nothing is going to bring my husband back, but if only one family is spared the devastation we had to go through, this petition would have been well worth launching.

SSRIs can produce in patients exactly what they are supposed to treat. The unproven “brain chemical imbalance” hypothesis regarding depression is just that — a hypothesis. Nobody knows the normal levels of Serotonin in a live brain. No abnormality of serotonin in depression has ever been demonstrated. Even if a biochemical imbalance were found in some depressed patients, this would not necessarily mean that it was the cause of the problem. This would be like saying that someone whose headache is relieved by aspirin has an aspirin deficiency. The term “anti-depressant” is misleading because it implies a definitive treatment for a definitive condition, neither of which is the case.

The Irish Medicine Board is failing to prevent and warn about potential harm of drugs by acting upon the information promptly and making it available to consumers and health care professionals. The Irish Medicine Board is funded 100% by pharmaceuticals.

This petition calls for:

  • Full publication of clinical trial data
  • A central position for the experience of consumers in the licensing and regulation of prescription drugs, including by taking proper account of reports of adverse reactions by consumers
  • Regulatory authorities to be free of influence of pharmaceutical companies and to act in the public interest only.

See also my article on The treatment of depression and the hidden dangers of the SSRIs antidepressants:

— Nuria O’Mahony


Following a landmark challenge in the European Courts of Justice (ECJ) brought by the Alliance for Natural Health and Nutri-Link Ltd. to the controversial Food Supplements Directive, which effectively proposed to ban 75% of vitamin and mineral forms, Advocate General Geelhoed, the senior adviser to the ECJ, gave his Opinion in favor of the Alliance’s case.

What does this mean? That the chances of consumers being able to continue using the natural food supplements they believe are beneficial to their health are now greatly increased. There has been uproar about the proposed EU ban, which we have been following in recent issues of this ezine under the heading of “Codex Alimentarius” — legal codes related to food and food supplements.

In a statement released in Luxembourg April 5, the Advocate General concluded that:

  • The Food Supplements Directive infringes the principle of proportionality because basic principles of Community law, such as the requirements of legal protection, of legal certainty and of sound administration have not properly been taken into account.
  • It is therefore invalid under EU law.

It should be stressed that the Advocate General’s pronouncement is not a ruling. That will come from the ECJ judges, later – probably around June. But in the vast majority of cases, the Court Judgment follows the recommendations of the Advocate General.

If the Advocate General’s recommendations are adopted, in effect, the ban on vitamin and mineral forms not included on the EU’s “Positive list,” due to come into effect on 1 August 2005, will be declared illegal. In essence, the positive list of allowable nutrient forms will be deemed to be too narrow, too restrictive, and based on flawed science.

This would avoid the totally irrational situations that the Food Supplements Directive would otherwise create. For example, synthetically produced selenium would have been allowed on the positive list, while the natural source found in Brazil nuts would not; synthetic forms of Vitamin E (often used in “adverse” vitamin studies reported in the media) would be allowed, but the natural, most beneficial food forms would not.

“It is commendable that the EU Advocate General has seen through the flawed science and law of the Food Supplements Directive and reached his recommendations today,” said Dr. Robert Verkerk, Executive Director of the Alliance for Natural Health (ANH). “All that ANH is campaigning and working cooperatively for is the right for consumers to have access to safe natural healthcare and for legislation to be based on good science and good law. This is a great day for the tens of millions of people who believe passionately in the benefits of natural, preventative healthcare.”

David C. Hinde, Solicitor and ANH Legal Director, added: “This is a very significant opinion in a landmark case. What we want to see in the EU is the Food Supplements Directive doing the job for which it was created which is to provide a “safe harbor” for food supplements so that they are not classified as drugs, and to promote their availability across the EU.”


About 48 tons of mercury are released into the air annually in the United States from hundreds of coal-burning plants. In their vicinity, the incidence of autism is higher, according to a study published in March by Claudia Miller, a professor at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio.

Autism, a developmental disorder marked by communication and social interaction problems, increased with proximity to these polluters. “The main finding is that for every thousand pounds of environmentally released mercury, we saw a 17 percent increase in autism rates,” Miller told interviewers.

The study looked at Texas county-by-county levels of mercury emissions recorded by the government and compared them to the rates of autism and special education services in 1,200 Texas school districts.

“Autism has increased dramatically over the last decade or so and the reasons for that have really stumped the medical community,” Miller said. “Now we think that due to the rising exposures in pollutants like mercury, they may be at the root of some of these cases.”

The Bush administration last month ordered power plants to cut mercury pollution by 50 percent within 15 years, but environmentalists said the action fell short of what was needed. Moreover, the EPA plans to control mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants by setting an emission standard for mercury and then allowing plants to trade emissions up to a certain cap. This “cap and trade” approach would permit pollution “hot spots” in certain areas such as the Great Lakes as long as they were offset by reduced emissions elsewhere.

In a page headlined “Clean Air Markets,” the EPA website stresses the benefits of this “industry-friendly” approach which has been used to curb acid rain and sulfur dioxide pollution in specific areas. Critics point out that mercury is a potent neurotoxin and its emissions are much more than an air quality issue. Allowance trading lends itself to the buildup of pollution “hot spots” including — in the case of mercury — the Great Lakes area. tells us:

“Mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants are most dangerous to humans when they deposit in bodies of water. In an aquatic environment, mercury is converted to the toxin methylmercury, which is then absorbed by living tissue, particularly in fish. Humans generally absorb mercury into their bloodstreams through consuming fish.

“High levels of mercury in the blood can cause irreversible neurological damage. It is particularly dangerous for pregnant women and children. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 15.7 percent, or one in six, women of child-bearing age has an unacceptably high level of methylmercury in their blood. EPA predicts that about 630,000 children are born each year with unsafe levels of mercury in their blood. The CDC study also found greater levels of mercury in the bloodstreams of black and Mexican Americans than in non-Hispanic white Americans.”

Some definitions from the EPA’s own website:

  • An emissions “cap”: a limit on the total amount of pollution that can be emitted from all regulated sources (e.g., power plants); the cap is set lower than historical emissions to cause reductions in emissions.
  • Allowance: an authorization to emit a fixed amount of a pollutant.
  • Allowance trading: sources can buy or sell allowances on the open market.


Attendance at group exercise classes can help reduce symptoms of depression in elderly patients, a 2002 British study suggests.

Eighty-six patients using antidepressants, aged between 53 and 91 years old, were recruited from primary care and psychiatric services, and by direct local advertisement, for the study carried out by researchers at the University of Dundee.

Forty-three patients were randomized to attend 45-minute exercise classes twice-weekly over ten weeks, while the remaining 43 controls were asked to attend twice-weekly health education talks at the university’s teaching hospital.

After ten weeks, significantly more of the exercise group had achieved a 30% decrease in their Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression scores compared with controls (55% vs 33%).

Reporting the results in the British Journal of Psychiatry, lead author Marion McMurdo and colleagues say that their study implies that “time-limited, brief, structured group exercise sessions can be associated with a modest improvement in depressive symptoms in a group of patients for whom response to pharmacological treatment may be limited.”

They conclude: “Our findings suggest that older people with poorly responsive depressive disorder should be encouraged to attend group exercise activities.”

(British Journal of Psychiatry 2002; 180: 411–415)


The multi-billion-pound pharmaceutical industry has turned the UK into an over-medicated society that believes in a pill for every ill, a House of Commons inquiry said in early April.

The MPs (Members of Pariament) heard evidence of “disease-mongering” drug firms effectively inventing diseases for which they could then sell treatments, with relatively normal behavior — from mild depression to low female sex drive — re-labeled as conditions for which drugs were supposedly necessary. Lord Warner, the health minister responsible for medicines, admitted to the inquiry: “I have some concerns that sometimes we do, as a society, wish to put labels on things which are just part and parcel of the human condition.”

The seven-month inquiry follows complaints from patients’ groups and senior doctors that the interests of the industry are distorting health care priorities. Prescriptions for Seroxat tripled after it was licensed for mild depression, while The Observer revealed earlier this year that it was being marketed to doctors as a treatment for ill-defined “social anxiety disorders.”

Drug firms are banned from advertising directly to patients in Britain, or offering bribes to doctors to prescribe a certain brand. To get around this, they resort to generously funding medical charities — which, the inquiry heard, tends to make them its “unwitting foot soldiers.”

One mental health charity, Depression Alliance, receives almost 80 per cent of its funding from drugs companies, while Arthritis Care received money from Merck Sharp and Dohme, maker of Vioxx.

Paul Flynn, the Labour MP who has campaigned to expose the influence of the industry and gave evidence to the committee, said it deserved an “absolute hammering” for its practices. “The whole of society has been conditioned to believe that we are dependent on medicines. I have had arthritis all my life and I haven’t taken anything for it – I believe in exercise, swimming and walking.”

The inquiry heard of drugs marketed to doctors in papers written for medical journals ostensibly by independent experts which are, in fact, ghostwritten by the firms, which pay academics to lend their names to the reports. Dr. Richard Horton, editor of the Lancet, disclosed he had been effectively offered bribes to publish papers showing drugs in a favorable light. He said firms offered to buy “hundreds of thousands of reprints” — up to half a million pounds in revenue for the magazine – if their paper were accepted.

In November, The Observer revealed that Seroxat’s manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) was trying to market the SSRI as a cure for relatively mild forms of depression, despite the fact that the drug has been linked to suicide. “The thrust was to move sales beyond the $1 billion to the $2 billion mark by pushing it to people who were not clinically depressed,” Professor David Healy told the select committee, while Richard Brook, chief executive of Mind, the mental health charity, told the MPs that the plan was “all about developing new conditions for that drug.”

The Observer recently reported that British GPs have largely ignored the advice of the Chief Medical Office that many depressed patients should be prescribed exercise programs rather than pills.


The popular supplement grape seed extract has received support from research that found it affects proteins in healthy brains in ways that could protect against age-related dementia.

“This is the first identification of specific molecules in mammalian tissues that are changed in response to oral intake of complex dietary supplements like grape seed extract,” says study senior author Helen Kim of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Using electrophoresis (a technique that separates charged molecules) followed by mass spectrometry, Kim and colleagues analyzed protein changes in the brains of rats fed a high but nontoxic amount of grape seed extract in their diet.

The researchers found that the direction of changes for several proteins were opposite those in diseased brain tissue, which Kim says means that the supplement could “protect against potentially pathologic changes that eventually lead to dementias.”

Since the studies were carried out in relatively young adult rats that weren’t aged or diseased, the findings suggest that grape seed extract and similar supplements could have a protective effect before the onset of age-related disease.

While grape seed extract is thought to derive some of its health benefits from its high content of highly antioxidant polyphenolic compounds, Kim says that the molecular basis of the antioxidant activities in target tissues has just begun to be studied.

The research is reported in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.


Dietary zinc supplementation (20 mg daily) helped seventh graders perform better in school in a 10-week study reported at the Experimental Biology 2005 meeting in San Diego, California (April 2-6, 2005).

In the study of 209 seventh graders who were not zinc deficient, those who consumed 4 ounces of fruit juice supplemented with 20 mg of zinc gluconate daily reduced their reaction time on a visual memory test by 12%, compared with 6% for students who received a placebo. They also had more correct answers on a word recognition test (9% vs 3%) and scored better on a task requiring sustained attention and vigilance (6% vs 1%).

Students given only 10 mg supplemental zinc daily, the current RDA for this age group, did not experience the same benefits. However, if the results of the new study are confirmed, both the RDA and the criteria for zinc deficiency should be reviewed.

Given that the test population was not zinc deficient by current standards, even more dramatic results may be possible in a markedly zinc deficient group, if the supplementation were adequate to offset the deficiency.

“Zinc supplementation has been shown to be related to motor, cognitive, and psychosocial function in older women and young children in the first and second grade, but this is the first study of its effects in adolescents,” study author Dr. James G. Penland told Reuters Health.

“Adolescence is a critical period of rapid growth physically, emotionally and mentally. That coupled with the fact that zinc is one of the nutrients that adolescents do not consume in recommended amounts led us to this study,” he added.

Supplemental zinc did not appear to improve motor or psychosocial functioning in the current study, but conduct problems did increase by 10% in girls receiving placebo.