Alternative Mental Health News, No. 61

Editor’s note

Safe Harbor has been fortunate over the years to work with some of the world’s brilliant innovators in the field of alternative mental health treatment. One of those people is Dr. Jeffrey Sager, a naturopath working at a psychiatric hospital in New England.

When Dr. Sager sought a research grant to develop a system for replicating his natural healing methods in other psychiatric facilities, the foundation he applied to told him they wanted a recommendation from an authority in the field he was working in.

We are proud to say that Dr. Sager asked Safe Harbor for the authorization and we were pleased to give the foundation a much-deserved glowing account of Dr. Sager’s work. The grant was approved and Dr. Sager’s study was done.

The report on his study has just been released and is described below. Dr. Sager deserves great credit for not only creating a niche for himself in the mental health facility he works in but also for thinking big and working to expand naturopathic treatments beyond his own sphere.


A number of years ago Jeffrey Sager, ND, managed to set up a naturopathic treatment center within the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester (New Hampshire).  Clients seeking a non-drug or “natural treatment” route would be directed to Jeff and he would, essentially, direct the case as the primary physician.

More recently Dr. Sager procured a grant from the Ittleson Foundation of New York State to establish a “module” for how naturopathic treatment could be implemented in psychiatric hospitals across the nation.

Jeff and his team have completed the work and have released a concise but thorough (actual text is 17 pages) report called “Integration of Naturopathic Medicine in a Traditional Behavioral Health System.”  It includes legal issues, insurance, marketing, how to dovetail with standard treatment practices, etc.

An excellent case history follows a woman who had a history of suicide attempts, six hospitalizations, ECT, and a host of other problems.  Twenty-one months later she was doing far better and was free of psych meds, had lost 60 pounds, and had quit her smoking habit of 30 years.

There is no mention in the report of how to get reprints but Safe Harbor was e-mailed a pdf file of the document so we suggest contacting Dr. Sager’s office for that at (603) 623-1916. His e-mail address is


Julia Ross, author of The Mood Cure and The Diet Cure and a pioneer in nutritional psychology, presents professional training in her remarkable amino acid therapies for mood problems. Full information is as follows:

Professional Training and Continuing Education* opportunity:

“Amino Acid Therapy: Eliminating Negative Emotions and False Appetites That Block Healing”

Including Proven Alternatives to Antidepressants

Saturday and Sunday, December 2-3, 2006
Universal City, California

Learn to use targeted amino acids and other effective natural tools to eliminate depression, anxiety, irritability, chronic sadness, apathy, over-stress, insomnia, fibromyalgia, cravings for foods, alcohol and drugs, and other symptoms of neurotransmitter deficiency.

This training will provide specific skills for identifying and correcting key imbalances in the mood and appetite-regulating chemistry of the brain and body using the holistic strategies that have been developed during the last 19 years in the instructor’s successful California clinic.

*Continuing Education contact hours available for California naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, nurses, MFTs and LCSWs; Nationally certified CE provider for nutritionists (NANP) and acupuncturists (NCCAOM) from any state.

For training details and registration information, go


It is with great pleasure that we relay the following information from Lewis Mehl-Madrona, M.D., integrative psychiatrist, the author of Coyote Medicine and other books, and a member of Safe Harbor’s listserv for professionals:

I want to announce the formation of a new membership organization which I hope many professionals will join.  Our first international conference will be in Maui, Hawaii, in November 2007, and we are interested in receiving proposals from anyone who wishes to present.   We are the Association for Integrative Psychiatry, P.O. Box 250, Colven, NY 14033.  We will have a web site soon.

Dr. Mehl-Madrona’s email address is


Oslo teens who drank the most sugary soft drinks had the highest incidence of “hyperactivity and distress” in a survey of more than 5,000 15- and 16-year-olds concluded in late September by Dr. Lars Lien and colleagues at the University of Oslo, Norway.

They surveyed the students, asking them how many sugared carbonated soft drinks they consumed per day, followed by questions from a standardized mental health questionnaire.

Not surprisingly, the teens who reported skipping breakfast and lunch were among the heaviest soft drink consumers.

“There was a strong association between soft drink consumption and mental health problems among Oslo 10th graders,” said Dr. Lien’s report, published in the American Journal of Public Health. “This association remained significant after adjustment for social, behavioral and food-related disorders.”

Most of the students said they drank anywhere between one and six servings of soft drinks per week. Whereas those who drank no soft drinks at all were reportedly more likely than moderate consumers to have mental health symptoms, the worst scores corresponded to the heaviest consumption–more than six servings per week.

For hyperactivity, there was a direct linear relationship — the more sodas a teen drank, the most symptoms of hyperactivity he or she had.

The worst problems were seen in boys and girls who drank four or more soft drinks a day. Ten percent of the boys and 2 percent of the girls drank this much.

The researchers said it was possible that other substances in the soft drinks, such as caffeine, were to blame for the symptoms, and they did not check other possible sources of refined sugar in the children’s diets.

But they said many of the teens were clearly drinking too many sugary drinks. Norway’s recommended intake is 10 percent of the day’s total calories from sugar and the researchers said at least a quarter of the boys were getting this much from soft drinks alone.

“One simple and effective measure to reduce soft drink consumption in this age group would be to remove soft drink machines from schools and other public places where adolescents gather,” they wrote.


The October-November 2006 issue of ScienceDirect (Volume 75, Issues 4-5, Pages 221-350) is entirely devoted to “The Emerging Role of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Psychiatry.” Editor Robert K. McNamara and colleagues examine the subject from a variety of angles in the title editorial and eleven scientific papers. Some highlights follow.

In the paper “Cultural symbolism of fish and the psychotropic properties of omega-3 fatty acids,” L.C. Reis and J.R. Hibbeln speculate that cultures have revered fish for thousands of years because of the positive effects of omega-3 fatty acids on mental well-being. They suggest using this perception of fish as a “symbolically healing or purifying food” in public health awareness campaigns.

Another article outlines a “potential molecular mechanism by which omega-3 fatty acids could contribute to the pathophysiology and treatment of recurrent neuropsychiatric illness.” (R. McNamara, M. Ostrander, W. Abplanalp, N. Richtand, S. Benoit and D. Clegg, “Modulation of phosphoinositide-protein kinase C signal transduction by omega-3 fatty acids: Implications for the pathophysiology and treatment of recurrent neuropsychiatric illness.”)

“Omega-3 fatty acids and monoamine neurotransmission” by S. Chalon reports on a study of rats chronically diet-deficient in alpha-linolenic acid, with resulting alteration of several neurotransmission systems and possible implications for humans.

“Omega-3 fatty acids and perinatal depression: A review of the literature and recommendations for future research” (M.P. Freeman), tells us: “Two pilot studies suggest good tolerability and potential efficacy in the acute treatment of perinatal [occurring in the period shortly before or after birth] depression.”

“Omega-3 fatty acid status in attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder” notes: “Lower levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, particularly omega-3 fatty acids, in blood have repeatedly been associated with a variety of behavioral disorders including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).” The authors explore dietary pattern differences in a sample of the Purdue student population that might help account for this. (Antalis, Stevens, Campbell, Pazdro, Ericson and Burgess)

“Several lines of evidence suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may be important in the pathophysiology, treatment or prevention of bipolar disorder,” begins the abstract of “Omega-3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: Clinical and research considerations” (Marangell, Suppes, et al.) “Electronic and manual searches were conducted in order to review the literature relevant to the etiology and treatment of BDs with omega-3 fatty acids.”

Evidence implicating omega-3 fatty acid levels in a number of physical conditions associated with schizophrenia is presented in “The metabolic syndrome, omega-3 fatty acids and inflammatory processes in relation to schizophrenia (M. Peet).

Omega-3 fatty acids were twice as prevalent in the American diet in 1940 as today, when they have been displaced by the soya, corn, and sunflower oils prevalent in food processing. All authors were in agreement in encouraging further research into the mental benefits of this key nutrient.


[Editor’s Note: Five years ago, in our discussions with Patrick Holford, England’s leading nutritionist, he informed us that 80% of his bipolar patients have blood sugar imbalances such as hypoglycemia—so the following “discovery” is not a surprise to many forward-thinking practitioners.]

Canadian researchers reporting in the July issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry have found that people manifesting bipolar symptoms tend to develop a metabolic syndrome that includes blood sugar dysregulation, specifically after they have started on medication.

“My interest was stimulated when I was a resident and had to admit a patient with bipolar disorder as an inpatient,” co-investigator Dr. Valerie Taylor told Reuters Health. “There I found that five of seven patients with bipolar disorder on the inpatient unit were on insulin because they had diabetes. That had to be more than a coincidence.”

Prior to being medicated, bipolars have the same rate of blood sugar imbalances as the general population. However, Dr. Taylor adds, “Once they begin treatment for their mood disorder, they rapidly develop metabolic syndrome.”

Although evidence has shown conclusively in recent years that some antipsychotic medication commonly used in treating bipolar disorder dramatically increase the likelihood of developing diabetes, Dr. Taylor and Dr. Glenda MacQueen conclude that other factors were also involved.

Their analysis of 97 studies showed that lifestyle issues such as smoking, high alcohol consumption, poor diet and reduced physical activity were contributing factors.

Another contributor appears to be the effect of stress on activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis, and immune function.

Interestingly, a conclusion not reached by the researchers—but which appears evident from the data—is that a non-medication approach to bipolar treatment could conceivably reduce the risk of this “metabolic syndrome” and the physical detriment that follows.


Australian Nutritionist Blake Graham has long been a contributor to Safe Harbor’s pool of informational resources with his outstanding web site at and his frequent incisive contributions to our listserv for professionals, Integrative Psychiatry.

We have referred to his web pages as, literally, encyclopedic sources of information on natural treatments for those suffering symptoms of bipolar, schizophrenia, and other mental unwellness.

Graham has created a great page for natural aids to sleep. It is located at

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