Feeding the Body and the Mind
by Irene Chwalkowski , The Suburban
You are what you eat.
We’ve all heard this before, But according to nutritional consultant Rosalie Moscoe, it’s no cliche.
In fact, according to Moscoe, what we feed our bodies has a profound effect not only on our physical well-being, but it’s integral to maintaining good mental health as well. Moscoe was one of the speakers at a lecture recently sponsored by the Montreal Chapter of the International Schizophrenia Foundation.
Key on the foundation’s agenda is to bring awareness to the public of a for of therapy called orthomolecular nutrition. Orthomolecular medicine, developed by psyshiatrist Dr. Abram Hoffer, promotes the practice of providing the body with optimal amounts of substances that are natural to the body as a way to prevent and treat disease.
The notion is that depletions of essential vitamins–particularly the B vitamins such as niacin–nutrients, fatty acids, hormones and even a sugar imbalance, can lead to illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and autism.
Treatment consists of supplying the body with large doses of the depleted nutrients so that the biochemical imbalance will right itself. “Both the medical profession and our culture in general have tended to ignore the role of nutrition in mental health,” Moscoe said.
“I was seeing a young schizophrenic patient and he was doing well; he was bright. One day he came to see me and he was unresponsive and flat. I asked him what he had eaten that day. He said he hadn’t eaten anything. It was 3 in the afternoon!” se said, adding that the brain needs to be fed just as the body does.
As Dr. Hoffer says, there is no steel plate in the neck.
The medical profession has been slow to accept orthomolecular nutrition as a viable treatment for mental health problems. Foundation president Sara Sochaczevski said part of the problem is that traditional medical schools do not teach doctors enough about nutrition. “Psychiatrists are trained in psychotherapy. They’re not prepared to think outside the bos,” Sochaczevski siad.
Dr. Fiore Lalla, chief of psychiatry and director of medical services at the Lakeshore General Hospital, admitted he doesn’t know much about orthomolecular nutrition because there isn’t much literature on the subject.
Nonetheless, he does see a connection between nutriton and health. “I think that in general, not enough attention is being paid to nutrition.” Patients need to become pro-=active and ask their doctors more questions about nutrition, he said. “Everyone should have as least one session with a dieticin and get good sound advice,” Lalla said.
Fo Sochaczevski, the only way orthomolecular therapy will get recognized is if patients ask for it.
“It’s going to start at the grassroots level. It’s going to take patients going to do this (therapy),” she said.
While Sochaczevski supports the treatment, she is quick to state that patients on orthomolecular therapy still need to take traditional medications to control their symptoms. “This is a therapy that should be taken in conjunction with your regular medication,” she said. “Over time your medications may be reduced by your doctor.” Moscoe agrees.
“Never go off your meds abruptly,” she said. “Today’s medication are very potent. If they are stopped abruptly you will relapse.” Sochaczevski suggests that anyone considering orthomolecular nutritional therapy read the literature first.
If they find a doctor or naturopath trained in the field, they should also work in conjunction with their regular doctor to make sure all parties are working together toward the same goal.
Moscoe said that people must take charge of their own health. ”We have to restore our body. Orthomolecular therapy, along with medication, results in better outcomes.”