This third article in a series on natural treatment of psychological disorders focuses on schizophrenia, sometimes confused with multiple personality disorder and bipolar disorder (the focus of the secondarticle - see last month's issue).  The information contained in this article is backed by research which is available upon request.

Schizophrenia

            A common thread among depression, BPD, and schizophrenia is their amelioration with high omega 3 consumption, specifically with a high proportion of EPA.  In schizophrenia, there is a tendency toward hyperlipidemia and the ratio of low density lipoprotein (LDL) to HDL is improved by omega 3 supplementation.  Fish oil (omega 3) supplementation may also help to reduce brain shrinkage seen with schizophrenia or other disorders with a history of anti-psychotic administration.  Since the positive effects of EPA are inhibited by docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) in schizophrenia, supplementation should be limited to EPA only, rather than the standard fish oil supplements that contain both EPA and DHA.

            Brain size and function may also be affected by diminishing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which is responsible for dendritic proliferation.  The lower BDNF levels may be largely due to the nutrient-deficient standard western diet.  For the purposes of treatment with an orthomolecular (the right nutritional molecule) approach, BDNF may be supplemented homeopathically. 

            Another common thread among depression, BPD, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and schizophrenia is amelioration with elevated serotonin levels.  Here again we find application for magnesium, since magnesium is directly correlated with serotonin generation and receptivity.  Serotonin levels also depend on the precursor amino acid tryptophan.  The level of tryptophan has been shown to affect both cognitive function and symptoms in schizophrenia, so that supplementation of tryptophan may be helpful for schizophrenia. 

            Glycine, a calming and detoxifying amino acid, at an adequate dosage level, doubled glycine levels in cerebrospinal fluid.  Doses of glycine at 30 grams improved the typical flat affect in schizophrenia, as well as social withdrawal and apathy.  Elevated dietary refined sugar worsened symptoms, so that dietary restriction of these sugars is appropriate.  Significantly elevated glutamate and significantly low methionine have also been found in schizophrenia.  Methionine supplementation may be appropriate for schizophrenia, with the additional benefits that relate to mood as used for depression.  Dietary glutamate in monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be a culprit.  Given the potential relationship, restriction of dietary consumption of MSG would also seem prudent.