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Twenty-Nine Medical Causes
Excerpted from Nutrition and Mental
the late Carl C. Pfeiffer, Ph.D., M.D. [newsbanner.htm]
Internationally renowned pioneer in the
treatment of mental disturbances through nutrition.
(Our grateful acknowledgement to the
Princeton Bio Brain Center for permission to reprint.
Following Dr. Pfeiffer’s text are sections added by the
editor to define and explain each disorder.)
The term "schizophrenia" is an inadequate and
misleading diagnosis. "Disperceptions of unknown cause"
is a better term.
If we include fevers, environmental pains, and drug
reactions, there must be a hundred ways to go crazy and
be diagnosed as schizophrenic.
A comprehensive list of possible causes for
disperceptions that cause schizophrenia is shown in the
Causes of Schizophrenia – well-known,
less-known, and almost unknown
– copper excess
amantadine, anti-viral drugs
deficient in MAO (monoamine
This is a form of syphilis which generally affects
patients in their 40s or 50s. Increased behavioral
deterioration occurs and the person may be believed to
have a "psychiatric illness" or Alzheimer’s disease.
Symptoms can include convulsions, irritability,
difficulty in concentrating, deterioration of memory,
defective judgment, headaches, insomnia, fatigue,
lethargy, deteriorated hygiene emotional instability,
depression, and delusions of grandeur with lack of
insight. The patient gradually progresses toward
dementia and paralysis.
A disease caused by a lack of Vitamin B3
(niacin) in the diet or poor absorption of the vitamin.
It is common throughout the world but infrequent in the
U.S. It primarily strikes those lacking protein in their
diets or who have a high corn diet or are unable to
assimilate the vitamin. Symptoms often begin with
weakness, listlessness, insomnia, and weight loss.
Exposed skin becomes red and scaly. Loss of appetite,
indigestion, and diarrhea occur. As the disease
progresses the nervous system is impacted, manifesting
symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, aches, muscle
tremors and mental disturbances.
Porphyria is an inherited disease, usually first
manifesting after puberty, that prevents the synthesis
of heme, the part of blood that carries oxygen and makes
blood red. There are a number of types of porphyria,
some from bone marrow and others from the liver.
Neurological symptoms frequently occur in those stemming
from the liver. A review of 2500 psychiatric patients
showed a 1.5% occurrence of porphyria.
Porphyria is identified by port-colored urine and
feces which darken on exposure to light. Additional
symptoms can be loss of vision, sensitivity to light,
aches and pains, acne, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation,
and abnormal fat metabolism.
Mental and neurological symptoms include
irritability, confusion, delirium, psychosis,
depression, hallucinations, seizures, altered
consciousness, mood swings, and paralysis. Genetic
carriers can experience mood swings and body pain while
exhibiting no other signs of the
This is characterized by insufficient production of
thyroid hormone. It can also be caused by poor
metabolism of the thyroid hormone. The general net
result is a slowing of the metabolism. This ailment is
thoroughly covered in Dr. Broda Barnes’
Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. Broda’s
book discusses the fact that hypothyroidism may not
show up on standard blood tests and further testing
may be required (covered in the book).
Physical symptoms can include weight increase,
sensitivity to cold, coarsened features, thinning hair,
dry puffy skin, pallor, hoarseness, slurred speech,
night blindness, difficulty hearing, vision loss,
migraines, constipation, edema, anemia, joint pain,
slowed pulse, muscle aches, and weakness, and low
Mental symptoms include terrifying dreams,
obsessions, frightening hallucinations, paranoia,
suicidal ruminations, psychosis, depression, emotional
instability, delusions, fear, suspiciousness,
resentment, auditory or visual hallucinations, paranoia
Hypothyroidism often first manifests as a result of
The book Natural Healing for Schizophrenia
reports that 10% of patients diagnosed with
"schizophrenia" have been found to have thyroid
imbalances. It has been estimated that up to 20% of
women over 60 have evidence of
This is self-evident.
The compound homocysteine is normally not found in
the blood or urine in noteworthy amounts.
Homocysteinuria is a metabolic disorder resulting in an
excessive accumulation of homocysteine in the blood and
urine. Frequency of occurrence is 1 in 100,000
Elevated homocysteine levels are a risk factor for
all kinds of vascular disease including strokes and
heart ailments. Homocysteinuria can result in mental
retardation and seizures.
Folic acid (Vitamin B9) is needed for forming body
protein and hemoglobin. It is also needed to utilize
B12. Folic acid and B12 work
together to metabolize carbohydrates, fats, and proteins
and to form red blood cells. Older people are
most at risk for developing B12 deficiencies.
Also, surgical removal of part of the intestine can lead
to B12 deficiency.
B12 deficiency is the cause of pernicious
anemia, characterized by a gradual reduction in the
number of red blood cells and by gastrointestinal and
nervous disturbances. Eighty percent of pernicious
anemia patients show neurological changes and 60%
exhibit personality changes.
Physical symptoms of folic acid deficiency include
fatigue and weakness, paleness, red, sore tongue,
lesions in the corner of the mouth, burning feet,
restless leg syndrome, shortness of breath, nausea,
vomiting and, rarely, diarrhea.
Physical symptoms of B12 deficiency
include weakness in the arms and legs (sometimes being
mistaken for multiple sclerosis) in addition to the
signs of pernicious anemia.
Mental symptoms of B12 or folic acid
deficiency includes confusion, fatigue, poor memory,
difficulty concentrating or learning, and mental
lethargy. It can be mistaken for Alzheimer’s in older
patients. Additional mental disturbances include: loss
of alertness, drive, self-confidence, and independence,
social withdrawal, nervous irritability, headaches,
insomnia, moodiness, severe agitation, lack of
coordination, anxiety, delusions of persecution, and
mania. Deficiency may also induce auditory
hallucinations, psychosis, and
Lack of sleep can occur a number of ways. Total sleep
deprivation is complete absence of sleep. Partial is
insufficient sleep night after night. Sleep can also
appear to be sufficient in amount yet be poor in
quality. This occurs with sleep apnea, marked by heavy
snoring and occasional gasps for air – the person is
awakened often hundreds of times a night without knowing
it, gulping air due to a closed airway in the
Sleep deprivation symptoms include irritability,
fatigue, blurred vision, slurring of speech, memory
lapses, and inability to concentrate. In extreme stages
bizarre behavior and hallucinations can
Heavy Metal Toxicity
Heavy metals is the term used for a group of elements
that have particular weight characteristics. They are on
the "heavier" end of the periodic table of elements.
Some heavy metals – such as cobalt, copper, iron,
manganese, molybdenum, vanadium, strontium, and zinc –
are essential to health in trace amounts. Others are
non-essential and can be harmful to health in excessive
amounts. These include cadmium, antimony, chromium,
mercury, lead, and arsenic – these last three being the
most common in cases of heavy metal toxicity.
Sources of toxicity can include environmental, water
supply, industrial, hobbies, and others, thus a full
history of the person’s work and living habits can help
pinpoint potential heavy metal sources.
As an example of the scope of a heavy metal’s
toxicity, lead can affect the nervous system,
gastrointestinal system, cardiovascular system, blood
production, kidneys, and reproductive system.
Lead toxicity physical symptoms include a
combinations of gastrointestinal complaints, anemia and
neurological problems; also headaches and convulsions.
Mental symptoms include restlessness, insomnia,
irritability, confusion, excitement, anxiety, delusions,
and disturbing dreams
Arsenic symptoms include stomach problems,
neurological troubles, kidney failure, increased
pigmentation of soles, palms, or other areas, garlic
odor on breath, excessive salivation, progressive
blindness, and others. Mental symptoms include apathy,
dementia, and anorexia.
Mercury toxicity has been linked to, among other
things, mercury dental fillings, particularly when
people have a large number of them. Symptoms include a
metallic taste in the mouth, excess salivation,
gingivitis, tremors, stomach and kidney troubles. Mental
symptoms include shyness, irritability, apathy and
depression, psychosis, mental deterioration, and
This is a common condition of an abnormally low level
of sugar in the blood. Sugar levels frequently change
throughout the day and may be normal sometimes and
abnormal at others. Symptoms include weakness,
shakiness, excess hunger, anxiety, outbursts, faintness,
headaches, passing out, delirium, coma, hallucinations,
excess sweating, the appearance of intoxication, marked
personality changes, irritability, negativism, mood
swings, depression, crying spells, and a panorama of
similar mental symptoms.
Numerous patients given psychiatric diagnoses have
actually turned out to have hypoglycemia, including
those classified with depression, manic-depressive
disorder, and schizophrenia.
Psychomotor epilepsy is also known as temporal lobe
epilepsy or complex partial seizures. Epilepsy is a
chronic brain disorder in which the electrical activity
of the brain is periodically temporarily interrupted
resulting in a seizure.
Not all seizures are jerking motions. In psychomotor
(mind-motion) epilepsy the seizures are manifested in
personality, emotional, thinking, and behavioral
changes. This condition is very likely to be
misdiagnosed as a mental disorder. People with
psychomotor epilepsy have been given schizophrenia,
manic depressive, depression, attention-deficit
disorder, and other diagnoses.
The disorder has cyclical phases. The pre-seizure
stage can last for hours or up to seven days with
symptoms of moodiness, depression, anxiety or constant
low-level anger, irritation, or annoyance, accompanied
by general unhappiness and constant arguments.
The seizure stage of 60 to 90 seconds can include
misperceptions of the environment, hallucinations, and
Between seizures, personality is affected by
excessive, tangential speech, overly emotional feelings,
and lack of sexual desire. Under physical or emotional
stress, psychotic episodes can occur.
An allergy is a negative sensitivity, usually to a
substance, which causes a physical reaction. Classical
responses include creation of blood antibodies,
histamine release, swelling, itching, runny nose, and
others. However, substances can cause many
negative reactions commonly not associated with
In the case of cerebral (brain) allergies – in which
the allergies affect the nervous system – reactions
include brain inflammation, irritability, fear,
depression, aggression, extreme mood swings in a single
day, hyperactivity, and psychosis.
A study of "schizophrenics" by Dr. William Philpott
showed allergic responses as follows: Wheat (64%),
Mature corn (51%), Pasteurized whole cow milk (50%),
Tobacco (75% with 10% becoming grossly psychotic with
delusions, hallucinations and particularly paranoia),
and Hydrocarbons (30% with weakness being common and
some participants reacting with delusions or suicidal
inclinations). Ninety-two percent of the patients showed
allergic responses with an average of ten items per
person causing reactions.
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and
oats that gives dough it’s sticky quality. An inability
to digest these grains is called celiac disease. It’s
been estimated that up to 20% of Americans have the
disease to some degree.
Studies have shown celiac disease to be inordinately
high in "schizophrenic" populations. Research removing
gluten and dairy products (which often seems to add to
the problem) from the diet of a locked ward resulted in
a significant improvement of patient behavior. See also
the Philpott study mentioned above under "Cerebral
Symptoms include mood swings (down after eating and
up after avoidance), severe depression, anxiety,
irritability, compulsive behavior, "schizophrenia"
symptoms, and other mental disorders.
Histapenia (hista-: histamine; -penia: deficiency of)
is a shortage of histamine in the body. Histamine is an
important brain chemical involved in many reactions. It
has been found that 50% of patients classified as
"schizophrenic" have low histamine levels in the blood
and it rises to normal as they improve.
These same patients are found to have high copper
levels. Elevated copper decreases blood histamine.
Excess copper is linked with psychosis.
According to Pfeiffer, people with histapenia tend to
have classic signs, including canker sores, difficult
orgasm with sex, no headaches or allergies, heavy growth
of body hair, ideas of grandeur, undue suspicion of
people, racing thoughts, the feeling that someone
controls one’s mind, seeing or hearing things
abnormally, ringing in the ears, and
This is a disorder, prominent in males, of too much
histamine in the blood. (Compare to histapenia above).
Estimated to affect 15-20% of patients classified as
Symptoms include hyperactivity, compulsions,
obsessions, inner tensions, blank mind episodes,
phobias, chronic depression, and strong suicidal
Physical signs can include little tolerance for pain,
rapid metabolism, lean build, profuse sweating, seasonal
allergies, and frequent colds.
A pyrrole is a chemical substance that is involved in
the formation of heme, which makes blood red. Pyrroles
bind with B6 and then with zinc, thus
depleting these nutrients. Abnormal production of
pyrroles and their appearance in the urine of psychotics
was first noticed in 1958 during LSD experimentation.
Approximately 15-30% of "schizophrenics" have pyroluria.
(At least 10% of these also have histamine
Symptoms include sweet, fruity breath and body odor,
general loss of appetite, motion sickness, problems with
sugar metabolism, allergies. Mental phenomena include
delusions, hallucinations, paranoia, occasional loss of
contact with reality, amnesia spells, and low stress
tolerance. Person has a tendency to have insight
(understand they have mental problems).
The ailment, which normally strikes females,
generally responds well to B6 and zinc
This is an inherited liver disorder named after
British neurologist Samuel Wilson. The small intestine
absorbs too much copper and the liver excretes too
little of it, resulting in a copper buildup in the liver
and brain. Onset is slow and begins between 11 and 25
years of age.
A wide array of symptoms occur, fitting a number of
psychiatric diagnoses, including "major depression,"
"schizophrenia," and "hysteria." Children with Wilson’s
disease can appear to be mentally retarded. Appetite
loss and weight loss can appear along with
hallucinations and delusions.
The physical manifestations of Wilson’s disease do
not appear until the late stages, thus it is easily
misdiagnosed as "psychiatric illness."
Refer to Dr. William Crook’s article on "Candida and
Mental Health" on this web site.
Candida is a yeast that lives in the body normally.
However, broad-spectrum antibiotics tend to kill off
Candida’s enemies in the body and can result in Candida
overgrowth. The yeasts put out toxins that can weaken
the immune system and cause a long list of symptoms.
Although psychosis is not a common manifestation of
Candida, it has occurred. Mental symptoms have included
fatigue, inability to concentrate, depression, mood
swings, anxiety, hyperactivity, delusions, "manic
depression," psychosis, and suicidal or violent
A chorea is a nervous disorder marked by involuntary
movements of the body and face and lack of coordination
of the limbs. Huntington’s chorea, a rare, inherited
illness named after American neurologist George
Huntington, is commonly labeled as "schizophrenia"
because of its progression of mental decline. Even when
involuntary movements appear, they may be mistaken for
drug side effects.
Huntington’s chorea usually appears in midlife.
Beginning symptoms can include irritability,
eccentricity and psychosis. Further signs include
paranoia, obstinacy , indifference, euphoria, and
violence. The disorder results in complete mental
deterioration. Dr. Abram Hoffer reports successfully
treating two cases with nutrition.
An important diagnostic tool in spotting Huntington’s
chorea is family history of the
Prostaglandins ("prosta": standing before; "glandin":
gland) are substances that act like hormones in the
body. They effect blood pressure, metabolism, body
temperature, and other important functions.
Prostaglandin levels that are too high or too low can
create symptoms. There are different kinds of
prostaglandins with specific functions, thus different
physical and mental reactions occur with imbalances in
each one. Elevated prostaglandin levels have been
observed in, for example, pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS).
Research has shown that high levels of a prostaglandin
called E2 coupled with low levels of one called E1 have
been seen as a major cause of certain forms of
depression. E2 is a central nervous system
It’s been observed that geographical regions with low
selenium levels in the soil and less sunshine have
higher rates of "schizophrenia." Since some
prostaglandins require selenium for their synthesis,
it’s believed prostaglandin deficiency may be a source
Dopamine is a substance involved with emotional and
hormonal response and the integration of experience,
emotion, and thought. Additionally, it stimulates the
brain’s pleasure center and is involved in sexual
arousal. Dopamine appears to be a factor in producing
hallucinations, voices and other symptoms associated
with "schizophrenia." Those with histapenia (see above)
often have elevated dopamine levels.
Endorphins, discovered in 1975, are substances
secreted in the brain. They have a pain-relieving and
stress-relieving effect similar to morphine. Endorphin
molecules lock onto receptors in the brain to remove the
perception of pain.
It has been shown that drugs which artificially
stimulate and suppress the endorphin receptors can
produce symptoms bordering on psychosis. Gluten
molecules (see "Wheat-gluten Sensitivity" above) are
molecularly similar in shape to endorphins and thus can
create the same stimulatory/suppression activity.
Certain dairy proteins have been shown to have similar
Serine is an amino acid that is part of many
proteins. It plays a critical role in maintaining blood
sugar levels. It has a vital part in the production of
the myelin sheath – the coating that protects certain
In numerous studies the plasma levels of serine have
been found to be significantly higher in
"schizophrenics" than in control groups. There is also
evidence that serine metabolism is abnormal in
psychotics. In one study a limited sector of psychiatric
patients who responded to a carbohydrate-rich,
low-protein diet became psychotic again after oral
intake of serine.
Prolactin is a hormone also known as luteotropic
hormone. It comes from the pituitary gland and induces
lactation. Non-pregnant women have low levels of it and
it increases about ten times in pregnant women. When
prolactin levels are excessive in non-pregnant women,
the condition is known as hyperprolactinemia.
This condition can produce a number of symptoms
including lactation by a non-nursing woman and irregular
or absent menstrual periods.
Excess prolactin has been connected with
pre-menstrual syndrome and a host of extreme mental
states that can occur with it. In some people
tranquilizers can increase prolactin
Patients who undergo dialysis regularly may be
exposed to high levels of aluminum in dialysis fluids
and medicines. A reaction called dialysis encephalopathy
can occur. (Encephalopathy is a general term for "brain
disease.") What follows is a progressive mental
degeneration manifested by tremors, convulsions,
psychosis and other changes in speech and behavior.
Reduction of aluminum levels significantly reduces the
incidence of this problem.
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter, a chemical that
transmits messages from one nerve to another. Too much
or too little serotonin has been associated with
depression, psychosis, and other problems. While drugs
can be used to mask the symptoms of this problem, they
do not solve the problem of the imbalance. Further
medical inquiry in indicated in these situations to find
the cause or to find nutritional supplementation that
will permit the body to produce correct serotonin
Leucine, Histidine Imbalance
Leucine and histidine are essential amino acids (the
body doesn’t make them). The leucine, histidine
imbalance – high leucine and low histidine – was a
condition Pfeiffer theorized as being a cause of
"schizophrenia." Modern research has shown, however,
that leucine-histidine imbalance does not play a
Amantadine, Anti-Viral Drugs
A number of non-psychotropic drugs can create
psychosis. It must be remembered that the nervous system
is intimately connected with other bodily systems.
Medical drugs can effect blood chemistry, hormonal
balances, and a host of other areas that directly impact
the brain and nervous system.
Interferon is a treatment for hepatitis. An estimated
1-2% of interferon users manifest psychosis or suicidal
Amantadine, a drug for Parkinson’s Disease, can cause
hallucinations, depression, jitteriness, and confusion.
Caution is recommended in it’s use in people with a
history of psychosis.
In anyone experiencing a psychotic episode, recent
drug ingestion must be considered as a
Deficient in MAO (monoamine
Monoamine oxidase is an enzyme that metabolizes
(destroys) the neurotransmitter serotonin. Platelets are
small blood cells involved in the formation of blood
clots. If platelets have too little MAO, the serotonin
levels increase. High serotonin is connected with a
number of severe mental states such as the one
classified as "paranoid schizophrenia."
In researching this particular malady of platelets
low in MAO, we were told by Dr. William Walsh, who
worked with Dr. Pfieffer for 12 years, that he did not
recall dealing with any cases of MAO deficiency so he
was uncertain if MAO deficiency is a verified condition
or a theoretical one.
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