Depression Free, Naturally
It's Not All In Your Mind
Recognizing Biochemical Glitches
How Diet Affects Emotions
Shopping For Relief, Naturally
Soothing The Anxious Brain
Dissolving Biochemical Depression
Extremes of Histamine Imbalances
Controlling Anger, Sudden Violence
What's Keeping You Fatigued
Emotional Balance for Life
Product Information and Ordering
Selective Seratonin Reuptake Inhibitors
How Do You Know You Are Depressed?
Is Your Depression Psychological or Biochemical?
Depression and Your Family Tree
Manic Depression (Bi Polar Disorder)
Biochemical Causes of Unipolar Depession
Anti Depressant Nuerotransmitter Depletion
How Tryptophan Works
St. John's Wort (Hypericum)
How Tyrosine Works
Depression and EFA In The Brain
Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency as a Cause of Depression
Hypothyroidism as a Cause of Depression
Hypoglycemia and Depression
The Symptoms of Hypoglycemia and Depression
Depression Due to Food Allergies or Chemical Sensitivities
Yeast Related Disorders as a Cause of Depression
Depression Common to High Histamine Levels
Depression From Mercury Buildup in the Brain
Alcohol, Drugs and Depression
Where Do You Fit In?

Who hasn't felt depression?

The amazing thing is many of us ignore it, don't recognize it, and just keep plodding forward with no inkling of the sadness within ourselves.

I have talked to thousands of clients who showed classic signs of depression. Yet many, (mostly male) denied any such problem. I can empathize with them: It was a few years after I buried my husband and my teenage son that I was watching a TV show on the subject of depression. All of the panelists remarked they cried every day. The "expert" psychiatrist assured them that was common to depression. I thought, " I cry everyday º does this mean I'm depressed?" I had refused to recognize it, feeling that it signified "weakness" in me at a time when I was sole provider to my family and a full time employee and student. Worse, my tears had sometime dripped from my eyes when I was simply relaxing and thinking of NOTHING! It was as though the reservoir occasionally spilled over and automatically emptied the overflow.

We adjust to life as well as we can, given the tools we have. My philosophy remained, "this too shall pass," as, over the next ten years, I grieved more losses: father and mother, best friend, a former fiancé', and my second husband.

When I look back at these years I believe I would have retreated to a dark closet to live were it not for what I was learning about ortho-molecular medicine and how to restore the important brain chemicals that ongoing stress and sadness wipe out!

Many studies confirm that childhood abuse (physical, emotional, sexual) creates lifelong depression. Ongoing losses and heavy stresses are also a set up for depression. Such life events, if prolonged, profoundly affect our brain's chemical balance. Remember the description of the concentration camp survivors in "Its Not In Your Mind," and how they finally came out of their post-traumatic states with biochemical repair? Those "walking wounded" are not unlike many of us who have existed through long periods of unrelenting stress. Certainly therapy is a comforting release, but in these cases, talk alone is not enough to undo the damage.

At Health Recovery Center we continually see clients whose presenting symptom is depression, despite their current use of one of the popular anti-depressant drugs. Often their doctors have tried them on more than one anti-depressant but oddly enough, have never assessed their patients for the many other underlying biochemical causes of depression before prescribing.

In this section we will cover fifteen biochemical conditions known to create clinical depression. Prescription anti-depressants assume the problem is too little serotonin or norepinephrine or dopamine, but neurotransmitter depletion is just one problem on this list. Your anti-depressant drug may well be inappropriate, or even toxic if your brain is forced to stockpile what it DOESN'T NEED.

Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors ...
The New SSRI Drugs For Depression

Three major drug companies, each with annual revenues exceeding 7 billion dollars, have exerted their powerful influence on psychiatry, government, media, and the public, to mass-market anti-depressant drugs. Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil, all claim to reverse depression, as well as a host of other behavioral and emotional problems, simply by firing serotonin into your brain and blocking its' re-uptake into the neurotransmitters.

It sounds wonderful, but the avalanche of media reports and lawsuits from adverse reactions (including violence & suicide) have made us take a second look.

It appears that using SSRI drugs will, over time make serious biochemical changes in the brain receptors for serotonin and these changes may be permanent. Dr. Peter Breggan, M.D., in Talking Back To Prozac, reports:

"The brain develops (an) ominous reaction that continues to increase over time. The mechanism called down-regulation, causes receptors for serotonin to literally disappear from the brain. In many areas in the brains of experimental animals, the receptors drastically diminish in number, sometimes with losses as high as 60% in regions of the brain involved in mental functioning."

The human body consistently takes this tack when it senses an overload of a natural substance. For example, if you continually take large amounts of cortisone, a synthetic adrenal hormone, your own production of natural adrenalin will stop and your adrenals will gradually atrophy. Likewise taking thyroid will shut down your own natural thyroid production. Thus it stands to reason when you flood your brain with inordinate amounts of serotonin, the same sensing mechanism will begin to shut down some of your serotonin receptors (as happened in animal trials) in an attempt to control the overload. We don't know if they ever reactivate. We do know that organs like the thyroid and adrenals do not restore themselves.

So why don't we know about human serotonin receptors? The drug companies refuse to carry out these easy and inexpensive tests on humans; they may fear a finding of irreversible receptor loss could be used in lawsuits. It is bewildering that the FDA has not required such studies. Most of us have believed that Prozac's approval by the FDA came after thousands of patients were observed long term. It may surprise you to know FDA trials were only four to six weeks and the grand total of Prozac-taking patients in those studies amounted to 286. None of these participants included hospitalized psychiatric patients, none were suicidal, nor were children or elderly adults included. Although the study outcomes are never public domain, Dr. Breggin has obtained the actual results through the Freedom of Information Acts. In its "Summary of Basis of Approval," October 3, 1988 the FDA states that fourteen protocols involving controlled studies were submitted by Eli Lilly. Four compared Prozac to a placebo and, of these, three were used by the FDA as evidence of some beneficial effect one showed none at all. Of the remaining ten studies, eight showed an older anti-depressant to be more effective. The FDA selected only the five positive studies and discarded the other nine! Dr. Peter Breggin's books, Talking Back to Prozac and Toxic Psychiatry are replete with facts and references. I recommend them to you for the sake of your own mental health. As a professional who worked with drug addiction for the past twenty years, I marveled at his comment on EFFEXOR, a later developed anti-depressant drug, that blocks the reuptake of not just serotonin but norepinephrine as well. Effexor was described in Psychiatric News, Feb. 4, 1994 as "PROZAC WITH A PUNCH." Dr. Breggin notes that cocaine and amphetamines also block serotonin and norepinephrine." In addition, they block the reuptake of dopamine, so cocaine and amphetamines might be marketed as "PROZAC WITH A DOUBLE PUNCH!"

Smith Kline once touted the amphetamine/sedative combination, DEXAMYL, as a miracle drug for depression. But when the dangerous effects of amphetamines were understood, they were reclassified as controlled substances along with narcotics and cocaine! Dexamyl has not appeared in the Physicians Desk Reference since 1980, but we now see the SSRIs being prescribed for almost identical purposes: depression, fatigue, anxiety, and obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, September 8, 1985

A study in the Archives of General Psychiatry, Oct 92, tracked depressed patients who were being treated over an eighteen-month period and found only 20 to 30% had recovered after this time. This report underscores the surprisingly low benefits attained from drugs and therapy.

Orthomolecular approaches have proven far more rewarding, as you are about to see. Some of our experiences in treating depression with these techniques were documented as part of my dissertation research and published in a peer review journal. The data was collected on 100 Health Recovery Center clients in the last decade. It showed sixty-one percent were seriously depressed at entry. Of these, ninety-five percent were depression-free within six weeks. At the three-year follow-up, seventy-four percent stated they continue to follow the regimen that took them out of depression and that they still felt stable.

Because of Rob's suicide, I have searched everywhere for studies on depression. Many confirm the connections between brain biochemistry and depression, and offer methods of repair, which have worked more reliably than drugs or talk therapy. Despite the millions of Prozac prescriptions, there is no single biochemical glitch (i.e. no serotonin) that explains all depression. In this section you will learn about 15 different biochemical sources of depression and how to overcome your particular chemical problems. This may mean taking even more nutrients. It may require further changes in your diet. Or you may need drug treatment to correct a medical condition that can precipitate depression. First, of course, you have to confirm that you are depressed. Then you can evaluate the severity of your case.

How Do you Know You Are Depressed?

As many as one out of five Americans suffer from depression, and one in seven of those with major depression, commit suicide. Another 15% are unsuccessful in their attempt to take their lives. (We'll talk about suicide later in this section.)

The National Institute of Mental Health claims that "As many as 70% of people suffering from depression fail to seek treatment." New York Daily News, Feb. 4, 1993

You may be blaming yourself for an inability to handle stress well, or simply unwilling to assume the label of depression because of the social stigma often unjustly attached to this condition. These are common red flags:

  • Withdrawal from activity; isolating yourself
  • Continual fatigue, lethargy
  • Indecisiveness
  • Lack of motivation, boredom, and loss of interest in life
  • Feeling helpless, immobilized
  • Sleeping too much, using sleep to escape reality
  • Insomnia, particularly early morning insomnia (waking very early and being unable to get back to sleep)
  • Lack of response to good news
  • Loss of appetite of binge eating
  • Ongoing anxiety
  • Silent and unresponsive around people
  • An "I don't care" attitude
  • Easily upset or angered, lashing out at others
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Self-destructive behavior, (including promiscuity)
  • Lack of interest in sex
  • Loss of interest in people and activities previously considered important
  • Unusual impatience, hostility
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans

How to Tell If Your Depression is
Psychological or Biochemical

Biochemical depression has certain symptoms that distinguish it from depression stemming from negative life events. External changes such as loss of a relationship, a job, or a loved one, may result in a self-limiting kind of depression. As life's events improve, this depression evaporates. In the interim this psychological setback will respond well to therapy. Group or individual counseling offers give human empathy for the interim, and gradually new hopes replace the disappointments. But you have reason to suspect that you are BIOCHEMICALLY depressed if any of the markers listed below describe your depression:

  • You have been depressed for a long time despite changes in your life.
  • Talk therapy has little or no effect; in fact, psychological probing questions like "Why do you hate your father?" leave you as confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter's tea party.
  • You don't react to good news.
  • You awaken very early in the morning and can't get back to sleep.
  • You cannot trace the onset of your depression to any event in your life.
  • Your mood may swing between depression and elation over a period of months in a regular rhythm (this suggests bipolar or manic-depressive disorder).
  • Drinking alcohol worsens your depression the following day.

Depression and Your Family Tree

How Genetic is Depression?

Identical twins have a 67% chance of both being depressed if one of them suffers from depression. And this is true even though they are raised in completely separate environments! If your parent or brother or sister suffers from depression, you have a 25% chance of sharing this genetic trait.

If both your parents are depressed, your likelihood of becoming depressed soars to between 50 and 75%. Suicide, too, clusters in families.

When Your Depression is Severe

As important as identifying the cause of your depression is determining the depth of your feelings. If you have suicidal thoughts, please confide in your physician and a close friend or relative.

In the seventies when I lost my son to suicide, the dominant belief about these deaths was dictated by psychological/sociological disciplines, i.e. "an act of aggression which has been turned against oneself rather than against the outside world." H. Hartman, Basic Psychiatry For Correction Workers. C. J. Frederich's writing about adolescent suicide described such victims as coming from broken homes, perceiving themselves as helpless, rejected, hopeless, and being involved in drug and alcohol abuse.

The "high risk" person was seen to have such clinical features as:

  • A depressive disorder
  • The presence of anxiety and agitation
  • Decreased feelings of physical well-being and multiple physical ailments
  • Drug and alcohol abuse
  • Taking prescribed medications like sleeping pills
  • Presence of self-blame and guilt
  • Loss of self-control (fits of anger and loss of temper)
  • Lack of support system; no one to turn to and no one dependent on the patient.

Although such symptoms could be labeled "psychological," mounting research over the last twenty years now recognizes they also may be caused by biochemical malfunctioning of brain/body systems, and, in fact, such physiological changes are far more likely to provide the real explanation for the despairing brain that chooses to finally end it's misery.

Today, the psychiatric profession has no trouble acknowledging the physical basis of depression. Where their train runs off the track is that SSRI (Prozac-type) drugs then become the blanket answer.

Here is an illustration of the consequences of not probing for the underlying physical causes of depression:

Recently the daughter of a dear benefactor of our foundation called me in tears. She had sought her doctor's help for depression two months ago and was given Prozac. After a week there was brief relief, then nothing. The dose was promptly doubled and the same response occurred. By yesterday her MD had raised the dosage to four daily. Slowly her depression has become severe; She now feels suicidal!

I began to ask her a few questions and a probable basis for her depression began to emerge:

  • Frequent yeast infections and sinus problems
  • Cold hands and feet, chilly all the time
  • Works full time in a hair salon around chemicals
This translates as: possible toxic levels of candida-albicans yeast causing cerebral changes; possible Hashimoto's thyroiditis, a hypothyroidism caused by her immune system mistakenly attacking her circulating thyroid; or possible cerebral (brain) allergy response to the strong chemicals she breathes at work. All can be proven or disproved through lab tests. There is a high likelihood that a CANDIDA infection, low thyroid and chemical sensitivities are all contributing to her depression. If true, the high level of Prozac she takes, only serves to toxify her liver and disrupt her serotonin receptor sites.

Within two weeks lab test results will point us in the right direction.

Dr. Carl Pfeiffer comments that in his clinical experience, he has found "the greatest factor in teen-age suicide is pyroluria, the stress-induced deficiency in B6 and zinc." (described in section five) "With such a deficiency, the teenager is confused, impotent, depressed and sleepless. The onset of this disorder is between 15 to 17 years." The young pyroluric is a good candidate for drug and alcohol use, which only worsens his stressful situation.

A second biological cause of teen suicide is the presence of too much histamine in the body. High histamine creates energetic, compulsive "doers" the self-starters that ordinarily make the world better. But it also causes many to go through life in continuous depression, and this group has the drive and the impulsiveness to carry out a suicide. We'll talk about histadelia (high-histamine) later in this section. I'll outline what lab work will identify it and how to correct this type of depression.

As I describe both of these biochemical triggers for suicide, I strongly suspect, that my own teenager had many of these symptoms. It is twenty-five years too late for Robby, but not for your teen or yourself or family member who may be suicide prone. If symptoms cluster on your written screening tests, take the results to your physician who can order the confirming lab work.

The repair formulas in Depression Free, Naturally have been the acceptable methods of treatment at Health Recovery Center for over a decade. They usually do not include drugs. We have continued to use natural replacement chemicals with our clients because of the astonishing turnaround they produce. I encourage you to share this knowledge with your physician if she/he seems unfamiliar with this orthomolecular approach.

Manic-Depression (Bi-Polar Disorder)

Another category of mood disorder is one that alternates a depressed mood with sudden shifts into a manic state. The identifying characteristic of these mood swing disorders is that they occur and reoccur in cycles, which may be predictable. I am not describing mood swings recurring over a 24-hour period; the name of that phenomenon is HYPOGLYCEMIA.

Manic episodes can become exhausting yet there is no way to slow down without biochemical intervention. In these states there is usually little sleeping, and little appetite. Some manics may be obsessed with spending money, extra martial affairs, heavy drinking, gambling, and just being overly expansive to everyone. I watched a friend who was bi-polar, and on no medication, go through black times where he could not get out of bed and function for weeks. But as soon as his mood shifted upward, he was wildly gregarious and entertaining. One December he and his family were traveling by train to celebrate Christmas with relatives in another state. In an exuberant mood, he introduced himself to one and all, and finally wound up leading the entire group of travelers in Christmas carols for hours. Such is the behavior of a manic-depressive.

Some bi-polar people may see their manic episodes take another form. These persons are overly suspicious and paranoid. In mania, their persecutory paranoia becomes grandiosity and they are angry and irritable with everyone who (they think) stands in the way of the many wonderful achievements they feel they offer to society. In this elation phase, their excessive self-confidence, disturbed sense of judgment and inappropriate social behaviors may well disrupt their careers and relationships.


A Biochemical Basis

There are many studies pinpointing the biochemical abnormalities in bi-polar moods. However, there is no unified theory of WHY.

The National Institute of Mental Health research suggests that bi-polar people are hypersensitive to acetylcholine, a chemical that carries memory messages in the brain. They found that cholinergic receptors (chemical hitching posts on cells that receive acetylcholine) are far more numerous in the brains of manic-depressives. One substance that blocks acetylcholine is lithium. It is the current drug of choice for bi-polar depression. Lithium is a natural salt occurring at low levels in everyone. At much higher levels, lithium has been shown to interfere with acetylcholine and other receptors that create our moods, emotions, and memory. The Archives of General Psychiatry reported lithium effects on "normal" volunteers as a "general dulling and blunting of personality functions." I have heard lithium-using clients describe their emotional state of mind as feeling like "a dial tone," no highs or lows.

Lithium interferes with acetylcholine, the memory neurotransmitter. Psychiatric News, Dec. 1986, outlines the widespread difficulties that lithium causes, in an article, Lithium and Memory Loss. The high doses needed to stop manic moods are often toxic to the nervous system, causing a tremor in many users. At high levels lithium suppresses thyroid function and can cause hypothyroidism. Memory loss may also be a serious problem.

You can see that, with such ongoing damage, a better choice is needed. Orthomolecular physicians have found that the B-complex vitamins have a lithium-like action in the brain. They work synergistically with lithium; so high lithium doses can be substantially reduced when combined with daily B-complex vitamins. B-complex deficiencies commonly occur in 80% of manic-depressives. Many bi-polars are anemic from low B-12 and folic acid. They also show lower uptake of inositol (another B vitamin), compared to a control group.



Another exciting, safe substance that has a lithium-like effect on the brain is the amino acid, taurine. Taurine is a calming, inhibitory neurotransmitter that naturally blocks the effects of excitatory transmitters like acetylcholine. Manic depressives have very low taurine levels, when measured in lab tests, which lead us to speculate whether this shortage may be a basic part of the bi-polar problem. Taurine has been successfully substituted for lithium (500 mg. 3 times daily) and, unlike lithium, has no side effects. A taurine deficiency causes far greater symptoms in females than males and bi-polar disorder is twice as common in women as men. Science also documents hereditary depression in taurine-deficient persons.


Body Clock Arythmias in Bi-Polar Disorder

If you are manic-depressive, another abnormality may be your disturbed body rhythms. Just as you show mood swings, you also have measurable disturbances in your daily rhythmic cycling or body clock. One study showed that four out of seven manic-depressives could quickly end their depressions by arising for their day at one o'clock A.M. rather than their usual morning time of rising. Anti-Aging News, July 1984

Interesting, lithium is also known to change and alter periods of rhythmic cycling. A form of natural lithium derived from vegetable concentrates (Lithinase 50 mcg taken with meals) greatly improved all participants in this study with patients who had a bi-polar diagnosis. Nutrition Perspectives, January 1988. Six weeks later, all were taken off the natural lithium and within three days all regressed to their former state of depression. When the lithium was re-supplied they again recovered from their depression. This study strongly suggests that high lithium doses that leave people toxic and trembling are not at all appropriate for some.

Health Recovery Center is now promoting Lithium Orotate, a low dose (5 mg) bio-absorpable form of lithium that has shown positive results in stabilizing bi-polar clients and improving sleep.

Vanadium Toxicity

One more natural mineral level to check if you are bi-polar is VANADIUM. Four separate studies report manic-depressives have significantly higher amounts in their blood.

An excessive body load of vanadium has been known to trigger mania. Vanadium toxicity has also been associated with depression and melancholia.

Loading ascorbate (Vitamin C) reduces the damage from excessive vanadium in the body. Studies in Lancet and The British Journal of Psychiatry show levels of Vitamin C in Bi-polar patients are so low as to indicate borderline or actual scurvy. Replacement of Vitamin C is critical for these people.

These studies make a strong case for the value of nutritional repair for bi-polar depression. It may even be a better alternative than drug therapy. It certainly is less toxic and offers far less or no side effects.

To order the HRC Depression
(Bi-Polar Taking Lithium) Formula

(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-B Complex, Bio-Ester C, Bio-Omega-3 Liquid, Bio-Cal/Mag w. Reacted Minerals

To order the HRC Depression
(Bi-Polar NOT Taking Lithium) Formula

(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-B Complex, Bio-Ester C, Bio-Omega-3 Liquid, Taurine, Lithinum Oratate

Biochemical Causes of Unipolar Depression

A few years ago many of us didn't expect our doctors to nail down the causes of our illnesses; we only asked to make the symptoms go away. Now it has finally dawned on us that, if we don't discover the cause and eradicate it, we may have to relive the same misery at future dates. Fixing symptoms offers only a short-term solution.

Over the last eighteen years I have seen a parade of people with different causes for their depression. The following represents the most common categories:


(1) Neuro-transmitter depletion of norepinephrine or serotonin.

(2) Essential fatty acid imbalances in the brain

(3) Other nutrient deficiencies or dependencies

(4) Hypothyroidism, Hashimotos disease

(5) Excessive sugar and caffeine use: hypoglycemia

(6) Brain allergy reactions to foods and cerebral sensitivities to airborne chemicals

(7) Systemic buildup of fungal molds, candida yeast

(8) Histadelia (abnormally elevated histamine)

(9) Buildup of heavy metals in the brain (ex: cadmium, lead, copper)

(10) Brain damage from alcohol or drugs, prescribed or otherwise

Anti-Depressant Neurotransmitter Depletion

We've talked, in earlier sections, about the natural chemicals that make possible all communication between our brain cells and our immune system, endocrine system and, in fact, throughout our entire bodies. They are the substances that govern our emotions, memory, moods, behavior, sleep, and learning abilities. These brain neurotransmitters are manufactured from the amino acids we extract from food and our supply is entirely dependent on the presence of these precursor amino acids in our bodies.

The two major neurotransmitters involved in preventing depression are serotonin (converted from the amino acid tryptophan) and norepinephrine (converted from the amino acids L-phenylalanine and L-tyrosine.) The new anti-depressant drugs are based on firing one or both of these neurotransmitters into the brain. Instead of using drugs, you can "restock" your brain's supply of these vital neurotransmitters and end the depression their absence causes, by taking amino acid capsules daily. In doing this you reload these neurotransmitters so that their firing mechanism continually has a full load to deliver to your brain. This is nature's design, not Prozac's. The artificial SSRI drugs do not raise neurotransmitter levels. Instead they trap what little you have and keep using it over and over in the brain sites, blocking it from returning to the neurotransmitters as it was designed to do.

Taking amino acids instead of drugs:

  • Is much less expensive
  • Is much safer (no side effects)
  • Is more natural
  • Accomplishes the same outcome in most cases.

So how do you know whether you need tryptophan, phenylalanine or tyrosine? Your depression symptoms will be quite different. Look at Table below and see if you recognize yourself.

 Symptoms Indicating the Use
of Tryptophane to Increas Serotonin Levels

 Symptoms Indicating the Use of Phenylalanine to Increase Norepinephine Levels






 Sleeping too much

 Nervous depression

 Feelings of immobility

How Tryptophan Works

The essential amino acid tryptophan is the ONLY SUBSTANCE able to "manufacture" serotonin, the neurotransmitter that controls our moods, sleep, sex drive, appetite, and pain threshold. Eating disorders and violent behavior have been traced to serotonin depletion. Replacing needed serotonin can quickly lift your depression and end your insomnia.

In one notable study, a Dutch medical researcher demonstrated that the combination of tryptophan (2 grams nightly) and vitamin B6 (125 mg three times daily) could restore patients with anxiety-type depression to normal in four weeks. Remember that the type of depression that is accompanied by anxiety and sleep disturbances is most likely to respond to tryptophan (serotonin's precursor.)

New research (1997) from McGill University in Montreal has found that men produce 52% MORE serotonin than do women. This information seems to explain why more women than men appear to experience a shortage of this critical chemical that modulates moods, and so are more likely to suffer from depression and/or eating disorders.


Using Tryptophan to Make Serotonin

Poor tryptophan has had the misfortune of acquiring a bad reputation due to a single event in 1989. At that time its' largest manufacturer, Showa Denka in Japan, accidentally contaminated its product. Until then we had been using tryptophan at Health Recovery Center for nine years with great success and no ill effects. However, that contaminated batch was enough for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to prohibit all future sales of tryptophan in the U.S. The rest of the world, including Canada continued to have access to this irreplaceable amino acid, while the FDA banned tryptophan here in the US, even in baby food, for years.

Scientists finally were able to prove that the deaths and illnesses that resulted from the bad batch of tryptophan were not caused by the amino acid itself but by its contamination. It has been several years since the New England Journal of Medicine reported the clear evidence that confirmed this. Yet, the FDA continued to block any over-the counter sale of tryptophan for many years. Today, tryptophan has been restored to baby food. It has also been made available by prescription. Many US citizens (and their physicians) are unaware this has happened. Now that this natural substance is medically controlled, you may find your doctor resistant to writing a prescription for tryptophan rather than Prozac because he is unfamiliar with its benefits. Another result of classifying an amino acid as a drug, is that its price has now has now quadrupled!

Tryptophan is NOT a drug. It is an essential amino acid much needed to support life and sanity. In an interesting coincidence, Prozac made its first appearance within days of the ban on tryptophan. Now there is a whole family of serotonin-stimulating drugs, but NONE of them can create an iota of serotonin. They speed its firing into the brain and block the natural reuptake into the neurotransmitters, so levels of serotonin are slowly becoming even more depleted. Almost all of our clients have experienced one of these serotonin-firing anti-depressants (Zoloft, Paxil, Desyrel, Prozac, Serzone). Typically our physician switches them to the natural serotonin precursor, tryptophan, which promptly restores their serotonin levels. Usually their firing mechanism works fine: the problem was that there was very little serotonin to fire.


Guidelines For Taking Tryptophan

Like all natural substances, tryptophan needs help to convert to serotonin. These co-enzymes are B6 and Vitamin C.

Tryptophan converts to niacin before finally becoming serotonin. If your body is deficient in niacin, the tryptophan you take will supply you with niacin, not serotonin. For this reason, it is a good idea to take a B-complex vitamin daily. It will give you both B6 and niacin and allow your tryptophan to make more serotonin.

The B vitamin, INOSITOL changes into a substance that regulates serotonin's effectiveness within nerve cells. A recent double blind study confirms inositol's effectiveness with depression. Inositol powder is sweet and good tasting. One and 1/2 teaspoonful three times daily is the researched dosage. American Journal of Psychiatry, 1995 Of all the amino acids, tryptophan is least able to cross the blood-brain barrier. It must pass this biological hurdle in order to be converted to serotonin. You can give it the right "nudge" by taking it with fruit juice. The carbohydrate will trigger insulin release, which will assist the tryptophan across the blood-brain barrier. Always take tryptophan on an empty stomach.


Is It Safe?

Tryptophan has been widely used by orthomolecular physicians, clinics like Health Recovery Center and the general population, in doses of one to six grams daily. Since you can't store it in your body, you cannot accumulate toxic levels. However, taking high amounts of tryptophan can produce some side effects:

  • Feeling drowsy the next morning
  • Bizarre or strange dreams (rare)
  • Increased blood pressure in persons over sixty already having high blood pressure
  • Aggressiveness (this rare side effect can occur in the absence of sufficient Co-nutrients needed for the normal conversion of tryptophan to serotonin)


Who Must Avoid or Use Tryptophan Carefully

  • Anyone who takes an MAO (Monoamine Oxidase) inhibitor for depression. If so, do not take tryptophan until ten days after giving up MAO inhibitors.

  • Anyone with severe liver disease. (A damaged liver cannot properly metabolize tryptophan.)
  • Pregnant women (you may be able to take 500 to 1000 milligrams of tryptophan, but only with the approval and supervision of your physician.)


Can I Combine Tryptophan
With An SSRI Anti-Depressant?

Combing SSRI drugs and tryptophan is inviting a deluge of serotonin into the brain. It's dangerous to do, and in most cases not recommended. However a recent client is taking a very small dose (5 milligrams) of Prozac in conjunction with daily tryptophan and the result has been exactly right for her.

WARNING: Do not play with this or any combination of tryptophan and anti-depressant drugs. Your doctor MUST be supervising such an experiment.

To order the HRC Depession
due to Serotonin Depletion Formula
(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-B Complex, Bio-Ester C, Bio-Niacin (Time Release), Inositol Powder, L-Tryptophan

St. John's Wort (Hypericum)

Before leaving the subject of serotonin enhancement, you may want to consider one more natural substance that can do just that. This extract is preferred by nearly 70 percent of German physicians, to treat depression and anxiety. A recent meta-analysis is of its effectiveness was published in the British Medical Journal in 1996. Twenty-three double blind studies involving 1,757 patients were analyzed. St. John's Wort proved significantly superior to placebos and as effective as Prozac and other standard antidepressant drugs. The big advantage of using Hypericum instead of anti-depressant drugs is its safety and lack of side effects. St. John's Wort works by inhibiting serotonin reuptake just like the many new anti-depressant drugs, but without the loss of libido, or any violent outbursts, nausea, anxiety or nervousness.

The standard dose is 300 milligrams, three times daily, between meals.

WARNING: Do not use St. John's Wort if you are currently taking an anti-depressant drug prescription. First see your doctor about discontinuing your drug.

Do not combine the HRC Formula for Depression due to Serotonin Depletion with St. John's Wort.

Consider St. John's Wort as an alternative, if, after you have reloaded your serotonin neurotransmitters, you are still depressed. Give yourself two weeks on the Health Recovery Center formula before you switch to St. John's Wort to block the serotonin from recycling back to the neurotransmitter. That effect is to create a lot of extra serotonin in your brain. If, after three weeks on St. John's Wort, you still do not get relief, it's time to pursue another biochemical cause to your depression rather than serotonin depletion.

How Tyrosine Works

Tyrosine is another essential amino acid, needed for the formation of neurotransmitters called catecholamines, which include dopamine, norepinephrine and epinephrine. It is also a constituent of brain hormones, such as thyroid and estrogen. This amino, found in high amounts in meats and cheeses has an amazing effect on depression. A number of studies appearing in Lancet and The American Journal of Psychiatry have found that tyrosine can succeed where anti-depressants fail!

Inside your brain, tyrosine is converted into the neurotransmitter NOREPINEPHRINE, which has been described as the brain's version of adrenaline. You can appreciate the power of norepinephrine when you realize the HIGH cocaine produces, comes from its ability to activate norepinephrine while inhibiting serotonin. This chemical reaction causes the brain to race until its supply of norepinephrine is depleted. The crash leaves addicts exhausted, depressed, extremely irritable and craving more cocaine. Large doses of tyrosine can reduce withdrawal symptoms and prevent serious depression among cocaine addicts.

We have used tyrosine at the Health Recovery Center for over ten years with no adverse effects. The usual dose is three to six grams per day, taken on an empty stomach. You must also take B6 and Vitamin C to guarantee conversion of tyrosine to norepinephrine.


L-Phenylalanine also Coverts To Norepinephrine

As an alternative to tyrosine, you may take the amino acid L-phenylalanine that also makes norepinephrine in the brain. Many studies confirm L-phenylalanine's amazing anti-depressant effects. In one, this potent amino acid was found as effective an anti-depressant as the popular drug imipramine (TOFRANIL)

L-phenylalanine has one important advantage over tyrosine in treating depression: It can be converted to a substance called 2 phenylethylamine or 2-PEA. Low brain levels of 2-PEA are responsible for certain depressions. Only phenylalanine corrects this kind of depression. If you are affected, tyrosine will not be successful for you. The only way to find out is by trial and error. I recommend you start by using L-phenylalanine. If you find that it makes your thoughts rush (an effect often described as "brain racing") you don't need 2-PEA and should switch to tyrosine. Another disadvantage to taking phenylalanine is its slight potential for raising blood pressure. There is also some evidence that excess L-phenylalanine can cause headaches, insomnia, and irritability. For these reasons, it is important to begin with a low dose.

L-phenylalanine doses range from 500 mg. to 1500 mg. Taken daily on an empty stomach.

Overdoses symptoms are:

  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Brain Racing


Those Who Should Not Take Tyrosine or L-Phenylalanine

  • Anyone with high blood pressure should avoid phenylalanine or take very low doses (100 mg.) At first and monitor blood pressure as dosage is increased
  • No one taking an MAO inhibitor for depression should take either tyrosine or L-phenylalanine
  • No one with severe liver damage should take either of these amino acids.
  • Do not take these amino acids during pregnancy unless approved and supervised by your physician
  • No one with Phenylketonuria (PKU) should use L-phenylalanine
  • No one with schizophrenia should take either amino acid (except with the approval and supervision of his/her physician)
  • No one with an over active thyroid or malignant melanoma should take either amino acid
  • If you are being treated for any serious illness, consult your doctor before taking these amino acids

To order the HRC Depession
due to Norepinephrine Depletion Formula

(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-B Complex, Bio-Ester C , Tyrosine

Depression Caused by Unavailability of
The Essential Fatty Acids in the Brain


Patrick, a long time AA member was proud of his two decades of sobriety. However, most of those years were spent in therapy for his bleak depression. He had tried a variety of anti-depressant medications but none proved effective. Patrick had even given up caffeine, and finally his three pack a day cigarette habit, hoping to lighten his bleak mood. Nothing worked! At our first session he told me life seemed entirely hopeless! I was not surprised to learn that his father had been depressed all his life and often talked of suicide, and his maternal grandfather and two uncles also suffered ongoing depression. Patrick's lab work gave us all the clues we needed: His triglycerides and cholesterol were both twice as high as the normal range, and his essential fatty acid (EFA) analysis showed low levels of these important substances.

Because the brain is over sixty percent FAT, brain tissue is heavily dependent on these important fatty acids to control our moods and behavior. Patrick's brain was "running on empty" and the elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in his body were red flags that certain blood fats were "clumping," thickening the blood and interfering with the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to his brain.

In a 1994 study, researcher/physician Charles Glueck, found that high cholesterol and elevated triglycerides were the sole cause of depression in patients with hyperlipidemia. He reports in Biologic Psychiatry, "We have shown that, in patients with high triglycerides who were in a depressive state, the more you lower the triglycerides the more you alleviate their depression."

Patrick had been given drugs to lower his cholesterol and triglycerides but he chose not to use them. Instead he changed his diet to include high amounts of cold-water fish and flax to reload the Omega 3 essential fatty acids. He also took gamma linolenic acid to supply his brain with adequate prostaglandin E1, an Omega 6 metabolite that will be described later in this section. Within five weeks, his life long depression was gone and he had lost fifteen unwanted pounds. When last tested, his triglycerides had fallen from 391 to 113 and his cholesterol was down from 301 to 160!


Low Brain Fats and Depression

I am willing to bet that most of you are well brainwashed to believe that fats are a dangerous addition to your diet, to be avoided at all costs. DON'T BELIEVE IT! The low fat and no fat chant of the American Heart Association and the national media simply do not fit the research of the nineties. They are not telling you the whole story.

The only truly dangerous fats in today's diets are man-made fats that have been altered by long periods of heating (deep-frying) or hydrogenation processing for a longer shelf life. These partially hydrogenated fats or trans-fatty acids have no nutritional value. They are high-risk substances that cause coronary heart disease and impair the brain's ability to make its essential brain fats.

High trans-fatty acids are found in:

  • Candy, cookies, and bakery good
  • Corn, potato chips and tortilla chips
  • Shortening, mayonnaise
  • Salad dressing (except olive oil) margarine
  • French fries, mushrooms, cheese puffs, chicken nuggets and other deep fried items

Read the labels and be aware of these words: "may contain partially hydrogenated oil". These are the real killer fats, not the Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids that we must obtain from our foods for normal brain functioning.

EFAs are critical to our brains! And we are entirely dependent on our nutritional intake, as our bodies do not manufacture most fats. Inside our brains, fatty acids make up most of the nerve membranes. All of our brains' branching networks are dependent on fatty acids. And most importantly the firing and receiving of messages in the brain synapses where the real business of nerve communication and brain activity take place, is critically dependant on brain fats (EFAs). Here, the concentration of brain fats is higher than anywhere else in the body. Without enough essential fatty acids, neurons fire poorly or even die off. See table _____.


EFAS: The Firing Mechanism For Brain Balance
and Communication

We know that both serotonin and norepinephrine need to fire appropriately to prevent depression and to create normal moods. But without adequate essential fatty acids to create this communication, these important neurotransmitters cannot send their signals properly. The result is ongoing depression.

Both of the two essential fatty acid groups: Omega 3 and Omega 6, contribute to correcting depression. One is not more important than the other, but the ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is important. Americans today have a much higher intake of the wrong fatty acids.

A few years ago, I heard Dr. Donald Rudin, author of The Omega 3 Phenomenon, outline his findings that Omega 3 EFAs have declined by eighty percent over the past 75 years. This has come about by:

  • Decreased fish consumption
  • Increased use of Omega 3 deficient oils like corn, sunflower oils
  • Elimination of cereal germ in milling practices (cereal germ contains the fatty acids)
  • Hydrogenation of oils commercially
  • 2500% increase in the use of trans-fatty acids (they interfere with the uptake of our essential fatty-acids)
  • A 250% increase in the use of sugar (this interferes with the enzymes needed for fatty acid synthesis)


In looking over this list you can see where changes are needed in your diet to reverse this life-threatening situation.

Here is my best advice:

  • Add fish (especially cold water fish like salmon and tuna) to your diet several times weekly. Eggs and chicken are also good sources of Omega 3.
  • Trade your southern oils for flax seed oils, borage seed oils (not for cooking). Coconut oils and butter are better for cooking.
  • Buy only whole grain breads (they still contain the germ of the grain)
  • Read labels carefully to avoid "hydrogenated oils" and "trans-fatty acids"
  • Eliminate refined sugars from your diet.


Essential Fatty Acid Levels Can Be Measured

Red blood cells may be analyzed for their fatty acid content. This lab test quickly reveals whether sufficient Omega 3 and 6 EFAs are present and these answers could dramatically change your life's quality and longevity.

One lab doing this testing is:

Great Smokies Diagnostic Laboratories
63 Zillicoa Street
Asheville, NC. 28801-0621


Depression as a Family Affair: The Missing Omega 6 EFAs

A moment ago I said Americans get far more Omega 6 than Omega 3 EFAs. Even so, hydrogenation processing that interferes with their uptake into the brain has altered most of the Omega 6 oils you ingest. Although scientists know the danger of hydrogenation, the industry insists on making a profit on cheap, low quality oils and by altering them to avoid rancidity.

Over a decade ago, I was introduced to Dr. David Horobin's work with GLA (gamma linolenic acid) an Omega 6 EFA. When we began to supply clients with GLA, we were amazed to see suicidally depressed persons turn around within ten days, even though they had lived a lifetime with depression! Certain nationalities have proven to be more susceptible to a genetic inability to manufacture enough of a crucial antidepressant brain metabolite made from GLA, called prostaglandin E1. These nationalities are the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Scandinavian, and American Indian. Further research is bound to widen the scope of susceptibility to other nationalities, as well. At Health Recovery Center, we have seen PGE1 deficiency in other Northern European descendants.

 The Omega 6 EFA Deficiency Depression Screen Test in Depression Free, Naturally is based on on material from Essential Fatty Acids And Immunity In Mental Health by Charles Bates Ph.D. It provides a list of factors to help you to determine your own susceptibility to an Omega 6 essential fatty acid deficiency.

The key nutrient that is missing, gamma linolenic acid (GLA) has only recently achieved recognition. Most of us can make adequate GLA in our bodies provided trans-fatty acids do not block the conversion. The typical American diet, of course, does just this and we wind up with no GLA to make this powerful brain antidepressant metabolite, PGE1.


One good example of PGEI deficiency depression is Barbara, who came to Health Recovery Center last year, straight from another clinic where she had been treated for depression. She was taking 60 mg of Prozac but was still feeling hopeless. She had been away from home several months seeking medical help and desperately missed her husband and children. Three things stood out about her chemistry:

  1. Her depression went back to childhood.
  2. Tests showed she was severely pyroluric, which means she had no B6 and zinc to convert GLA into the antidepressant brain metabolite, PGE1.
  3. In her Scandinavian family, there was diabetes, alcoholism and depression.

With the addition of the Omega 6 essential fatty acids, and their necessary co-enzymes, as well as treatment to correct her pyroluria, her depression lifted within two weeks. Barb went home committed to taking the HRC Formula for Depression due to EFA Deficiencies. She knows if she stays with these nutrients, continues a healthy diet high in EFAs, and avoids refined sugars, she will never again be a victim of her genetic depression. Her children too, will reap the benefits of what she has learned about their family genetics.


To order the HRC Depession
due to EFA Deficiency© Formula

(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-GLA, Bio-Omega-3 Liquid, Bio-B6, Bio-Ester C, Niacinamide, Magnesium (Reacted), Anti Oxidant Complex

Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency as a Cause of Depression

Consequences of nutritional deficiencies in the brain are depression, anger, listlessness, paranoia, and more. Unfortunately the connection between depression and vitamin or mineral deficiencies is often missed. At Johns Hopkins, sixty-nine cases of scurvy, (a killer disease caused by the total wipe out of Vitamin C), were discovered at autopsies, yet the disease had not been diagnosed before death in ninety one percent of these patients. Any severe ongoing Vitamin C deficiency will cause chronic depression!

One of the more dramatic turnarounds I've seen was Marty, a young man of twenty-five who had lived on the street and in shelters since age seventeen. He was severely depressed, and erupted into violent "in your face" shouting episodes regularly.

Marty's brother had recently died. His father, wanting to salvage his only child, went in search of Marty but when he finally found his son, his plans to open his home to him unraveled because of Marty's unstable behavior. When we talked on the phone, his dad felt the situation was hopeless. Having lost my own son to suicide, I of course, refused to concede that Marty was a throwaway. I suggested the obvious: that eight years of malnourishment and semi-starvation from living on the streets had taken their toll on his mental and physical health. I pleaded for the chance to help him. Unfortunately, my good intentions backfired!

Before his first week at Health Recovery Center had ended, every staff member was in my office telling me to send him away because of his wild mood swings. Marty's anger would escalate to intense rage and finally dissolve into uncontrollable crying and despair. I wondered if I had made a terrible misjudgment, but stubbornly took a "wait and see" attitude. Finally, his lab work arrived. His tests showed extensive nutrient depletion across the board. We loaded him with nutrients by intravenous infusions and B-complex injections, as well as by mouth. Slowly, his tears and rages dried up and an endearing, humorous young man emerged. Many lifestyle changes contributed to his recovery but one of the most important was the replacement of key natural substances that relieved his severe depression. When Marty headed home a few weeks later, his depression was gone, and his rages had mellowed into just a lot of natural energy for life!


The B-Complex Vitamins

These B-complex vitamins are essential to mental and emotional well-being. They cannot be stored in our bodies, so we depend entirely on our daily diet to supply them. B vitamins are destroyed by refined sugars, nicotine, caffeine and alcohol.

Here's a rundown of recent findings about the relationship of B-complex vitamins to depression:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Deficiencies trigger depression and irritability, and can cause neurological and cardiac disorders.
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): The British Journal of Psychiatry reports that ALL of one hundred and seventy two successive patients admitted to a British psychiatric hospital for treatment of depression were deficient in B2.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): Depletion causes depression, anxiety, apprehension and fatigue.
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Symptoms of deficiency are depression, fatigue and chronic stress. B5 is needed for hormone formation, the uptake of amino acids and the brain chemical, acetylcholine, which combine to prevent certain types of depression.
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Deficiency can disrupt formation of the anti-depressant neurotransmitters. Vitamin B6 is the co-enzyme needed for the conversion of tryptophan to serotonin, and phenylalanine and tyrosine to norepinephrine. I have discussed the relationships of these neurotransmitters to depression earlier in this chapter.
  • Vitamin B12: Deficiency will cause depression.
  • Folic Acid: Deficiency is a common cause of depression.

Mineral Deficiencies Causing Depression

  • Magnesium: Deficiency results in depression. This cause and effect relationship was first reported in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA), in 1973.
  • Calcium: Depletion affects the central nervous system, causing nervousness, depression, irritability, and apprehension. Hyperparathyroidism causing hypercalcemia also causes depression, social withdrawal and loss of interest.
  • Zinc: Depletion results in apathy and lethargy. When zinc is low, copper levels in the brain may rise to a toxic stage resulting in fearfulness and paranoia.
  • Iron: Depression is often a symptom of chronic iron deficiency. Other symptoms include general weakness, listlessness, exhaustion, lack of appetite and headaches.
  • Manganese: This metal is needed for proper use of the B-complex vitamins and Vitamin C. Since it also plays a role in amino - acid formation, a deficiency may contribute to depression stemming from low levels of the anti-depressant neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine.) Manganese also helps stabilize blood sugars, preventing hypoglycemic mood swings.
  • Potassium: Depletion is frequently associated with depression, fearfulness, weakness and fatigue. A 1981 study found depressed patients more likely than controls to have decreased intracellular potassium. Decreased brain levels of potassium were also found on autopsies of suicides.

The Safety of Supplements

Vitamin C and all of the B-complex vitamins just discussed, are water-soluble. This means they cannot accumulate in your body or be stored for future use. Amounts beyond your nutritional needs are dumped into your urine. As a result, there is no danger of overdose.

Unlike water-soluble vitamins, minerals can be stored in your tissues. Refer to Table in Chapter 4 for the RDA's and therapeutic treatment levels. Do not exceed the recommended therapeutic doses unless under a physician's care, since the accumulation of minerals in your body could be dangerous.

Hypothyroidism as a Cause of Depression


The stress showed on Michael's face as he described how empty his life had become. He had been in therapy for years, and had taken a variety of anti-depressant drugs, to no avail. His occupation in middle management seemed secure. He had no topsy-turvy relationship going. But depression had been a part of his life for many years, and was slowly wearing him out. He confided that a few days earlier he had bought a gun, which he planned to use to kill himself if we could do nothing for him. Needless to say he got my immediate attention.

Our physician ran a lot of tests that seemed promising, but after two weeks, we came up empty. Michael seemed more depressed than ever and I was beginning to worry. Finally I asked him to keep track of his body temperatures upon waking. A week of readings revealed consistently subnormal temperatures. Even though his standard thyroid tests were within range, our doctor treated him with a trial run of Amour thyroid, while waiting for the results from a thyroid-antibody blood test.

Michael's response to thyroid seemed nothing short of a miracle. He perked up even before we had lab evidence that he was hypothyroid. His type of thyroid problem is called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (H.A.I.T.) . His own immune system was mistakenly producing thyroid antibodies that wiped out the normal levels of thyroid he was making.


Hashimoto's Autoimmune Thyroiditis

Hashimoto's thyroiditis (H.A.I.T.) is becoming a far more common diagnosis, occurring in two out of one hundred today compared to six of one hundred thousand in the 1930's. Dr. Steven Langer M.D. describes the classic symptoms in his book, Solved: The Riddle Of Illness.


1. Depression. Their exhaustion and inability to function normally bring on feelings of futility ... Thyroiditis is frequently a common cause of post-partum depression.

2. Deep Fatigue. Often written off as chronic fatigue syndrome. Such patients go to sleep exhausted and wake up even more so. Their endurance is often low to non-existent.

3. Memory Loss, characterized by severe problems with recent memory and ability to concentrate.

4. Nervousness, ranging from mild anxiety to full-blown panic attacks - some of which are true "psychiatric" emergencies. These are puzzling to H.A.I.T. patients and to their physicians who, in desperation, may recommend psychotherapy or prescribe powerful tranquilizers.

5. Allergies, food and environmental.

6. Heartbeat irregularities and palpitations.

7. Muscle and joint pain.

8. Sleep disturbances.

9. Reduced sex drive.

10. Menstrual problems.

11. Suicidal tendencies.

12. Digestive disorders.

13. Headaches and ear pain.

14. Lumps in the throat.

15. Difficulty swallowing.

If many of these symptoms fit you, ask your physician to check further. The usual laboratory tests for thyroid (T3, T4, and TSH) do not always tell the whole story. Often the production of thyroid is normal. But a new test, the Fluorescence Activated Microsphere Assay (FAMA) will measure the presence of thyroid antibodies that your immune system is sending out to attack and kill off your thyroid. This test is available from a number of labs.

We use:

Immuno Diagnostic Laboratories
10930 Bigge Street.
San Leandro, CA 94577
1 -800-888-1113

What causes this auto immune response that results in H.A.I.T., is still unclear. Dr. Langer draws from his own clinical experience in speculating that H.A.I.T. is caused by viral infections such as chronic Epstein-Barr virus or systemic candidiasis. They weaken and confuse the immune system into triggering the body's autoimmune response to its own thyroid.

Whatever the cause, the result is the same as having little or no thyroid hormone. Hypothyroidism causes depression because there is an insufficient supply of oxygen to the brain. With low thyroid function, oxygen cannot be used efficiently. Linus Pauling contends that all depression could be eliminated if brain cells received sufficient oxygen.


Hypothyroidism Caused By Underproduction
of Thyroid Hormone


Allison was only twenty-eight but she had repeated suicide attempts from age 17. In high school, she had been hospitalized because of severe depression and anxiety. She suffered from intense post partum depression after delivering her only child. Over the last ten years, Allison had many psychiatric interventions but no one had considered testing her thyroid.

Yet her appearance fairly shouted "thyroid dysfunction." Her voice had hoarseness; her skin was rough and dry. Her hair was thinning, her fingers and ankles were retaining fluid, and she was puffy and swollen around her eyelids. Despite the warm temperatures she was bundled up in a heavy sweater. Because her concentration was poor and her energy non-existent, she could barely care for her child and hold down her part time job.

Fortunately her lab work held every answer we needed: all of her thyroid results were completely out of range. She also was making anti-thyroid antibodies to knock out the last ghost of any remaining thyroid hormone. To add the very last straw, she had also tested severely pyroluric. I finally understood why she kept trying to commit suicide...The emotional pain simply was unbearable.

Our physician assured her that her physical problems had a name and they were all fixable. A prescription of Armour thyroid (a natural extract of bovine thyroid) brought back her energy and concentration. Her hair grew thicker, her skin became dewy, and her swollen face, fingers and ankles lost all their puffiness. Gradually, her depression faded away.


There were other factors that contributed to her spectacular turn around. She also dealt with hypoglycemia and pyroluria simultaneously. But the amazing change in her personality- the light in her eyes, the bounce in her walk, and the smile on her face - these were the gifts of thyroid hormone replacement. She will need to take these magical, natural chemicals all her life.

Keith Sehnert MD, a medical consultant at Health Recovery Center and a well-known medical writer, developed the following Hypothyroidism Checklist.

Hypothyroidism Checklist.

 Yes No


 ___ ___

 1. Do you have hoarseness of your voice that has not always been there?

 ___ ___

2. Do you have any swelling of your face? 

 ___ ___

3. Do you have dry, scaly skin? 

 ___ ___

4. Do you have decreased sweating? 

 ___ ___

5. Has your hair become drier and more coarse? 

 ___ ___

6. Do you have a decrease in your eyebrows toward the side of your face? 

 ___ ___

7. Have you had a decrease in the amount of scalp hair? 

 ___ ___

8. Have you noticed a "dirty" or thickened skin appearance of your elbows and knees? 

 ___ ___

9. Do you get all tired out easier than you used to? 

 ___ ___

10. Have you ever been told you had an enlarged heart? 

 ___ ___

11. Do your ankles swell or do you otherwise notice evidence of body fluid retention? 

 ___ ___

12.Do you have less than normal energy? 

  ___ ___

13. Have any of your blood relatives had thyroid disease? 

  ___ ___

14. Does cold temperature bother you in the sense that you like the room temperature higher than other people or you wear more clothing or need more bed covers than others? 

  ___ ___

15. Do you have difficulty in pronouncing words? 

  ___ ___

16. Have you had an unexplained increase in weight recently? 

  ___ ___

17. Do you have rough skin or brittle nails that have not always been this way? 

  ___ ___

18. Do you have difficulty concentrating? 

  ___ ___

19. Are you unusually unforgetful? 

  ___ ___

20. Do you feel that you are emotionally unstable but that this has been only in recent weeks or month ?

  ___ ___

21. Do you feel tired after a usual night of sleep or has your sleep or rest requirement increased? 

  ___ ___

22. Do you have times when you have difficulty breathing? 

  ___ ___

23. Do you have constipation, delay of or difficult bowel function?

  ___ ___

24. Is there any problem concerning having children? 

  ___ ___

25. Is there any problem with your sex drive? 

  ___ ___

26. Do you have irregular menstrual flow?

  If you have ten or more positive symptoms,
it is worth pursuing hypothyroidism as a cause of your depression. 

Reproduced by permission of Keith Sehnert, MD


Lab Testing and Home Testing

To assess thyroid function, the standard blood tests measure two components of thyroid hormone: Tri-iodothyronine (T3) and total thyroxin (T4). A test for thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) done on the same blood sample helps determine if thyroid function is normal.

The FAMA test can reveal the presence of antibodies formed against the thyroid. It also can identify changes that precede full-blown hypothyroidism by seven or eight years. AVAILABILITY: Almost all labs will run the T3, T4 and TSH. Only certain labs offer the FAMA.

To self-test for hypothyroidism, you can use the procedure first described in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) by thyroid expert Broda Barnes, M.D. The test could not be simpler! People with low thyroid function have lower than normal body temperatures because they are not burning up as much food as they should. All you have to do for this test is determine whether your body temperature is lower than normal. Use a basal thermometer, not a fever thermometer. The basal type is commonly used for women trying to get pregnant - or trying to avoid pregnancy - to determine when ovulation occurs on the basis of an increase in body temperature. Basal thermometers are available in most drug stores.

Upon waking, place the thermometer snugly under your armpit for ten minutes. If it registers below 97.8 degrees, and if you have some of the symptoms of hypothyroidism, you probably need to take thyroid hormone.

This home test can give you a fix on your thyroid status. Laboratory tests may be borderline or even normal appearing because these are often not reliable tests. Thyroid expert Broda Barnes MD, Ph.D., who has published more than one hundred papers and several books on the role of the thyroid gland in human health, comments on the diagnostic flaws in the present thyroid tests T3 and T4:

"The efforts to measure thyroid activity by determining the amount of hormone stored in the gland or alternatively the amount present in the bloodstream fail to do what really counts: provide an indication of the amount of thyroid hormone available and being used within cells throughout the body. They are somewhat akin to trying to get an idea of a thrifty man's spending habits from the amounts in his wallet or his bank account. Like tests for the amount of hormone in the gland or bloodstream, they tell us nothing about how much is being spent."

Use the graph below for tracking your temperature. Within two weeks a pattern should emerge. If your home test shows a temperature consistently under 97.8 degrees, see your physician to discuss treatment. If your doctor wants more information on your testing method, refer him or her to Dr. Barne's book, Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. Another useful book is Solved, The Puzzle Of Illness, Steven Langer, M.D.


Thyroid Temperature Chart



  1. Shake down your basil thermometer and put it on a night stand or on a chair near your bed.
  2. When you awaken from your night's sleep, immed-iately place the thermometer snug in your armpit.
  3. After resting still for 10 minutes, remove the thermometer and record the temperature on the chart.
  4. For women of menstrual age, the best time to take their temperature is the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th days of their period.
  5. Do not use an electric blanket, heating pad, or heated water bed on these test days.

Dr. Barnes treats thyroid disorders with natural desiccated thyroid (bovine or pork) rather than synthetic thyroid preparations. The advantage of natural thyroid over synthetic is that the natural product replaces all thyroid hormones, whereas synthetics have not yet been able to duplicate nature completely, and do not affect, among others, two troublesome symptoms of hypo-thyroidism: dry skin and water retention.

Hypoglycemia and Depression

In his studies of twelve-hundred hypoglycemic patients, Stephan Gyland MD found that 86% were suffering from depression as well. More recently, positron emition tomography (PET) scans, have verified that glucose metabolism is often reduced in the brains of patients who are depressed. The Symptoms of Hypoglycemia and Depression table (below) is based on Dr. Gyland's work, compares the symptoms attributed to hypoglycemia with those common to depression. If you suspect that hypoglycemia underlies your depression, reread chapter three carefully. You should experience noticeable relief of your symptoms, once you adopt the hypoglycemic diet recommended in section three.

The Symptoms of Hypoglycemia and Depression















 Constant Worrying

 Constant Worrying

 Mental Confusion

 Mental Confusion

 Rapid Pulse

 Rapid Pulse

 Internal Trembling

 Internal Trembling





 Unprovoked Anxieties

 Unprovoked Anxieties

 Digestive Disturbances




 Cold Sweats


Based on the work of Dr. Stephan Gyland

Depression due to Food Allergies or Chemical Sensitivities

The connection between food allergies and depression was a revelation to me. Early on at Health Recovery Center, I became aware of the bizarre mood swings in some of our clients, even though they were closely following a hypoglycemic diet. Luckily, I met Dr. George Kroker, MD, about that time. He is a brilliant allergist and chemical ecologist who taught me sensitive brains can react to chemicals and to foods with an allergic response, even as other body organs do, i.e.: your skin may react allergically with hives.

I first saw this phenomenon in allergic-addicted alcoholics who are supersensitive to the alcoholic grains they drink. Wheat usually tops the list. Once they are abstinent, they replace their alcohol with lots of pastas, breads, cereals, and other wheat products, and complain constantly about their depression and fatigue.


One of our early clients, Mary, showed such a Jekyll and Hyde change in her behavior, I could hardly believe a food could do this. Our protocol at that time was to clear the brain of allergy substances through a modified fast for five days and then test for susceptible foods. At the end of Mary's fast, her constant depression was gone and she was elated. But her newfound stability lasted only until she tested wheat. Within two hours she crashed! Crying over the phone, she told me this program doesn't work and she would not be back. The next day she had recovered enough to talk about what happened. She recognized her abnormal brain response to wheat and she began to see that she wanted wheat in her diet continually to take her out of withdrawal and make her feel better temporarily. (A short high before the corresponding low.) The downside, her depression, she did not associate with her wheat "binges." Proof was easily established by avoidance for several days and then making a meal of the suspected substance. (Repeating this procedure will turn symptoms off and on, over and over, until you are a believer.

Mary's resolve to avoid wheat lasted only a few days. Then she succumbed to temptation and ate an entire pizza for lunch. An hour later she arrived for her therapy group and began sobbing inconsolably, while the others groped for emotional explanations for her behavior. After her wheat reaction wore off, her depression again lifted.


Of course wheat is not the only substance capable of triggering a maladaptive reaction in the brains and nervous systems of sensitive people. Many of us have found certain foods we binge on (that's a BIG clue) and many chemicals we breathe (gasoline, paint odors, formaldehydes) cause reactions in us.

I know personally how affected my brain used to get from heavy colognes and perfumes worn by clients. Over an hour's time my thinking slowed down and I felt spacey. I was tested in a clinical ecology lab for ethanol (almost all perfumes are ethanol-based) and became uncontrollably sleepy. I leaned my head on the shoulder of the person beside me and dozed off. When I came to, a few minutes later, I was embarrassed and bewildered at being so completely taken over by a few mysterious drops under my tongue. (I didn't know what was being tested.) Today my immune system is far stronger, but I still get mildly light-headed around ethanol products. Others may react with anger or feeling low. Some alcoholics react by craving another kind of ethanol: Alcohol. Thus, many house painters and garage mechanics have a low state of intoxification going from breathing these fumes all day. It is not by chance that they head straight for a bar after work.

Food addictions keep you coming back for more of certain foods because you love the initial highs that they provide as they lift you out of your withdrawal state. You don't understand that the downside of your addiction(s) may be depression, anxiety, or confusion, a result of the inevitable withdrawal. If you suspect you are food addicted or chemically sensitive to substances that affect your brain and cause depression, be sure to read chapters eight and nine carefully to learn to identify and eliminate these culprits.

Yeast Related Disorders as a Cause of Depression

During the past fifteen years we have seen a long line of clients who are fighting an internal war with overgrowth of common intestinal yeast called Candida Albicans. I can usually tell during the first interview who is a probable candidate for treatment of candida-related complex (CRC). People suffering from this problem appear depressed, tired, anxious, and so spacey they often can't follow what I'm saying. They tell me they crave sugar, and they have telltale signs of yeast invasion throughout their bodies. Their immune systems are depressed, and many foods cause bloating and produce allergic/addictive responses.

If you suffer from CRC, your depression won't lift until these yeast colonizers are attacked and eliminated. In section 9 and chapter nine of Depression Free, Naturally you will find a full discussion on yeast related disorders and their symptoms, as well as an explanation as to why some of you are particularly susceptible to yeast overgrowth. There are also instructions for testing and treatment of candida-related complex.

Depression Common to High Histimine Levels

Histamine is a chemical that is found everywhere in the body. Inside your brain, it can cause emotional havoc if levels sink too low or rise too high. High histamine persons (histadelics) tend to be compulsive, obsessive, driven, high-energy types, who often suffer from ongoing depression. Because of their inborn energy and impulsivity to act, they are at high risk for suicide if they cannot alleviate their depression.

In the next section (7) I will describe how abnormal histamine levels cause unstable emotional states. The depression that it triggers does not respond to the usual drug therapies or to electric shock. But lowering the histamine levels does bring about the needed relief. Blocking and detoxifying histamine do this. A natural amino acid, methionine, can do this safely. It works by raising methylation levels. Dilantin, the anti-epilepsy drug, has sometimes been used, because it destroys folic acid that is needed to make histamine. I have not liked the side effects our clients experienced from blocking histamine with dilantin. A regimen of methionine, calcium, zinc, and manganese has usually proved sufficient to stabilize a high histamine person. If you suspect this familial disorder fits for you, complete the histadelic screen in the next section to check your symptoms. If you score high, you will want to confirm your histamine status with a laboratory blood test.

Recommended labs and the Health Recovery Center Formula for Histadelics are in section 7.

Depression From Mercury Buildup in the Brian

Mercury toxicity causes depression. The greatest mercury exposure to the public is from dental amalgams, pesticides, cosmetics (read the labels) and the fish from inland lakes whose waters have became chemical dumping grounds. Mercury toxicity symptoms include fatigue, depression, weakness, tremors, memory loss, nervousness, uncoordination, numbness and tingling of the lips and feet, and emotional instability. Selenium binds mercury and protects against its toxic effects. A hair analysis will measure your mercury exposure, whether recently or long ago. Hair is preferred over blood that can only show recent mercury exposure.

One last word about mercury poisoning: mercury-silver amalgams are being phased out, worldwide. In Sweden, Japan, and Germany, mercury fillings are outlawed in females of childbearing age. In the United States today, our "silver" dental amalgams typically contain 48-60% mercury, 15-37% silver, 12-18% tin, and 0-26% copper. Our mercury levels increase with each additional dental filling. Review of Medical Pharmacology, 1983. Dentists and their assistants are particularly subject to exposure to high mercury concentrations daily, and dentists now lead all other professions in suicides!

Alcohol and Drugs, Prescribed or Otherwise,
Can Cause Depression

Alcohol, street drugs and prescription drugs all have one thing in common, they deplete your body and brain of essential natural chemicals, many of which keep you emotionally stable.

Most alcohol and drug addicted persons who stop their use still experience cravings, depression, anxiety, and unstable moods. Without the buffer of drugs, they feel the full brunt of brain and nervous system changes that heavy use has caused. With no physical repair, feeling good is NOT just around the corner. These symptoms linger for years according to a Johns Hopkins University study. Over a ten-year period, researchers found the following ongoing symptoms in 4,312 abstinent former alcoholics:

  • Depression
  • Hostility
  • Anxiety
  • Paranoia
  • Psychosis
  • Phobia
  • Inadequate and inferior feelings

They concluded that the typical recovering person experiences many of these symptoms for years. Their study shows a painfully slow reduction in symptom intensity with levels dropping slowly over a long period of time.

Suicide is so prevalent among treated alcoholics, that one in four deaths of these alcoholics are from suicide, usually occurring within the first year after treatment. Archives of General Psychiatry, 1984 Alcoholism assaults sanity by depleting key stabilizing chemicals in the brain. Counseling cannot correct such damage. Physical repair is essential.

In my book Seven Weeks To Sobriety, (Ballantine) I laid out a self-treatment program very similar to our successful model at the Health Recovery Center. Included is the same basic Health Recovery Center Detox Formula, a combination of amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients, that eliminate cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms. This formula does the critical work of replacing the natural chemicals that alcoholism has destroyed, and repairs the damage. It is based on the work of researchers worldwide. The doses have been tested and fine tuned at Health Recovery Center for over eighteen years. Those of you who have gotten yourself hooked on a drug that now owns you, trust me, there's a better way to feel good! Just contact the Health Recovery Center and I will help you get drug-free and stable.


To order the HRC Alcoholism Detox Formula
(6 week supply includes schedule)

Bio-GLA, Bio-Omega-3 Liquid, Bio-Enzymes, Bio-Buffered C, Bio-Cal/Mag w. Reacted Minerals, Bio Aminos, Bio-Vits w. Reacted Minerals, Tyrosine, Glutamine Powder Melatonin, L-Tryptophan

In a final word about prescribed medications, some well known causes of depression are:

1.) heart medications

2.) blood pressure medications (i.e.: diuretics and calcium channel blockers)*

3.) estrogen replacement therapies

4.) sleeping pills

5.) benzodiazepams

* new research shows a 500% increase in suicide in calcium channel blocker users. British Medical Journal 1993; 316: 741-745.

If you trace your depression back to embarking on a prescription drug, you may want to find a more natural solution for your medical problem, or ask your doctor about an alternative choice of drugs.

Where Do You Fit In?

Now that you are familiar with the various biochemical problems that can underlie depression, its time to determine what to do about the one(s) responsible for your own bleak mental state; here are your options. Check all the categories that apply to you.

  • Identify and treat vanadium toxicity that can cause bipolar disorder
  • Raise taurine and natural lithium levels through the natural formula for bi-polar
  • Restore levels of folic acid, vitamin C, calcium, and thyroid if taking lithium
  • Restoring the neurotransmitters serotonin and/or norepinephrine formulas in this section.
  • Replacing the Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fatty acids. (Formula in this section.)
  • Restoring key vitamins and minerals (review the list of vitamins and minerals earlier in this section.)
  • Treating hypothyroidism (consult your physician.)
  • Correcting hypoglycemia (review chapter 3)
  • Avoiding foods/chemicals responsible for cerebral allergy reactions (see chapters 8 and 9)
  • Treating candida-related complex (see chapter 9)
  • Identifying and treating histadelia - high brain levels of histamine (see chapter seven for more information.)
  • Identifying and removing any toxic stores of mercury. A hair analysis will measure this buildup. If present, consult your physician about removal.
  • Eliminating alcohol and other drugs, prescribed or not, that cause depression. Work with your doctor on alternative choices. (For alcoholism, detoxify with the formula refered in this sectioin. For those recovering from addiction to cocaine, narcotics, marijuana, and other street drugs call 1-800-247-6237 for help. For prescription drugs consult with your physician for other options that do not induce depression in you.

I urge you to seek medical advice when dealing with depression especially if it is severe. I also urge you to choose a doctor attuned to your special needs. Orthomolecular physicians are experts in both allopathic and nutritional medicine who are willing to treat physical disorders with an array of biological weapons, a combination of both drugs and powerful non-drugs from our natural pharmacy.

These physicians can help you with the following problems:

1.) Restoration of neurotransmitter levels.

2.) Hypoglycemia testing and treatment

3.) Vitamin, mineral, and essential fatty acid testing and restoration.

4.) Histamine testing.

5.) Hair analysis.

6.) Thyroid testing and treatment.

For a list of orthomolecular physicians in your area, contact the:

Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine
16 Florence Avenue
Toronto, Ontario, Canada M2N-1E9

(This group supplies names of physicians in Canada and the United States.)

A clinical ecologist will be able to test you for food and chemical allergies and candida- related complex.

For a list of such physicians in your area contact the:

American Academy of Environmental Medicine
Box CN 1001-8001
New Hope, PA 18938
1-215 -862-4544

If you need help getting free of alcohol or street drugs, call

Health Recovery Center
3255 Hennepin Ave So
Minneapolis, MN 55408
(612) 827-7800


 Additional information on formulas, schedules, and optimal doses to achieve biochemical restoration/repair can be found in the book Depression Free, Naturally

 Information on this website is reprinted from the book, Depression Free, Naturally by Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D. (ISBN 0-345-43517-6) Copyright ©2001. All rights reserved. This information may not be reproduced without permission from Ballantine Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc. & Joan Mathews Larson, Ph.D.

Anyone wishing may link their site to the information found on this site. For a reciprical link call 612-827-7800.