Can Zinc Really Cure Psychosis?
We are in a global zinc deficiency epidemic. Over one-third of the world's population is zinc deficient, and in some populations up to 73 percent are deficient1 . This is a HUGE problem because zinc is used by more enzymes (more than three hundred) than any other mineral, including those that help your DNA repair, replicate, and synthesize proteins.
Think back to the beginning of this chapter to understand why that's so important. Your DNA's job is to build protein. If that stops, your system breaks down from the ground up.
Zinc is important in immunity and controlling inflammation, which is a critical factor in brain dysfunction. It is also critical in activating your digestive enzymes, which help you break down and digest food better and therefore help you prevent food allergies–one of the chief causes of inflammation (and consequently brain diseases in so many).
Zinc also helps rid the body of heavy metal toxins like mercury by helping a key enzyme called metallothionein. Problems with metallothionein have been linked to many neurobehavioral problems, including ADHD and autism. In fact, the highest concentration of metallothionein is in the brain, especially in the memory center, or hippocampus.
Low zinc levels have been linked to depression2 as well as to changes in behavior, learning, mental function, and susceptibility to convulsions. Zinc is also needed for the enzyme (dopamine hydroxylase) that makes the happy hormone noradrenalin from dopamine, which is, perhaps, one of the primary reasons zinc deficiency is associated with depression.
There have also been links between zinc deficiency and schizophrenia. It seems that up to 50 percent of schizophrenics have a biochemical quirk called the mauve factor.3 These odd compounds can bind to zinc and vitamin B6, leading to a functional zinc deficiency.
Dr. Abram Hoffer, the father of orthomolecular psychiatry, has successfully treated thousands of schizophrenic patients using this approach.4 An extensive review of the mauve factor in many diseases by Woody McGinnis5 and his group documents how this neurotoxin influences mood, brain, and behavior. This compound (mauve factor) can be measured in the urine. Taking zinc, B6, and niacin can correct this problem.
Adequate zinc is absolutely critical for a healthy brain and body. And many of us are deficient and don't know it. So eat your pumpkin seeds and take zinc.
To learn more about how nutritional deficiencies affect the health of your brain and how to get all the right vitamins and minerals for you, see Dr. Hyman's new book, The UltraMind Solution.
- Nowak G, Szewczyk B, Pilc A. Zinc and depression. An update. Pharmacol Rep. 2005 Nov-Dec;57(6):713-8. Review.
- Heleniak EP, Lamola SW. A new prostaglandin disturbance syndrome in schizophrenia: delta-6-pyroluria. Med Hypotheses. 1986 Apr;19(4):333-8. Review.
- HOFFER A, MAHON M. The presence of unidentified substances in the urine of psychiatric patients. J Neuropsychiatr. 1961 Aug;2:331-62.
- McGinnis WR, Audhya T, Walsh WJ, Jackson JA, McLaren-Howard J, Lewis A, Lauda P, Bibus DM, Jurnak F, Lietha R, Hoffer A. Discerning the mauve factor, pending publication March 2008, Alter Thera Health Med.
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