Intended for healthcare professionals

Head To Head

Should youth mental health become a specialty in its own right? Yes

BMJ 2009; 339 doi: (Published 26 August 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;339:b3373

Critical to get the biochemistry right

I am a GP with a big interest in getting the biochemistry right in
addition to using the standard medication in patients with mental health
problems. As little is known about this in Europe I went to Sydney for a
course in 2006 and it has transformed the lives of hundreds of people
since.I enjoy psychiatry a lot more now.

It appears that mental health problems are really physical health
problems. The brain makes 300 neurotransmitters and the raw materials must
be supplied daily- amino acids, vitamins,minerals and essential fatty
acids. The raw material may not be suppied if the diet is not balanced
properly. Next you need to get the proteins broken down to individual
amino acids in the gut and then they go to the brain and hopefully
provide a balance and normal mental health after conversion to
neurotransmitters. Many tests can be done to find out what is wrong
including plasma zinc, serum copper, caeruloplamin, histamine, pyrroles,
coeliac antibodies and varous vitamin levels to name only a few.I look
after two children who were doing really badly in school and when I did
the tests and got the mothers to get the children the proper nutrients the
results were most satisfactory. Having treated several hundred patients
now I believe that getting the biochemistry right may well prevent many
cases of depression and even cases of psychosis.Why let them suffer often
for a lifetime if this simple work can be done.Here is one practical
suggestion: Check every psychiatric patient for coeliac antibodies- a
simple blood test (positive result to be proved later by duodenal biopsy
). About 4% of them will be positive and you can change their life utterly
by getting them on a gluten-free diet.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 October 2009
Edmond V O`Flaherty
Gleneagle, Greygates, Mount Merrion, Co Dublin