by Debbie Stoton CH
About the Author: Debbie Stoton is a freelance health issues writer and Chartered Herbalist living and working in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. She is a graduate of Dominion Herbal College (1985) in British Columbia, Canada, and will submit her Master Herbalist Thesis later this year. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
A central nervous system (CNS) disorder can present itself in one of any number of forms. The uncontrollable shaking of Parkinson’s disease, the hopelessness of depression, the frustration of ADD (attention deficit disorder) and the roller-coaster mood swings of BP (bipolar disorder/manic depression) are all various forms of CNS disorder. It may seem unlikely that all of these ailments have one common contributing factor, but poor nutrition is at the root cause of many of them. You may wonder how we could be lacking in nutrition in this day of fast, easy and convenient foodstuffs. The answer is clear. The soils that our food is grown in are severely deficient in important trace elements. How can we possibly harvest healthy food from sick soil?
Increasing Incidence of CNS Disorders
The close of the first half of the twentieth century brought an end to a world conflict and offered the promise of prosperity for all. Science would save nations by increasing crop outputs with the use of chemical fertilizers. We were armed with synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, new drugs and vaccines and we thought we were invincible. Some pundits have described the twentieth century as the most stressful period in the history of the modern world.1 In general terms, the various branches of North American psychiatric medicine believe that at least 26% of all women and 12% of all men will experience some form of clinical depression during their lifetime.2 It is estimated that at least two million Americans are afflicted with some form of depression. While we have been encouraged by government and industry alike to look at the nutritional promises that the new millennium holds for us, CNS disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, bipolar disorder and clinical depression continue to escalate in frequency and remain a major societal problem. Most of us know at least one person in our circle of family or business associates who suffers from depression. Even people who lead seemingly idyllic lives have been stricken with some form of depression.
Actors, astronauts, political figures, writers and media personalities have openly admitted their battles with depression. It now appears that the wholesale use of chemical fertilizers and super-efficient processing methods has caused nutrients to have an ever-declining level of trace elements. We seem to be left with more dietary-related health problems than our forebears, as evidenced by the fact that 2% of the population suffers from bipolar disorder (manic depression) attributed to nutritional deficiencies. This number translates into seven-and-a-half million bipolar sufferers with 1,125,000 ending in suicide.
According to an article by Charles W Schmidt, there has been a 22% increase in antidepressant drugs for children under the age of ten since 1995.3 Dr Julie Magno Zito of the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, in Baltimore, has discovered through her research that 1.5% of children between two and four years of age are already on mind-controlling drugs like Ritalin®.4 The high numbers of repeat prescriptions of this drug for children point to the fact that even the young are not immune from CNS disorders. If that doesn’t cause you to wonder just what is going on in the western world, consider that the National Institute of Mental Health (USA) has initiated a five million dollar research study on the impact of psychiatric drugs on children.1
Vitamin and Mineral Depletion
Countless researchers have focused on vitamins and trace minerals over the past fifty years as being the ‘missing link’ in the human nutrition puzzle. Walter Mertz, former director of the US Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center in Maryland, has led much of the investigation. He has also edited two editions of Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition.5 Dr Mertz discovered through his studies that chromium6 for instance is a vital trace nutrient while fluorine, also a trace element, will cause adverse effects to the nervous system as the cumulative amount increases with time. So initially a little fluorine causes little initial impact on the human organism but as time progresses the body’s natural affinity to store this element increases the total quantity of fluorine with resultant adverse affects on the nervous system.7
This research also implicates that we are sadly lacking in vitamins as well, since vitamins assist in the assimilation of minerals. In an abstract presented at the Canadian Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting8 on 5 October 2000 in Victoria, British Columbia, researchers suggested that food that is grown using conventional farming methods lacks essential trace elements. It was also suggested that modern food processing methods and chemical food additives may further decimate the nutrition of our food. Thus it was concluded that some CNS problems may be ameliorated by dietary supplementation. Research indicates that many of the nutrients that are missing in our diet may be implicated in faulty or poor brain function. In October 1974 the late Ezra Taft Benson9 stated, “Food can affect the mind, and deficiencies in certain elements in the body can promote mental depression.”
As research progresses, more is learned about what the common man and woman have only suspected. The new research confirms and points to several CNS disorders that can be caused by nutritional deficiencies. For individuals that are predisposed to CNS problems, this news is exceedingly important.
To further worsen matters, literally millions of tons of pesticides are used each year on our food crops. Additionally, pest control products are extensively used in the processing, selling, storage and serving of food. Research documentation clearly indicates that haphazard exposure to pesticides10 impacts the CNS of some sensitive individuals. The question of why North America is still the highest rate user of the chemical Atrazine, an endocrine-disrupting chemical of the same family as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and linked to various cancers, while Germany, the Netherlands and other countries in Europe including France have banned its use, should be of grave concern to politicians and citizens alike. Recently the US Geological Survey11 has found Atrazine herbicide in all 36 river basins, including streams, rain ground water and even fog! In spite of government regulations and specific bans, there remains considerable public pressure and medical concern over the wholesale use of pesticides on food crops and irradiation of foodstuffs. Unfortunately all is not known about the deleterious effects of these relatively new chemicals or processes.12
A New Dietary Formula
Almost by accident, an effective dietary formula has been discovered. After Anthony Stephan’s wife, a bipolar sufferer, committed suicide he set out on a quest to find some answers. He took his query to David Hardy who had extensive knowledge of a similar disorder in hogs. With the help of his friend, they began to formulate a mixture of nutrients tailored to human needs. The formula was given to three of M Stephan’s children, who, like their mother, were afflicted with clinical bipolar disorder.
The results were incredible and the children were freed from their prescription drug dependencies in a short period of time. The two men brought their concoction and their remarkable story13 to the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. From there theformula was launched in research studies at several other prominent universities.
Research into the efficacy of the formula has been funded by the Alberta Provincial Government and is being studied by no less than seven universities in Canada and the United States. Double-blind and open case studies have been and are still being conducted. And, thankfully, the Alberta Government has not allowed itself to be shackled by corporate drug interest groups. Although pale in comparison to what drug companies get in the way of public funding, the Government of Alberta has funded the first initial research into a dietary supplement and its incredible effect on bipolar sufferers. This accidental discovery has served to confirm what organic farmers and advocates have known all along. And that is that our soil is sadly lacking in essential nutrients and trace elements and for some individuals this can be disastrous!
This particular ‘Alberta’ formula and others like it work by supplying necessary nutrients to the brain in the proper balance or ratio that it requires. This special blend of nutrients completes the delicate equilibrium that is necessary for normal brain function. On the surface, the Alberta formula14 looks like a multi- or mega- vitamin, and it is only one of a number of very effective formulas that are currently available. Stephan’s formula consists of 37 vitamins, minerals, trace elements and antioxidants. The scientifically balanced ingredients have been chelated, a process that renders them between 80% and 90% usable (assimilable) by the human body. The nutrients are assimilated expediently by the body so the deficient brain function is restored quickly.
Consequently, major symptoms such as suicidal tendencies and mood swings are reduced. Some people have even reported an improvement in their condition in as little as 72 hours. However, the majority of subjects in various studies experienced improvement in their conditions in three to six weeks. Full recovery and independence from drugs has been reached shortly thereafter.
Perhaps the most significant victory in this discovery is that it serves to confirm to the world that our diets are lacking in nutrients and trace elements.15 It has been proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that drugs alone cannot effectively treat CNS disorders, let alone prevent them. It is not a surprise that this breakthrough in the treatment of deficiency-related CNS disorders can bring hope to afflicted individuals.
The days where depression is treated with dangerous drugs, shock treatments and confinement may soon be passé. Drugs lose their effectiveness and can cause harmful side effects such as hallucinations, aggression and mania. The time has come to recognize that a dietary enhancement is not only free of side effects but actually leads to full recovery. The worldwide Internet16 is alive with case studies of people that have successfully treated many forms of CNS disorders through nutritional supplementation.
The Beneficial Effects of Dietary Supplementation
Dietary supplements are safe to take in conjunction with conventional drug therapies, but users are given a recommendation to discuss the treatment with their physician in order to wean themselves safely from the prescription drugs. Dietary supplementation has also been shown to ameliorate the symptoms of ADD, clinical depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), schizophrenia, anxiety-panic disorder and Tourette’s syndrome. University of Calgary17 and Utah researchers discovered a common nutritional deficiency that is present in all of these ailments, and ongoing research may reveal that many other disorders can be helped by nutritional supplementation. This research is not dissimilar to the research and treatment first started by Dr Abram Hoffer in the 1950s. Dr Hoffer of Vancouver, British Columbia,and others like him, maintained that nutrition is the key to optimum health. Dr Hoffer states, “I tell patients that tranquilizers alone never cure anyone. They merely reduce the intensity of the symptoms and make life slightly more endurable. They create a better behaved,18 chronic dependent person. Only with orthomolecular treatment can the majority of schizophrenic patients hope to become well and normally independent.”
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of nutritional supplementation is that it is effective in prevention for predisposed individuals. This concept of prevention is alien to the drugindustry unless applied to the germ theory of disease.19 Diet supplementation is affordable and is considerably less costly than current drug therapies. Researchers in Alberta have made trials open to anyone worldwide who feels that they may benefit from supplementation. Many people who have decided to supplement their diets are realizing a new quality of life without drugs and their debilitating side effects. They are freed from the bondage of CNS disorders and, for some, the potential confinement of an institution. Bipolar victims are now free to go on and lead productive, fruitful lives. Today they remain a testimony to the pioneers that had the determination and guts to question the modern day chemical and drug salesmen.
Case Study 1 – Bipolar Disorder
From the time Jerry20 was 8 ½ years old, she remembers feeling different from people around her. At 29 years of age, and after many years of mood swings, she was diagnosed as having bipolar disorder. Doctors told her that the manic depression could be easily managed with the drug lithium. As expected, her unpredictable mood swings seemed to be under control. “To this point, my life had been so out of control with my moods so unstable, that the change lithium made for short periods of time were a great relief,” said Jerry. “I was sure that I was on my way to recovery from the craziness that engulfed my entire life. That was not the way things were going to transpire,” Jerry remembers.
For ten years she lived in a roller-coaster state, cycling from mania to depression. It seemed that she could never go more than three months before she would start to become unstable again. The drugs were no longer working and one doctor after another gave up on her until finally it was suggested that perhaps shock therapy would help. Jerry spent most of her time in a hopeless suicidal state trying to plan how, when and where she would die. Not only was she at a point where the drugs did not work anymore, but also their long-term use had horrendous side effects. She was allergic and the drugs were no longer effective. “Acne lesions all over my body, a lot on my face; extreme hair loss; shaking and trembling in my hands so bad I could not even sign a cheque; feeling so drugged I could not even function,” she recalls.
Her condition eventually deteriorated to the point where she could not even make simple decisions and became a prisoner in her own home. She could no longer function in society and would spend weeks in bed. Jerry said, “I was simply waiting for the end to come”. It was at this point that a friend suggested that Jerry consider taking dietary supplements for her condition and that perhaps she was missing something in her diet.
After suffering for so many years, Jerry was willing to try anything in the hope that some way or somehow she could get her life back on track. Just six weeks after starting supplementation, she was able to function and was no longer depressed. She bubbles over with enthusiasm when she talks about her newfound life and how happy her family is that ‘Jerry’ is back. Jerry still lives in Alberta, Canada.
Case Study 2 – Parkinson’s Disease
Today Abe’s21 physical condition is in a sorry state of affairs. Ten years ago, at the young age of 56, Abe was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. The owner of his own business, he had worked with industrial chemicals and plastics for many years, and, through a combination of ignorance and carelessness about workplace hygiene, he had jeopardized his CNS. Abe really didn’t take much notice of his nutrition and never took supplements, and life was good to him. His doctor recommended a full regimen of drugs and never even considered Abe’s diet or work environment. The early administration of drugs only seemed to accelerate the progression of Abe’s Parkinson’s. His family had urged him to try dietary supplementation and cleansing of his system before resorting to the toxic drugs. But Abe had paid into a government medical system that promised health in time of need and continued to follow the advice of his conventional medical doctor. The drugs that were prescribed created a roller-coaster effect in his body. He suffered a heart attack after years on beta blockers. Although the tremors in his hands lessened, his mind was dulled and sleep became the norm even during midday. Restlessness along with frustration and depression called for the administration of psychiatric drugs. Due to the choices that Abe made he is not able to tell you his whole story personally today.
In conclusion, Parkinson’s does not have to result in a life sentence of misery and debility. Abe is my Dad.
Unlike Abe who will most likely be spending his last days in a personal care institution, many Parkinson’s patients are realizing the benefits of an informed, natural and total approach to their affliction. Parkinson’s disease used to be a malady of the aged but that is not so anymore as it is afflicting younger and younger victims. With the recent revelation from Hollywood actor Michael J Fox and US Attorney General Janet Reno, we are coming to the shocking realization that Parkinson’s is striking young and old alike. Statistics point to the fact that nutrient deficiencies, careless use of chemicals and toxic elements in our environment are responsible for the alarmingly young cases of Parkinson’s disease.
These case studies and others like them, together with the Alberta research, further reinforce the old adage, “We are what we eat”. The staggering number of prescriptions necessary to treat the emotionally unbalanced are pointing to the fact that our food supply is the culprit. Not everyone with an emotional problem has a chemical imbalance, but it begs an answer to the root cause. Food that was grown on soils that are depleted of trace elements that humans require for optimum health is not a complete food. Self-interest groups that promote greens, whole grains and fruit as complete foods have their hearts in the right place, but many fail to educate the public on the actual nutritional value of synthetic, chemically nurtured food. Have we been asking the same industry that helped make us sick to make us well? Is government so drunken on the wine of the public tax trough that they too now rely on industry to save us? Can the drug companies reverse what the chemical companies have done? Common sense should remind us that many of our illnesses are caused by nutritionally incomplete diets. It may eventually be proven that suicide, road rage, air rage and other destructive behavior in our society have as much to do with nutrition as they have with personal behavior standards.
Finally, a small part of the scientific community in Canada has accepted the fact, borne out by their own research and the findings of others, that the health of the human race is co-dependent, in its entirety, on the complex nature of the food we consume.
Let us encourage all those that will not allow themselves to be programmed by government and self-serving corporations to believe all is well down on the farm. The revelation that dead soils are behind much of our nutritionally based suffering should quicken the cause of organic farmers and enlightened consumers alike. In the words of the great American cartoon philosopher, Pogo, “We have met the enemy and they are us!”22 The message for everyone is that we can no longer continue to live in a fool’s paradise thinking that all we grow on the modern conventional farm is healthy for us.
1. Stoton Debbie. Farming nutrition and central nervous system disorders. Acres USA.
2. Thase Michael. 21. DSM IV and Differential Diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder in Adults.
3. Schmidt Charles W. Child Magazine. September 2000.
4. Magno Zito. Child Magazine. September 2000.
5. Mertz Walter (ed.). Trace Elements in Human and Animal Nutrition. 5th ed. Vols 1 and
2. Academic Press. ISBN 0124912532. 1998.
6. NaturalHealthNotebook.com See chromium at
7. Mertz Walter. The Nature of Trace Elements. Vol. 1. Academic Press. Excerpts 1987,
8. Synergy Group of Canada Inc. Canadian Psychiatric Association Annual Meeting,
Victoria, British Columbia, 5 October 2000. See
9. Ezra Taft Benson, grandson of the late ET Benson.
10. Ritz Beata and Yu Fei. Parkinson’s disease mortality and pesticide exposure in
California 1984-1994. International Journal of Epidemiology, 29(2): 323-29. April 2000. (A
study of higher rates of Parkinson’s in males living in counties in California, USA, where
agricultural pesticides were used over a ten-year period.)
12. Harkin Senator Tom (Democrat-Iowa). Irradiation. US Farm Bill. H.R2646. Section
1079E (Cold Pasteurization).
13. Anthony Stephan. See www.truehope.com
in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format.
15. The Synergy Group of Canada, Toronto, Canada. Nutritional Supplement Offering New
Hope to the Mentally Ill: Encouraging Results Support Theory that Mental Deficiencies are
Linked to Nutrient Deficiencies. Press Release. 25 May 2001. See
16. ‘The Internet is alive with case studies of people… CNS disorders’. Google Search:
17. University of Calgary. Potential clinical benefit of nutritional supplements in the
management of fibromyalgia. Journal of Musculoskeletal Pain. 7(4): 127. 1999. See a copy
18. Dishinger Ronald C. Bad Behavior and Illness are Caused by Biochemical Imbalances.
(Introduction by Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, FRCP.) Medici Music Press. Kentucky, USA.
19. Louis Pasteur, all about him. A biography, Access Excellence@The National Health
20. Stoton Debbie. Interview with ‘Jerry’. September 2001.
21. Stoton Debbie. Parkinson’s – a natural approach. Alive Magazine. 233. May 2001.
22. ‘Pogo’. Walt Kelly satirical US character. See
Readers are also referred to June Butlin’s excellent article re Nutrition and Parkinson’s
Disease in issue 53 (June 2000) of Positive Health.