Monthly Book Review November 2016 – Nutrient Power
This month's book review will be taking a look at William Walsh's Nutrient Power. This book was a real eye opener for me in understanding how different types of nutritional imbalances causes by genetic and epigenetic factors can create different types of mental/emotional health issues including depression and all the way up in intensity to the level of Schizophrenia and even Autism.
This book has been claimed to be a breakthrough in the field of psychiatric medicine, and encapsulates the more modern view that mental illnesses are treatable with targeted nutritional therapy (using vitamins and supplements instead of drugs).
For that reason it provides hope to millions, because as many have realized, the current paradigm and treatment system is not working, leaving millions depressed and worse, or at best finding improvement that's only possible with the inclusion of the many nasty side effects that taking medications often leads to.
Introduction To William Walsh's Work
Dr William Walsh is a scientist with more than 30 years of research, and has largely focused his work in the realm of mental health and nutritional therapy for helping patients address mental health issues from depression, to bipolar disorder to schizophrenia.
During his productive career Dr Walsh has worked in some of the most prestigious scientific institutions of the United States, as a shortlist: Institute for Atomic Research (Ames, IA); University of Michigan Research Institute (Ann Arbor, MI); Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM); and Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont, IL); Savannah River, (Aiken, SC) .
Apart from that, he also founded what was called the Health Research Institute, in 1982, and then later on the Pfeiffer Treatment Center, both of which are now closed as Walsh's work has moved on.
Walsh worked closely for 12 years with the well known Dr.Carl Pfeiffer, who was a physician and biochemist who did much of the pioneering work in treating various mental illnesses with amino acids. Pfeiffer was particularly interested in schizophrenia and focused much of his efforts towards treating this illness with nutritional therapy based models .
Walsh's work largely agrees with Carl Pfeiffer's declaration that: “For every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect.” and he has spent much of his career advancing the nutritional treatment approaches used to treat Bipolar, Depression, Schizophrenia, other behavioral disorders including ADHD, Alzheimer's Disease, and even Autism.
Nutrient Power represents a lot of the Walsh's most recent findings, and documents what he's discovered from working with over 30,000 patients suffering from the conditions just mentioned.
Below you can see how the book is laid out in the Table of Contents.
Firstly Walsh discusses some of the key concepts of his work, like the very personalized aspect of treating mental health, central biochemical principles such as methylation, and epigenetics and their powerful effect on mental health or illness as we progress through life.
He then goes into each specific category of disorder for the following, as a separate chapter:
- Behavioral Disorders and ADHD
- Alzheimer's Disease
He then discusses the clinical approach for treatment and provides references, a glossary and four Appendixes at the end, including further discussions on methylation and oxidative stress (which plays a fundamental role in many mental disorders, as we're further learning as the research continues to emerge).
One curious thing about the current edition that I have, is that there's no Index section at the end of the book, which makes it a little frustrating to try and go over previously studied concepts from the book. This is a bit of a shortfall to say the least.
A Quick Discussion On Methylation
Methylation is one of the key areas of Walsh's work, and is explained in detail in the book Nutrient Power. To give you a very simple idea of what methylation is, It's basically a biological process which is extremely important when it comes to the regulation and synthesis of various neurotransmitters, including dopamine, serotonin and norepinephrine among others.
I'm not going to try and explain how methylation works in this review, because 1) it would take a lot of scientific explanation, a large part of which I'm still trying to understand myself, and 2) it's not necessary to know the science behind methylation to get the benefits from working to ensure it's functioning correctly for you personally.
I am an undermethylator (various genetic predispositions cause this, and can be shown by testing certain bio-markers, like for example blood histamine levels), proven by testing, and I've seen just how powerful working on correcting methylation can be first hand by going through the process in my own life. I still don't really understand how methylation works, and struggle to explain it to others beyond the basic definition I gave above.
Hate to give a cheesy analogy, but most people don't understand how electricity really works, but benefit from its use daily without necessarily even wanting to know the process by which it functions. Same thing in my books with methylation.
All that being said, for those of us who are really good with understanding complex biological processes, you'll find what you need in the Methylation chapter of the book. Also, Chris Kresser's call found here is another great place to get a better overall understanding on the concept.
What I Personally Got From This Book
I read this book quickly after I learned that I was quite likely to suffer from methylation issues, (undermethylators also often have Pyroluria to some degree, which I wrote more about here).
Firstly I was very intrigued by the sheer volume of Walsh's research and work with real life patients. I'm someone who really values methodology that's backed by a lot of good data, and Walsh's work with 30K + patients was a very solid amount of data to be basing his protocols from.
I was then quite excited to learn that many people who had suffered from long term depression were in fact able to see their depression vanish after utilizing the correct nutritional balancing programme outlined by Walsh in Nutrient Power.
As someone who's had depression on and off fairly consistently since adolescence, and also has other close family members who also suffer, it was very hope inspiring to read some of the case studies in the book.
The time around reading this book represents a key part of my journey towards better emotional and mental health, as before this I was really “sailing blind” and had no idea why I had always struggled with these issues, other than the cliche of “childhood baggage” which I now realize is largely over emphasized when it comes to adult health and well being.
Trauma and childhood issues have their place no doubt, but I feel we must address the biological issues to begin with, or we will lack the proper resources to deal with the other stuff, as valuable as therapy or counselling for those issues can be.
Useful Related Resources
Below are 2 of the best videos that I have personally found for getting a good overview of William Walsh's work. I still definitely recommend having a copy of Nutrient Power, as it's a great resource to have, especially for those of us who do get confirmation of methylation (or other issues such as Pyroluria or copper toxicity) later on, via testing.
You will also find the following websites and pages useful:
- Walsh Research Institute (check out the section on finding a Walsh trained Dr, very useful)
- Dr Ben Lynch's site (Lynch is one of the prominent experts on methylation)
- Biobalance (If in Australia like the author, where you should look for a Walsh Trained Dr)
I found a lot of this book fairly “heavy reading” with a lot of science based information, and so it's the kind of book that you may need to read a few times to really be able to take in. This was especially the case for me when Walsh discusses such key topics as the biochemistry of methylation, and the epigenetic factor.
That being said, this book provides a lot of hopeful and science backed information that could potentially progress the way we view and treat mental disorders of all types in the near future. It will be interesting to see how this line of psychiatry progresses in the next 5-10 years.
My hope is that more and more Doctors will start to look away from the traditional approach of medicating with psychiatric drugs, which I think are often very toxic to the bodily system, and ultimately are foreign to the body.
When we look at the use of targeted testing, and then using the data gleamed from that testing to create a dynamic and flexible treatment plan based on a person's specific genetics and biology, and using natural supplementation very often without the need for any drugs, I think it's obvious that this is a far better solution.
Discussion On Nutrient Power & Walsh's Material
Have you studied or read any of William Walsh's material, including but not limited to Nutrient Power? If so, what are your thoughts on the material. Particularly, if you were someone who's been tested and found to be either an undermethylator, or overmethylator, then I would love to hear your thoughts on this work, and how the treatment plan has been going for you.
Please feel free to join the discussion below in the comments, positive and negative view points on the work we're discussing here are valued, as long as you're adding value to the conversation.