Schizophrenia

“Schizophrenia cannot be understood without understanding despair.” R. D. Laing

Condition and Causes

Schizophrenia is a condition in which it impossible to differentiate between what is imagined and what is real. People with schizophrenia lose to some degree their hold on reality and many seem to withdrawal into their own worlds. Hallucinations are not uncommon for sufferers.

There are four basic types of schizophrenia:

Catatonic Schizophrenia is characterised by unusually rigid postures, lack of movement, or frenzied moment.

Disorganised schizophrenia is characterized by a lack of normal range of emotions along with speech that displays a disorganised way of thinking.

Paranoid schizophrenia is characterized by hallucinatory and delusional symptoms.

Undifferentiated schizophrenia involves a mixture of different symptoms

Onset of the disorder is often related to a stressful life event, the underlying cause of schizophrenia is unknown in western medicine. Some research gives evidence that schizophrenia is hereditary, resulting from an inherited defect in body chemistry in which the brain’s neurotransmitters function abnormally. Other theories say that schizophrenia results from external factors such as complications during birth, head injuries, a reaction to a virus, or environmental poisons that reach and damage the brain. There is a high incident of childhood head injuries and birth complications among people with schizophrenia. There are some studies which link the use of marijuana to the cause of schizophrenia.

Nutritional factors could also be associated with schizophrenia. There is indication that it might be associated with high copper levels, which causes vitamin C and zinc to drop. A zinc deficiency can damage the pineal area of the brain, which normally contains high levels of zinc, can lead to susceptibility in schizophrenia and other psychosis. Magnesium deficiency could also be a factor, studies have shown magnesium is lower in blood of people with schizophrenia.

Levels of, and balance of neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine and the way the brain responds to these substances is thought to play a profound role in development of schizophrenia.

Signs and symptoms

  • Disorderly thinking, speech and perception
  • Lack of curiosity
  • Diminished emotional contact with others
  • Lethargy
  • Depression and emotional instability
  • Catatonia
  • Violent outbursts and delusions

Schizophrenia is characterized by profound disruption in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental mental attributes: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of self. The range of symptoms include: psychotic manifestations, hearing internal voices or experiencing sensations outside reality. They also include false personal beliefs, delusions.

Medical Approach and Treatment

There are two main classes of medications used for schizophrenia, antipsychotic and atypical antipsychotic drugs. Examples include Clozapine, Geodon, Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Abilify.

Antipsychotic medications reduce the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia and usually allow the patient to function more effectively and appropriately. They are usually used indefinitely and cannot cure the disease. Antipsychotic drugs are often effective in treating hallucinations and delusions, although unhelpful with some of the other symptoms such as reduced motivation and emotional expressiveness. These symptoms may improve with the addition of an antidepressant.

The newer atypical antipsychotic drugs can treat the positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The positive symptoms are hallucinations, delusions and thinking disturbances. It will also treat the negative symptoms such as lack of expressiveness in face, voice tone and gestures. It will treat depression, disorderly thinking, speech and perception.

The medication used to treat schizophrenia can cause long term side effects. Atypical can cause tardive dyskinesia where the patient will start to such from repetitive, involuntary, and purposeless movements. It is also linked with diabetes and weight gain. Both antipsychotic mediations will cause dry mouth, constipation, blurred vision and drowsiness. Some may experience sexual dysfunction or decreased sexual desire and menstrual changes.

Nutrition Approach and Treatment

Diet

It is important to eat a high fibre diet that includes fresh vegetables, quality protein. Try to eat more frequent small meals rather than three larger ones. This will help keep blood sugar levels stable, which has a stabilising effect on mood and behaviour.

Include in the diet chicken breasts, or turkey, brewer’s yeast, halibut, peas, sunflower seeds and tuna. Eat foods rich in niacin such as broccoli, carrots, corn, eggs, fish, potatoes, tomatoes and whole wheat.

Don’t consume caffeine. It promotes the release of norepinephrine a stimulating neurotransmitter. Alcohol must also be avoided, as it depletes the body of Zinc.

Lifestyle

Keep environmental pressures under control. Over stimulation from very strong emotions or excessive workload can exacerbate symptoms. Also avoid under stimulation.

Meditation and yoga can help provide balance to the mind and body. It could stabilised the mind and emotions.

Nutrients

5 Hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP) increases the body’s production of serotonin a vital brain chemical.

Flaxseed oil supplies essential fatty acids, needed for proper brain and nerve function.l

Folic acid deficiency has been found in 25 percent of those hospitalised with psychiatric disorders should be combined with vitamin B12 and vitamin C for best results.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is essential for brain metabolism and aids in proper brain function.

Various amino acids that are available can improve symptoms of schizophrenia.

Grape seed extract is an antioxidant useful for dementia and other syndromes of the brain.

Zinc will balance copper often high in people who experience the disorder plus manganese

Herbs

Gingko biloba improves brain function and cerebral circulation and enhances memory

Kava Kava and passionflower are good for relief of stress and depression.

St John’s Wort is a good herb for depression.

Overall there is not much research and studies in the use of herbs in schizophrenia.

Kinesiology

Disorders in the brow and crown chakra can manifest itself in schizophrenia, as the crown is the seed of thought and controls the pituitary glands. The brow chakra controls the pineal gland and is responsible for insight imbalances can manifest in paranoia, psychotic behavior and schizophrenia. Chakra hologram on these two chakras could help schizophrenia.

In Chinese medicine the ghost points can be used for extreme mania with heat, is effective for schizophrenia. See Appendix.

For depressive psychosis in Schizophrenia it is important to regulate the Qi, alleviate mental depression, resolve phlegm, and calm Shen. For manic psychosis in Chinese medicine terms it is important to purge fire, remove phlegm tranquilizing the mind and calming the Shen. The heart/kidney axis balance would be appropriate.

Homeopathy

Alumina is for mental instability and delusion

Anacardium for delusion and lack of touch with reality

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