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Book Review: Nutrient Power by Dr William Walsh

Publication date: 14 June 2013

Dr William Walsh has worked for decades clinically researching nutrition and nutritional therapy strategies for mental and neurological health, working with thousands of patients with diagnoses such as ADHD, depression and schizophrenia. He's amassed large amounts of data, including laboratory analyses. His recent book, "Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain" is a distillation of his findings and his wisdom.

Dr Walsh collaborated with famous names such as Carl Pfeiffer and Abraham Hoffer. He's shared (and progressed) their aim of developing a biologically based system for classifying mental health conditions. ADHD, depression, anxiety etc. are best seen, not as disease processes in themselves but as constellations of symptoms that can have multiple different causes, which may differ widely between individuals. In other words, not all depression is the same.

Dr Walsh's nutritional therapy approach is aimed at redressing underlying biochemical imbalances, rather than at symptoms. This points to the importance of investigating the specific causal factors for each individual, and means looking at case history, symptoms and laboratory analyses.

Dr Walsh's principle biochemical imbalances include:

  • Copper overload (toxicity) - though copper is an essential nutrient it is toxic in high levels and when not balanced by zinc, and perhaps at the same time not utilizable.
  • Zinc deficiency - perhaps the most commonly deficient nutrient, it clearly relates to copper imbalance too.
  • Methyl / folate imbalances - biochemical factors that affect gene expression (epigenetics) particularly of neurotransmitter transporter proteins that control the availability of neurotransmitters.
  • Oxidative stress overload - this is when the body's antioxidant defences are overwhelmed either by toxic substances such as heavy metals, or by excessive inflammation.
  • Pyrrole disorder - identifiable with a simple lab test, pyrrole disorder leads to excessive oxidative stress in the brain, and greater need for zinc, vitamin B6 and antioxidant nutrients.
  • Amino acid imbalances - amino acids derive from protein in our diet and many of them form the basis of neurotransmitters in the brain.
  • Essential Fatty Acid (EFA) imbalances - these include the well known omega 3 and omega 6 EFAs.

Dr Walsh's work is impressive for being rooted both in cutting edge science (including epigenetics) and in a wealth of experience of working with nutritional therapy for mental health patients.

Dr Walsh's writing is both succinct and easily understandable, making it well worth a read by both nutritional therapy practitioners and interested members of the public alike.

In my own holistic or integrative approach I use nutritional therapy as a foundation from which to build mind-body self-regulation skills using biofeedback and neurofeedback.

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