BiPolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder and other brain/mental health issues seem to be on the rise in the US, and the age at which they are being diagnosed seems to be getting younger and younger. Clearly, there's something going on in this country that needs to be addressed -and fast- because the health care costs of treating them is quickly skyrocketing.

You're told that there is no cure...the best you can hope for is a lifetime of medication and therapy.

Oh, and tears.

And rage.

And hopelessness and grief and despair and fear.

But what if the things you're being told weren't actually true? What if you didn't need to live every moment as though you were walking on eggshells?

Our current model of health care is operating under research that is decades old and the system profits from keeping you ill, ill-informed, and scared. However, take comfort in knowing that this paradigm is rapidly changing.

There are in fact, many things you can do to address mental health issues.

All health starts in the gut. This is especially true for brain health. Why? Guess where neurotransmitter synthesis starts? In the gut. Guess where the brain has the most nerve connections to? The gut.

Let me state that again: the health of your brain starts with the health of your gut.

The human brain has over 100 billion neurons, each connected to 10,000 or so other cells, which equals roughly 1000 trillion connections in the brain...sending and receiving an unbelievable amount of messages each second.

Neurotransmitters are chemicals that transmit these messages between neurons in the brain. They are responsible for not just your mood and emotions, but also things like learning ability, addictions, sleep, energy, pain perception, appetite, memory, and regulating your body temperature. In fact, everything we do is a result of our nerve cells talking with one another via electrical and chemical signals.

Neurotransmitters are made primarily via digestion of dietary proteins which are broken down into amino acids. Certain amino acids are precursors to neurotransmitters and other hormones,  along with other vitamins and co-factors that are required for neurotransmitter synthesis. So it's not enough to just eat a healthy diet, your gut also has to be able to break down and assimilate the nutrients from the food you eat as well. If you have leaky gut, dysbiosis, or poor digestive function, it may be safe to say that you are also malnourished. This will affect cognitive function and overall health and performance.

What is your diet like? How well do you digest food? Do you have digestive disturbances? Do you have food allergies? Have you taken antibiotics? Do you eat a standard American diet? Do you eat a lot of sugar? Have you been diagnosed with Crohns, IBS, IBD, or heartburn/GERD? Do you have bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain/cramps?

These are just a few questions that need to be addressed. There are more.

You can test for gut health to help determine not only how well it is functioning and whether you are malnourished, but also to determine whether there may be other pathologies or co-infections affecting the gut and digestive system and possibly causing inflammation and other issues.

Inflammation is a big deal because it's typically self-perpetuating and causes oxidative stress, especially in the mitochondria. Inflammation in the brain can shunt the amino acid tryptophan towards anxiety-producing chemicals like quinolinate instead of calm-producing chemicals like serotonin and melatonin.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that plays a role in feelings of self-worth and happiness, and helps protect against depression and anxiety. Many anti-depressant medications are SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors) that modulate the body's serotonin response. However, there's been a lot of research uncovering the fact that SSRIs may not actually work the way they're stated to, and in fact, much of the benefit that is realized from them is because they act upon inflammation -not serotonin. They also come with a dangerous list of side-effects.

Melatonin is synthesized from serotonin and is typically referred to as the sleep hormone, but it's role in human functioning goes far beyond just sleep. It's a major player in the proper functioning of your circadian rhythm, and your ability to keep proper circadian function is probably the single most important factor for overall health.

Your circadian rhythm is your body's 24 hour internal clock that governs virtually every single metabolic and physiologic process in the body, and is regulated by exposure to light/dark cycles. The body's master clock is called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). You are supposed to "wind" this clock daily by letting the sun hit your eyes in the morning. Once it is properly wound, it's then responsible for "winding" all the other clocks that are in front of your cells (every cell in your body has four clock genes in front of it.) 

What do you think happens when none of the trillions of clocks in your body are in sync and telling proper circadian time?

Chaos. Inflammation. Dis-ease.

Daily exposure to sunlight on the skin and eyes is also critical to good health everywhere else, not just in the brain. Your skin and eyes are one giant solar panel designed for just this purpose, so it makes no sense to avoid the sun or keep your skin and eyes covered every time you go outdoors. More on this in another post.

Sunlight also plays a role in the creation of another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Dopamine helps us focus and attend to matters at hand. It's also critical for memory, motor skills, motivation, interest, drive, and has a role in addictions. When you don't have enough dopamine, you don't feel alive. It can lead to self-medicating with drugs, alcohol, and over-eating.

The time you spend in the sun is just as important as the time you spend in the darkness. There must always be balance in everything you do when seeking optimal health. Quality and quantity of sleep also matters, because the body undergoes repair and regeneration only when you are asleep. So stop staring into a screen late at night when you should be regenerating and repairing instead.

There are other factors to mental health as well...hormone imbalance, chronic stress, and living in a sympathetic state vs parasympathetic state all the time (fight or flight vs rest and digest) to name a few. All these things matter not just for bipolar disorder, but also for ADD, ADHD, depression, Alzheimer's, and just about every other mental health issue out there, as well as overall health and wellness.

The main takeaway for you here is that you are not broken and unfixable. There's a lot of things one can and should address to help optimize brain health and mental functioning instead of simply accepting their fate. A good functional health practitioner will take the time to listen to your story and run the appropriate labs to help uncover the root cause of your dis-ease, so that you can get back on the road to living your best life.

There is no reason to live in fear. There is always hope.






Have you ever wondered why “suddenly” every one has developed a sensitivity to wheat and gluten? Are all these people just jumping on some new dietary fad? And why is it that this isn't a problem in European countries and other places where wheat is consumed daily?

No doubt you've heard of the herbicide Roundup. It's used extensively in agriculture to kill weeds, but it's also sprayed on crops like wheat right before harvest to help dry it out to get it to market faster. Many other countries don't allow the use of Roundup. The U.S. does, of course.

Glyphosate (Roundup) works by disabling something called the “Shikimate pathway.” This pathway is a seven step metabolic route used by bacteria, fungi, algae, parasites, and plants for the biosynthesis of aromatic amino acids. The active ingredient in glyphosate binds and blocks an enzyme (EPSPS) that converts simple carbs into amino acids, hormones, vitamins, and other essential plant metabolites – ultimately causing the plant to die by starvation.

You're told Roundup is safe for humans because this pathway isn't found in human cells, but consider this: you are ten times more bacteria than you are human cells. Ten times. And guess what? Your gut microbiome -home to your beneficial bacteria- is affected by glyphosate because bacteria utilize the Shikimate pathway.

This is a really important point to consider, because your intestinal bacteria are everything to the state of your health. These bacteria help synthesize vitamins (like B and K,) create anti-inflammatory compounds, stimulate cell growth, repress pathogenic bacterial growth, train your immune system, manufacture hormones which affect fat storage, and help create neurotransmitters.

Oh yeah, and those aromatic amino acids that I mentioned that aren't able to be synthesized...those would be phenylalanine, tyrosine, and tryptophan. How important are they?

Phenylalanine is a precursor to tyrosine, dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, and melanin.

  • Tyrosine synthesis impairment affects the ability to absorb UV light. If you follow anything I write, you know this in itself is a huge problem for many reasons, least of all vitamin D synthesis.
  • In addition, Tyrosine helps with the creation of thyroid hormones.
  • Tyrosine is also a precursor to the neurotransmitter dopamine. So no tyrosine, no dopamine. Low dopamine = low motivation, difficulty completing tasks, increased poor concentration, addiction to stimulants, and lethargy. Incidentally, correcting low dopamine is often one of the first things I address when starting with a new client. Otherwise, there is little motivation to actually want to start a program to be healthy.
  • Melanin protects against ionizing UV light. It minimizes the amount of light entering the eye, and a deficiency is associated with cataracts. Melanin is also an antioxidant and has a role in melanoma development.

Tryptophan is a precursor to serotonin and melatonin. A deficiency here can have profound effects on mood disorders, depression, carb cravings, dysglycemia, obesity, low self-esteem, obsessive thoughts, compulsive eating disorders, and aggression.

Additionally, glyphosate affects your liver.

  • It lowers methionine, which leads to an inability to detox heavy metals, estrogen (leading to a wide array of hormone related diseases,) and other environmental chemicals.
  • Affects vitamin D activation in the liver and movement disorders associated with demyelination of the spinal cord.
  • Affects bile acid secretion leading to poor fatty acid synthesis and poor cholesterol production. Contrary to popular belief, cholesterol is very important to the body. Without it, you can have imbalanced steroid hormones, increased inflammation, and poor cell membrane synthesis.

Wheat has been cultivated and eaten for 10,000 years. Perhaps wheat isn't the demon it's been made out to be. Instead, perhaps the problem is lurking within the way it's being cultivated now. When you factor in other toxic assaults on the body (including those found in wheat-containing products) – fluoride, chlorine (an antibacterial,) bromine, herbicides, pesticides, food colorings, preservatives, EMFs, blue-light, and heavy metals – it's not hard to see why more and more people seem to be getting sicker and sicker despite following mainstream medical “wisdom.”

There is still much to be learned about the effects of glyphosate on humans, but I want you to answer these questions: are you comfortable with being a lab experiment for the purpose of enriching greedy strangers? Are you okay with letting your children suffer from a lifetime of sickness because it's convenient or cheap?

You are not powerless. You are not helpless. You are not broken.

You are a human being. You deserve to live like one.