Topics from the book,
Some Topics from the bookTuning into the Universe
Connected to the Environment
How Many Senses?
Right & Left Brain
History of Mind Drugs
Prescription Drug Abuse
Psychiatry versus Biology
Mechanisms of Brain Dysfunction
Nutrition & Brain
Allergy and the Brain
Wheat Gluten and the Brain
Is Stress Real ?
Elixir of Sanity & Joy
Is Stress Real?
We Prefer Clean Air, Pure Water, Healthy Food and Clear Minds
Psychiatry in recent years has focused on the biochemistry of neurotransmitters, as revealed by drug action in experimental animals. Chemical theories of depression, for example, are often over-simplifications, based on observations of altered neurotransmitter synthesis and function in the brains of mice and rats. It has not been possible to study the living chemistry of the human brain; hence, we do not really know how relevant animal data is.
The study of antidepressant drugs remains an abstract contribution to our general understanding that different brain systems utilize different chemical transmitters in highly organized, complex circuits to produce our mental states and behavior. The increasing use of antidepressant and other psychotropic drugs, is not, however, a favorable trend
The root intellectual problem with psychiatry is that there is no coherent infrastructure of knowledge about what humans do, how they do it and why they do it. There is too little real biology in psychiatry. The use of drugs to modify brain function passes as biology but is not linked to any coherent understanding of brain function. Since the notions of drug interaction with the brain are all abstractions, arriving from research on animal brains, these ideas are disconnected from the biological reality lived by patients day after day. Psychiatrists, for example, will add chemicals to patients daily input of chemicals but show little or no interest in other chemicals that that the patient is inhaling and ingesting.
I am convinced, for example, that the food intake of a person has a determining effect on the way their brain functions, but some psychiatrists are hostile to this insight. A reasonable approach, in my view, is to examine and modify a patients diet, improve nutrition and remove toxic chemicals in the air before prescribing drugs, but psychiatrists rarely take this approach. The use of psychotropic drug use would appear to be somewhat rational and regulated, but is largely an improvisatory and amateurish exercise rather than a coherent application of biological knowledge. You could argue that the use of drugs to modify brain function has some benefits for some patients, but prescription drug use can cause dysphoria, mental and neurological disorders. You could easily argue that the negative effects of psychotropic drugs exceed benefits.
Too many patients receive prescriptions for multiple psychotropic drugs, a scrambled eggs kind of psychopharmacology. A simple rule of thumb for patients is that one well-chosen psychotropic drug has a chance of being beneficial long-term; more than one drug at a time will usually cause brain function to deteriorate. Several drugs at once confuse the mind, may be dangerous and may cause death by accident or suicide.
Biologists, on the other hand, think in terms of populations, food supply, seasons, weather, and social-behaviors, and do field studies which reveal patterns of adaptation to specific environments. The biologist sees every living creature connected to and interacting with his/her environment. Anyone who has worked with animals or fish in closed environments knows how critical environmental conditions and diet are in determining both the behavior and the physical status of the residents. When a fish in an aquarium displays psychotic behavior, you do not call a fish psychiatrist; you check the oxygen concentration, temperature, and pH of the water. You have to clean the tank and change the fish diet.
We all live in and interact with home and work environments which determine our biological fate. In industrialized countries, the micro-environment of each individual is controlled by human constructions and is generally polluted by toxic substances. Food and ingested liquids are selected by socioeconomic and cultural factors more than biological factors. Food selection is part of more complex behavioral patterns which become enduring attributes of individuals. Common abnormal eating behaviors include food cravings, compulsive-eating, compulsive drinking, binge-eating, addictions, aversions, and anorexia.
The Brain Mind Center
Topics from the book, The Human Brain by Stephen Gislason MD
Further reading: Alpha Nutrition Program, Neuroscience Notes, Intelligence and Learning
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