In the same study, folic acid made histadelic schizophrenics worse. This group improved with antifolate drugs such as phenytoin and supplements which decrease histamine, such as daily doses of 1-2 grams per day of calcium salt and methionine, an essential amino acid, and a low protein, high carbohydrate diet.
In another study, of the various supplements tested to increase copper excretion in patients, zinc 50mg, manganese 3mg and B6 50mg were by far the most successful (J Orthomol Psychiatry (1983; 12: 215-34).
A number of researchers have found that schizophrenics are often deficient in omega-6 essential fatty acids. Some have theorized that people with this form of mental illness abnormally metabolize essential fatty acids, and thus have an elevated level of omega-3 fatty acids (those found in fish oils and linseed) and low levels of omega-6 fatty acids (those found in evening primrose oil) (Med. Hypotheses, 1983; 10: 329-36). Indeed, a review article by the Annual of the New York Academy of Science (1989; 559: 411-23) found that the symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to those that occur with disturbances in polyunsaturated fatty acid and prostaglandin metabolism. And a number of studies show beneficial effects of taking evening primrose oil or the equivalent. In one experimental double blind study of 38 patients with established movement disorders (that is, tardive dyskinesia, see box, p 2) exposed to antipsychotic drugs for a long period of time, those given evening primrose oil (rather than placebo) showed "highly significant improvements" in total psychopathology scores and a significant improvement in memory (Psychiatry Res, 1989; 27(3): 313-23).
As for other nutrients, some research has concluded that a low intake of vitamin C is associated with a risk of schizophrenia (Bibl Nutr Dieta, 1986; 38: 173-81), or that schizophrenics have low blood levels of vitamin C, even when their intake is what would ordinarily be considered normal. One study showed that the blood vitamin C level in nearly a thousand hospitalized psychiatric patients was a third lower than in the healthy controls; nearly a third of the patients had levels below the threshold associated with detrimental effects on immune responses and behaviour (Hum Nutr Clin Nutr (1983; 37C: 447-52).
Other studies have shown that manganese and zinc may be depressed in schizophrenics (J Orthomol Psychiatry, 1974; 3 (4): 259-64 and IRCS J Med Sci, 1973; 2:1010). And phenothiazines can cause a deficiency in riboflavin (vitamin B2) (J Orthomol Psychiatry 1983; 12(2): 113-5.
Adapted from Nutritional Influences on Mental Illness: A sourcebook of Clinical Research, by Melvyn R Werbach, M D (Third Line Press, Inc, 4751 Viviana Drive, Tarzana, California 91356, $44. FAX: (818)-774-1575).