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Mental Health – Find the Root Cause

It has been estimated that 45% of the Australian population will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime. The traditional treatment strategy involves pharmaceutical medication.  Between 2000 and 2011, there was a 95.3% increase in antidepressant prescriptions. But the efficacy of these medications often don’t achieve the desired outcomes; and when they do, the patient is left on the drug long term as an answer to their problem.

There is always a cause for poor mental health. People aren’t Zoloft or Lexapro deficient; instead they have other unidentified drivers that are the cause for their dysbalance. The word dysbalance in itself indicates that steps can be taken to bring the body back into equilibrium. Nutritional Medicine identifies biochemical deficiencies or excesses that may be tipping the fulcrum one way or another.  This causes anxiety, depression, or any other form of mental disharmony.

Potential Causes of Mental Health Issues

MTHFR and Methylation

Approximately every 2nd person has an error on the MTHFR enzyme, which is needed to activate folate. Folate is necessary to maintain our mental health, feelings of motivation, optimism and concentration, and also to help us sleep well, repair, recharge, and renew our cells.

Methylation involves many other nutrients as well, which are often deficient in our diets. These include zinc, vitamin B12, iodine, iron, vitamin B6, and selenium. All of these nutrients work in harmony to keep the cogs of good health turning. An error in one nutrient can cause poor function of another.

Poor methylation can cause anxiety, depression, ADHD, excitatory behaviours and poor impulse control, panic, schizophrenia, autism, chronic fatigue, and many other issues that can affect the mind. Methylation can become quite complicated in some cases, and requires a good level of knowledge to piece it together properly and provide treatment in the correct order.  Blood testing can identify nutrients of concern.  The “Upgrade Your Genetics” methylation program provides all relevant tests from the outset, which corrects your mood sooner.

Pyrrole Disorder and High Copper

Pyrroles is a condition that interferes with zinc and vitamin B6 levels in individuals. These two nutrients are integral in the production of serotonin, as well as methylation, digestive function, skin health, sleep quality, and other important bodily functions.

Zinc has a close relationship with copper, and acts in an antagonistic manner. Low zinc causes elevated copper, and likewise, environmental exposure to high copper will deplete zinc. Copper is responsible for shunting dopamine (mood, motivation, memory, feels of satisfaction) to adrenaline, which causes elevated cortisol release, triggering anxiety, panic, moodiness, and irritability.

Pyrroles is quite common and can be tested via blood testing or urine collection.  Take this Pyrroles Quiz to see if you may have an issue with pyrroles.

Blood Sugar Dysregulation

Often those experiencing depression and anxiety feel like food is not powerful enough to help relieve their mood, but often it’s part of the picture.

Sugar intake can increase serotonin quite quickly, improving mood, but the reactive drop that follows can cause a surge of adrenaline and cortisol, which triggers anxiety, moodiness, and panic. The continual ebb and flow of blood sugar perpetuates this cycle, leaving the person with fluctuating moods to match. Bipolar sufferers see a similar movement with dopamine and adrenaline, which can cause mania, addiction, and deep depression.

Some people find they lose their appetite during a bad patch, which only leaves them in a prolonged hypoglycaemic state. Low glucose levels will increase the hormone glucagon, which further depletes tryptophan and serotonin, resulting in further depression.

Stabilisation of blood glucose levels involves diet, establishing routine, helping to lower adrenaline through various breathing exercises, improving sleep, and focussed supplementation when required.

Mental Health


There is a growing body of research proving the relationship between inflammation and mood disorders such as anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and autism.

Inflammation is an immune mediated process which occurs as a result of infection, toxicity, unfavourable foods, digestive issues, stress or danger. The immune system releases cytokines in response to inflammation, which affect neurotransmitter production.

Tryptophan is needed for serotonin production, but cytokines, such as TNF (tumour necrosis factor) trigger the “tryptophan steal”.  The Tryptophan steal shunts tryptophan AWAY from the serotonin route. Instead, tryptophan moves down the kynurenine and quinolinic pathways, causing more inflammation and over excitation of neurons. Inflammatory cytokines block important parts of the methylation cycle, interrupt blood sugar balance, digestive function, acid/base levels in the body, and other systems that are involved in mood.

The Organic Acid Test is an excellent way to gauge the tryptophan steal.  It also assesses gut issues, methylation nutrients, and other aspects that influence neurotransmitter production.

Digestive Issues

Bacteria in the gut are responsible for producing 90% of the body’s serotonin. Bifidobacteria species are the main bacteria that exist in the large bowel, and they are needed to synthesize folate, which is integral for neurotransmitter production. Lactobacillus species exist in the small intestine, and require folate for growth. An imbalance in these bacteria can affect mood considerably.

Discussing a persons digestive health can offer firm clues, while following up with comprehensive stool testing is another way to get more information to target treatment. SIBO (Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth) is quite common, and can cause depression, anxiety, panic, mood swings, and many other health issues. This can be due to poor bile acid production, and often ties into poor methylation. There are a large number of studies identifying the role of the gut microbiome in mental health.

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Various toxins have a large impact on the creation of neurotransmitters in the body. Round Up exposure for example, interferes with the shikimate pathway, which blocks the synthesis of tyrosine and tryptophan. These are needed for dopamine and serotonin production. Mercury exposure from amalgam fillings can increase brain excitation, deplete antioxidant production, interrupt methylation, reduce biopterin production (which creates neurotransmitters), and greatly reduces zinc, which is also needed for serotonin synthesis.

Toxins are all around us; in plastics, cosmetics, food we eat,  air we breathe, gadgets we buy, and even in the atmosphere we exist in. Some people are more prone to the harmful effects of these than others.  But we have ever improving tests which we can now use to identify toxic loads, so we know what we’re dealing with.

Assessing Mental Health

In this modern era, we have excellent tests that really hone in on a persons biochemistry, which can prevent trial and error and unnecessary guesswork. These investigation strategies analyse the common causes of your mental health issue as mentioned above. This approach will identify the true cause of the dysbalance.

The goal is not to apply permanent pharmaceutical band-aids.  

Instead let’s identify the root cause of the imbalance, and provide specific nutrient strategies to correct it.