At the 2017 International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR) conference held in Bethesda, Maryland, Dr. Chris Palmer, a psychiatrist from Harvard’s McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts, described the success of a ketogenic diet for 2 of his schizoaffective patients. For those not in the know, schizoaffective disorder is particularly difficult to treat, as patients suffer from not only a thought disorder, but also a mood disorder at the same time.
Yet, a ketogenic diet, in both cases, reduced symptoms of psychosis AND mood dysfunction, while also helping patients lose excess weight and gain better overall life satisfaction.
Read the cases, as the doctor presented them, in the Journal of Schizophrenia Research.
Researchers from the University of Tasmania in Australia published a review of a ketogenic diet for mental healthcare. The review, “The Current Status of the Ketogenic Diet in Psychiatry examines the data from 15 studies on a ketogenic diet for a variety of mental illness. The outcomes are very promising.
The ketogenic diet was commonly used in medicine for epilepsy, prior to the advent of neuroleptic drugs, which then became the preferred mode of treatment in an era where drugs were the answer to everything that ails. It was well known then (1920’s) that a ketogenic diet could effectively manage the symptoms of epilepsy. The theory behind its success in psychosis and mood disorder is that the brain is having a similar neurological event that causes the disturbance. More research is needed to really understand what is going on.
Psychiatric patients have not enjoyed the advances in medicine that other illnesses have and still suffer horrible stigmatization, and a fear based medical approach that uses forced medication with therapies that cause brain damage.
It’s time to recognize the value of treatments that utilize lifestyle modifications rather than lifelong medications, where the medications pose significant risk of side effects and the lifestyle changes create significant improved outcomes.