Biochemical Treatment of Behavior, Learning & Mental Disorders

Biochemical Treatment of Behavior, Learning & Mental Disorders

The following speech by Dr. William Walsh was presented at the Well Mind Association's symposium, September 28, 1991. Dr. Walsh was associated with Dr. Carl Pfeiffer at the Health Research Institute, involved with experimental chemistry and electro-nuclear chemistry, and now with biochemistry. These studies have made an excellent background for Dr. Walsh's further study of clinical nutrition.

About 1968 I was a researcher at the Argonne National Laboratories, working in the area of energy research. My colleagues and I decided we wanted to do more than scientific research, writing papers that would gather dust in libraries and be read only by scientists. We decided to do community service work in the area of crime and violence. Within two years we became very active in a program at Statesville Penitentiary, one of the three toughest prisons in America, which is the dumping ground for persons thought to be hopelessly violent and incorrigible. We did the usual do-gooder things, believing as most people did at the time that criminals were the product of their past life; and family nurturing.

Our real education began about 1975 when we organized an ex-offender program for those discharged from prison. We developed an assistance program of 125 volunteers along the lines of Alcoholics Anonymous. When a man.stepped out of prison, we met him at the gate with clothes that fit him and had a job interview waiting for him. After we had spent a year or two working with dozens of violent people, we discovered that we were completely wrong about our basic beliefs. We realized that these people were different from the rest of the population, and the difference is physiological. Six to eight ounces of beer will cause a dramatic deterioration in their personalities. If you go to any penitentiary in America at lunchtime, and you look at the whites who are huddled together, you will notice a lot of fair complectedness, an unusually high incidence of red or blond hair, eczema, acne, psoriasis. Many of these inmates have severe reactions to sugar, wheat, milk.

Around 1976 we began to question our basic beliefs. We set up the computer system at Argonne so that we could get our hands on everything coming out in research around the world about abnormal psychology, criminology, violence, advanced psychiatry, hyperactivity, schizophrenia, etc. We found out that there was a revolution going on in mental health. About 15 years earlier everybody thought violence and crime was caused by bad parenting or traumatic events, child abuse. The scientific studies, especially the adoption studies, showed that this is simply not true. The most striking results were shown with identical and fraternal twins. The key factor was family history: did the depressed, violent, or schizophrenic person have a family history of his disorder? We began to do blood and urine collections and most of the analyses were done by dedicated chemists at Argonne who came out on weekends and evenings for no pay to process our samples.

In October 1976 we heard Dr. Carl Pfeiffer speak which resulted in changing everything we were doing. He had spent 20 years doing exactly the kind of studies of schizophrenia that we had wanted to do for crime and violence. He suggested that we stop looking at nucleotides and focus on trace metals; that we look at metal metabolism and such metals as copper, zinc, lithium, cobalt, etc. From his early research on trace metals came his insights into the causes of mental illness. We followed his advice and it helped us a lot.

The leading criminologists and sociologists talk about psychological factors leading to crime (lack of love, child abuse, poor discipline) and sociological factors (poverty, poor education, overcrowding), but in recent years more attention is given to genetic or biological factors. Most interest has been focused on chemical imbalances. Studies in Canada showed that lead and cadmium and other toxins were predominant in violent people and not in normal people. It was also found that abnormal chromosomes could impact us greatly, particularly the XYY chromosome. People who had this had 40 times the incidence of criminality.

Criminal Behavior Concordance Higher in Identical Than Fraternal Twins

The adoption studies were done first for schizophrenics, then for depressed people, and by the late 60s and early 70s, for those involved in crime and violence. There is a wonderful database in Scandinavia where since 1905 people have collected information on adopted children. There are more than 100,000 adopted persons accounted for in this database which provides a wealth of information on birth parents, adopted families and the life history of these people from cradle to grave. Mednick of the University of Southern California put together information on male siblings with brothers who have the same birth mother and father; also those who had different or unknown fathers and were half siblings. The subjects were adopted, lived in separate homes, never knew each other or their birth parents. The results were striking, indicating that criminality is not simply a matter of life experiences. It has something to do with predisposition - being transmitted genetically. In studies of identical and fraternal twins, researchers found a concordance: the probability that a person would be convicted of a felony by the time he died was 2.5% or one person in 40, but where one twin was a criminal, the probability that his fraternal twin would also be a criminal was 33%, and in the case of identical twins, the figure went up to 69%.

We did a sibling study, taking pairs of brothers, one who was violent, delinquent with multiple incidences of violence, and his brother living in the same house who was an all-American boy who had to be a good student in order to qualify for our experiment. We found that the violent children had abnormal trace metal values just as Pfeiffer had predicted. Type A people were episodically violent. After an explosion, they felt remorse. Type B individuals were nasty and mean every day, according to their parents and teachers. They felt no remorse, were antisocial, and had been this way since they were little children.

We repeated this experiment with a much larger group, using adults as well as children. The same thing happened. Most of the controls had the same normal trace metal chemistry. Most of the violent subjects fit into the type A or B chemistry. After these results were published in Science News, we were challenged to prove our findings. Samples were sent to us to analyze. Our hypothesis was borne out that people who are violent have disordered chemistry of the types specified.

These are the patterns: In terms of trace metals, type A people had elevated copper-zinc ratios and very depressed, rock bottom sodium and potassium. The major features are sky high copper and really low electrolyte levels (sodium and potassium) in their tissues and low manganese. Calcium and magnesium are either very high or low, not normal. If they have been exposed to toxics, they tend to be very high in lead and cadmium. Their typical symptoms are Jekyl-Hyde behavior, wonderful personalities, wonderful behavior - then an episode of awful behavior, very poor stress control, episodic violence, then genuine remorse. Once their episode of violence is over, they are really, truly sorry they are uncontrollable. Allergies, acne and sunburn are paramount. Academic underachievement, learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders are really common in this population.

Blood workups were done on those with abnormal patterns and sent to Carl Pfeiffer at the Princeton BioCenter. The Brain Bio Center found these type A people with strange tissue patterns of high copper, low zinc and potassium; they had blood levels of elevated copper and usually had elevated serum lead. Their serum zinc and manganese levels were depressed. Their whole blood histamines were abnormal, either extremely high or extremely low. Forty percent had a condition known as pyroluria, 30% were hypoglycemic, and 30% were malabsorbers. Their body chemistry was clearly quite disturbed.

Post Office Slayer Had High Lead Level

After our work was published in 1983, we were invited to autopsies and forensic studies. The medical examiner of the state of Oklahoma called us in to perform our trace mineral analysis on Patrick Sherril after the post office slayings. He was an intense type A person. His copper-zinc imbalance was severe. He was above average in sodium. His most striking factor was his blood lead and cadmium levels, extraordinarily high, especially his lead level. The University of Oklahoma reported that the major source of lead in his environment was from handling ammunition. State Champion for the National Guard, he apparently poisoned himself by inhaling the vapor of lead coming from the gun exhaust. He had a metal metabolism disorder which made him more sensitive to toxics than the average individual.

Type B people are the most frightening, even from the time they are tiny children. They are just the opposite in their trace metals with respect to copper. Instead of being sky high like the A's, they are rock bottom low in copper, and their sodium and potassium levels are low. Instead of being really high off the chart, they are usually low off the chart. They also have some tendency to be sensitive to toxics and their lead, calcium and magnesium levels tend to be high, and they are low in zinc and manganese.

Type B's are frequently assaultive; they fight constantly; they have a total lack of conscience and remorse; they are pathologic liars. From the time they are young children, many of them have a fascination with fire. Cruelty to animals and people is quite common. They sleep only three or four hours a night. With the first group we took to Princeton, Pfeiffer found that all of them had elevated blood histamine, elevated kryptopyrroles in their urine, low blood spermine, a tendency to low serum zinc, manganese and high lead.

Charles Manson's Copper Level One of Three Lowest Tested

James Oliver Huberty, who shot 24 people at McDonalds in Ysidro, California, was a classic type B - a sociopathic or antisocial personality. The striking thing about him was his cadmium level. His was at that time the highest cadmium level We had ever seen in a human being. The coroner pointed out that cadmium is a lethal substance which causes people to die of kidney failure. Later when they got into Huberty's background, they learned that he had been at the emergency room twice in the prior six months for kidney failure. Huberty had been a welder for 17 years and he wrote on his resignation papers that he felt the fumes were making him crazy. Serial killer Henry Lee Lucas is interesting to test because he is a living person and it's easier to do more studies. Charles Manson invited us to test him. His copper level is one of the three lowest we have ever seen, and we have tested more than 150,000 people.

We have found type C and type D patterns in non-violent criminals. Type C are depressed in everything, low in any nutrient or amino acid. Type D are a little different. They are low in nearly everything but in calcium and magnesium where they are high off the chart, usually 98 to 99 percentile high while being low in everything else. Type C persons are not assaultive, but delinquent. They are extremely impulsive and irritable. They make terrible drivers. They are usually underweight, 80% being very thin, no matter how much food they eat. They have poor school performance and later in life terrible work performance. They are basically troubled all their lives unless they are treated.

Clinical results of these C people, when you test them for serum nutrient metals or for serum amino acid levels, finds them across the board low. The doctors tell them that the basic problem is malabsorption. They also have tendencies to high toxics such as lead and cadmium. Half of them have low stomach acid which is responsible for their malabsorption and the other half have something else which is causing malabsorption, possibly intestinal.

The type D group is something like the type C's in their symptoms, but they are not skinny kids, not assaultive in their delinquency. They have a craving for sugar, are drowsy after meals, exhibit poor school and work performance, get irritable after eating sugar. They don't fill the penitentiaries, nor do they get violent, nor are they serial killers. They are troubled individuals who never reach their potentials. Their basic problem is hypoglycemia.

So we have, through the help of the great Carl Pfeiffer, a classification system of disorders found in violent people. In 1981 after Carl Pfeiffer tested and treated about 300 children, we began to realize that in treating them for behavior many of them had learning disabilities, hyperactivity, or attention deficit disorders. Many of them showed striking improvement for type A individuals. We had case after case of kids with learning disabilities who were in self-contained LD classes or ADD classes, kids who had been terribly hyperactive, who within months seemed to be normal and were mainstreamed, and a year or two later went into classes for gifted children. That happened enough so that we felt we should be looking at learning handicaps as well as just behavior, so we started that in-depth in 1984. Pfeiffer said: "What's really needed is an outpatient clinic for behavior and learning in the Midwest." We opened the Carl Pfeiffer Treatment Center in June 1989, a few months after Dr. Pfeiffer died.

Screen for Chemical Imbalances Using Blood, Urine and Hair

Our emphasis in the beginning was on behavior and learning disorders. During the last year and a half we tested and treated schizophrenics and depressed people. We screen for chemical imbalances - blood, urine and hair chemistry - and we use treatment methods Pfeiffer developed for A, B, C, D people. We also use the treatments developed for the learning disabled. After our first 1500 patients, we are so overwhelmed by those trying to get into our clinic that we are moving to a larger facility. I think we are the only clinic in the Midwest to use the radio immune assay of hair test for drugs. Treatment, of course, is Carl Pfeiffer's approach, balancing body chemistry without drugs, and we focus on 13 types of imbalances, one of which is histamine imbalance.

When we do our intake, we take statements from parents. We were told, in the case of a ten year-old boy, that "he explodes hysterically, stays angry a long time, hits people and destroys things, kicks and pounds walls." After standardized treatment for type A, four months later his parents said his behavior had improved and he was getting good grades. He had become basically normal, and we regard that as a major improvement.

The parents of a girl, age 16, said she was extremely emotional with wild, erratic behavior, she lied, was sneaky, and was an underachiever in school. Four months later we were told that she had no big fights anymore, her tantrums are gone, and there were no letters of complaint from the school. We categorized her a partial improvement because her school work was terrible and she was still cheating at school.

We had a nine year-old boy who had been kicked out of three schools for constant fighting and rebelling against authorities. He lied, he stole, he showed no remorse - a type D. After treatment, there was no improvement. Our success rate is high, but we have occasional failures.

Before treatment, a seven year-old boy was hyperactive, had ADD, poor memory, not comprehending, not learning. After treatment we were told he had a 100% turnaround, could get work done for the first time, his school work had improved, he was learning.

In the area of behavior and learning, our success rate is high. After our first 1,000 patients, we found we were getting major improvement with 70% of our behavior-disordered kids which means that two out of three had elimination of the problem. Twenty-two percent had improvement that was clear but not complete. Eight percent had little or no improvement. With learning disorders, 53% show great improvement. These are the ones whose learning disorders go away, who are mainstreamed, who meet their full potential. Thirty-four percent are better but still have a learning handicap. We strike out completely with about 13%, and we believe something else is wrong with them, other than their body chemistries.

Half the Schizophrenics are Low in Histamine

Pfeiffer's classification of schizophrenics holds nicely. Nearly half of them - 45% of them - are what he referred to as histapenics whose basic problem is low histamine. Twenty-seven percent, nearly one-third, are histadelic with too much histamine in their systems. Eighteen percent are pyroluric, nothing seems to be wrong with them biochemically but they have excessive kryptopyrroles in their urine. Where the other 10% fit in are what we would call rarer types of schizophrenia. They are eight or ten splinter, low incidence types of schizophrenia which includes types of cerebral allergies, homocystineurea and thyroid deficiency.

A histapenic person is normal, usually until late high school or early college years when he experiences paranoia, severe depression, hallucinations, becomes suicidal. Grandiosity and religiosity are common. People who become grandiose think they can do incredible things. They are the opposite of catatonic. They are often called paranoid-schizophrenic. We don't like the term schizophrenia. We call these persons histapenic.

The clinical results that Pfeiffer developed with these people were that they all had depressed histamine levels. Sometimes these levels were so low that the laboratory cannot detect histamine in their whole blood. Serum copper is high, blood basophils are almost always very low, and zinc and folic acid deficiency is usually found. Sometimes it is complicated also by the presence of pyroluria or hypoglycemia. If it is hypoglycemia, it is usually a little difficult to treat, but you can be totally successful with patients in compliance.

Our treatment approach is histamine elevation to proper levels. Histamine is more than a factor that has to do with allergies; it is also now regarded as a neurotransmitter, stored in high concentration at the base of the brain. People who are low in histamine very often suffer mental illness, we elevate their histamine by giving them folate and augmenting nutrients, basophil enhancement, copper reduction. We give them a specialized nutrient treatment that causes them to get rid of their excess copper.

In severe cases, such as patients we cannot wean off drugs, we have them continue their regular medications, then balance their biochemistry, and after a couple months start slowly to take them off their regular medications. Some need low doses to be totally well.

After one or two months of treatment of the histapenic, the agitation, the nervousness, and the hallucinations recede and often disappear. Usually by the third week of treatment it is clear that the auditory hallucinations are beginning to go away. With a severe case, where someone hears voices every fifteen minutes, after a few weeks it will be down to two or three times daily with improvement. After six weeks it is down to once every two days, then after two months very often the hallucinations are gone forever. Thought clarity usually returns on months two, three and four. Depression begins to lift on the second month. It usually takes about six months before it is completely gone. Obesity is often a symptom of paranoid schizophrenia, especially for people who have a distinctive reaction as a side effect to their drug medication. For whatever reason, a high percentage of them do have obesity, and we can't make headway on that until months six to ten. The hardest thing of all is paranoia. We have had paranoid schizophrenics who became virtually completely well but still had some paranoia. That does not go away until months nine to twelve, and severe stress delays progress.

Excess Histamine Brings on Suicidal Depression

Schizophrenics with an excess of histamine have a completely different set of symptoms. They have suicidal depression; they have delusions rather than hallucinations. They tend to be obsessive, compulsive. They often tend to become blank-minded even if they aren't on medications. They can become catatonic. Headaches are a hallmark of this group. They have ruminations, an inability to get rid of bad thoughts. Frequently their diagnosis is schizo-affective.

The clinical results of persons like Pfeiffer and Hoffer determined 15 years ago that these people had extraordinarily high histamine levels and really high blood basophil levels. The treatment approach is to get rid of the excess histamine and give them augmenting nutrients. You need to avoid multivitamins. This is also true for type A people and many learning disabled kids. These people get worse on multivitamins. The folic acid, copper, niacinamide, niacin and pantothenic acid is poison to them and makes them worse. We have helped people by taking their vitamins away from them. People are biochemically unique. With histadelics, we have to avoid anything that will raise blood histamine. A low protein diet is essential for them, and they do well on vegetarian diets. We think the reason is that the amino acids are present in a high protein diet, and if they get too much histadine, which is one of the amino acids, that will make their mental illness worse.

The timeline on histadelic recovery is slow because treating them is difficult. The family and patient often get discouraged. Very often nothing happens for six to eight weeks. They have a lot of pills to swallow. Depression begins to lift between the first and third month. Blank-mindedness starts to go away sometimes after four to six weeks, sometimes four months. Obsessions take three to six weeks, compulsions take six to twelve weeks, and the phobias take up to a year. Compliance with histadelics is the biggest problem. They have a terrible time sticking to treatment.

Pyrolurics constitute the last group. Most people who are pyroluric never become schizophrenic, but if you have someone who is schizophrenic and pyroluric, if the pyroluria is treated, the schizophrenia usually goes away. Stress is controlled - they can't stand stress, especially cumulative stress. They have an unusual depression that goes up and down with stress. They can be depressed one minute, feel good two hours later, and another two hours later are depressed again. They have incredible mood swings.

Hallucinations happen in about 50% of them and are totally absent in the other 50%. They are photosensitive, can go into a movie wearing sunglasses. Bright lights bother them; they like to spend a lot of time in dark rooms. They become pearshaped, the fat on their bodies tending to go on their upper legs and lower trunks. They have little skin pigmentation. If you have a pyroluric black person, he will probably have the lightest skin of anyone in his family.

Pyrolurics Are Dramatically Zinc Deficient

The chemical results show that they have kryptopyroles in their urine. Kryptopyroles relate to hemoglobin metabolism, the synthesis of hemoglobin in your body. The sequence by which hemoglobin is born and dies takes up to six weeks. The body is like a chemical factory, constantly making more hemoglobin. Some people have an excess of this by-product of hemoglobin metabolism which is called kryptopyrole or abnormal pyrole. This pyrole doesn't just lie there and do nothing in the bloodstream as the body is trying to get rid of it. It reacts with certain factors in the bloodstream, it binds with them, and the major chemical that kryptopyrole reacts with is an aldehyde. The major aldehyde in the bloodstream is pyridoxyl which is B6. Pyrolurics are dramatically B6 deficient, also zinc deficient, often with copper overload because of the zinc deficiency. Histamine is usually normal and abnormal EEG's are common. Their urine often turns mauve color within an hour of taking a sample.

Treatment approach is elevation of blood and tissue zinc levels, correction of B6 deficiency with augmenting nutrients. Stress levels have to be reduced. They get better in a week only if their stress levels are low. Hallucinations go away in months three and four and their depression begins to lift after the second or third month. Stress, illness or injury will delay progress.

The rare biochemical types of schizophrenia include cerebral allergy, porphyria, polydipsia, thyroid deficiency, and about ten others. The easiest people to treat are the ones that fall into the neat three classifications comprising 90% of schizophrenia. The rare types need additional testing.

The problem with blood analysis is that it measures toxins such as lead, cadmium and mercury and reflects exposure that's recent, usually over five to ten days. Urinalysis gives you a measure of the last five to thirty days. Hair analysis measures exposure over a period of six months to a year and you can get an integrated average of the degree of toxic exposure. The labs are very good at analyzing a dozen elements, depending on which lab you are talking about, but they are totally unable to do the other elements. One of the great problems is mercury which hair analysis has not succeeded in doing accurately. There is a volatilization of mercury compounds during pretreatment before the analysis is done and random vaporization so the results are worthless. The analyses are good for cadmium, lead, and copper.

With respect to who is or isn't allergic to mercury is dependent on metal binding proteins. The method by which your body processes, regulates and controls metal in your body is important. Zinc is supposed to be homeostatically controlled. The same is true for copper in the normal person. Most of these metals are regulated by a system called metalothianine. That is the metal metabolism process in the body which keeps metal levels normal. Cadmium becomes cadmium metalothianine. Mercury becomes mercury metalothianine. If your system is working all right, your body will excrete it. Most of these metals have a half-life of more than ten years - in some cases more than twenty. The half-life of lead in the body - that is the time it takes for half of it to disappear - unless you take some aggressive action, is something like twenty-two years. These things are bone seekers. Most treatments can get heavy metals out of soft tissues and blood, and the person feels a lot better, but 95% of it is still in the bones, still to be released.

25 Clinics Needed

The Carl Pfeiffer Treatment Center is a public charity in Illinois. We hope to expand to twenty-five clinics throughout the country. It bothers us that people have to come such long distances, many from other countries. We will establish clinics first in communities where there are enthusiastic nutrition groups such as the Well Mind Association. We do everything we can to get people insurance coverage. We have amazing cases, but these are anecdotal case histories. We need to establish proof through traditional controlled studies, double-blinding, and codes, and these will be supervised by others.

The answer to crime prevention is not in bigger prisons and more stringent penalties but in identifying children and intervening biochemically before their lives are ruined. Allergies are often an aggravating factor, sometimes the only factor. Sugar and yellow and red food dyes hit kids hard. Eventually we'll learn all about what needs to be known in the prevention of crime.


Dr. William Walsh

Carl Pfeiffer Treatment Center

2100 Manchester Rd., Suite 1610

Wheaton, IL 60187


Well Mind Association

4649 Sunnyside Ave. N.

Seattle, WA 98103


Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients.


By William Walsh

Share this with your friends