Healing Depression and Bipolar Without Drugs
Gracelyn Guyol is a researcher and author who did not plan to heal her bipolar disorder since doctors described it as an “incurable” condition. Instead, in response to the rapid appearance of breast cysts and tumors in 1994-95, she began a “health quest” to identify the causes, and it changed her life. She completely altered her diet, began taking specific supplements, and eliminated all potential toxins that might cause cells to mutate. Three years of severe arthritis pains vanished, she lost 20 pounds, and cysts dissolved, but in 1999 a new tumor appeared. An avid reader who “devoures” health books, she began to suspect an antidepressant prescribed in 1993 might be the trigger, and tapered off the drug. Within two months, her tumor disappeared and the growths stopped.
Refusing all other psychiatric medications, Gracelyn embarked on a new quest, for natural remedies to end the manic highs and depressive lows of her bipolar disorder. She repeated the same process of eliminating toxins and other likely causes while providing the body with nutrients vital to healthy brain function. By 2002, she discovered solutions that have kept her free of depression and mania since. Three more years of research and writing resulted in her 2006 book, Healing Depression & Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs. It includes her story of healing and methods by which 13 other depressed or bipolar patients restored mental health.
A former sales and public relations executive, Gracelyn lives in Connecticut. When described by her husband as the “most stubborn woman on earth,” she adopted the title of Focused and Persistent (FaP), attributes she says enabled her healing. Gracelyn now lectures to patient and student groups across the country and gives seven-hour continuing education (CEU) seminars for medical practitioners through PESI
Restoring Mental Health by Identifying the Causes.
Her book Healing Depression and Bipolar Without Drugs is highly rated by readers at Amazon.com.
Healing Depression & Bipolar Disorder Without Drugs features Gracelyn Guyol’s own story and those of thirteen other people around the country who have cured their depression and bipolar disorder using only natural therapies. In-depth research and the expertise of alternative health-care professionals are included in this landmark guide for patients and caregivers seeking responsible, safe alternatives to psychiatric drugs.
Questions and Answers
by Trung Nguyen
Q. Prior to being diagnosed with bipolar, did you have any other medical condition? Or did any member of your immediate family have bipolar?
I suffered from depression on and off throughout my life, but doctors said it was simply hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and I should eat frequent snacks with protein. I happily grazed, but the bouts of depression continued. Although I went to psychiatrists off and on for over seven years and the talk therapy gave me insight and coping skills, nothing ended my symptoms until the physical causes were addressed. Although my mother was bipolar, she wasn’t diagnosed until age 70 when she first tried to commit suicide, so for most of my life I had no knowledge of bipolar disorder or that I had it.
Q. When you were diagnosed with bipolar, how did you react?
I was completely surprised. Even following my mother’s diagnosis, therapists never picked up on my manic highs until 1993, so I had no idea my depression was connected to her illness, although it was easy to see in retrospect. Once diagnosed, I refused lithium because it had not helped her much and caused horrible side effects. Given Wellbutrin for the moods swings, my life became easier, less chaotic – until the cysts and tumors started a year later. No doctor told me antidepressants might be causing these growths, although I later found several studies (cited in my book) which indicate antidepressants increase the risk of various cancers and other diseases in patients, especially in those who are poor metabolizers, a category I fit genetically.
Q. You thoroughly investigated bipolar. During your research, what did you discover that did not agree with what you were told?
Everyone is told bipolar disorder is “incurable,” yet I found hundreds of people who have ended their symptoms using non-drug therapies. Since I was able to halt my tumor growths by systematically eliminating potential causes, I believed it was also possible to end my mood swings if I could determine their cause. I began reading the work of pioneering doctors who successfully used natural vitamins and minerals to treat schizophrenia, autism, bipolar, depression, and other mental ailments: Dr. Abram Hoffer, the late Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, and Dr. William Walsh.
Q. During your research and investigation, did you find any common cause between bipolar, depression, and other mental illnesses?
Yes, the same things that cause mania and depression are also involved in ADD, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, episodic violence, autism, schizophrenia, etc. But autism and schizophrenia have some metabolic idiosyncrasies unique to those illnesses.
Q. In your opinion, what is the primary cause of bipolar?
Four genetic causes have been known for over 30 years: pyroluria, under-methylation, over-methylation, metal metabolism errors. Undiagnosed celiac disease or other food allergies has been implicated more recently. All appear to involve genetic errors in cellular processes. Although the first four have been implicated in mental disorders since the 1960s, there is little profit in the natural solutions that counteract them. Without huge profits, scant funding is available for research or advertising to doctors, and apparently they are not mentioned in the drug-dominated medical schools since few conventionally trained doctors know of them.
Testing showed I had pyroluria, which strips the body of zinc and vitamin B6. This one disorder alone is found in 18% of patients with bipolar disorder, 20% with depression, 20% with autism, and 27% with schizophrenia. Within four months of simply taking high levels of zinc and B6 daily, my mania disappeared – yet my depression continued.
Like many other patients, I also under-methylate, a critical biochemical process (one of the detoxification pathways) that occurs over a billion times a second in your body. Scientists are beginning to connect impaired methylation to cardiovascular disease, arthritis, aging, and cancer too. The solution is to take SAMe, the amino acid L-methionine, or TMG to provide additional methyl groups that improve methylation. So when there is a family pattern of bipolar, patients should first be tested for these genetic causes of mania and violence.
The depressive down cycles may be triggered by genetic causes or have a different dietary cause – an imbalance of essential fatty acids. Insufficient intake of Omega 3 essential fatty acids appears to be a significant cause of depression and poor brain function. The American diet is very high in Omega 6s and low in Omega 3s, by some estimates a 20:1 ratio. While it is believed most organs need a 4:1 ratio, the brain functions best on a 1:1 ratio. The fats we eat are what the body has to use for cellular repair and regeneration. Bad trans fats, hydrogenated oils, and saturated fats result in more rigid cell membranes. Research by Harvard psychiatry professor Perry F. Renshaw found that depressed people’s brains had stiffer cell membranes and less responsiveness.
Another Harvard researcher, Andrew Stoll, M.D., conducted clinical trials using ten grams of omega-3 fish oils daily that successfully ended bipolar symptoms in many patients. After reading his book, The Omega 3 Connection, I began taking six capsules of Dr. Stoll’s Omega Brite fish oils each day. My depression lifted within 48 hours. Omega Brites have a higher level of the EPA element than most fish oils. With other brands, patients should aim for 3-5 grams of EPA daily (read the label) for therapeutic benefits. According to Dr. Stoll, cod liver oil should not be used at these high doses.
Unfortunately, people should not eat more than two servings of fish a week in spite of the health benefits because of the mercury, PCBs, and other environmental toxins in fish today. Any fish oil supplements used should say on the label they have been filtered for toxins. Fish oils have no negative side effects other than slightly thinning blood. People on prescription anticoagulants should not begin using them without first talking to their doctor.
Q. How important is the food we eat in treating bipolar disorder?
Diet can keep blood sugar levels even, which helps reduce mood swings. But diet alone won’t end the genetically caused bipolar highs. The American diet – full of empty calories from refined carbohydrates, sugars, and additives while low in vitamins and minerals – can definitely be a sole cause of hyperactivity, inability to focus, anxiety, cravings, and related disorders. You literally become what you eat. Food is how the body is supplied with fuel for cellular energy and repair. If you live on fries, pizza, burgers, and junk food with no fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, or means of restocking the essential vitamins and minerals, all systems will eventually malfunction. People wouldn’t expect their car to run on sugar water. Neither will their body.
Q. Why do you recommend people work with naturopathic doctors? How do they differ from medical doctors?
What I advocate is a process of restoring mental health that involves 1) looking for underlying causes of the symptoms, 2) providing the body with raw materials necessary for optimum functioning, and 3) non-drug therapies that can relieve symptoms brought on by rape, abuse, or other severe trauma. The causes and solutions may be different for each person, so I suggest patients find a doctor to help guide them in this discovery process.
Naturopathic doctors (N.D.) are trained to treat all types of illnesses using only complimentary or alternative methods, so they are the most experienced guides. Not all will know how to treating mood disorders, however, so patients need to ask. I also recommend medical doctors who are members of the American College for Advancement in Medicine (ACAM), the largest nonprofit medical society dedicated to educating professionals in emerging procedures in alternative medicine. Again, ask whether they have experience in restoring mental health using alternatives.
Q. What was the time frame between when you were diagnosed and the time you were free of symptoms?
Two years. For some people in my book, it took over a decade. So I wrote the book to provide a “road map” for others to shorten this time. Normally, people working with experienced practitioners notice improvement within 1-2 months and achieve major relief within 6-12 months.
Q. Would you say that you are now “cured” of bipolar?
Yes, since the word cure is defined as relief from symptoms. Many bipolar patients prefer to say they have “recovered” or “restored” mental health because many will always need to take the vitamin, mineral, amino acid supplements that override genetic problems as well as the fish oils to balance the levels of essential fatty acids.
Q. Has your view changed about conventional medicine after the knowledge you’ve acquired about yourself and bipolar?
Of course. I was angry with conventional medicine for about three years. Finally I realized that most doctors have the best intentions but medicine is evolving more quickly today but it is a conservative industry resistant to change. I am simply on the front edge of this evolution. Today, I try to heal every ailment first using alternatives, and so far I’ve eliminated my arthritis, dropped to a healthy weight, ended a dozen food allergies (including celiac disease) that were overloading my immune system, as well as halted the tumors and bipolar symptoms. I still use a couple of conventional doctors to maintain patient status in case I’m in an accident. Western medicine excels at keeping people alive after severe physical trauma; alternatives tend to work more slowly. I believe the two approaches will merge within the next decade, but until then, patients have to act as a general contractor for rebuilding their health and eliminating the degenerative diseases that are so common in our culture.
Q. Any parting words for our readers?
This process is not as easy as taking a pill, but healing your brain with alternatives also heals your body and has the potential to restore mental health, a hope no drug can offer. It takes a bit of trial and error, because we are all genetically unique, so find a good guide and be persistent is my parting advice.