Our performance and quality of life is largely dependent on a delicate balance of brain biochemistry. It defines our mental health, mood, our anxiety, our focus and attention, cognitive performance and ultimately even our personality.
Today’s guest estimates that 80 to 90% of the population have some kind of biochemistry abnormality that affects their brain. This is based on insights from a database of biochemistry he has collected over 35 years with over 3 million biochemistry test assays. So while many of us may not be included within the 26% of the population included in clinical diagnoses for mental disorders, most of us can improve our mental wellbeing or cognitive performance by addressing biochemistry imbalances.
Today’s guest is Dr. William J. Walsh, founder of the WalshInstitute.org. Over his 35 year career he has treated 30,000 patients with a wide range of brain related disorders, successfully treating them by addressing biochemical, methylation and epigenetic abnormalities. The treatments are nutrient based to realign biochemistry, and thus drug free.
William is also a frequent lecturer at conferences across the world including organizations such as the American Psychiatric Association, the U.S. Senate and the National Institutes of Mental Health. In short, he’s got a very in long and deep CV backed up by those 35 years of experience.
– William J. Walsh PhD
This is a great interview that goes into a lot of depth in biochemistry, the labs, as well as looking at the emerging area of epigenetics and how work there will help us resolve more health issues and optimizing your brain via biochemistry.
The show notes, biomarkers, lab test and other links are below. Enjoy!
- How 80 to 90% of the population are affected by biochemical brain imbalances
- How abnormal methylation (over or under) affects the moods and personalities of 30% of the population
- Mental disorders like schizophrenia and depression that can be correct through methylation therapy using specific nutrients
- Correcting and normalizing brain biochemistry improves mood, personality and addresses clinical mental disorders
- The inexpensive $300 to $400 blood tests you can do to get brain biochemistry imbalances assessed
- The 6 or 8 dominant nutrient factors that have the greatest impact on your brain health and performance
- Correcting imbalances via nutrients such as Zinc, Metallothionein activation and epigenetic and methylation mechanisms
- Things that can bias the results of biochemical lab tests such as lab handling and supplements
- The difficulties and problems caused in methyl folate treatment of methylation imbalances
- William’s view on lab reference ranges used in a variety of labs
- The link between oxidative stress and brain biochemistry abnormalities
- Biochemical individuality and how we should get to know our own signature and optimize factors in our life such as nutrition and exercise accordingly
- William’s view of where brain science and treatment is changing and will evolve to over the next decade
- Biomarkers William tracks for his own health and how he corrects/ maintain his own methylation balances
Biomarkers in this Episode
- Plasma Zinc: Zinc abnormalities, particularly low levels, are associated with brain imbalances. William assesses this as a reliable/ stable marker.
- Serum Copper: Copper abnormalities, specifically high levels, are associated with brain imbalances and conditions. William assesses this as a reliable/ stable marker.
- Urine Pyrroles: Used by William to detect abnormal stress levels and potential pyrrole disorder. More difficult to use for interpretation as levels tend to vary throughout day based on stress levels and should normally be between 5 and 12. William has seen people over 200 with severe disorders.
- Whole blood histamine: The simplest and cheapest test used to assess your methylation status, whether you are under, normally or over methylated. Histamine is negatively correlated with your methylation levels.
- Ratio of Plasma SAM / Plasma SAH: Looking at straight plasma ratio of SAM (S-Adenyl-Methionine) to SAH (S-Adenyl-Homocysteine) provides a relatively cheap but accurate assessment of your methylation status, with a bit more information as to the basis of under or over methylation (e.g. low SAM).
- Ratio of RBC SAM / RBC SAH : Looking at the red blood cell (RBC) ratio of SAM (S-Adenyl-Methionine) and SAH (S-Adenyl-Homocysteine) gives an estimate of intracellular levels and methylation status. Slightly more expensive.
- Methylation Gene SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms): Gene mutations with enzymes related to methylation can impact our methylation status and cause methylation imbalances. Genetic tests identify these SNPs. The example given was the common MTHFR SNP.
- RBC Folates: Using the Red Blood Cell (RBC) levels of the different folates (e.g. folinic acid, folic acid) as an intracellular measure for the status of your body’s folate resources. This can identify whether they are under resourced, over resourced or balanced.
- Hair Metals Tests: William discussed the accuracy of reference ranges used in hair analysis by companies like Doctor’s Data.
Lab Tests from this Episode
- William J. Walsh’s Brain Biochemistry Panel: William recommended this lab, Direct Healthcare Access II Laboratory, who he has worked with for a long time and runs his complete panel for $235. (See below for link to list of Walsh trained physicians for interpreting the labs, alternatively the lab has trained physicians who can provide a consultation with the test for $435 – see here)
- Methylation Pathways Panel: Includes the RBC SAM, RBC SAH and RBC folates from Health Diagnostics & Research Institute, which William uses and was discussed in this episode.
- Hair Toxic Exposure Elements Profile @ Doctor’s Data: This test looks at heavy metals levels in ppm (parts per million). [Note: William J. Walsh disagrees with the reference ranges, believing them to be too low, and indicating toxicity where there is none].
Other Resources Mentioned in this Episode
William J. Walsh PhD. and the Walsh Institute
- WalshInstitute.org: William J. Walsh’s non-profit research institution focused on publishing, educating and training physicians on his work.
- Nutrient Power: Heal Your Biochemistry and Heal Your Brain: William’s book covering his discoveries, tests and protocols in the area of brain biochemistry and methylation. A great read with a lot of detail on treating conditions from ADHD to schizophrenia – highly recommended.
- Walsh Institute Trained Physicians: A list of the physicians who have taken training programs with the Walsh Institute for labs interpretation and his nutrient protocols for resolving abnormalities.
- William J. Walsh on PubMed: List of peer reviewed studies William has published over the last 20 years on biochemistry, epigenetics and mental disorders in a variety of medical journals.
- Carl Curt Pfeiffer, PhD: William originally was mentored by Carl Pfeiffer, deceased in 1988, who is considered the founder of orthomolecular psychiatry, otherwise known as treating mental disorders via biochemistry. Carl Pfeiffer treated 1000s of patients through the Pfeiffer Treatment Center.
[William J. Walsh]: Well Damien, it has been my pleasure.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: In order to get started I wanted to just quickly dive into the scope of your work. What is actually covered, I know it is all basically centered around mental disorders. Could you give a broad strokes overview of the areas you have look at and gone into over the last thirty years or twenty years.
[William J. Walsh]: It has been about 35 years actually. Basically I started as a scientist working on things like nuclear physics, chemical engineering. I worked for Argo National Laboratory, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, places like that, so I come background of heart of science.
About 35 or 40 years ago, I became a prison volunteer trying to help people living in prisons and in the course of that I got very interested in the clause of behavior disorders and that sort of launched me into studies on brain science and more than anything else.
Lately I have been studying with my colleagues and research associates, the microbiology of the brain and especially with respect to originally behavior disorders and then attention deficit disorder, depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and then most recently Alzheimer’s.
So I have been focusing on trying to understand what is going on in the brain that is different for these people. Along the way, I did start a clinic in Illinois that at one time I think was the largest complimentary medicine clinic in the world and we eventually saw 30,000 patients.
And we evaluated all of those with respect to metal metabolism and methylation and pyrrole disorders and malabsorption. I accumulated a lot of data and I have always collected the numbers so I have I think the world’s biggest chemistry database for a lot of these conditions.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Wow, that is pretty impressive. That is really why I want to get you on the show became I am pretty impressed by that number when you brought it up in another interview I had and of course your book is fantastic.
When I was researching before this interview I was looking for the mental disorders like some of the ones you have been talking about. Some of the estimates are that 26% of Americans age 18 or older actually have one of these disorders, so one in four Americans which is pretty huge. So in fact it is a huge slice of society.
Have you seen this as something that is very common place, so like the cases you have seen? Has it been very, very specific cases that have been clinical diagnosed or is it like something a bit more-broader like you had patients referred from all sorts of various work.
Perhaps they do not feel like they have a mental disorder as such. It is kind of a big word and maybe they are just having a few problems at work. They feel a bit depressed or is it something that they would not really feel is a clinical situation?
[William J. Walsh]: Well, we of course studied primarily people who had major problems severe clinical depression or schizophrenia. But in order to really evaluate something, you have to know what normal is. So along the way we study very healthy people who would not have these problems to get an idea what the chemistry should be and what the brain chemistry should be.
Now these disorders come in mild, moderate and severe, maybe it is 26% of the people of a population has a really significant problem. Probably at least 80% or 90% of us have some abnormalities in our brain chemistry and life would be better if we knew what those were and could normalize them.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is pretty impressive. So it is really relevant to everyone and that is what I understood in your book and what I was really amazed about. And especially when you are describing some of the personality symptoms and I think we accept it as pretty much normal in society.
[William J. Walsh]: That is right because for example methylation is something that we have to evaluate everybody. About 70% of the human population has normal methylation but about 20% are undermethylated and that is basically genetic and you are born that way and another 10% are over methylated.
These conditions have a lot to do with mental functioning. With our personality and traits for example, undermethylated people tend to have a strong will. They tend toward high accomplishment in life. They are competitive, they are sort of driven individuals compared to the others.
Whereas the over methylated people are friendly, make wonderful neighbors. They might get involved in nursing or in charity work and the over methylated people, one of the tendencies is they tend to be very artistic and better at music.
Each of us is somewhat defined a bit genetically from the time we are born and we have tendencies that are there and it sort of makes us who we are and gives us the diversity that we all like. But in extreme cases with severe chemical abnormalities, biochemistry doesn’t function well when that happens, you could have a disorder that can really plague a person and cause a lot of misery and that is what we focused on.
When we evaluate a patient, we have to not only get the lab results. We also need to know everything we can about this human being because the symptoms and traits give a lot of evidence with respect to what the chemistry is and what neurotransmitters are not functioning properly.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Can you explain a little bit more about what methylation is and if it is a problem, you are saying some people are undermethylated and over methylated but the way you described the personality types and everyone knows these kind of people.
So is it okay in some situations when it gets more advanced, more away from a balance that it because a problem or is it a slight issues that are going to present some problems perhaps in concentration and performance at work or whatever it is?
[William J. Walsh]: People who are undermethylated and I am one of them and I suspect you probably are too. These are people who are self motivated. They tend toward obsessive compulsive tendencies and if they can channel that into a career or into a blind study, it can be a really good thing.
But of course it can also go in a wrong direction. These are the same people who are more prone to be hooked on things. If they sort of started to take illegal drugs for example, from females who got involved or anybody. It can involve shopping disorders or gambling disorders.
Basically it is a matter of extremes. The environment has quite a bit to do with it. Methyl is the simplest organic chemical that is one carbon atom with three or four hydrogens. It is a very dominant factor in human function that domination starts in the womb during the first three or four weeks of that little tiny baby developing in the womb.
Your DNA and every cell in your body, at that time methyl reacts with parts of your DNA and that acts like a switch that turns on some chemicals and turns off others. In other words it is a switch. They can turn on a gene or turn off a gene.
We have 23,000 genes and every genes had only one job and that is to make a protein. That is what every gene does. It makes one specific protein or enzyme, since we have the same DNA in every part of our body in order for a person to be healthy and normal, every part of your body.
Every tissue, your kidney, your lungs, your liver, you need different chemicals in every one of these areas and that is how this is all done. It is done with methylation. If people are over methylated or under methylated, then this changes things and that is why we get these different traits and symptoms.
Sometimes they are mild and just sort of define people, some people are talkative. Others are quiet. That is probably an intrinsic thing related to methylation. In many case, there are certain disorders that are associated with methylation.
For example, about 65% of all people with schizophrenia have a methylation disorder and then about 60% of all people who have clinical depression have a methylation disorder. And if we are going to identify what their methylation status is, we can provide them with nutrients therapy, drug free therapy that can usually create that and avoid the need for a drug medication.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: You said a lot of things that are very interesting and I actually did see in your book. You’ve covered addictions for undermethylated. Have you seen any situations? So these are new applications of your work that I was not aware of.
Have you seen any application for drug abuse or areas like that for the kinds of treatments you are talking about?
[William J. Walsh]: Over our history, doing clinical work with 30,000 people, one thing that we never were very good at was trying to help people who might have cocaine addiction or heroin addiction or alcoholism and we actually would not invite those people to come to our clinic because we thought we are not likely to help them.
But in the last ten years, there has been some wonderful revealing research and addictions and it all has to do with the NMDA receptor in the brain. NMDA receptor and that seems to have everything to do with what they call memory extinction.
When something goes wrong with that receptor which is a glutamate receptor, that seems to have everything to do with addictions and there are now nutrient natural therapies that seemed to be working better than drugs in the research they are doing.
I think that is a very positive thing and we started using these therapies. It is still early. We are not quite sure yet. We have not done outcome studies but I think that for the first time in my life, natural treatments for alcoholism and drug addiction are not promising.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: When you are talking about these changes in personality, in behaviors and so on. There is an epigenetic aspect to that when we talk about methylation that affects the epigenetics. Could you explain a little bit about that and is it permanent or are these treatments actually changing the epigenetic homeostasis of the body when you are fixing and treating people?
[William J. Walsh]: What happens as I started to say during early development in the womb, in the nine months of gestation, these methyl marks are put on and attached to certain areas of certain genes and basically switch the genes on or off.
They used to believe not until about ten years ago that these methyl mark. They call them book marks or marks and they thought these methyl marks were in there like concrete. You could not remove them or change them.
Now we know that is not completely true and in fact we now know that environmental insults can offer these marks and cause disorders. We now know that most cancers are epigenetic and result from things that happen after you are born, maybe when you are an adult even.
Cancer results from overwhelming environmental insults usually involving this thing called oxidative stress and free radical assaults on the body that can actually alter these methyl marks. And in cancer they have now worked it out that they understand which genes are being affected.
And we now know that most cancer research now is aimed at identifying the misbehaving genes. And in cancer, so far, almost every one of them has been marks that have turned off by a cancer protection gene. They know that is absolutely true for bladder cancer and prostate cancer and lung cancer.
Another example is skin cancer. If a person is in the sun too much or goes to a tanning bed too often and has too much of an environmental insult to their skin, eventually you could overwhelm your natural protectors and that can alter these methyl marks on parts of your DNA and that is what the onset of cancer usually is.
From that time on you have this cancer tendency that you have to deal with for the rest of your life. That is all pretty well established. We also know that most heart disease is epigenetic in nature. In other words, you might have a person with a predisposition for these problems but it is triggered by environmental insults which can be chemical, they can be emotional stresses. They can be physical injuries.
Things that can cause enough environmental stress and insult to change your gene expression and the way it changes is by changing these methylation marks.
Another thing that happen is for the first time because of epigenetics, nutritional practitioners and people who try to do natural therapies and it has really given us a whole new ability because in the past we have studied diet and the nutrients that go into the body and for the last 20 years, we have a lot of knowledge about how we can give nutrient therapies to alter these levels.
The one thing we have not been able to do is to address the enzymes, the important chemicals in our body that are genetically expressed. But now with this whole field of epigenetics, we are now able to do that.
For example, a lot of depressives, people with clinical depression have low serotonin activity. They do not have enough neurotransmission at serotonin receptors. We now know that reuptake is a major mechanism that controls that and because of the field of epigenetics we now understand that methionine or SAMe which are nutrients available at least in U.S. and every drugstore and health food store.
We know that they are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. In other words they do the same thing as antidepressants except that they do it in different mechanism. We know that the impact of folates and niacin and a number of nutrients have a really powerful effect on brain function.
Now with our nutrient therapies and biochemical therapies, we now have the ability to be far more effective than we could five years ago.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Certainly. So all of these things you are talking about are influencing methylation and as kind of downstream to that, that is impacting biochemical balances in the body and neurotransmitters is that correct?
[William J. Walsh]: That is correct. Our focus has been on the brain but this also has a lot to do with other disorders, some has to do with the rest of the body. We have just been discussing methylation but there are other imbalances that are also very important like metabolism disorders.
We know that specifically copper and zinc, two traced metals in the body are extremely important in brain function and we know which neurotransmitters they impact. If a person has a metal metabolism disorder, for example zinc deficiency or a copper overload, we have now developed treatments that can just normalize that and help a lot of people.
So it is not just methylation. It is just that methylation is sort of a new understanding. One of the complications is that if you are undermethylated, the best way to improve your methylation is to use folates either folic acid, folinic acid or methyl folate, different forms of folates.
The problem is that we now know epigenetically because of the epigenetic science that folates have extremely powerful effect on brain function. So if you got an undermethylated depressed person, you cannot give them folates or else it will get worse.
Even though the folates will improve methylation, but they patient will get worse. And they will get worse because the impact of the folates on neurotransmitter reuptake is in the opposite direction and it overwhelms the benefits of improving methylation.
It is very complicated. If you are studying it, it is really clear and it gives us a road map for helping people that is beyond anything we could do anything in the past.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I know it has been incredibly complicated. Just reading through your book you can understand that. One of the interesting things, it is all basically biochemical the way you look at this. It is about the biochemicals being used in our body and making sure they are in balance. Is that kind of the whole basis for it?
[William J. Walsh]: That is a lot of it. For things like depression and anxiety and behavior disorders, that is pretty much what is important. But there are other disorders like autism that actually are developmental disorders and in that case brain develops differently and you have what they call connectivity problems where different parts of the brain are slightly off spacially or you might even say geographically.
They do not connect like they should. It depends on the disorder but in most mental disorders, it is the chemistry that tends to dominate unless of course if the person has had a head injury or a stroke or something like that. I would say 95% of the cases, it is biochemistry.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Great. so by supporting biochemistry, that is addressable, the other 5% it is not really addressable because there is some permanent injury and it is basically a structural injury rather than some biochemicals that are out of balance.
[William J. Walsh]: We learned after doing thousands of patients, we learned there are some people we cannot help and we tried hard to identify who they are so we would not have them come and waste their time.
A big surprise for me was that in the areas of depression and behavior disorders and ADD and even schizophrenia that about 95% of them seemed to have those conditions because of their abnormal biochemistry and by correcting and normalizing these brain chemicals, we were able to help most of them based on outcome studies.
We would often study maybe a thousand patients from the last couple of years for the depression or for autism or whatever. And to find out what happened. Did they improve? To what degree do they improve? Are they still taking the treatment? Is life better?
And then we would find out how many people were really benefiting from this and how many of them failed to improve. And then of course we would study the non-responders and then eventually get our percentages better and better.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Your book talks about how you have broken down areas like depression into sub segments because you have got more detail and you can see different biochemical characteristics of different subsets with slightly different problems.
[William J. Walsh]: That is really important. My colleague Dr. Robert Devito is a known psychiatrist. We decided that one of the most important things we needed to make sure the world understood was about depression.
So we would give a paper at the annual meeting at the American Psychiatric Association as the big meeting once a year. We had 17,000 psychiatrists in all over the world and we wanted them to know two major things.
Number 1, Depression is not a single condition. Mainstream medicine throughout the world believes that if a person has clinical depression, basically their problem is low serotonin activity. Nearly every patient who comes to a psychiatrist or any doctor with depression is probably going to be given an SSRI antidepressant like Paxil or Proxaz or Serzone or Zoloft and the list goes on and on.
But what we found, I think the world’s biggest chemistry database for depression and what we found quite clearly is that depression is a world used for at least five completely different conditions. About nearly half of them have something else wrong and they are not going to get better. Antidepressants are not going to help the rest of them.
For example, one of these involves a condition that females have that involves elevated copper levels which has to do with hormone abnormalities and these people have severe anxiety and depression and antidepressants don’t help them. The drugs don’t help them.
Within about 60 to 90 days, we can usually completely correct that condition and most of them tell us that the depression is gone and they can throw away their medications. We wanted the psychiatrist in the world to know that so we gave this presentation and I think it went over really well, the psychiatrist that were extremely interested.
The second thing we wanted to them to know is that they can do inexpensive blood test that only cost about $300 or $400 dollars and that can guide their treatment. They can identify which biotype of depression a person has and they can find out who to give which medication to.
But even more importantly, we also talk about how they can help these people with nutrient therapies and not necessarily have to use a drug. I think that is really important. 14% of all Americans have been diagnosed with clinical depression that is a lot of people.
And so many of them are being treated improperly but just throwing antidepressants at them whereas there is another group where antidepressants are very helpful, it is very important to find out who is who? And there is one group of depressants that actually gets worst on SSRI antidepressants.
There is a lot of evidence now that that is responsible for the school shootings in America where children, teenagers usually get a gun and go into the school and kill people. We have studied the last 50 cases of school shootings and what we find is that these are different from other disorder in people.
I have studied 10,000 children and adults and usually they show their violence by the time they are 3 or 4 or 5 years old. The school shooters are different. They are usually well behaved, pretty good students, they develop anxiety and depression and they get put on in antidepressant, they all ready have elevated serotonin activity.
They get dramatically worse and then disaster happens and so I recommended during our talk at the APA to all the psychiatrists that before they give antidepressant to a teenage boy or really anyone, they really should do some blood test to find out if they are going to be able to tolerate it.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: How many types of depression have you defined?
[William J. Walsh]: There are five major types that encompass 95% of all depressants. But there are other things that can cause depression. For example a person can be hypothyroid, low thyroid can cause depression and that is separate.
There is a number of what I call splinter types. Fortunately, 90% to 95% of people with depression have as their major problem one of these five types of depression. We are now able clinically with lab testing and with a careful medical history are able to accurately diagnose what type they have and they require completely different treatment approach, each one of them.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So as I understand it, you have this database which basically provides you fingerprints in terms of the biochemistry of each of these different segments now because of all the dates you have collected. What are the list of labs that you found most useful for creating these kind of fingerprints like the blueprints of what is what and what fits into where?
[William J. Walsh]: Well I think this is really the good news. There are really more than 300 nutrient factors that are important in the body. However, what we have learned is that with respect to brain function, the function of the brain that might go wrong, there is only about six or eight nutrient factors that have a really dominant effect.
And if we focus on those six or eight factors, we are able to help nearly everyone and the beauty of that is we do not have to do lab work for 300 different nutrients and we do not have to get a treatment to try to normalize 300 or dozens and dozens of things. If we can normalize these six or eight dominant nutrient factors, we can help most people.
For example we know we have to know a person’s serum copper level and we want to know there are several plasmin level that this has to do with how much free radical copper they have. We need to know their plasma zinc level.
And about maybe 20% of people that we work with, with mental problems have abnormalities that can be corrected that will help them. We have to find out methylation.
Now there has been a lot of people lately that have been trying to use genetic testing looking for SNPs like MTHFR enzymes that are weakened and now in genetic testing you can identify enzymes in the methylation for example that are weakened. We know that that is not a very good way to identify a person’s methylation status.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Could you explain why that is?
[William J. Walsh]: Well the reason is that people are all looking at the methylation cycle also known as the one carbon cycle. And that is the cycle in the body that basically produces this chemical called SAMe which is the methyl donor, S-Adenosyl methionine.
It is a relatively unstable molecule that goes throughout the body and it donates, provide the methyl for all these important reactions and people are focusing on things that can go wrong and can cause undermethylation.
One of which is the well known MTHFR enzyme which is really the limiting part of that cycle. And now genetically you can identify weaknesses in that that can cause undermethylation. Well what people are forgetting is that a lot of people are also over methylated.
So what can cause over methylation? Over methylation has to do with the utilization of the SAMe. There is about 80 or 90 really important reactions that have a lot to do with DNA, it have to do with cell division and they have to do with all kinds of important processes.
But more than half of all your methyl goes to one reaction and that is to make creatin maybe as high as 70% of all your methyl goes to make creatin. Well there are enzymes with snips involved with the utilization of methyl and if those are weakened, then you can be producing all of the SAMe with one carbon cycle and you have got SNPs that are tending toward over methylation.
So it is a tag of war genetically between those polymorphisms, they are called snips, Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms that tend to weaken and then you got a group of them that tend to cause over methylation. It is impossible with DNA testing to tell what the net effect is.
Clinically, what we really know if a person is over methylated or undermethylated, what is the sum total result of all these polymorphisms and you can actually have a person with the MTHFR 677-T which is the most damaging undermethilation source. Some of these people are actually over methylated because of the others that tend toward methylation.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So what you are saying is that the system is too complex. There are too many genes working together and plus, you can predict what the outcome is going to be by looking at the genes?
[William J. Walsh]: The SNPs are qualitative. They are not quantitative. They do not give you percentages. So even if you knew all of the SNPs, those that would tend to increase or reduce methylation, you still would not be able to know.
But fortunately there are some lab tests that can tell you or gives you strong evidence of whether a person is over or undermethylated.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Which labs are those?
[William J. Walsh]: The labs that we have been using primarily have been whole blood histamine. The reason is that histamine and methyl are inversed where everybody has a lot of histamine in every cylinder body. And it is metabolized and it is controlled or regulated or destroyed by methylation as the main process.
The second way of this seems even better than whole blood histamine. There are now labs that will measure both SAMe and SAH. SAH is S-Adenosylhomocysteine and that is what SAMe becomes when the methyl leaves and that ratio is the gold standard for measuring methylation in the body. Both of these are dramatically better than any information you can get from genetic testing.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So is that plasma SAM and SAH?
[William J. Walsh]: With respect to methylation.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right because I have seen some people who are testing for Red Blood Cell or RBC, SAMe and SAH.
[William J. Walsh]: I think that is all worthwhile. You get the information from these things. I think that red blood cell foliate is a valuable measure. It tells you about the folate stores which are really important both in methylation but also really important in mental health in different directions.
They now know that folates actually in most of the body tend to increase methyl levels, SAMe levels. However, in your DNA and your Chromatin where you get genetic expression, it does the opposite in many areas and folates strip methyl away from your DNA areas. That is the reason why so many nutritionists get confused.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So you could basically over folate yourself is that what you are saying? Is it where you are consuming too many folates either by diet or when you are taking these supplements like the B-Complex or the folates themselves?
[William J. Walsh]: Yeah you need to have the right amount of folate. You do not have too much or too little and there is a lot of clear evidence now that there are new disorders and new problems throughout the world. People are enriching foods and cereals with folates.
But that is important for pregnant women for example. If you are low in folate, they are more likely to have a child who has spina bifida or also with autism.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I am just wondering if you have looked at the difference between folic acid and the other folates.
[William J. Walsh]: Absolutely.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Okay.
[William J. Walsh]: A lot of people are now saying I have got this MTHFR weakness and therefore I have to use methyl folate, also known as deplin. That is greatly overblown. For one thing, we have about 100,000 micrograms of folate in the body.
The amount of folate you can add with deplin, the idea is to bypass this MTHFR part of the methylation cycle. It is a clever and intelligent thing that seems possible. The problem is that this methylation cycle is like a race track with race cars zooming around the cycle over and over.
In fact there are more than a million methylation reactions every second in the body. The problem with methyl folate and deplin is that it is what I call a suicidal nutrient. It is used once and then it become garden variety normal folate and becomes part of the problem. It only acts once.
It probably is somewhat better than the other forms of folate which are folic acid or folinic acid. It is only slightly better and the impact of it is relatively small because again if you look at the biochemistry, if you look at the cycle, the deplin or the methyl folate, helps convert the homocysteine methionine.
It becomes THS, Tetrahydrofolate, just like all the other folate in your body. It becomes garden variety, normal folate after its first use. It is not nearly as effective as people hold back. And that is why a lot of people who are undermethylated, they might even be folate deficient but a lot of people are getting worse if they are undermethilated and they take methyl folate or any of the folates.
And the reason is epigenetics. If a person has a neurotransmitter problem, that is the exception to the rule. If you have got a problem with serotonin or norepinephrine or dopamine neurotransmission, folates have a tremendous powerful effect on those and they tend to drop and lower the neurotransmission of those.
The simplest example is an undermethylated person with low serotonin activity but that is a lot of people. That is nearly half of all people with depression. So they are undermethylated, they have depression. If you give them folic acid or folinic acid or methyl folate, they are probably going to get worse.
What will happen is that their methylation will improve because of the methyl folate or whatever, but their folates acts as a serotonin reuptake promoter and what the depressed people need are serotonin reuptake inhibitors. They go exactly in the wrong direction.
And that is why so many depressed people and then people with anxiety who are undermethylated, my probably have an MTHFR problem. Clinicians all over the world are now finding out a lot of these people are just getting worse and worse and I give them what ought to help them.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So in this cases the secret is basically doing multiple interventions like you are saying about the folate and the SAMe’s and inhibitors so in that case would you be putting two things at the same time basically to counter both sides or how do you deal with these kind of problems?
[William J. Walsh]: For the case of mental health, for the case of neurotransmitter problems with every patient or clinician to try to understand which neurotransmitter system is misbehaving and then in what direction?
For example if a person has low serotonin depression or anxiety or even schizophrenia or even bipolar then you have to do whatever you can to increase serotonin activity. Folates reduce serotonin activity and that is why that harm overrides the benefit of improving methylation.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Do you look at test with neurotransmitters in addition to the ones you have spoken about with your general blood tests?
[William J. Walsh]: We would like to but they do not reveal much. We have done a lot of that over the years and we do not think this is very significant, for a couple of reasons. One can do urine or blood studies or platelet kinetic studies or things like serotonin, dopamine and etcetera.
The question is, is that related to what is in the brain? What is happening in the rest of the body may not at all relate to what is going on in their brain.
For example serotonin, all of the serotonin in your brain is made in your brain. Yes there is a huge amount of serotonin made in the gut and in other parts of the body but none of that serotonin makes it into your brain.
And the mechanism and he synthesis of serotonin in the brain is quite a bit different from the way it is synthesized in the rest of the body.
For a while we were testing neurotransmitters in the periphery of the body outside the brain. We found that it really was not useful and did not really give us a better idea of what a person’s problems were in the brain and how to help them.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Which is why you are sort of using proxies, plasma, zinc, serum, copper, whole blood, histamine.
[William J. Walsh]: Yes, it has really gotten quite clear. It really stems from the original work by Abram Hoffer and by Carl Pfeiffer. I think they were the two people who really got this going.
Let me just give you one example. Abram Hoffer in the ‘50s. 60 years ago, he was the first person to demonstrate hat nutrients can have a dramatic impact on a person’s mental health. He found that giving niacin to schizophrenics had a dramatic improvement on so many of them.
He had a theory for that. He called it the Adrenochrome Theory. In the last five years, we now know why niacin works and it is a different mechanism and it is epigenetics. We now know that niacin in the form of niacinamide which is what happens to niacin in the body, it becomes niacinamide.
It is what is known as a deacetylase inhibitor. What it does is it increases reuptake all serotonin and dopamine. A lot of schizophrenics are high dopamine people. There is a dopamine theory of schizophrenia for many years I believe that schizophrenia basically is a problem where you got too much dopamine activity.
Now we know that because of epigenetics, that niacin dramatically reduces dopamine activity. So for the first time we understand why Hoffer’s niacin treatments work and that is wonderful to understand.
So now we know because of this new epigenetic field, we understand what methyl does, what SAMe or methionine do and because of epigenetics, they are reuptake inhibitors that increase serotonin activity which is exactly what you want.
The field of epigenetics is really guiding us to better therapies for people. The dominant effect in depression for example is reuptake. The same thing is through of anxiety and schizophrenia and bipolar, it is not the amount of neurotransmitter that is there. It is the activity. It is the reuptake. It is the speed which the neurotransmitter once it gets ejected into the synapse, how fast it goes back.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right. And there is no way to directly account for that.
[William J. Walsh]: Well there is. There is now and it really has to do with understanding the processes of epigenetics and because they control this. The reuptake is controlled by the genetic expression of proteins that are called transport proteins.
And these are the passage ways for reuptake, for serotonin or other neurotransmitters. Once they are in the synapse to zip back into that original cell. The number of these transporters in the membrane of your brain cells turns everything. We now know how to change that.
What antidepressants do is they get in the brain quickly and they disable these transport proteins, these passage ways and they block the serotonin from going back into the original cells. They are inhibiting reuptake and that is why they work for some people.
We can do the same thing with nutrients by our knowledge of the epigenetics in that case, we have to avoid folate and we have to emphasize methyl and methionine.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: The thing that people talk about when they are comparing the genetics we spoke about a bit before and looking at biochemical markers, there are some views that these markers can vary by chemistry. It can vary by the hour, it can vary by the day, by the time of the day, by the week.
So how stable are the markers that you are looking at in terms of in the bloodstream? Are very stable in changing over months and based on treatment they change very slowly.
[William J. Walsh]: Well this is has been one of the most exciting parts of epigenetics. The markers themselves, these bookmarks along the DNA strand, they rarely change. It takes a rather dramatic events or environmental insults that change them.
However, we now know that there is a process that is called histone modification. All of our DNA is wrapped around proteins that are called histones, we are able to change genetic expression by affecting what reacts to these hisotones and if you methylate the histones, you tend to shut down genetic expression.
And if you use folates or other chemicals, it essentially will increase genetic expression of a particular gene. So you cannot change the basic bookmarks along the DNA but there are two epigenetic processes and the other one is the one that we all ready are able to tinker or if are altered.
And so we are able to change gene expression by altering the chemical on the histones and it is called histone modification. What happens if you methylate a certain part of DNA or even have the histones methylated?
Your DNA gets all jammed together. The way that proteins are made, the way that genetic expression occurs, you have to have your DNA uncoil and be laid there so that large molecules like RNA polymerase and transcription factors, they have to be able to get out and make a protein.
In every cell in your body you have got RNA polymerase, a chemical that is sort of swimming around trying to find a gene to produce. It has to have access to the DNA. Your DNA wraps around these millions of these histone proteins. Methylation tends to jam it all together and prevent gene expression whereas other chemicals can cause it to uncoil and increase expressions.
So that is a complicated answer but the answer is that you cannot change the basic methylation of the DNA very easily. We do not know how to do that yet. Cancer researchers are finding ways in which you can maybe correct these things.
I think that is the way eventually how cancer will be cured and autism and schizophrenia and other epigenetic disorders will be cured actually eventually. But right now, we all ready can do a lot with histone modification.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Right. If I kind of resume quickly, what I understood from that. You are saying that a lot of the environmental insults you are talking about earlier which could be toxins, heavy metals, chemicals have altered DNA but undermethylating them by addressing methylation in the body that helps to counter some of these effects.
[William J. Walsh]: They could be. They are undermethylated or over methylated. If you have got abnormal methylation in the area surrounding a gene, you are going to have a problem with that particular chemical which might be in your liver or in your kidneys or in your brain And so you need to have the proper methylation and these bookmarks are all established in that first two or three months in the womb.
One example of an epigenetic disorder, do you recall thalidomide? Maybe you are not old enough to remember that. Thalidomide was an anti nausea pill given to pregnant women and it caused terrible deformities.
And what it was doing is it was altering these methyl marks and altering the chemicals produced in the different parts of the body and some of them are born without fingers and toes and arms and it was really quite awful.
What happened is it messed up and altered the epigenetic laying down of these methyl bookmarks. The question then with respect to people who are adults and they have depression or anxiety or whatever is what genes are misbehaving?
There now are methods being developed where we can now identify genes that are abnormally methylated, we now have the ability of doing that. It is really a piece of cake really. It is very easy to do.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Are those expensive tests?
[William J. Walsh]: Not really. I am just starting an experiment with some colleagues in Australia where we are going to do exactly that. We are about to do an experiment where we hope to demonstrate that schizophrenia is an epigenetic disorder.
If you take the DNA which is made up of literally billions of chemicals and hundreds of thousands of areas where you are looking for specific areas where methylation can either turn on or turn of a gene.
We now have a way of cheaply and very accurately determining every methyl mark is dipped to your DNA and to a bisulfate solution. The only cytosine molecules left are the ones that were methylated. We now have the ability to do that.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Are you able to do that down to the gene level? So we were talking about some SNPs earlier, would you be able to see which SNPs are methylated and which ones are not?
[William J. Walsh]: Well the SNPs themselves are the DNA mutations. The SNPs are DNA mutations but the gene expression is related to that of course but it is also related to this histone modification and it has to do with the abnormal bookmarks.
There are two different things that could go wrong and one has to do with the SNPs which is genetic, the other has to do with the methylation marks that regulate gene expression, it has the gene regulation that is going to silence or turn on genes and now we are able to do that too. We can identify both of them.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: For example if you had a SNP but it was not methylated, so it is not active, you will be able to see that. When these people are looking at this complex system they can stop looking at that SNP and saying that is a course because it may not be turned on for example.
[William J. Walsh]: Well a SNP basically amounts to weakness in a protein enzyme. It is a weakness. It does not mean that you shut it off. Like MTHFR is a gigantic molecule. It has more than 500 amino acids. Its molecular weight is 77,000.
And what is a SNP? Of those 500 amino acids, one of them is the wrong amino acid. Just one out of the 500 and in most cases a SNP does not affect the function of that enzyme but there are a couple of places especially in that MTHFR, the 677-T and the 1298.
Those are two locations where you can get a really significant weakness, not in elimination of a function but a weakening of an enzyme. Those SNPs are there in the beginning. There are mutations that have occurred over centuries and over the millennium.
We all have mutations. I mean people are tall or short because of mutations, green or blue eyes because of mutations that is why people are basically different. We now know that there are more than ten million SNPs that have been identified in DNA.
I think every human being has at least a couple of thousand of these SNPs, we know that 52% of all people that live in Italy have MTHFR 677 and most of them don’t need treatment. I think it is important to get a perspective of what SNPs are. We all have SNPs.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And that is just to methylation.
[William J. Walsh]: It is.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I wanted to go back to the tests that you have been running which you are pretty keep and you said are very good at diagnosing a lot of the different mental disorders. So you have got the whole blood histamine, the plasma zinc, the serum copper, urine pyrroles and ceruloplasmin.
What I wanted to ask you, people talk about the stability that these kind of marker because they are biochemicals in your blood. Are those going to vary day by day and therefore be difficult to get an accurate reading?
For example if you take cortisol and it is rising. Is this a very specific marker of course but it is rising and going down so you have to take four readings per day to understand what is really happening.
With these markers that you have taken, are these longer term very stable markers which do not vary a lot over time so you are pretty sure of getting an accurate reading as to the state of them?
[William J. Walsh]: It depends on which test and we have to be very careful. For example with whole blood histamine, we have to make sure that a person has not had antihistamine recently or any allergy treatments like antigens can affect the histamine reading.
And that is why we are so excited about the SAMe, SAH, the new test for methylation. With respect to zinc, we have to make sure we insist that before taking a blood draw that they abstain from any zinc supplementation for 24 hours.
We have done enough, thousands and thousands of these that we know how to do it. They are not all totally stable. The same is through with copper. We do not want anybody to be taking copper supplements just before a copper test.
With the pyrroles, that is probably one of the more unstable ones. Your pyrrole level in your blood and in your urine tends to vary throughout the day and it varies with stress. When a person is under stress, their pyrrole levels tend to increase.
So you get a snapshot in time. We know that normal pyrrole levels are between maybe five and 12 using the units that we use in the USA. If a person is between say 12 and 20, we regard that as high normal and possibly mild pyrroles and people who are over 20 and we have had people as high as 200 or 300.
If a person tests really high in pyrroles, we know they have pyrrole disorder. We had a serial killer who was in prison in New York State and we did a study where we were testing his pyrrole level which was extremely high, he was 202 the first time we tested him.
Working with a psychiatrist, we tried him day after day and when we found when he was under high stress, his level might be 200 but on our calm day, it might be 40. In other words, those levels do jump all over.
In his case, he is always high but that high level, that severity can really alter and that is one reason why we need to know the symptoms and the traits because these symptoms and traits, pyrrole disorder are so sharp and clear.
We could diagnose pyrrole disorder just by meeting a person and spending and hour with them. We can pretty much predict what the level it is. So all of them are morning people, they are not hungry for breakfast. They stay up late at night. They have a tendency to sun burn. They are usually famous for their temper. If they gain weight, they have an abnormal fat distribution.
It is not completely simple and that is why at this time, I do not think people can really self diagnose themselves. In my book Nutrient Power that covers this, I deliberately did not give a road map for people to read this and just start treating themselves.
If you got a serious problem you really need to have a doctor who knows what they are doing to supervise this. You can make a person worse with nutrients.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It seems like it is very complex. In addition to the markers which are going up and down. So could someone have a urine pyrroles level which is normal when in fact most of the time it would be in the high reference and it would be something that you could look at.
[William J. Walsh]: The answer to your question is that there is a lot of false negatives with pyrroles. We have had people who tested normal with pyrroles and then three months later we found out that they actually did have really high pyrrole levels.
Another problem with the pyrrole sample is that if the urine sample gets overheated or if gets too much exposure to light it will just decompose the pyrroles. That is one of the issues.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is an interesting point actually. I have come across this before. In terms of lab handling, some tests are more sensitive than others. So it sounds like urine pyrroles is very sensitive to lab handling and there could be errors for the lab.
[William J. Walsh]: Yeah, the challenge with a lot of sampling and the greatest errors we have in these markers and these studies are now what happens to the lab. But the ability to get a good sample to the lab, get the sample in good condition to the laboratory.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Because it is a centralized lab, specialist lab?
[William J. Walsh]: There are labs in Europe that do pyrrole levels and allow the samples to be sent at room temperature over days for the lab. That is a terrible idea.
You are going to get a lot of decomposition of the pyrrole molecule and it really need to be either hard, frozen and sent on dry ice and protected against light or else shipped on an ice packed in 24 hours and you have to be really careful about how that is done a lot of labs are doing it wrong.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I have seen that problem with other markers are well. If you look at for instance the plasma zinc and the serum copper, in that case I understand that you are addressing those imbalances through supplementing zinc and copper.
Is it very difficult to not overshoot? The zinc and copper markers are they stable like they are not moving up and down every day but they are moving if you supplement. So how do you judge how much you provided in terms of an input of zinc or copper versus the more natural methods like foods, so for example if you took some liver which naturally has zinc and copper?
[William J. Walsh]: Actually copper is one of the more reliable lab test. It almost never is wrong. The copper is not going to deteriorate. It can decompose. I mean coppers have metal. It is not going to go anywhere.
So the concentration of copper in a lab test, you can really rely on. Assuming you got a good lab and that is something that we are very confident of. Now what is a normal, healthy level? Well healthy, generally an ideal level would be between say 80 and 100 micrograms per deciliter.
But if you got a woman with anxiety and depression and she is testing at 180, that means she has low dopamine and elevated norepinephrine and the treatment for this has got to be done very slowly and gradually.
And he treatment really involves giving things like zinc and B6 because zinc in vegetables cause the excess copper to leave and the way it does that is it stimulates the genetic expression of a protein called metallothionein and I do not want to get into details of that.
But you have to do it slowly and careful because if you jump in and give a full dose of zinc to a high copper person, it will dump too much copper in the blood stream and they will have the worst day of their life. So you have to do it careful when you are trying to bring a nutrient level down, you usually have to do it gradually and gradually increase the doses in maybe for two to three weeks to avoid temporary side effects.
The typical healthy zinc level I think is between perhaps 100 and 120 micrograms per deciliter. You use different labs. We almost never see people who are high in zinc. Zinc problems are virtually always involving deficiencies.
We find in the cases we have had with mental problems that 90% of them are either low normal or totally deficient in zinc and that is probably the number one most common chemical imbalance in mental disorders.
It has a lot to do with oxidative protection. Your zinc is related to one of the major protectors in the body against oxidative stress and that is metallothionein protein that has stimulated the product of it, it depends on the zinc levels.
And that is how copper is regulated in the body. Copper is really important with mental functioning. Excess of levels for example cause, we think and we published a paper on this of post partum depression, the women who develop surprising depression or even psychosis after having a couple of babies.
And the reason is during the nine month of pregnancy, a woman’s copper level more than doubles. The fetus needs that, after the baby is born within 24 hours that copper level supposed to go back down to normal.
A lot of people do not have the ability to get rid of extra copper. People who have that disorder even whether male or female that is something that is so easily fixed within 60 days, we can do a nutrient therapy that will normalize their blood levels of copper and in many cases have dramatic improvement in functioning.
Copper and zinc are markers that are specially reliable, as long as you are careful not to have anybody taking zinc or copper supplements within 24 hours of the blood draw. The other markers, we have to be more careful with a lot of the others.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So have you had people that have entered you practice? I’m just asking if it has ever come up when they have been supplementing let us say zinc or say copper or maybe something else and they have managed to cause a mental disorder clinically and end up in your practice because of that out of interest?
[William J. Walsh]: Yes that has happened for sure. A lot of people we see are all ready on supplements. Before you do the blood work, you do not want them to stop all of the supplements because that would put them into a transition that might be transitioning over a month.
And so what we have to do is find out exactly what they are taking and just have them stop for about 24 hours before we do their blood work.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Once you put them on treatment, how often and frequently do you test to make sure that things are okay or what are you looking for?
[William J. Walsh]: A typical patient would come in and we would spend probably two hours with them. Most of them sometimes in getting their symptoms of trace for medical history, you learn a lot from many medications they have taken to which ones will help them, which ones would harm them, getting all of that information and then the blood work.
With all of that, we then can identify in most cases the chemical imbalances that are at the root of their problem hopefully and then we can start them immediately on a treatment program. A treatment program of nutrients aimed at normalizing these blood chemistry levels. Typically, I always like to see patients between four and six months after that visit.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is quite a slow readjustment crisis.
[William J. Walsh]: Yes. People are different with respect to how well they absorb things. We might give a patient 50 milligrams of zinc but is that actually the right level for them? So if you can do a second test after they have done that for several months, find out what their zinc level is and then you can find tune the dosage and make it perfect.
And once you have done that in an adult, you really do not need to that maybe once every couple of years. Most of our patients we would want to see within six months after the first visit and after they have been taken the nutrient to look at their chemistry again and then we would typically see them once a year for a checkup. It is not a lot of doctoring.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is good and you just get the test and make sure everything is up. When are talking about the test, are you using reference range that labs typically use or do you have your own because I think you mentioned I think zinc is 100 to 120. Are you using narrow ranges or ranges that you have developed yourself over time that you find are better optimum to avoid these kinds of mental disorders?
[William J. Walsh]: That is a very good question. The ranges that you see from laboratories whether it is Quest or LabCorp or Sonic or something like that, these are basically what they call two-sigma ranges. There are ranges in which roughly 95% of the population sits between these two levels.
And they are extraordinarily broad. But the functional ranges for mental health are much narrower. For example, whole blood histamine, the range is typically are between 25 and 150. However, Carl Pfeifer found years ago for mental health, the range should be between 40 and 70.
And people who are below 40 are basically over methylated and people who are over 70 are undermethylated. These broad ranges that you see on the lab reports, sometimes you have to ignore those ranges and focus on the narrow ranges that are related to mental functioning not just general physical health.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Thank you very much. This is very clear and I am sure it will be very helpful for people. In your opinion would it be helpful for someone who is suffering any kind of mental disorder or say they are going to psychotherapy because they are having problems. It would be helpful to get these blood tests in case anything comes up, just these five very basic tests.
[William J. Walsh]: Well there is probably a few more than five but I think it would be very helpful to do that and we have a few labs that are quite good at doing this. We have got one on the US Aid called Direct Healthcare Access that I asked to put together a protocol of these tests.
It is more than five tests but it gives all the information that we need to at least to first look at a person’s mental functioning. Another thing we are doing is we need to have doctors that can evaluate these tests, doctors who know their patient and can do the test and understand what it means and then develop the proper treatment.
Our main activity now has been to train doctors. We train I think 34 practitioners in Ireland last year. We did 66 doctors in Australia this year. I have a team that is doing international physician training and our goal is to have 1000 doctors scattered around the world who are really good at doing this and I think that is really important.
Unfortunately it is complicated enough that it is not something that the average person can do themselves.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Is someone able to do that panel you just spoke of to see if they have a problem?
[William J. Walsh]: Yes. A lot of people do that. Some of them do it to determine if they are good candidates to see a doctor and go to the travel of seeing a doctor.
A lot of people are doing that very panel. In fact I think they do that at a specialty lab near Chicago. I think they do this for people throughout the world.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That would be interesting if you could give me a reference for that because people might like to just run that.
[William J. Walsh]: Actually if you have my book and you look in the back of the book, there is a resources section and that lab is listed first with their contact information.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Oh great, you just ask for your panel.
[William J. Walsh]: Yeah they do my panel. I am not associated with them, they are separate from me but I have at times tested the proficiency of the lab and I think they are very good.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: And as you said that is relatively cheap? I think you said under $500.
[William J. Walsh]: We are going to be training 40 doctors in the Chicago area in October and we are having about 40 patients that will be part of the training where we take real live patients who come in and we go through the whole process to help train the doctors.
We are going to you use that panel on them and I think the cost is between 350 and 400 U.S. Dollars.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great.
[William J. Walsh]: Not bad at all right?
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yes that is really good. Say something came up in one of these tests, you are talking about many doctors you have trained on your website or some are list of individuals, they could go to get these type of biochemical treatment or is a bit border, are there other organizations? Where could they get information about doctors that would help them with these particular problems?
[William J. Walsh]: Well as we train doctors, last we just sent out a questionnaire to doctors that we have trained that have been to our training programs to find out which of them are actually doing these therapies that are confident in them and would welcome new patients and we are going to put that on our website.
Right now there is a very small list of doctors that we have on our website but we hope to have maybe 100 or so throughout the world that will be on that website maybe a month or two from now when we get all the responses back.
And as we keep going, like I said our goals is to tray a thousand doctors in the next five years throughout the world and we are interested always in going to countries that are interested. If there is a group within a country that would like to have these kinds of therapies brought to their country we are very open to work with people.
My organization is a public charity. We are not interested in making money but we are interested in getting these effective therapies available to people throughout the world.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is really amazing what you are doing. I want to look a little bit toward the future use of this over the next ten years. Could you see this kind of natural biochemical therapies replacing some of the drugs that are used with mental disorders today? How do you see this evolving over the next ten years for example where you would hope to see it evolve?
[William J. Walsh]: What I think is happening is I think we are just in the beginning stages of a new era in mental health. For about 100 years, we had the psychiatry model which lasted up until 1965 where the thought was if a person had depression or a mental problem, it was because of their life experiences.
Then in 1965 which was the biochemical revolution in psychiatry, they began to realize that the problem really was neurotransmitters and brain chemistry and mental functions, chemical imbalances in the brain.
The only way at that time, they knew how to correct and help these people was with drugs. So we have been on a pharmaceutical era that started in 1965 and I believe it is about to end.
And the reason is, as brain science advances, we are learning more and more how we can correct these problems without drugs. The basic fundamental problem with drugs is that they are foreign molecules. They are powerful foreign molecules.
And when a foreign molecule that is power enters the brain, you do not create normalcy. You usually have side effects or maybe a change in personality or it could be weight gain, it is not going to provide normalcy.
And as brain science advances and it is all ready beginning to happen. We are getting to the point where we are going to be able to normalize the brain without drugs because of scientific knowledge that is coming. The interesting thing is a lot of this knowledge and a lot of this great scientific work is being done by drug companies. Basically they are going to be hurting themselves.
They already are being frustrated at times by doing the research and finding that natural substances are working better than drugs for some of these conditions. The only problem is that the drug companies have the wrong goal and that is to make the next billion dollar drug.
And so when they find natural ways to correct the problem, or correct a brain chemistry problem, they don’t pursue it because it is not in the interest of their stockholders.
Anyway I think the answer is yes. We are just beginning a new era in mental health and it is going to be a tendency toward normalizing the brain ad being able to accomplish that without drug medications.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: In terms of your own recommendation to someone who is trying to make better decisions about their body’s health and performance with data, what would be your top recommendation that they should do whatever it should be?
[William J. Walsh]: Well of course the things that we all ready know, everybody needs to have a good diet. We need to have nutrient-dense foods. However, the best diet for one person is not the best for the other. For example if you are undermethylated, you would thrive on a protein-based diet.
And if you are over methylated, the best diet would be a vegetarian diet, rich in green leafy vegetables. So there is biochemical individuality, each one of us is biochemically individual. It would be nice for people to get to know who they were biochemically.
Some people do this by trial and error by finding out how they feel on different kinds of diets but of course junk food diets are a problem. People need to have the right amount of the omega 3 or fatty acids which is a major problem in the U.S. and everywhere. We might say junk food type of diets which are throughout the USA.
And then the second thing of course is exercise. One of the major things that most people don’t realize is that importance of antioxidants to have diet and to have many supplements that provide antioxidant protection. Very high percentage of people with depression and anxiety and behavior problems and these imbalances have high elevated levels of oxidative stress.
That can be caused by outside influences like toxic metals or immune problems but often it has to do with a genetic weakness for some people in protecting against oxidant stress. They may not have glutathione or selenium or zinc. There is a long list of protective agents of the body that are supposed to protect us.
And a lot of people have insufficient levels of those. So I would think that it would be really important for people just fortify themselves with things like vitamin C and vitamin E and selenium and zinc. There is a long list of really effective antioxidants. I think almost everyone would benefit from that.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: I noticed in your book by the way that when it came to heavy metals testing like urine and blood, you felt that the results from those tests were difficult to analyze. Is that still your view?
[William J. Walsh]: I first got interested in the very beginning when I found that criminals had very abnormal metal levels, I did a lot of testing of blood, urine and hair testing and actually with toxic metals, very often hair testing is done properly by a good lab can be really revealing.
It is probably a great way to find if a person has too much mercury or lead or cadmium or one of these nasty metals. One problem however is that these labs starting about 15 years go started doing something I really hated and they would list the correct parts per million level of the lead and the mercury and all.
But they changed the charts and they tend to exaggerate the toxic metals. In other words, I know what the average human being in American has about 1.5 parts per million lead in their hair. Almost all the labs make it look like 1.5 milligrams is an overload and that you are being poisoned.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: It is shown in the red for example, something like doctors data they have the red.
[William J. Walsh]: Exactly and doctor’s data by the way use my reference normals, I think I have the world’s best reference normals for metals in hair and they were using it for many years. But then they changed the toxic level of the chart and I beg them not to do that. I asked them why and they said they have to do it for competition reasons and also because of dentistry.
At that time, a lot of their hair analysis was done by dentist who were looking for mercury and they said that the dentist like to see high levels of mercury. So they made the charts look like they had high levels so they could persuade their patients to have their feelings removed.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah it is very unfortunate.
[William J. Walsh]: Very unfortunate. We still sometimes will use a hair analysis. I have done a lot of forensics. I have done 28 forensics studies of famous criminals and hair analysis is very revealing for evaluating this severe behavior disorders.
I can only use the actual levels, the parts per million levels. I just have to disregard the chart because the charts are crazy. They tend to make it look like everybody has toxic metal overload.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So in general the actual levels are okay but you would say like if it is in the red or in the yellow it may be okay.
[William J. Walsh]: It may be, we now done this enough times. I have done maybe 100,000 of this and I know what normal and health is. Everybody has some of these toxics in their body. We all have toxic metals in our body.
For example mercury, just from breathing in America, you get one microgram of mercury just from breathing and you get typically about 25 micrograms of mercury from a typical diet. And if you have tuna fish for lunch, you might have 50 micrograms of mercury.
Your body has to deal with toxic metals every day. Every brain cell in your body has toxics come in and leave every day. Your brain has toxics that enter the brain and depart the brain every day and you have got protectors in the brain, things like glutathione and metallothionein that are there to protect you.
And if any of these gets into the brain, it immediately reacts with it to keep it safe, but some people do not have that antioxidant protection. And we think that has a lot to do with Alzheimer’s disease, and other forms of dementia. Older people need to protect their brains with antioxidant supplements.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So it is pretty amazing all the areas you have worked in over the years. It is pretty much every aspects of the brain. Who besides yourself would you recommend to talk about these types of brain biomarkers and biometrics, someone who knows the brain perhaps in different areas, some people read their work and you find it good and you would recommend it or offer it like that.
[William J. Walsh]: Well there are a lot of people that do a very much job of nutrition biochemistry you might say and some people that I totally respect. Many of them are not in to the new knowledge. They do not track the brain science up to date especially the new impact of epigenetic switch.
So there is so much more about nutritional therapies especially related to brain disorders and mental disorders. We have put a list of them on our website, the next book I’ll write I hope they have a very long list of doctors who I think are very capable of doing this.
But there are not too many people out there who are doing our testing and our treatment methods that is why we are focusing our attention now on training doctors to do this and we have now trained about 200 doctors around the world that are doing this and I get such enthusiastic reactions when I talk to them about how they are so excited about how they can now help patients they could not help before and do it without drugs.
We are not enclosed to drugs. I want to make that plaint. Drugs, antidepressants, antipsychotics, so I have helped millions of people but I think that in most cases, improvements are partial in nature and the side effects very often are intolerable or very unpleasant and I think we need to move toward a better world, a better time when we can at least reduce the amount of the drugs.
In schizophrenics, most of them are on very heavy antipsychotic medication. Right now our knowledge level is not to the point where we can offer the likelihood to do nutrient therapy of eliminating their medications.
So what we do is we keep people on their medication, do our nutrient therapy together, do both at the same time. After about three or four months after we have completed our part of it, we then test lower and lower levels of the medication.
For depression, for anxiety, for behavior disorders, about 80% of the people tell us that they are at their best with zero medication. 20% say they would lose something if they get rid of the last piece of the medication and we say so be it.
We are not opposed to medication. We just want people to be functioning at their highest level. In schizophrenia, it is unusual. We can usually have schizophrenics become far more functional and many of them live a normal life, they can return to a normal life and be self dependent.
They usually need some medication support in the case of schizophrenia because our knowledge level is not high enough yet to eliminate the medication.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great. Thanks for those details. Last question, I just love to know what data metrics do you track for your own body on a routine basis, is there anything you keep an eye on for yourself?
[William J. Walsh]: Well about 35 years ago I brought a group of criminals fresh out of the prison to see Carl Pfeiffer and these are all sociopaths who had done terrible things. And when I was there he said I could not ask anybody to go through this test unless I was willing to do it myself.
So he ranged me through this complete array of biochemical test and he found out that I had two rather significant chemical imbalances. He found out that I was zinc deficient. Since I met Pfeiffer, I am now taking 100 milligrams of zinc a day and I do blood testing and it is just barely enough to keep my blood level normal.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: So how often do you test for that?
[William J. Walsh]: Now that I am an adult, I did it last year and maybe five years before that. Every once and a while I will check on it to make sure that I am okay, that it is the right level. Some people do not need anything. A lot of people get those linked from their diet. In my case, I have a genetic weakness with respect to zinc.
Another thing he found was that I was very high histamine undermethylated person. For example I am sure I am MTHFR, probably 677. I am not going to bother to test it because I expect it and I doesn’t matter anyway whether I am or not.
I am undermethylated, the way I corrected that, I used to be with methionine but now I take 400 milligrams of SAMe a day and for me that works really well and what it does for me, it does two things. I used to have migraine headaches and they have disappeared ever since I’ve take some methylation.
And I also had really severe seasonal allergies, ragweed, grasses, I don’t want allergies. That has also disappeared as soon as I went on Pfeiffer’s program.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is very interesting. I have exactly the same issue before I went on to methylation taking SAMe, headaches and my seasonal allergies, then went, and I’d never had those allergies until I got into my 30s.
[William J. Walsh]: I also had a tendency for low serotonin depression abut it has never happened perhaps because of methylation.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yeah well just personally on that level, for your undermethylation, do you test every month or once every six months or once every year for yourself?
[William J. Walsh]: It is not necessary. Once you have determined your methylation tendency which you were born with, you have that the rest of your life. It is not going to change. I have never retested my histamine after the first couple of times.
And with patients, once you have done the histamine test a couple of times to verify that in fact you know what your methylation tendency is. You do not ever need to test it again because that is something that is part of them for the rest of their lives.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: That is great. Well it sounds like you have everything under control for your own body without doing much testing apart from the zinc just every now and again.
[William J. Walsh]: Yes, so far so good. I do not take any drugs. I have it handy, since then I needed to go and see a doctor for the last 25 years but I think also it is great Carl Pfeiffer when he studied my biochemistry. He gave me a treatment program to normalize my chemistry.
I am not sure but I am not going to stop taking it. I think it has probably helped me.
[Damien Blenkinsopp]: Yes. That is great to hear. William, thank you so much for the interview today. It has been absolutely amazing. We have covered lots of topics I expected to and many topics I did not know about and I am really glad we had to cover too.
[William J. Walsh]: Okay Damien. It has been a pleasure talking to you.