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Alternative Medicine for Schizophrenia

Instructor: Patricia Jankowski

Patricia has a BSChE. She's an experienced registered nurse who has worked in various acute care areas as well as in legal nurse consulting.

Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that is characterized by severe alterations in perception of reality. It is believed that genetic factors play a very significant role in whether or not a person becomes schizophrenic.

Schizophrenia

Imagine being in a room with a crowd of people. They are all calm, laughing, and unafraid. But echoing in your mind, over the noise of the crowd, is the sound of voices no one else can hear. They come, and they go...but nobody else hears them but you. This is the lonely and sometimes terrifying world of schizophrenia. For many years, researchers and doctors have tried to find a way to ease the suffering of those who live in this world.

Now, even though the most popular type of treatment for schizophrenia remains the use of anti-psychotic and related medicines, more alternative therapies are currently being explored. Medications, while somewhat successful in the treatment, usually have many undesirable side effects, making alternative treatments a desirable goal.

Cause of Schizophrenia

Nearly all evidence from current research on schizophrenia points to a strong genetic predisposition to the development of the disorder in an individual. Because schizophrenic parents are often unable to care for their children, these children often are adopted by different parents. However, statistically, the likelihood that the adopted child will develop schizophrenia does not decrease after he is adopted by parents without the disorder.

The chances are the same, and they come from the child's genetic heritage. If a parent or sibling of a child has the disorder, then the child's chances of getting it are around ten percent. While there may be other developmental factors that influence these chances, genetics are at the top of the list.

Schizophrenia and Treatments for It

Schizophrenia is a form of psychosis. This means that the schizophrenic patient experiences a break with reality, and may have delusions of many kinds. He may believe he is George Washington, or think that he is being pursued by beings from outer space. One factor that is common to all forms of schizophrenia is an imbalance of neurotransmitters, which are the brain chemicals that enable the transmission of sensory information, or perceptions, from the sensory nerves to the brain, and between different areas of the brain.

Most mainstream treatments, nearly all of which are medications, are aimed at correcting this imbalance. This is also the aim of alternative and complementary treatments, which seek to accomplish the same goal in a different way. Alternative treatments are those which totally break away from the use of mainstream medications. On the other hand, complementary treatments are those which can either be used on their own, or in addition to mainstream medications.

Schizophrenia and Alternative Treatments

One of the most important research areas in the study of alternative treatment of schizophrenia is nutrition. Valuable work has been done by Dr. Carl C. Pfeiffer, PhD., M.D., a doctor in pharmacology and founder of the Princeton Brain Bio Center and Schizophrenia Foundation in New Jersey. Dr. Pfeiffer emphasized that schizophrenia is a syndrome and not just a disease, and that each patient has a unique biochemical makeup that makes successful treatment a very individualized endeavor.

In his many books and articles, he discusses heavy metal toxicity, vitamin B12 deficiency, and elevated homocysteine levels as causes of imbalance of neurotransmitters leading to schizophrenia syndrome. More people are exposed to these hazards and are at risk for these imbalances as the food supply becomes increasingly depleted of nutrients and more toxic due to commercial farming practices and pesticides.

Acupuncture

There are other alternative therapies that are beneficial in the treatment of schizophrenia that have not been extensively researched, but that have been shown to help individual patients through anecdotes of their own experiences.

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