Sugar and Mental Health
A multitude of common physical and mental ailments are strongly linked to the consumption of ‘pure’, refined sugar.
In the Dark Ages, troubled souls were rarely locked up for going off their rocker. Such confinement began in the Age of Enlightenment, after sugar made the transition from apothecary’s prescription to candymaker’s confection. “The great confinement of the insane”, as one historian calls it, (10.) began in the late 17th century, after sugar consumption in Britain had zoomed in 200 years from a pinch or two in a barrel of beer, here and there, to more than two million pounds per year. By that time, physicians in London had begun to observe and record terminal physical signs and symptoms of the “sugar blues”.
Meanwhile, when sugar eaters did not manifest obvious terminal physical symptoms and the physicians were professionally bewildered, patients were no longer pronounced bewitched, but mad, insane, emotionally disturbed. Laziness, fatigue, debauchery, parental displeasure-any one problem was sufficient cause for people under twenty-five to be locked up in the first Parisian mental hospitals. All it took to be incarcerated was a complaint from parents, relatives or the omnipotent parish priest. Wet nurses with their babies, pregnant youngsters, retarded or defective children, senior citizens, paralytics, epileptics, prostitutes or raving lunatics-anyone wanted off the streets and out of sight was put away. The mental hospital succeeded witch-hunting and heresy-hounding as a more enlightened and humane method of social control. The physician and priest handled the dirty work of street sweeping in return for royal favors.
Initially, when the General Hospital was established in Paris by royal decree, one per cent of the city’s population was locked up. From that time until the 20 century, as the consumption of sugar went up and up-especially in the cities-so did the number of people who were put away in the General Hospital. Three hundred years later, the “emotionally disturbed” can be turned into walking automatons, their brains controlled with psychoactive drugs. Today, pioneers of orthomolecular psychiatry, such as Dr Abram Hoffer, Dr Allan Cott, Dr A. Cherkin as well as Dr Linus Pauling, have confirmed that mental illness is a myth and that emotional disturbance can be merely the first symptom of the obvious inability of the human system to handle the stress of sugar dependency.
In Orthomolecular Psychiatry, Dr Pauling writes: “The functioning of the brain and nervous tissue is more sensitively dependent on the rate of chemical reactions than the functioning of other organs and tissues. I believe that mental disease is for the most part caused by abnormal reaction rates, as determined by genetic constitution and diet, and by abnormal molecular concentrations of essential substances… Selection of food (and drugs) in a world that is undergoing rapid scientific and technological change may often be far from the best.”(11.) In Megavitamin B3 Therapy for Schizophrenia, Dr Abram Hoffer notes: “Patients are also advised to follow a good nutritional program with restriction of sucrose and sucrose-rich foods.” (12.)
Clinical research with hyperactive and psychotic children, as well as those with brain injuries and learning disabilities, has shown:
“An abnormally high family history of diabetes-that is, parents and grandparents who cannot handle sugar; an abnormally high incidence of low blood glucose, or functional hypoglycemia in the children themselves, which indicates that their systems cannot handle sugar; dependence on a high level of sugar in the diets of the very children who cannot handle it. “Inquiry into the dietary history of patients diagnosed as schizophrenic reveals the diet of their choice is rich in sweets, candy, cakes, coffee, caffeinated beverages, and foods prepared with sugar. These foods, which stimulate the adrenals, should be eliminated or severely restricted.” (13.)
The avant-garde of modern medicine has rediscovered what the lowly sorceress learned long ago through painstaking study of nature. “In more than twenty years of psychiatric work,” writes Dr Thomas Szasz, “I have never known a clinical psychologist to report, on the basis of a projective test, that the subject is a normal, mentally healthy person. While some witches may have survived dunking, no ‘madman’ survives psychological testing… there is no behavior or person that a modern psychiatrist cannot plausibly diagnose as abnormal or ill.” (14.) So it was in the 17th century. Once the doctor or the exorcist had been called in, he was under pressure to do something. When he tried and failed, the poor patient had to be put away. It is often said that surgeons bury their mistakes. Physicians and psychiatrists put them away; lock ’em up.
In the 1940s, Dr John Tintera rediscovered the vital importance of the endocrine system, especially the adrenal glands, in “pathological mentation”-or “brain boggling”. In 200 cases under treatment for hypoadrenocorticism (the lack of adequate adrenal cortical hormone production or imbalance among these hormones), he discovered that the chief complaints of his patients were often similar to those found in persons whose systems were unable to handle sugar: fatigue, nervousness, depression, apprehension, craving for sweets, inability to handle alcohol, inability to concentrate, allergies, low blood pressure. Sugar blues!
Dr Tintera finally insisted that all his patients submit to a four-hour glucose tolerance test (GTT) to find out whether or not they could handle sugar. The results were so startling that the laboratories double-checked their techniques, then apologized for what they believed to be incorrect readings. What mystified them was the low, flat curves derived from disturbed, early adolescents. This laboratory procedure had been previously carried out only for patients with physical findings presumptive of diabetes.
Dorland’s definition of schizophrenia (Bleuler’s dementia praecox) includes the phrase, “often recognized during or shortly after adolescence”, and further, in reference to hebephrenia and catatonia, “coming on soon after the onset of puberty”. These conditions might seem to arise or become aggravated at puberty, but probing into the patient’s past will frequently reveal indications which were present at birth, during the first year of life, and through the preschool and grammar school years. Each of these periods has its own characteristic clinical picture. This picture becomes more marked at pubescence and often causes school officials to complain of juvenile delinquency or underachievement.
A glucose tolerance test at any of these periods could alert parents and physicians and could save innumerable hours and small fortunes spent in looking into the child’s psyche and home environment for maladjustments of questionable significance in the emotional development of the average child. The negativism, hyperactivity and obstinate resentment of discipline are absolute indications for at least the minimum laboratory tests: urinalysis, complete bloodcount, PBI determination, and the five-hour glucose tolerance test. A GTT can be performed on a young child by the micro-method without undue trauma to the patient. As a matter of fact, I have been urging that these four tests be routine for all patients, even before a history or physical examination is undertaken.
In almost all discussions on drug addiction, alcoholism and schizophrenia, it is claimed that there is no definite constitutional type that falls prey to these afflictions. Almost universally, the statement is made that all of these individuals are emotionally immature. It has long been our goal to persuade every physician, whether oriented toward psychiatry, genetics or physiology, to recognize that one type of endocrine individual is involved in the majority of these cases: the hypoadrenocortic. (15.) Tintera published several epochal medical papers. Over and over, he emphasized that improvement, alleviation, palliation or cure was “dependent upon the restoration of the normal function of the total organism”. His first prescribed item of treatment was diet. Over and over again, he said that “the importance of diet cannot be overemphasized”. He laid out a sweeping permanent injunction against sugar in all forms and guises.
While Egas Moniz of Portugal was receiving a Nobel Prize for devising the lobotomy operation for the treatment of schizophrenia, Tintera’s reward was to be harassment and hounding by the pundits of organized medicine. While Tintera’s sweeping implication of sugar as a cause of what was called “schizophrenia” could be confined to medical journals, he was let alone, ignored. He could be tolerated-if he stayed in his assigned territory, endocrinology. Even when he suggested that alcoholism was related to adrenals that had been whipped by sugar abuse, they let him alone; because the medicos had decided there was nothing in alcoholism for them except aggravation, they were satisfied to abandon it to Alcoholics Anonymous. However, when Tintera dared to suggest in a magazine of general circulation that “it is ridiculous to talk of kinds of allergies when there is only one kind, which is adrenal glands impaired… by sugar”, he could no longer be ignored.
The allergists had a great racket going for themselves. Allergic souls had been entertaining each other for years with tall tales of exotic allergies-everything from horse feathers to lobster tails. Along comes someone who says none of this matters: take them off sugar, and keep them off it. Perhaps Tintera’s untimely death in 1969 at the age of fifty-seven made it easier for the medical profession to accept discoveries that had once seemed as far out as the simple oriental medical thesis of genetics and diet, yin and yang. Today, doctors all over the world are repeating what Tintera announced years ago: nobody, but nobody, should ever be allowed to begin what is called “psychiatric treatment”, anyplace, anywhere, unless and until they have had a glucose tolerance test to discover if they can handle sugar.
So-called preventive medicine goes further and suggests that since we only think we can handle sugar because we initially have strong adrenals, why wait until they give us signs and signals that they’re worn out? Take the load off now by eliminating sugar in all forms and guises, starting with that soda pop you have in your hand. The mind truly boggles when one glances over what passes for medical history. Through the centuries, troubled souls have been barbecued for bewitchment, exorcised for possession, locked up for insanity, tortured for masturbatory madness, psychiatrised for psychosis, lobotomized for schizophrenia. How many patients would have listened if the local healer had told them that the only thing ailing them was sugar blues?
1. Martin, William Coda, “When is a Food a Food-and When a Poison?”, Michigan Organic News, March 1957, p. 3.
3. McCollum, Elmer Verner, A History of Nutrition: The Sequence of Ideas in Nutritional Investigation, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 1957, p. 87.
4. op. cit., p. 88.
5. op. cit., p. 86.
6. Price, Weston A., Nutrition and Physical Degeneration: A Comparison of Primitive and Modern Diets and Their Effects, The American Academy of Applied Nutrition, California, 1939, 1948.
7. Hooton, Ernest A., Apes, Men, and Morons, Putnam, New York, 1937.
8. Shelton, H. M., Food Combining Made Easy, Shelton Health School, Texas, 1951, p. 32.
9. op. cit., p. 34.
10. Foucault, Michel, Madness and Civilization: A History of Insanity in the Age of Reason, translated by R. Howard, Pantheon, New York, 1965.
11. Pauling, Linus, “Orthomolecular Psychiatry”, Science, vol. 160, April 19, 1968, pp. 265-271.
12. Hoffer, Abram, “Megavitamin B3 Therapy for Schizophrenia”, Canadian Psychiatric Association Journal, vol. 16, 1971, p. 500.
13. Cott, Allan, “Orthomolecular Approach to the Treatment of Learning Disabilities”, synopsis of reprint article issued by the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research, New York.
14. Szasz, Thomas S., The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of the Inquisition and the Mental Health Movement, Harper & Row, New York, 1970.
15. Tintera, John W., Hypoadrenocorticism, Adrenal Metabolic Research Society of the Hypoglycemia Foundation, Inc., Mt Vernon, New York, 1969.
Editor’s Note: This article is extracted and edited from the book, Sugar Blues, 1975 by William Dufty; specifically, the chapters “In Sugar We Trust”, “Dead Dogs and Englishmen” and “What the Specialists Say”. The book was first published by the Chilton Book Company, Padnor, PA, USA. Warner Books, Inc., NY, published an edition in 1976 and reissued it in April 1993.
The book is currently published by Warner (USA) as a paperback. Ask for it at your local bookstore, or order it online.
Extracted from Nexus Magazine, Volume 7, Number 1 (December 1999 – January 2000).
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