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food for the brain

Championing optimum nutrition for the mind


Schizophrenia project

The background

Schizophrenia is a severe and debilitating mental illness, usually starting in adolescence that affects one per cent of the population. It is known as a psychotic illness, meaning a person with schizophrenia may experience delusions, hallucinations and disordered thoughts. They may have little insight into their illness, commonly not recognising that they are ill but making their own lives and those around them extremely distressing.

Schizophrenia causes great suffering, and though there is as yet no cure, the symptoms can be successfully controlled with drugs though these can have considerable side-effects. Around a third of people with schizophrenia do not respond well to treatment.

There are many contributory causes for someone with this condition – genetic, biochemical, drug induced, social, psychological and environmental – however, in all cases brain function is involved.

The Brain Bio Centre, an independent out-patient treatment clinic owned by the Food for the Brain Foundation, a registered charity, has specialised in identifying certain biochemical imbalances in schizophrenic patients, and correcting these with nutritional interventions with observational success.

This is a system-based approach, acknowledging that our brain biochemistry is highly complex. The greatest chance of restoring normal brain biochemistry is to create an optimal nutritive environment to correct a patient’s unique pattern of biochemical imbalances.

The research project

An exciting prospective observational study is underway to assess the efficacy of a schizophrenia-specific nutritional therapy protocol (plus regular medical care), as compared to standard medical care alone.

Since the core assumption is that there is no one biochemical imbalance that causes schizophrenia, a double blind controlled trial that tests a single intervention is not applicable in this case. Instead, we are measuring the “optimum nutrition” approach of correcting biochemical imbalances to restore mental health, in a clinical audit of clients at the Brain Bio Centre clinic.

Project status so far:

• Food for the Brain has funded an MSc in Personalised Nutrition, resulting in a comprehensive literature review of nutrition approaches to the treatment of schizophrenia

• Thanks to your donations and fundraising efforts we have completed ‘Phase 1’ of our schizophrenia project, which funded a comprehensive review of all the evidence regarding nutritional interventions that work. This was published earlier this year in the Nutrition Journal

• For 'Phase 2' the clinical audit will start as soon as we have the funds - we need £24,000 to complete this and have raised nearly £6,000 to date. We require a further £18,000 to carry out this important research. If you would like to support this project please donate here.

Here are a few words from Eddie, he found nutrition key to managing his schizophrenia: