Targeted nutrient therapy of behavior is based on supporting the biochemistry of the brain. Neurons do not communicate cell to cell with electricity, they do so with biological chemicals (biochemicals) called neurotransmitters. Though there are pathways in the brain like electrical wiring, the electrical signal only travels along one cell. When the electrical signal gets to the end of the nerve cell, it is propagated (transmitted to the next nerve cell) by a neurotransmitter traveling across the gap between cells called the synapse. An imbalance in neurotransmitters or in the other biochemicals involved in nerve function is a factor in undesirable behavior. As described in the section Biochemistry and Behavior, an imbalance in neurotransmitter function could disrupt the normal symphony of the brain resulting in a change of behavior or temperament.
The brain is a biochemical factory. Given the proper supply of building blocks and co-factors (minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients) the brain can make all of the biochemicals it needs to perform normal brain function. These essential building blocks are delivered by way of the blood which also brings along glucose for fuel and oxygen to extract energy from that fuel. The ultimate source of these essential nutrients is our diet.
Unfortunately, a healthy diet cannot always provide everything the brain needs at all times. Based on our genes and the current state of their expression (epigenetics), our brains have different needs and our bodies process nutrients differently. Also, the brain’s demand for specific nutrients varies based on a person’s current state of health or illness. Stress – emotional, physical, and physiologic (body function) – can temporarily or chronically alter the basic needs of our body and brain. Fortunately, with an understanding of Targeted Nutrient Therapy, some of these special nutrient needs can be identified and treated.
Thanks to pioneers in the field of targeted nutrient therapy, Drs. Abrahm Hofer, MD and Carl Pfeiffer, MD, there is a clinical framework to identify specific nutrient imbalances and their effect on mood, behavior, and thought disorders. Drs. Hoffer and Pfeiffer successfully treated mental illness with a targeted nutrient therapy. The Pfeiffer Treatment Center in Warrenville, Illinois continued Dr. Pfeiffer’s work and found that the Biochemical Diagnoses listed below may underlie the behaviors found in many common learning, mood and behavioral illness – ADHD, autism, bipolar disorder, anxiety, behavior disorder and mood disorder.
Like with other medical conditions the clinical history (behavior, mood and physical symptoms), physical examination, and laboratory evaluation of these nutrient imbalances show similarities among patients and can predict with good reliability a response to the proper dosing of specific nutrients. For those versed in Targeted Nutrient Therapy, behavior and temperament are important clues to identifying what nutrients the body and brain are crying out for.
The fundamental approach of Targeted Nutrient Therapy is a comprehensive medical evaluation with a thorough differential diagnosis of the patient’s presenting problems with particular attention to the signs and symptoms of imbalances in nutrient and biochemistry. As with any complex medical problem, there is individuality in a patient’s response to treatment; therefore, a long-term relationship with a patient is essential for success. Furthermore, biochemistry is not the only factor in mental wellness. Proper nutrition, adequate sleep and exercise, a healthy environment and fellowship are all needed to help us develop normally and live well.