Mental Problems

By Lita Lee, Ph.D.

Published Date: 4/27/2001

A large percentage of my clients tell me that their doctors told them they had emotional and/or mental problems because there was nothing physically wrong with them according to their blood chemistry panel. They are told to go to psychologists or psychiatrists. Many are diagnosed with mental illness and placed on toxic drugs. Some are recommended to have electroshock therapy. I have never believed that people “just go nuts.” I have always believed that abnormal brain chemistry leading to mental problems is a direct result of abnormal body chemistry, poor nutrition and hormonal imbalances.

There are at least four nutritional causes of mental and emotional problems. These include: protease deficiency (difficulty digesting protein), sugar intolerance (the inability to digest disaccharides to simple sugars), hypothyroidism and a junk food diet laced with sugar.

The symptoms of sugar intolerance somewhat overlap with low thyroid function. In particular, sugar intolerance symptoms are quite varied. Some people have one symptom; others have them all. They include: insomnia, depression, nightmares, mood swings, irritable, tendency towards violent behavior, panic or anxiety attacks, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADD) for which Ritalin is commonly given to children. In this category we also find the manic-depressive, dipolar and schizophrenic disorders, and autism. Physical symptoms include diarrhea, seizures and asthma.

Symptoms of low thyroid function are similar and quite varied. Some people have no physical symptoms at all but are told that they have mental problems and are given Prozac, or other such drugs. Others have only physical symptoms. Yet others have both. The emotional symptoms include: severe depression, insomnia, and problems diagnosed as mental illness. In particular, women tend to cry easily and worry when the sun goes down. Both men and woman can feel irritable, crabby. Many are hyperactive and are misdiagnosed as Hyperthyroid when, in fact, they are Hypothyroid. Inability to concentrate (ADD) is common. These people are hyper and tense and yet exhausted at the same time. Why? They do not have enough energy to relax their muscles. Leg cramps are common, especially in children. These are passed off as “growing pains.” Also, the brain, including the part that pays attention and focuses, requires the energy produced by good thyroid functioning. The more physical symptoms include chronic fatigue and exhaustion, and a suppressed immune system which leads to chronic infections, especially viruses and lung problems. These people are commonly diagnosed as having “chronic fatigue syndrome” which is the direct outcome of a suppressed immune system, low energy and vulnerability to infections. In addition, all female problems (PMS, fibroids, tumors and cancers, irregular menses, heavy or no menses, loss of the fetus around the 9th or 10th week, etc.) and post partum depression have low thyroid function as a major cause. Finally, major diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes always involve long-term low thyroid function.

Protease Deficiency: People who are deficient in protease cannot digest protein. Many of them become vegetarians but they still have trouble digesting plant protein. Here, I will emphasize the mental/emotional symptoms arising from severe protease deficiency. Protease deficiency leads to a buildup of excess alkaline reserves because there is inadequate digested protein to supply enough acidity. When this happens the person becomes anxious and sighs in an attempt to restore the acid-base balance. Anxiety is usually treated with drugs such as Xanax, Halcion, and so on. It is much safer to treat the nutritional cause of the problem, namely the protease deficiency, with protease Thera-zyme TRMA).

Another anti-anxiety enzyme-herbal formula contains enzymes plus collinsonia root and hawthorne berries which stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system: (Thera-zyme Circ). People who are overly alkaline and anxious benefit greatly from this formula.

Sugar Intolerance: Dr. Howard Loomis says that everyone is sugar intolerant to some degree. Why? Because we eat “tons” of sugar - far exceeding the capacity of the jejunum to make the disaccharidases, sugar digesting enzymes. These include lactase (digests lactose), sucrase (digests sucrose) and maltase (digests maltose). However, there are some people who just don’t make enough disaccharidases, so they’re in trouble whether or not they eat sugar! You can tell how bad the situation is by doing an indican test on a 24-hour urine sample. Severe sugar intolerance produces a zero indican because it causes interference with the indican test.

Sucrase intolerance can lead to mental and emotional problems, such as panic attacks, depression, insomnia, mood swings that can progress to a bipolar disorder, and a tendency towards irritable, aggressive or violent behavior. Loomis developed three enzymes for sugar intolerance. One is a digestive formula containing not only protease, amylase, lipase, and cellulase, but also sucrase, lactase and maltase (Thera-zyme PAN). Another formula with the B-complex plus enzymes (Thera-zyme Adr) and high levels of sucrase was developed for symptoms such as panic attacks, mood swings, irritable or angry behavior, depression, insomnia and so on. This is a very common problem in our modern society, among both adults and young children. The third enzyme combines food sources of vitamins C, E plus disaccharidases (Thera-zyme SvG), which digests carbohydrates and also helps stop the racing mind syndrome and helps one to become serene.

Hypothyroidism: I am classifying this as a nutritional problem because it can be remediated with a simple substance in the food chain - thyroid glandular. Also, there are herbs that have a stimulating effect on thyroid function. Some patients, however, have no physical symptoms but manifest mental symptoms, sometimes diagnosed as schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. This was described in Dr. Broda Barnes’ pioneering book, Hypothyroidism, the Unsuspected Illness.

General Nutrition Program to Relieve the Mental and Emotional Symptoms due to Hypothyroidism and Sugar Intolerance: Mild Panic Attacks, Depression, Anxiety, Mood Swings and Nervousness

Which of these formulas may be supportive is determined by the Loomis 24-hour urinalysis, the Loomis palpation and a detailed client history. If your anxiety or depression is severe, seek medical advice.


  • Appropriate multiple digestive enzyme - usually PAN (sugar intolerance) is indicated, 2 caps with each meal 3x/d. But, sometimes additional formulas are required. The Loomis 24-hour urine test will determine the exact formulas needed.
  • SvG - take with meals (2 caps) to digest sugar. Take 4 caps 3-5 X/d between meals to relieve the following symptoms: racing mind, can’t stop thinking, relax, become serene or meditate.
  • Adr - digests sucrose and puts glucose into the brain. Take 2 caps with meals to digest sugar AND take 4 caps between meals 3-5X/d to relieve stress, panic or anxiety and when you wake up at night.
  • CLM - for nervousness and emotional upsets. Take 2, 3 or 4 caps as needed anytime, 3-5 X/d. This is for people who suffer severe emotional, mental or physical stress.
  • TRMA - for anxiety, sighing a lot, plus immune system problems due to protease deficiency (protein intolerance). Take 4 caps between meals 3 -5 x/d. Dosage is dependent upon symptoms.

Hormonal Balancing Nutrition

  • Pregnenolone - anti-anxiety formula. Stops chemical cascade in the brain that leads to panic attack. Make sure you get a very pure brand. Many are only 70% pure and the impurities can cause side effects.
  • Thyroid - a major anti-stress glandular. Be sure you get a good brand. The need for thyroid will increase with stress (any kind), winter (darkness) and sickness.
  • Oral natural progesterone in natural vitamin E oil - for women.


Follow thyroid stimulating and blood sugar stabilizing diet: high in organic animal protein, sea salt, fresh organic fruit, fruit juices and coconut oil. Avoid all thyroid toxins and inhibitors, such as unsaturated oils, soy products, fluoride, pesticides, all estrogenic substances (herbal, natural or synthetic) and raw cruciferous vegetables. Organic coconut oil stimulates thyroid function and the immune system. This program will not work on a vegan. In addition, carbonated water is very important to relieve anxiety and put oxygen in the brain.

Case Histories

The Woman Who Was Too Depressed to Work

This 50-year old woman had all nutritional causes of mental problems to a severe degree. She was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (manic depression), panic disorder and obsessive personality following a several-year period during which she became increasingly confused, disoriented, depressed and deteriorated physically, emotionally and mentally. During this time she gained 100 pounds and developed breast cancer.

The doctor prescribed a wide range of psychiatric drugs, listed in the inset, none of which improved her condition and caused terrible side effects such as nausea, vomiting, loss of bowel control and an additional weight gain of 50 pounds. Then, her psychiatrist, a long time colleague of mine, referred her to me for an evaluation of her nutritional needs. He was very open to the idea that some of her mental problems were caused by inadequate nutrition and a hormonal imbalance. At the time I met her, she was taking Imipramine (50-75 mg), Xanax (1-2 mg) and Tegretol (800 mg -1 gram). Her diet consisted of junk foods, fast foods, soda pop, coffee and sweets. She appeared almost catatonic and could barely climb onto the therapy table due to her large size and severe arthritis.

Although I talked to her extensively, I could not tell whether she heard or understood what I said. It shocked me to see what she had become. Her therapist told me that she was a former vice president of Wells Fargo Bank, an artist, well-read, articulate, brilliant and creative.

This woman had both mental and physical symptoms. Her axillary temperature was only 95 degrees Fahrenheit. I had never seen one so low. An interesting observation was that it spiked to 104 degrees after she took Imipramine. This concerned me because of the recent reports of children suddenly collapsing and dying after taking Imipramine with out any apparent prior symptoms.

Urinalysis plus other tests indicated the following nutritional support:

  • A digestive formula for sugar intolerant people (Thera-zyme PAN).
  • Sugar digesting formula for panic attacks, insomnia and depression (Thera-zyme Adr).
  • Protease (Thera-zyme TRMA) for the immune system, soft tissue inflammation and anxiety due to lack of digested protein leading to excess alkaline reserves.
  • A lymphatic drainage formula (Thera-zyme Kdy) to relieve low back (kidney) pain, nausea, frontal headaches and allergies.
  • A thyroid glandular.

What happened was amazing, especially because this patient was not particularly compliant! Within a few weeks, I noticed a gradual but profound change in her behavior. Her speech was faster and more articulate with normal emotional expression. Her wonderful sense of humor re-emerged and she had me cracking up on the phone.

To date, she still goes up and down depending on whether she is taking her enzymes. But she has improved enough to become a student at a local college. I have always believed that the body is self-healing given the proper nutrition plus digestive enzymes to ensure digestion, absorption and assimilation. This case illustrates my belief.

The Boy Who Wanted to Die

This is the story of a 16-year old boy with cerebral palsy who was diagnosed with mental illness: uni-polar disorder and thought disorder. He also complained of anger, anxiety, nightmares and hearing voices. He had become addicted to cigarettes and beer and had attempted suicide twice. He came to see me after having been released from a psychiatric hospital following a suicide attempt. He was agitated, had involuntary body movements and his whole face looked puffy, side effects from the drugs he had been given to control his behavior.

His drugs included:

  • Trazodone, 150 mg, for insomnia.
  • Lithium, 600 mg daily, for his “mental illness.”
  • Paxil, 20 mg, a type of Prozac, 30 mg daily. His mother requested that he not be given Prozac so the doctor used this analog instead. The mother did not know it was a Prozac analog.
  • Navane, 20 mg daily, for hearing voices.
  • Cogentin, 2 mg daily for side effects of the other drugs, such as stiffness.

These drugs were not helping him plus he now had additional symptoms due to their side effects.

His 24-hour urinalysis was normal except for very low calcium and poor kidney concentration causing allergies, kidney pain and the need for a kidney formula (Thera-zyme Kdy). I believe that the drugs had a masking effect on the urinalysis. Further testing revealed multiple enzyme deficiencies: respiratory problems (Thera-zyme Rsp), a toxic colon, and the need for enzymatic formulas for extreme sugar intolerance (Thera-zymes PAN and Adr). Sugar intolerance can lead to severe mental and emotional problems. Clients may have panic attacks, horrible nightmares, mood swings, violent behavior and be diagnosed with mental problems.

A sluggish thyroid can also lead to depression and mental problems. He presented many symptoms of hypothyroidism including a low oral temperature and a low pulse. Accordingly, I suggested a natural thyroid glandular.

His mother started cutting down the dosage of the drugs slowly. In just a few days, he showed noticeable improvement. His edema disappeared, the involuntary movements ceased, his insomnia and his depression lessened. His mother then took him to a new psychiatrist and told him about her wish to reduce the dosages of his drugs so she could wean him from them. The psychiatrist was very understanding and agreed with her. The young man continues to improve and is at present off all of his drugs, thanks to the supervision of his new psychiatrist.

The Woman Who Hated Taking Lithium

A beautiful 22-year old woman presented with a history of taking lithium for seven years following a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. Her initial doses were so high (1350 mg) that she vomited daily for several years. The dosages were gradually reduced over the years until she went to another doctor who believed that she had been misdiagnosed and wanted her to wean herself from the lithium by cutting the dosage by 50% over a period of time until she could stop it completely. When I met her, her dosage was 450 mg daily. She was also taking birth control pills.

She had multiple health problems, including frequent kidney and bladder infections, cystic acne, (a source of great despair), stomach discomfort, and chronic constipation alternating with diarrhea, migraines and chronic intestinal pain. Urinalysis testing plus her health history indicated that she was sugar intolerant - unable to efficiently digest disaccharides, such as sucrose, lactose and maltose to the simple sugars, such as glucose, fructose and so on. This can cause “mental symptoms” leading to prescriptions of drugs such as lithium, Xanax, Prozac, Haldol and many others. Why? Glucose is a major requirement of brain nutrition. If you can’t get glucose into the brain, you are in trouble! Also, a protease-deficient person cannot digest protein adequately. What most people do not know is that 56% of digested protein is converted into sugar as needed by the body. Protease deficient people carry excess alkaline reserves in the blood making it difficult to carry calcium and leading to anxiety. There are other causes of “mental problems.” For example, hypothyroid people may have no other symptom other than mental problems.

Here is what I gave her based upon the Loomis urinalysis and palpation test to determine nutritional deficiencies:

  • Thera-zyme PAN - a multiple digestive formula for sugar intolerance.
  • Thera-zyme Adr - high in sucrase and a food source of B vitamins. This digests sucrose and alleviates the mental and emotional symptoms of low blood sugar, such as panic attacks, nightmares, mood swings, and irritable or angry behavior. People who have been diagnosed with mental problems need this formula.
  • Thera-zyme Kdy - for her allergies and also for low blood sugar.
  • A thyroid glandular for her sluggish thyroid function.
  • Natural progesterone for her female problems.

Even though her doctor was encouraging her to wean herself from lithium, she was reluctant to do so. She feared that she could not control her emotions. Now, with enzyme therapy acting as an ally, she mustered the courage to follow her doctor’s advice and in one month she was completely off lithium! Sometime during the following two months, she developed gastritis, a pre-ulcer condition. I believe that this condition developed because of the stress following discontinuing her lithium. When you are told that you need a drug to control your emotions, how do you think you would feel if you discontinued the drug? I added a formula created for ulcers, gastritis and hiatal hernias (Thera-zyme Stm). This formula helped her immediately.

She continues to improve physically and emotionally, even though she is now dealing with the knowledge of the many toxic side effects of the high dose lithium therapy that she endured for seven years.

The Woman Who Didn’t Want Prozac

A 26-year old woman presented with a history of depression, bulimia of seven years duration and a suppressed immune system resulting in frequent flu, colds, and sinus infections. When her doctor prescribed Prozac, her depression lifted and her bulimia ceased. She hated taking the drug but could not do without it for more than ten days, because of depression. When I met her, she had stopped taking Prozac four days prior to our appointment.

My tests indicated poor sugar metabolism, a toxic colon, kidney congestion, inflammation requiring protease and many signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism, including low axillary temperature, low resting pulse, depression, and a suppressed immune system. I sent her to a doctor who confirmed my suspicions on hypothyroidism and placed her on a natural thyroid glandular.

I also recommended the following enzyme formulations to help remediate her digestive problems.

  • Thera-zyme PAN, digestive formula for sugar intolerance
  • Thera-zyme Kdy for her allergies
  • Thera-zyme TRMA for her immune system and anxiety
  • Thera-zyme SmI for her toxic colon

Three weeks later, she returned. She had not needed Prozac for three weeks, a record, since prior to enzyme and thyroid therapy, she could not do without Prozac for more than 10 days. She reported no depression whatsoever. Her resting pulse and her oral temperature had increased from 54 beats per minute to 69 and from 96.4 degrees F to 97.4, respectively.

About a month later, this young woman developed gastric irritation (epigastric pain), just as in the previously described case. Again, I believe the stress of wondering if you can make it on your own without chemical control of your body can create the groundwork for gastric upset. Again, the ulcer formula was given (Thera-zyme Stm) and immediate relief was obtained. As her thyroid gland improved, her pulse and her oral temperature continued to increase.

Disclaimer: These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. They are not intended to diagnose, prescribe for, treat or claim to prevent, mitigate or cure any human disease. They are intended for nutritional support only. The FTC requires that we tell you that the results in case notes and testimonials published here are not typical, however, they do show what some people have been able to achieve. Individuals vary, which is why we must always consider the whole person when recommending a course of action. The third party information referred to herein is neither adopted nor endorsed by this web site but is provided for general information purposes. The listing of specific disease terms is based upon medical literature and is not a substitute for competent medical advice. If you suspect a medical condition, you should consult a physician.

Copyright 2001 - 2006. Neither this article, nor any part of it, may be reproduced without permission. If permission to reprint is granted, the article must include author and URL information.
Lita Lee, Ph.D.