To B or not to B

After years of evidence-based research on B vitamins and their effect on the brain and the treatment of depression, dementia and other neuropsychiatric conditions, the pharmaceutical industry has seen the light, and it is green, as in money.

Deplin, the newest drug to treat depression is nothing but MTHFR (Methyl Tetra Hydor Folate Reductase, if you must know,) a form of folic acid that some 15% of people cannot metabolize from dietary folic acid. When you consider that most people are not getting enough folic acid and B-complex vitamins in general, we may see one of the reasons why depression is slated to become the #2 disease in the USA in a few years.

A beautiful drug rep, smiling to beat the ban (is it me, or does Big Pharma always recruit good-looking reps to push their drugs?) handed me this article: “The role of folate acid in depression and dementia” (J. Clinical Psychiatry 2007;68s:28.) Great, now Linus Pauling may rest in peace: he published an article in the prestigious journal Science clear back in 1968, called “Orthomolecular Psychiatry,” in which he showed that B complex, omega oils, and several other antioxidants are quite helpful for depression, especially in those who require more of these micronutrients to just get by, let alone avoid depression (J. Science 1968;160:265.)

Since Pauling’s research came out, there have been hundreds, if not thousands of studies vindicating his work, but just about all that work has been dismissed as “alternative.” But, when mainstream pharmaceuticals adopt this type of research as theirs, one may safely conclude that the evidence all of a sudden has become mainstream knowledge. Do you feel that perhaps marketing and money has something to do with this?

The “same” thing happened with SAMe, another metabolized B-complex molecule: it is a drug in Europe to treat depression as effectively as the gold standard for those drugs, the Tricyclic antidepressants. Melatonin is another example: long considered quackery, melatonin is now the active ingredient of Rozerem, the latest sleeping pill, now marketed as non-habit forming and very safe.

It is amazing to me how after a few months, these new drugs mysteriously reject their humble and natural ancestry: they are only referred to by their trade names. The Zocor-like drugs to lower cholesterol are derivatives of fermented red rice. Alpha lipoic acid, an antioxidant that lowers insulin resistance became a drug in Europe. Guggulipid is an herb-turned drug in India, and Metformin is a diabetic drug derived from Galega officinalis, an herb.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that now pharmaceutical companies are peddling “snake oil:” Omega oils are now sold as the drug “Lovaza.”

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Thank you for another excellent posting. I am a mental health counselor and appreciate any attention given to how nutrition affects our state of health, on every level, including mental well-being. Again, thanks and keep up the wonderful work. =)

  2. Anonymous Reply

    The current trend of the pharmaceutical companies only reflects the artifical society that we live in. What is in harmony with nature is to be pursued: what is contary to nature is to be avoided, but at what cost? Money is a new from of slavery, and is distinguisbable from the old simply by the fact that it is impersonal- that there is no human relation between master and slave. – L.N. Lolstoy
    Thanks! Sandy, UT

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