Schizophrenia Information, herbs, vitamins, supplements, natural treatment
January 10 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Schizophrenia is a serious mental disorder with a profound impact on patients, their caregivers and society. It is associated with abnormalities of multiple neurotransmitter systems, including dopamine brain chemical, serotonin, GABA, and glutamate. Some mental health experts have called  for the term schizophrenia to be dropped, saying it has no scientific validity, is imprecise and stigmatizing. "It is a harmful concept," says Professor Marius Romme, a visiting professor of social psychiatry at the University of Central England in Birmingham. He adds that symptoms such as delusions, hearing voices and hallucinations are not the results of the illness but may be reactions to traumatic and troubling events in life. Richard Bentall, a professor of clinical psychology at the University of Manchester, said the concept of schizophrenia is scientifically meaningless. "It groups together a whole range of different problems under one label -- the assumption is that all of these people with all of these different problems have the same brain disease." Paul Hammersley of the University of Manchester who helped launch The Campaign for the Abolition of the Schizophrenia Label (CASL), said there is little agreement on the cause of the illness or its treatment. One expert has called for replacing the term schizophrenia with the label dopamine dysregulation disorder, which may more accurately reflect what is happening in the brain of someone who is psychotic.

Exactly what causes schizophrenia is still unclear. It's currently thought that genetics, biology (an imbalance in the brain chemistry), and/or possible viral infections, inflammation, and immune disorders might play a role.

Natural Supplements for schizophrenia treatment by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
There are some early studies regarding the natural treatment or prevention schizophrenia but I am not aware of a natural cure or effective natural treatment:

Fish oils studies have shown some good results
Nat Commun. 2015. Longer-term outcome in the prevention of psychotic disorders by the Vienna omega-3 study. Amminger GP, Schäfer MR, Schlögelhofer M, Klier CM, McGorry PD. Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are essential for neural development and function. As key components of brain tissue, omega-3 PUFAs play critical roles in brain development and function, and a lack of these fatty acids has been implicated in a number of mental health conditions over the lifespan, including schizophrenia. We have previously shown that a 12-week intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced the risk of progression to psychotic disorder in young people with subthreshold psychotic states for a 12-month period compared with placebo. We have now completed a longer-term follow-up of this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, at a median of 6.7 years. Here we show that brief intervention with omega-3 PUFAs reduced both the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and psychiatric morbidity in general in this study. The majority of the individuals from the omega-3 group did not show severe functional impairment and no longer experienced attenuated psychotic symptoms at follow-up.

Long-chain omega-3 PUFAs reduce the risk of progression to psychotic disorder and may offer a safe and efficacious strategy for indicated prevention in young people with subthreshold psychotic states. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2010. Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids for indicated prevention of psychotic disorders: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Taking fish oil may help prevent full-blown psychotic illness in at-risk adolescents and young adults. These at-risk individuals may have weak or transient psychotic symptoms, and already show schizophrenia-like brain changes. Dr. G. Paul Amminger of The University of Melbourne in Australia thinks there's evidence that abnormal fatty acid metabolism may contribute to the development of schizophrenia, Dr. G. Paul Amminger randomly assigned 81 at-risk individuals, 13 to 25 years old, to take 1.2 grams a day of omega-3s in fish oil capsule form or a placebo for 12 weeks and then followed them for another 40 weeks. The researchers included people who met at least one of the following three criteria: having low-level psychotic symptoms; having transient psychotic symptoms; or having a schizophrenia-like personality disorder or a close relative with schizophrenia, along with a sharp decline in mental function within the past year. At one year, 5 percent of the study participants taking omega-3s had developed a psychotic disorder (2 of 41 people), compared to 28 percent of those on placebo (11 of 40). People taking fish oil also showed significant reductions in their psychotic symptoms and improvements in function, while they were at no greater risk of adverse effects than people taking placebo capsules. Omega-3s are a major component of brain cells and are key to the proper function of two brain chemical signaling systems, dopamine and serotonin, which have been implicated in schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, February 2010.

J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2012. Eicosapentaenoic acid interventions in schizophrenia: meta-analysis of randomized, placebo-controlled studies. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on symptomatic outcome revealed no beneficial effect of EPA augmentation in established schizophrenia. However, no conclusion can be made for medium- to long-term effects of EPA in schizophrenia, in particular on relapse prevention in the early course of psychotic disorders.

Carnosine may improve speed of thinking
Schizophr Res. 2012. A preliminary, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of L-carnosine to improve cognition in schizophrenia.

Theanine helps with sleep
Acta Neuropsychiatr. 2015. Effect of L-theanine on glutamatergic function in patients with schizophrenia. Glutamatergic dysfunction in the brain has been implicated in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia. Previous studies suggested that L-theanine affects the glutamatergic neurotransmission and ameliorates symptoms in patients with schizophrenia.  The subjects were 17 patients with schizophrenia and 22 age- and sex-matched healthy subjects. L-theanine (250 mg/day) was added to the patients' ongoing antipsychotic treatment for 8 weeks. There were significant improvements in sleep quality after the L-theanine treatment.

Niacin may be helpful in small percentage of cases
Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015. Niacin-respondent subset of schizophrenia – a therapeutic review. It is well known that niacin deficiency manifests with several psychiatric manifestations. Also historically evidence has accumulated that niacin augmentation can be used for treatment of schizophrenia. However, the etiopathological associations between niacin deficiency and schizophrenia as well as the mechanism of action of niacin in its treatment. More importantly, the subgroups of schizophrenia which will respond to niacin augmentation has never been highlighted in the literature. In this article, we review three of the mechanisms in which niacin deficiency could lead to schizophrenic symptoms: (1) Niacin deficiency neurodegeneration (2) Membrane phospholipid deficiency hypothesis and (3) Adrenochrome hypothesis. We will further move towards the clinical as well as treatment related associations as reviewed from the literature. Here, we propose a model that a subset of schizophrenia can respond to niacin augmentation therapy better than other subsets because these patients have contributions in their psychotic manifestations from the neural degeneration resulting from niacin deficiency. We present a short description of our case report which showed rapid improvement in schizophrenic psychotic symptoms subsequent to administration of niacin as an augmentation therapy. We, thus, propose that niacin deficiency is a contributory factor in schizophrenia development in some patients and symptom alleviation in these patients will benefit from niacin augmentation, especially in some particular psychotic features.

D-serine is an allosteric modulator of the brain N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and a potential novel treatment of schizophrenia. Double-blind studies have been performed at 30 mg/kg/day (approximately 2 g/day) with encouraging results, but no formal dose escalation studies have been performed. We describe the first evaluation of the efficacy and safety of d-serine at doses >30 mg/kg/day; a 4-week, open-label trial of adjunctive D-serine (30, 60 or 120 mg/kg/day). 42 antipsychotic-stabilized patients with schizophrenia or schizoaffective disorder participated. PANSS was obtained bi-weekly and neuropsychological (MATRICS) was obtained pre- and post medication phase.  Significant improvement in symptoms and neuropsychological measures was noted across doses. Our findings support double-blind investigation of D-serine at doses> or =60 mg/kg/d, and suggest effectiveness in treatment of both persistent symptoms and neurocognitive dysfunction. Schizophr Res. 2010 Aug. High dose D-serine in the treatment of schizophrenia. Kantrowitz JT, Malhotra AK, Cornblatt B, Silipo G, Balla A, Suckow RF, D'Souza C, Saksa J, Woods SW, Javitt DC. Schizophrenia Research Center, Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research/New York University Langone School of Medicine, Orangeburg, NY, United States.

Natural supplements to treat or prevent medication induced brain damage
Quercetin has potential for the treatment of neuroleptic -induced extrapyramidal side effects of schizophrenia medications, such as from haloperidol. Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant that may protect brain cells from damage.

Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016. Antioxidant treatments for schizophrenia. There is accumulating evidence that progressive changes in brain structure and function take place as schizophrenia unfolds. Among many possible candidates, oxidative stress may be one of the mediators of neuroprogression, grey matter loss and subsequent cognitive and functional impairment. Antioxidants are exogenous or endogenous molecules that mitigate any form of oxidative stress or its consequences. They may act from directly scavenging free radicals to increasing anti-oxidative defences. There is evidence that current treatments impact oxidative pathways and may to some extent reverse pro-oxidative states in schizophrenia.

My daughter has paranoid schizophrenia since about age 16. She has tried several medicines and they all have weight gain and so far Clozaril seem to be a little bit better for her. She has only been on it since the beginning of January. I would like to know whether quercetin will keep her from hearing voices and being paranoid all the time. Tell me how this natural supplement will help her?
   It is very unlikely that quercetin would help someone with schizophrenia in terms of treatment of the condition, perhaps it may help reduce the side effects of the drugs and reduce the cognitive deficits.

Any anecdotal evidence that Mind Rx helps for schizophrenia in a young person especially cognitive problems, executive function, memory, disorganized thoughts?
   We don't have such feedback yet but we doubt it would be effective for those with this unstable mental condition.

Cause of schizophrenia, genetic
Researchers have identified a gene that increases the risk of schizophrenia. After conducting studies in both humans and mice, the researchers said this new schizophrenia risk gene, called C4, appears to be involved in eliminating the connections between neurons — a process called "synaptic pruning," which, in humans, happens naturally in the teen years. It's possible that excessive or inappropriate "pruning" of neural connections could lead to the development of schizophrenia. This would explain why schizophrenia symptoms often first appear during the teen years.

There are many causes for schizophrenia, the most likely being genetic. However, environmental causes should also be looked into.
   A history of epilepsy -- history of seizures -- doubles the risk of developing schizophrenia or psychosis.
   Using marijuana on a regular basis increases the risk of one day developing a psychotic illness such as schizophrenia in those who are predisposed to the condition. American Journal of Psychiatry, online May 17, 2010. Adolescents who regularly smoke marijuana risk damaging a key brain pathway associated with language development and some predisposed to schizophrenia may develop the illness early. Brain scans revealed microscopic abnormalities in a region of the brain that governs higher aspects of language and listening functions in adolescents who are heavy marijuana smokers.
   Children born to mothers who experience severe stress in the first trimester of pregnancy are at increased risk for developing it later in life.
   A serious central nervous system viral infection during childhood increases the risk later in life.
   Some children who were exposed to the flu virus in the womb may be at increased risk of developing this condition later in life. Schizophrenic adults who are been exposed to the flu virus in the womb have lower scores on IQ tests in childhood, before the onset of psychosis. Biological Psychiatry, June 15, 2009.
   Doctors have long recommended iron supplements for the support of a healthy pregnancy, but new research adds even more weight to the sage advice: By increasing her iron intake, a pregnant woman may also decrease her baby's risk of schizophrenia later in life. Schizophrenia Bulletin, January 21, 2010.
   The parasite that causes toxoplasmosis has an enzyme that increases the production of the brain chemical dopamine. Toxoplasma is a parasite, typically carried by cats but which can infect any mammal. People who catch it may develop toxoplasmosis; this is usually a minor infection, although it can be serious when it is passed on by pregnant women to their unborn baby, and it can cause problems in people with impaired immune systems when it infects the brain. PLoS One 2009. Pregnant women with high levels of antibodies to a common parasite, Toxoplasma gondii, seem to run the risk of having a child who will develop schizophrenia or a schizophrenia -like disorder in adulthood. Infection with Toxoplasma is widespread. People can pick it up quite easily, especially when cats are around because the animals frequently harbor the parasite.
   Five major mental disorders share common inherited genetic variations. The overlap is highest between schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (15 percent), moderate between bipolar disorder and depression and between attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and depression (about 10 percent), and lowest between schizophrenia and autism (3 percent).
   Nearly a quarter of schizophrenia patients also have symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder.

Theories of schizophrenia: a genetic-inflammatory-vascular synthesis.
BMC Med Genet. 2005 Feb. Hanson DR, Gottesman II. Department of Psychiatry, VA Medical Center (116A), One Veterans Drive, Minneapolis, MN
A vascular component to a theory of schizophrenia posits that the physiologic abnormalities leading to illness involve disruption of the exquisitely precise regulation of the delivery of energy and oxygen required for normal brain function. The theory further proposes that abnormalities of CNS metabolism arise because genetically modulated inflammatory reactions damage the microvascular system of the brain in reaction to environmental agents, including infections, hypoxia, and physical trauma. A vascular-inflammatory theory of schizophrenia brings together environmental and genetic factors in a way that can explain the diversity of symptoms and outcomes observed. If these ideas are confirmed, they would lead in new directions for treatments or preventions by avoiding inducers of inflammation or by way of inflammatory modulating agents, thus preventing exaggerated inflammation and consequent triggering of a psychotic episode in genetically predisposed persons.

Rev Med Suisse. 2013. Urban density and psychosis - does living in a city cause schizophrenia? While it has often been stated that prevalence of schizophrenia is the same around the world, many publications have shown this illness is twice more frequent in urban areas. Although many hypotheses have been proposed, the mechanisms explaining this phenomenon are still unknown. Besides potential biological explanations, a certain number of hypotheses emerging from social sciences have recently enriched the debate.

New research
Mutations in genes that are responsible for regulating the balance of chemicals in the brain may provide a biological explanation of what causes schizophrenia.
People with schizophrenia are times more likely to smoke than those who don't have the mental health condition. There may be a link between tobacco use and psychosis. A possible explanation is that heavy cigarette smoking increases the ability to make the chemical dopamine in part of the brain. Dopamine is thought to play an important role in the development of schizophrenia.

Schizophrenia prediction in teenagers
Five characteristics increase the likelihood that a teen will develop schizophrenia: a genetic risk for schizophrenia combined with recent decline in function; higher levels of unusual thought content; more suspicion / paranoia; more social impairment; and past or current substance abuse.

Standard medical schizophrenia treatment
There are many different viewpoints regarding the ideal treatment of this condition. Working with farm animals helps those with schizophrenia and other psychiatric conditions develop self-confidence and better coping skills.
   Typical and atypical antipsychotic agents differ in their receptor-binding affinities, which are related to their differing side-effect profiles. Novel therapeutic strategies include normalisation of synaptic dopamine or serotonin levels, serotonin receptor antagonism and modulation of cerebral protein synthesis.
    A head-to-head comparison of five schizophrenia drugs found that most newer treatments are no better than an older generic drug, despite their higher cost. The lone exception, Eli Lilly and Co.'s Zyprexa, may be better than the other medicines but users experienced dramatic weight gain and developed a higher risk of diabetes. The drug is also the most expensive. The study used the amount of time patients stayed on a drug to help gauge its effectiveness. In all, 74 percent of the 1,432 volunteers at 57 study sites stopped taking the medication they were originally assigned. Only the schizophrenics taking Zyprexa, also known as olanzapine, stuck with it significantly longer than the other four. But even 64 percent stopped taking it after 18 months. The discontinuation rate was higher among the other four drugs: Seroquel (quetiapine) from AstraZeneca Plc; Risperdal (risperidone) from Janssen Pharmaceutical, a wholly owned unit of Johnson & Johnson; Geodon (ziprasidone) from Pfizer Inc., and perphenazine, which has been around since the 1950s and is available in generic form. One surprise was that perphenazine's side effects such as tremor, rigidity, stiff movements and muscle restlessness were not as common as expected. Patients tolerated it just as well as some of the newer drugs, and it was no less effective. And it was far cheaper. At the average doses used in the study, a month's supply of perphenazine capsules costs about $50 - compared with roughly $390 for Geodon, $425 for Risperdal, $475 for Seroquel, and $660 for Zyprexa.
   Schizophrenics who take two antipsychotic drugs show no more improvement than those on a single drug, raising doubts about the benefit of using multiple medicines to treat the disease.

Music and schizophrenia
Music therapy many help to ease the depression, anxiety and emotional withdrawal symptoms of schizophrenia. In a small study, researchers at Imperial College London found that encouraging patients to express themselves through music seemed to improve their symptoms. The patients in the study received standard therapy alone or with the musical component, which consisted of eight to 12 music sessions. They were encouraged to express themselves with a range of musical instruments.

Q. My son has schizophrenia and a lot of cognitive deficits and memory problems. Do you know if Mind Power Rx is safe ie will not increase delusions? Currently he is on a small dose of risperidone 0.1mg and using computer programs for memory. He has no auditory hallucinations, just delusions and cognitive loss.
   A. I have not treated anyone with Mind Power Rx who is on risperidone, so I do not know, but if it were to be used a quarter or half a capsule could be a beginning dose.