Nutrient Based Psychiatry

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What is NBP?

Nutrient-based psychiatry (NBP) is an integrative approach to treating a variety of psychiatric conditions. Intended to compliment conventional psychiatry, NBP involves the systematic use of nutritional interventions which fall into two major categories: dietary modifications and supplements. Dietary modifications are changes made to a person's diet to effect better health. They may aim to eliminate potential allergens (such as gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, etc), chemicals (such as pesticides, artificial food colorings and flavors, and preservatives), or excessive amounts of certain nutrient-poor substances (such as sugar, omega-6 fats, trans fats, etc.). A dietary modification may also be designed to increase the intake of foods that contain beneficial nutrients, such as omega-3 fats, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals and probiotics. Dietary supplements are products that contain one or more ingredients that are intended to supplement one's diet and are not considered to be food. They are prescribed much like medications and are classified as essential (nutrients which are required for life that must be obtained in the diet), metabolic (substances that are made by the body during normal metabolism) or herbal (plants that may have medication-like effects).

NBP seeks to treat psychiatric conditions with naturally occurring substances that are familiar to our bodies and have become essential to our metabolism over long periods of evolutionary time. These nutrients use the same mechanisms of action as prescription psychiatric medications along with several that are unique. High acuity clinical situations in psychiatry often require intervention with prescription medications. In such cases, it may be more appropriate to consider nutritional factors after a degree of stability and symptom relief has been established. Certain psychiatric disorders are associated with nutritional factors that should be addressed. Laying the appropriate nutritional groundwork (which varies with diagnosis) prior to or concurrently with medications, if necessary, is likely a sound approach.

There is an increasing awareness of and demand for alternative and complimentary options in psychiatry, especially child psychiatry. Many parents and patients would prefer to avoid or minimize the use of prescription medications as a first line option. However, viable alternatives are often not discussed as part of mainstream psychiatric practice. NBP integrates important nutritional aspects of treatment that are often overlooked by psychiatrists and other doctors. All too often, treatment may become fragmented between a prescription medication approach and other non-medical providers who address nutrition and supplement issues. NBP provides psychiatrists and other medical professionals with specific step by step prescribing suggestions that may be used in addition to or in lieu of prescription medications depending on the clinical situation. NBP is written in a format and language that can be easily understood and implemented. Moreover, NBP addresses the overall health of the client. The majority of psychiatric conditions are associated with oxidative stress, inflammation and/or immune system dysfunction. These factors also underlie most medical illnesses, many of which co-occur with psychiatric conditions. Virtually all interventions used in NBP have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and/or immunomodulating properties. This ability to regulate these key systems may be partly responsible for their therapeutic effects, address or prevent co-morbid conditions and benefit the health status patients.