“Made with love” is an ingredient I have often seen on home-made packaged cookies and other home-made foods in health food stores. It always seems like a sweet and nice thing to say, but without real meaning, a friendly, new-agey kind of sentiment. Turns out it’s quite real, and measurable.
Let me set the context for this column for you. At this time, I am the president of a small non-profit organization called Friends of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (FIONS). The organization it sprang from, IONS, was started by astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Ph.D., after he had an epiphany on his return from the moon that everything is connected. (http://www.ions.org). We offer a variety of programs, events, and dialogue groups in the NYC area (www.fions.org), with a focus on consciousness and multiple ways of knowing.
About 12 years ago or so, I was consulting Peter Roth, an intuitive consultant, healer, and the founder and director of Heart River Center for Intuitive Healing, about how to improve my life. Peter, whom I’ve known for many years, gave me a good look and said: “You know, your spiritual bank account is empty.” I was flummoxed. “What do you mean?” I stammered. He proceeded to explain that our spiritual bank account keeps track of what we do for others for their benefit, without recompense. If you have a full account, you have something to draw on in times of trouble. “It’s about service,” he said. I replied, but my work benefits others all the time! He pointed out that it was work, I was getting paid – well, sort of. But I gave money to worthy causes! Not enough. Giving money is easy. I had not put myself into it – I had not given back to the community, contributed to society at large, been of service via charity. Thus, the empty account. This meant a lack of spiritual support from the Universe. Or some such thing.
I found this irritating. Here I was, working really hard 60 hours a week, taking care of my children, running a business, trying to make sure people learned how to take care of their health with good food and natural remedies, and this was not enough?
Mental health problems are quite pervasive in our society. For example, it has been found that generalized anxiety disorder may have a lifetime prevalence rate of about 5% in the population (). And that is only one of the 52 disorders classified on that website. I’m not going to deal with such specific diseases, but mostly with general mood and mental energy issues – especially because the importance of food and nutrition for mental health can be considerable.
Let’s take a look at the known mental health effects of vitamin deficiencies. Such information has been around for quite a long time. Although I usually focus on whole foods, this time I thought it was time we put this scientific information detail together as much as possible, so here goes. First, a look at vitamin deficiencies.
– A deficiency of the B vitamins (thiamine, niacin, biotin, B6, folic acid, and B12), most commonly found in whole grains and in animal protein, can cause a great deal of trouble. Lack of thiamine, for example, may bring beriberi, the classic disease resulting from the extensive use of polished rice, and which includes damage to the nervous system, apathy, poor short term memory, confusion, and irritability.
Everywhere, there are messages of fear — the flu is coming, the terrorists are coming, the glaciers are melting, everything is polluted, we can’t live here much longer. And then there are the messages of salvation — lives are “saved” by some medical procedure, by rescue from some disaster, by a miracle, by a friend. Much of the doomsday warnings are about whether you will succumb to one disease or disaster or another and die too soon, about whether the human race will survive.
Truth is, no one’s life is “saved.” It is only prolonged. The end, however far off, is assured for all of us. But somehow, in our society, we’ve come to hold this subliminal thought that dying is a mistake, it shouldn’t happen, and when it happens too soon, it’s someone’s fault.
News on the food front gets worse by the day. In December we were deep in the mad cow issue. Just one mad cow, its pieces sold over 6 states plus Hawaii and Guam, and next thing you know several countries put a ban on importing beef from the USA. That mad cow (poor cow, she wasn’t angry or crazy, she was just sick, and look how we treat her!) was known as a “downer.” Nice name. It’s employed to indicate cows that are so weak they fall down and can’t walk to the slaughterhouse. No matter, they get killed anyway and and then are sold to us as edible food, I bet ground up as hamburger meat, or hidden in hot dogs, when you really can’t tell what you’re eating.
I was listening to the radio news as I was getting ready for the day on May 7, and suddenly I laughed out loud. What was it that I found so funny? Well, the news just came out that antidepressant drugs do not perform any better than a sugar pill, or placebo, in overcoming depression. Wow, that bit of information could have saved some people a lot of money – including the insurance companies. Later that night on TV the same news was mentioned, and they discussed the case of one man who had been through some serious clinical depression, joined the clinical trial of an antidepressant drug, got totally better, and later found out he’d been on placebo. On TV he said he was delighted, and it seemed to be because he found himself more mentally powerful than he had thought – after all, he had gotten better without the medicine.
High blood pressure is considered a “silent epidemic,” as lots of people have it but don’t know it. The usual treatment is drugs, and there are some dietary suggestions as well, especially cutting down on salt and fat as promoted by Dean Ornish and Nathan Pritikin. Stress reduction is highly recommended as well. However, there seems to be more the issue than salt and stress.
Recently I encountered the work of Samuel J. Mann, M.D., an associate professor of clinical medicine at the Hypertension Center of The New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. You would hardly think that a revolutionary idea would come out of such a well-established medical institution, but Dr Mann’s work is certainly what I would consider ground-breaking. It also deserves attention and discussion.