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Brain Allergy

By far the most interesting discovery in psychiatric medicine, though most psychiatrists are unaware of its existence, is in the realm of ‘brain allergy’, whether due to real allergy, intolerance, low–grade poisoning, etc. The effects can be subtle, amusing, bizarre, dangerous or disastrous, in varying combinations. I have seen an allergy lead to heightened sexual feelings, murderous assault, schizophrenic psychosis, woolly thinking, hallucination, hyperactivity, depression, anxiety, learning difficulties, dyslexia and autism, with many intermediate types and mixtures of symptoms.

Minimal brain dysfunction in children is probably one of the commonest allergic effects (see hyperactivity and minimal brain dysfunction). It may lead to antisocial acts, poor concentration, learning difficulties and emotional unhappiness. Dyslexia is an interesting and unusual condition which may respond dramatically to the clinical ecology approach. Some youngsters afflicted with these problems have a very hard time in life; everyone thinks they are naughty, stupid or lazy and they get no help and may even be scolded or punished for things they have no control over.

Naturally, if undetected these difficulties may roll on into adult life. There the condition shifts emphasis often, causing more inner neurosis and unhappiness. Patients may brood and feel melancholy; life doesn’t seem worth living and many patients have said they would like to end it all, if only they had the courage.

Chicago pioneer doctor Theron Randolph, who began to notice unusual cerebral manifestations in his patients, went to the trouble of cataloguing these and drawing up a table (see below). It is one of the most rewarding studies of human behaviour I know. Randolph realized that were varying stages of excitation and depression during allergic and hypersensitivity reactions, passing through gradually deepening levels, as the brain become more and overcharged or somnolent. Moreover, people would “roller-coaster ride” between different stages. These ups and downs, he pointed out, were exactly like the manifestations of addiction.

Stimulatory and Withdrawal Levels of Manifestations

Directions : Start at zero (0)
Read up for predominantly Stimulatory Levels
Read down for predominantly Withdrawal Levels


Symptom Manifestations

PLUS ++++
Distraught, excited, agitated, enraged and panicky. Circuitous or one-track thought, muscle twitching and jerking of extremities, convulsive seizures, and altered consciousness may develop.
PLUS +++
Aggressive, loquacious, clumsy (ataxic), anxious, fearful and apprehensive; alternating chills and flushing, ravenous hunger, excessive thirst. Gigging or pathological laughter may occur.
Tense, jittery, hopped up, talkative, argumentative, sensitive, overly responsive, self-centred, hungry and thirsty, flushing, sweating and chilling may occur as well as insomnia, alcoholism, and obesity.
Active, alert, lively, responsive and enthusiastic with unimpaired ambition, energy, initiative and wit. Considerate of the views and actions of others. This usually comes to be regarded as ‘normal’ behaviour.
Children expect this from their parents and teachers. Parents expect this from their children. We all expect this from our associates.
Running or stuffy nose, clearing throat, coughing, wheezing, (asthma), itching, eczema and hives, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, colitis, urgency and frequency of urination, and various eye and ear syndromes.
Tired, dopey, somnolent, mildly depressed, oedematous with painful syndromes (headache, neckache, backache, neuralgia, myalgia, myositis, arthralgia, arthritis, arteritis, chest pain), and cardiovascular effects.*
MINUS - - -
Confused, indecisive, moody, sad sullen, withdrawn, or apathetic, Emotional instability and impaired attention, concentration, comprehension, and thought processes (aphasia, mental lapse, and blackouts).
MINUS - - - -
Nonresponsive, lethargic, stuporous, disoriented, melancholic, incontinent, regressive thinking, paranoid orientations, delusions, hallucinations, sometimes amnesia, and finally comatose.

* Marked pulse changes or skipped beats may occur at any level.;

Two points need making clear. Firstly, there are no hard–and–fast gradations: these symptoms blend subtly one into another and indeed it is possible to have ‘minus’ reactions present at the same instant as ‘plus’ reactions. Secondly, each individual, though he or she may move around on the ladder, tends to gravitate towards a permanent level appropriate to him or her. Even this ‘chronic’ level may move in time, usually ultimately tending towards the extreme minus end of the scale which represents a total inability of all body resources to oppose stress. So-called “allergic” reactions are thus, in reality, short-term departures from this chronic level.
Minus reactions are easy to equate with illness but the over–stimulatory phase is not, except in its extreme. Rather it is sometimes looked on as a good thing to be ‘energetic’, charging around all the time, ‘getting things done’. Moreover, inappropriate laughter and enthusiasm tend to be viewed as evidence of a cheerful disposition when in fact they are merely the result of a minor degree of intoxication, corresponding to a plus 1 or 2 reaction. This only becomes clear when working daily with people being allergically challenged and using provocation techniques, such as Miller’s method; the difference between genuine emotion and a pathological state then becomes easy to discern.

The speed with which people can move from one phase to another is on occasion quite astonishing. I have witnessed patients, challenged with a food or chemical, appear excited, giggling and intoxicated yet within minutes be slumbering soundly, difficult to rouse. It is well known that for every ‘high’ there tends to be a corresponding ‘low’. The transition can be sharp and the effect very unpleasant indeed. So much so that patients who have never touched alcohol can suffer alarming hangover symptoms. Indeed the inebriation effect caused by foods has often been taken for drunkenness, leading on occasion to unfortunate encounters with the police, who have needed a great deal of convincing.

Incidentally, sexual excitation and destimulation follow patterns that are similar, and Randolph produced a table to this effect too (see sexual hypersensitivities).

Not all psychiatric manifestations are organic, of course. But all psychiatric illness, I believe, is complicated by organic processes and these aspects of an individual’s illness, even assuming there are genuine psychogenic (coming from the psyche, caused by the mind) components, will only respond to the ecological approach. Drugs (more chemical pollution) are the last thing that these individuals require; yet that is usually their fate.

Lastly, crime too is influenced by the above criteria. Many violent and destructive individuals in society are simply manifesting the effects of brain allergic reactions. I myself made medico-legal history here in the UK when in 1986 the Crown Court in Ballymena accepted my evidence that a youth who had tried to strangle a member of his family was made aggressive by a potato allergy. Since that time, other similar cases have appeared before the courts. As well as doctors, police should be made aware of what the Randolph brain allergy table means in terms of human behaviour.


The late Carl C. Pfeiffer was noted for his work on pyrroluria and related nutritional topics concerned with mental illness, especially schizophrenia. His writings are a seminal source of ideas for future researchers. He made famous the ‘mauve factor’, though in fact it was first identified by doctors Abram and Mahon in 1961, who discovered that when a certain reagent (known as Erhlich’s reagent) was added to the urine of 39 schizophrenic patients, 27 patients’ urine samples turned mauve. The actual substance present in their urine that caused this change is called pyrrole and the condition is more clumsily known as ‘pyrroluria’. Pfeiffer even identified subjects from history who were said to manifest the symptoms of pyrroluria – being withdrawn, melancholic, experiencing blinding headaches, nervous exhaustion (neurasthenia), abnormal sensitivity (one might almost say paranoia) about stressful changes and outside influences, palpitations and digestive disorders, even handwriting abnormalities – naming Charles Darwin, Charles Dickens and Emily Dickinson as possible sufferers, among others.

It is worth pointing out also that pyrroles were originally found in the urine of several patients undergoing severe LSD psychosis. This probably tells us something, but as yet we don’t know what. The importance of the possible role of pyrroles in mental disease is that they reduce available zinc and B6. Large supplements of these two essential nutrients are thus beneficial to those with schizophrenia and pyrroluria:

  • B6 – enough for nightly dream recall but not exceeding 2,000 mg (this level is dangerous where there is no deficiency of B6 and should only be attempted under skilled medical super-vision)
  • zinc – 30 mg night and morning; and manganese gluconate 10 mg, night and morning. 


Pfeiffer also stressed the possible role of histamine in mental disorder. Histamine is a key allergic reagent, produced by the body during allergic reactions. Its presence is recognized by skin wheals, flushing of the skin, headache and, ultimately, shock, due to widespread permeability of the capillaries (fluid “leaking” into the tissues, shrinking blood volume). Pfeiffer hypothesized two types, according to blood levels. Fifty per cent of tested schizo-phrenics, he said, had low serum histamine (histapenia). Twenty per cent had high levels (histadelia). Histapenics, he said, usually have high copper levels as well. Since this may occasionally be primary, it is essential to remove any environmental source of copper pollution, such as in the water supply.

Pfeiffer gave symptoms for the histapenic patient, which included difficulty achieving orgasm, increased body hair, the absence of allergies and headaches and some of the symptoms suggesting schizophrenia itself, such as the feeling of being mind – controlled by other people, seeing or hearing things abnormally and undue suspicions – in other words, anxiety, hallucinations and paranoia. Histapenic patients are said to respond well to nutritional supplements, as given below:

  • Niacin, 100 mg twice a day
  • Niacinamide 250-500 mg twice a day
  • Folic acid 1 mgm daily
  • B12 by injection
  • Zinc 15 mg and manganese 5 mg daily
  • A high protein diet

The histadelic patient, on the other hand, will feel effects referable to the presence of excess histamine. It mimics allergies. Symptoms would include sneezing in bright sunlight, seasonal allergies and headaches, itching, restlessness, crying salvation, nausea, shyness and over-sensitivity as a teenager, given to tears and emotional reactions, backaches, stomach cramps, ease in achieving orgasm, tensions, fears and phobias, with suicidal depressions. Pfeiffer cited Marilyn Monroe and Judy Garland as likely histadelics. 

He treated histadelics with a low-protein, complex carbohydrate diet (whole grains), calcium supplements (500 mg twice a day) and possibly anti-convulsant drugs.

Other psycho-nutrient factors

The benefits of B6 and zinc supplementation have already been noted in certain schizophrenics. It is worth pointing out that one sub-group in this illness is made worse by the addition of these two nutrients and a physician would have to be alert to this possibility and discontinue treatment immediately.

Other trace element deficiencies have also been considered. In 1927 Dr Reiter in Denmark treated 30 schizophrenic patients with intravenous manganese injections and reported improvements in 23 of them. In 1929 Dr English of Brookville, Ontario, tried manganese again with 181 patients and about 50 per cent of them improved. Then Dr Hoskins of the Worcester Foundation tried it, using intramuscular injections of a different, non-absorbable form of manganese, and found no effect. Manganese was promptly forgotten.

The psychiatric profession is currently investigating abnormal metabolic pathways involving a number of neurologically active ‘transmitters’ such as dopamine and serotonin. There is much complex pharmacology here, enough to maintain center stage for many decades to come at the expense of more holistic approaches.

Only in one area is ‘nutrient therapy’ the fashion and that is in treating mania. It has been found that lithium calms manic patients. It will not stop hallucination and mania once developed, but it makes these symptoms less likely. This may mean that only a reduced amount of a more ‘orthodox’ psychotropic drug is necessary or, in some cases, no drug at all. Because of the marked Parkinsonism–like side effects of some of these drugs, this is a welcome aspect.

It isn’t possible to accord lithium the status of a nutritional trace element, but it close. Animal studies have shown its efficacy and ‘essential’ status and psychiatrists are in danger of joining nutritionists and clinical ecologists in so-called orthomolecular medicine.

Conventional thinking says lithium therapy should only be administered where regular checks on blood levels are available. Pfeiffer clamed it is safe in dosages as low as 300 mg lithium carbonate twice daily, without any such monitoring. On no account should patients be tempered into self-dosing.

Lithium carbonate is manufactured as Liskonium, Camcolit, Priadel and Phasal.

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