Earlier this week I was called a vulture for preying on sensitive people in a social anxiety group because I mentioned pyroluria and a nutritional solution in response to someone asking for help. I shared much of this on Facebook and the response has been huge – supportive, understanding and encouraging, and also something many of you have also faced and can relate to. I’m publishing it as a blog post too because I feel there are many takeaways and lessons we can all learn from this.
The person asking for help posted this:
I’m seriously stuck. I’ve been battling social anxiety disorder my whole life. I feel like my social skills have gotten worse during 2020-2021. Is anyone the same way? And If possible can anyone give me some good advice?
I posted this in response to the request for advice:
Look into pyroluria and the nutrient protocol – life-changing for me (and my clients – disclaimer: I’m a nutritionist)
And this is the response from someone else in the group:
So not medicine. I think as a nutritionist you shouldn’t be advising people to avoid actual medical help. Foods can’t help but most depression and anxiety isn’t stress based. It’s a biological chemical imbalance. Food won’t help it in the long run. As someone who’s had bipolar, depression, anxiety, social anxiety, insomnia and possible schizo. I have known people to get seriously ill from people that couldn’t manage to be actual doctors. I’ve lost a friend due to them being advised to stop meds and take some herb. Please unless you are actually here because you have social anxiety and such. Could you please leave and stop acting like a vulture over the sensitive people.
I get that it can be tough to grasp that nutrition and nutrients could be a solution for social anxiety but even with a response like this I will continue to share my message.
This was my response:
Correct, not medicine … nutrition. I had social anxiety and panic attacks and diet (gluten-free, caffeine-free, sugar-free etc) and nutrients like zinc, vitamin B6, GABA, tryptophan and more solved my anxiety. I’m passionate about creating awareness because I’ve seen “nutritional psychiatry” work for 100s of thousands of folks.
Please be open-minded … and google “nutritional psychiatry”, “gut-brain”, “pyroluria social anxiety” and “gluten schizophrenia” … you will be pleasantly surprised. It’s going to take some time for all this to be part of mainstream psychiatry but it’s in the research and awareness and acceptance is growing.
I’m sorry about your loss but I would never advise anyone to stop taking their meds. For folks who want to explore this approach we always work in conjunction with their prescribing doctor.
It’s also not very nice calling someone a vulture but I understand that the idea that food and nutrients could be so powerful when it comes to anxiety and mental health can be tough when you first hear about it.
Why I’m sharing this – it’s not for sympathy or to call this person out
I’m not sharing this here for sympathy.
I’m not sharing this to call out this person who called me a vulture or to judge or shame them.
I’m sharing it to illustrate the challenge we have with getting this message out.
I’m sharing it in case you’ve tried to tell a loved one or friend or colleague about the power of anxiety nutrition solutions and have had push-back.
I’m sharing here so we remember to have empathy for someone who doesn’t yet know or understand what we have learned and experienced (no matter what they say or how they say it or even if they have even been preyed on in the past so a comment like this may be justified in their mind).
I’m sharing here because I truly believe in the power of planting seeds of knowledge.
I’m sharing here because I believe everyone deserves to feel their absolute best every single day.
I’m sharing here because everyone struggling with anxiety and social anxiety deserves to know about the growing field of “nutritional psychiatry” in mainstream medicine.
This is why I’m sharing here and why I’ll continue to share nutritional solutions in groups where folks are asking for help for social anxiety, anxiety and panic attacks (and other conditions where pyroluria and neurotransmitter imbalances are common, and there is a role for diet and nutrients).
Why the disconnect and the possible role of neurotransmitter imbalances
I’m hoping all this can help you as you reach out and offer support to someone in an online group. And also help you as you share what you have learned or experienced personally when it comes to nutritional solutions for social anxiety/anxiety – with loved ones, community members, friends and colleagues who are sometimes less than receptive.
I suspect one big disconnect is comprehending that lifestyle/diet/nutrients could help with anxiety and mental health challenges. Heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer are more recognized as being lifestyle conditions even dietary and lifestyle changes are not always implemented.
I also often hear this: “my anxiety or social anxiety or panic attacks are so severe (or so complex) there is no way nutrients and nutrition could help! I need medications for sure.”
If someone has nutritional deficiencies or neurotransmitter imbalances, that may also be playing a role in how they respond. For example, low serotonin can make you feel hopeless, fearful, negative, overwhelmed and even angry. This is in addition to feeling anxious and not sleeping well, so you’re more likely to be cranky and irritable.
Links to resources for you to share
Here are links if you need some resources to share or in case you’re new to some of this:
- Nutritional medicine in modern psychiatry: position statement by ISNPR (published in 2015)
- SMILES diet depression trial: reduced depression and anxiety – the first randomized controlled diet depression study and ONE THIRD of the dietary intervention group saw improvements in their depression symptoms. This was just diet alone and switching from processed/junk food to real food with no specific dietary restrictions!
- Paleo and grain free diets: anxiety and depression success stories
- Nutritional Psychiatry: How Diet Affects Brain through Gut Microbiota
- Anxiety and digestion: the microbiome, stomach acid, bile and the vagus nerve
- A gut feeling – the gut microbiome in health, diseases and behavior
- Berries: cognition, PTSD, inflammation, microbiome, anxiety and depression
- Pyroluria prevalence and associated conditions
- Randomized controlled trial of a gluten-free diet in patients with schizophrenia positive for antigliadin antibodies (AGA IgG): a pilot feasibility study
- Ketogenic diet: reductions in auditory hallucinations and delusions, better mood and energy, and weight loss
Tamara’s wonderful feedback about gluten and vitamin D
This was Tamara Underwood’s response to my vulture post and her powerful feedback about gluten and vitamin D:
That was a thoughtful response Trudy. I think when people have complex health issues, they think the solution needs to be complex. I had no idea how powerful nutrients could be until it solved my own health issues. Often, it is returning to basics and using foundational support in a targeted way.
I’ve had chronic migraines (3-4 a week) since I was a toddler. Tried every medication, label and off label, to manage them for 40+ years. Removing gluten was life changing. I’ve been migraine free for 8 years now.
Also, about 10yrs ago, I experienced a very dark, unexplained depression for nearly a year. Of course drugs and therapy are the first line treatments. Not sure why I was opposed to starting there but thankful. My Vit D was 4.1. I felt so radically better within a week of starting repletion that I went back to school for my MS in Clinical Nutrition.
I think about how different life might be now, 10 yrs later, had I not pushed for testing. Psych meds wouldn’t have improved my Vit D so I would have been prescribed all the variations and combos and told how complex my case was when it didn’t help. [One study supporting an association between low vitamin D and depression]
There are just so many toxicities, deficiencies, and imbalances worth exploring if your mental wellness suffers. I’m passionate about this subject and a big fan of yours Trudy.
I’m thrilled that going gluten free and addressing low vitamin D solved her migraines and depression. It’s so wonderful to hear Tamara was inspired to go back to school to study nutrition. She now does this work helping professionals (firefighters, EMTS etc.) who shoulder a greater burden of stress and trauma. Check out Underwood Functional Wellness. I appreciate her for allowing me to share here.
I plan to update this blog with more of the wonderful insights from my community on Facebook but folks are still actively engaging and I need to get permission to share here. Stay tuned for more. You can also join the discussion on the Facebook post here.
Until then, feel free to post your insights, thoughts, experiences (and questions if you have them) in the comments below.
Let us know how nutritional approaches have helped your anxiety and/or other health issues?
What made you open to this approach and were you initially skeptical?
And let us know if you continue to share your success and plant seeds even when you get negative feedback – and why? And do you have resources you like to share?