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Priorities, Lifestyle, and Mental Health Healing Using Integrative Therapies Part II - Priorities 1-7

Author: Robert Brocato

This article is Part II of a three part series.

Part II

In this post, I'm going to look at priorities 1 - 7 from the list individually. Each priority item could receive several volumes of information about its relative importance. A lot could also be said just to introduce information about each intervention, so the explanations are by no means exhaustive or complete.

Priority 1: Your Need for a Right Relationship with God

Obviously, I can’t say everything that needs to be stated for this top point as our top priority in seeking health. In point of fact, seeking the Lord God with all our heart is beyond our mere physical health. This affects everything. I just want to make three points for now. Point one is that in everything Christ should have the preeminence, and this would include our health because it includes everything. Point two is that our prayers for each other and ourselves should include our health. Point three is that God is always in control of everything including our health, and to not seek him is a very big mistake.

Christ is Preeminent Over Our Health and Everything

In the Bible it says, speaking of the Lord Jesus Christ, “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Col 1:18, NKJV). Christ is always the first in importance in everything because he is the head all things. Since Christ is preeminent and first in order of importance, our need for seeking Him comes at the top of our list. This is true for everything including health.

Our Prayers for One Another Should include Health

The apostle John stated it this way, “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 1:2). It is fitting for us to prosper and be in health. Remember, though, God is in control, and oftentimes, even though we should pray and seek Him for our health and that of others, we are not promised to always have health.

The fact of us being mortal alone means we will not always have health. That said, God in His mercy may grant us health this side of judgement.

In either case, there is another promise that everything will work out for our good if we are trusting in Christ. (Rom. 8:28). Even though we may die, we will live again in heaven, and God will give us a new body in the new heavens and earth after the final judgement. So, in a sense, when we pray to be in health, if we are in Christ, we do have a promise of always receiving it, just not always right now, this side of judgement. 

It is a Mistake to Not Seek God for Our Health

We are warned to seek God first because it is He who will determine the outcome. Let me share an example of this principle.

King Asa was a king of Judah in around the 9th Century B.C. When King Asa was younger, he was more faithful at seeking the Lord God. However, as he became older, King Asa tended to rely on his own abilities more and more. At one point, for example, he tried to buy his way out of trouble instead of going to the Lord for help when an enemy was attacking Judah. His final demise came when he had a disease in his feet. “And in the thirty-ninth year of his reign, Asa became diseased in his feet, and his malady was severe; yet in his disease he did not seek the LORD, but the physicians. So, Asa rested with his fathers; he died in the forty-first year of his reign.” (2 Chr. 12-13, NKJV).

The point is that we should pray to the Lord about our health and trust Him for His answer. If you will excuse the double negative, God is not telling us that we should not seek the help of physicians. He is telling us, if we do seek the physicians, God is still in control of our health. We can trust Him.

Priority 2: Your Need for Good Relationships with Others: Your Closest Caregivers and/or Family

You may have a greater difficulty in getting better if your caregivers are treating you poorly in terms of human dignity and respect. If you are not being treated well by your caregivers, you may need to find better help. Let me give you an example of the difference that true respect and care can make.

In the early part of the 19th Century and, likewise, for a good part of the last half of that millennium, it was quite common for mental illness to be treated with sub-human practices. Doctor John Conolly was an English doctor and mental health treatment reformer. He was opposed to the inhumane treatment of the mentally ill in his day in England (1850s). It was common for people to be chained and bound, fed a poor diet, and given total disrespect. Because the mentally ill were, in some regards, considered less than human, they were sometimes treated worse than animals.

Dr. John Conolly treated his patients in a very different manner and with a very basic plan that included three things: good food, good shelter, and respect. Armed with these three things, he managed to see a 50% recovery rate. Today’s pharmaceuticals don’t come close to this success rate. For example, for the treatment of schizophrenia, the most optimistic numbers are only around 30%, and that is for those who are given psychological care along with their meds. The meds alone usually see less than a 20% recovery rate. Dr. Hoffer estimated the number to be around 10% in reality.[i]

We All Just Need a Little Respect

What was different for Conolly? First, respect. He treated humans as they should be treated. He respected the dignity of each person. Of course, he likely had access to better, unprocessed, food and provided his patients with this better food. Also, he housed the patients in good shelter and freed them from their bonds. But if he had done these later two things from a cold, distant, and inhumane attitude, he would not have had the success he had. In fact, without first having respect for human dignity, he might not have fed or housed people properly at all.

Jesus put it this way, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Dr. Conolly was treating his patients as he would have liked to be treated in many regards. No, he could not have been perfect at it, but he was much better at it than were many others in his day, and he was much better at it than are many today. He was rewarded with a great recovery rate.

Priority 3: Your Need to Improve What You Put on the End of Your Fork and to Optimize Your Diet

Ever think seriously about what you put on the end of your fork when you eat?

Today’s Standard American Diet (SAD) consists of eating many Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s) and mostly non-organic foods. Additionally, much of it consists of highly processed foods. Couple this with diets high in simple sugars (simple carbohydrates), high in factory-milled flours stripped of nutrients, high in seed-based polyunsaturated omega-6 oils, and low in other healthy lipids (fats and oils), and we wind up with a recipe for disaster.

What could a better diet do for a recovering schizophrenic? Philpot and Kalita, in their book Brain Allergies reported that eliminating wheat resulted in a 64% recovery rate for a set of 250 psychotic individuals in a hospital setting.[ii] It should be noted that a certain percentage of these individuals would need to eliminate other foods as well to maintain their recovery. If all schizophrenics would just eliminate wheat, many would recover just based on this one behavior change.

Poor food choices will not help most people with their health issues in any way. Eating poorly almost always makes recovery a much more difficult process. As for the schizophrenic, eating whatever you want is usually a very, very bad plan for recovery. Most anti-psychotic medications, by themselves, usually don’t work. If they do work the negative side effects alone make lowering them or eliminating them greatly advantageous. The right diet may help with this.

The idea that illness or health can result from the food we eat is not a new or novel idea. It was known at least as long ago as the ancient Greeks (and some may even say this goes as far back as the ancient Sumerian and Egyptian societies many years prior to the ancient Greek societies).

Many have attributed these statements to the Greek physician Hippocrates – who is surnamed the Father of Modern Medicine:

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”

“All disease begins in the gut.”

“Leave your drugs in the chemist's pot if you can heal the patient with food.”

Of course, whether these are accurate translations of his words or someone’s interpretations of his words may be up for debate (remember, no translation is every completely accurate anyway). That said, there can be no doubt that Hippocrates thought medicine to be an extension of food, properly administered, as he argued this at length in many parts of his book, On Ancient Medicine (400 BCE).

Good food habits were his basis for making and using medicine to lead to health. He argued that, basically, humans have the ability more than any beast of the field to discern what they are eating and its relative consequence on their health (400 BCE).

Healing through food was his very justification for the acceptance of healing through medicine in general. Food comes first and is the basis for the other point.

Besides the ancient record, if you pause and think about it for a moment, your own intellect will tell you this. Eating can have a profound effect on our health.

Because this is such a key issue in recovering from mental illness in general, eating right will be discussed further in future lessons.

Priority 4: Your Need for a Good Living Situation or Shelter

Without a good home, recovery can be more difficult or even next to impossible for many.

Those hospitalized with mental illness peaked in the U.S. at around 560,000 people.[iii] Soon after this high number was reached, the race to treat patients with drug therapy alone was to begin (1950s). And though the race to release people from the hospitals started a decade earlier, it would really take off in the 1960s after the introduction of tranquilizers. “However, many mentally ill became homeless upon being released from institutions due to inadequate housing and follow-up care.”[iv] In the long run, the result has been a greater influx of mentally ill people living in jail.

Meanwhile, over the years, with the attitude that mental illness was a “problem solved” through drugs, state governments have continued to cut funding to mental-health services. “The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) published a 2011 report detailing states’ funding cuts to mental-health services. Between 2009 and 2011, states cumulatively cut more than $1.8 billion from their budgets for these services.”[v]

Many mentally ill, having symptoms reduced by drug therapy, are not really fully recovered, and are still often at the mercy of the state. Often, they can’t work, at least not effectively, and have limited resources to live and get along in the world. This leads many to get in trouble with the law and wind up in the new modern place to house the mentally ill – state, federal, and local jails. The police unfairly take the blame, but the real culprit is the system of medicine currently practiced for the mentally ill.

“One in five people killed by police have some form of mental illness, and many of those people are black and/or poor.

The Department of Justice found in 2006 that about 15 percent of state prisoners and a quarter of jail inmates report symptoms that meet the criteria for a psychotic disorder. The same year, the Bureau of Justice estimated that the mentally troubled constituted about half of all prisoners in state, federal, and local jail.

In 2012, there were ten times more mentally ill persons in jail than in hospitals.” [vi]

Clearly, if you are a person with a poor living situation, you need to find help. Finding a stable home and shelter can make a huge difference in your life. Modern drug therapy is not a substitute for a good home.

Priority 5: Your Need for Physical Exercise and Physical Activity

Exercise can have huge impact on your health and mental health. This goes beyond getting in shape and having strong muscles and bones.

Exercise can alter your body chemistry and speed recovery.

Low impact, mild or moderate exercise can help reduce stress. This is especially true when done on a regular basis, like 3 times a week. Even 2 times a week can reap benefits for many. Exercise raises endorphins, the “feel-good” hormone in the brain.

In addition to reducing stress, exercise may help regulate the micro-organisms in your gut. If you exercise more vigorously (but don’t overdo it), the beneficial gut microorganisms seem to grow in number and the bad guys dwindle. The result is often a better mental outlook. Upon examining the gut bacteria of a group of men, some of whom were athletic and some of whom were not, researchers at Ireland’s University College Cork recorded “a greater diversity of microbes” in the athletic group.[vii]

More on this later, but many neurotransmitters in the human body are created and maintained in the gut. For example, it is estimated that 95% of the serotonin in the human body is found in the gut.[viii] The vagus nerve connects the brain to the gut and signals pass along this highway in a two-way direction. Some researchers estimate that more signals go from gut to brain than the other way around.[ix]

It should be noted, over-exercise is not a good idea and can lead to adrenal fatigue. That said, some heavy workouts may not be all bad for everyone. You need to know your unique biochemistry and consult with professionals who can help you know your limits. Even with moderate exercise, consulting with your doctor and/or trainer may be advisable. (Please consult with your physical therapist doctor or medical doctor before beginning any exercise program.)

The result of exercise can increase brain health and mental ability. Exercise can also make you sweat which is good for detoxification, our next priority.

Priority 6: Your Need for Detoxification

Toxicity affects most of us today in one shape or another. In fact, many people today are even born with overloads of some toxic chemicals. The situation gets worse as we age as we are exposed to more and more foreign substances and some overloads of otherwise beneficial chemicals.

The good news is that for most people, our bodies fight these toxins every second. In some ways, if we can just stop poisoning ourselves, we could eventually recover. Unfortunately, in our present world, this is a difficult proposition for most people.

Here is a brief list of examples of toxic overloads and exposures and their effects on us:

  • Copper, a much-needed mineral in the human body, can become way too high in some individuals for numerous reasons such as copper piping in homes. Copper overload can cause many problems, and one of them is depression. This is especially true when our zinc levels are too low.
  • Mercury can be found in silver amalgam dental fillings, in seafood (especially farmed fish and large fish), and even in the air we breathe if we live in the wrong part of the world. Mercury has been linked to increase risk of autism and other mental health issues such as depression.
  • Xenoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals that are foreign to the body. Numerous of these xenoestrogens are present in most plastics, and they very often surround the packaged food we buy at most grocery stores. This plastic can sometimes leech into the foods we purchase. These hormone disruptors can wreak havoc on our health in many ways including making us estrogen dominant. This can lead to many health conditions including mental health issues.
  • Cadmium in very, very small levels is necessary for human health. However, too much can be devastating and cause major problems like kidney failure, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. Diabetes has been strongly linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Cadmium is often sucked up by soy, spinach, and other crops when the soil they are planted is low in zinc. This is very often the case because of inadequate crop rotation, poor fertilization, and/or failure to rest the land.[x]

Additionally, gasoline, recreational alcohol use, hair sprays, lotions, soaps, toothpastes, lipstick, and on and on… can all expose us to toxins. Fire retardants in fabric, upholstery, carpets, and building materials is another type of exposure. Unfiltered tap water and even filtered water in plastic bottles can expose us to toxins.[xi]

Yes, detoxing can help! How to begin this process is the subject of later lessons.

Priority 7: Your Need to Optimize Certain Nutrients Through Supplementation

The science of optimizing nutrients is called orthomolecular medicine. Ortho means right or correct. So, we have the correct molecule for the correct condition. The idea is to give the body what it needs in terms of what is already present in the body to aid the body in recovery.

Orthomolecular medicine can be contrasted with other forms of medicine in the following way. Ortho type molecules are only considered correct if they are already found in the body in normal healthy conditions for most people. Those already present would be orthomolecular. Meanwhile, toxi (meaning foreign) molecules are not normally found in the body for most people most of the time. Hence, we could term other types of medicine as toxi-molecular.

The way proper orthomolecular medicine works out is unique to the individual needing intervention. If you are low in copper (and perhaps suffering from thyroid issues due to low copper) then you may need to add a little copper supplement to recover. If you have a copper overload, you may need copper detoxing through the addition of vitamin B6 and the mineral zinc. Since depression can result from copper overload, one may see an improvement in his or her mood over time if the zinc and B6 are added properly.

Note, adding B6 and zinc may make a person with copper overload feel worse when first administering these supplements as the copper is released from the tissues into the blood-stream on its way out. So, it is advisable to get professional help when following this method. 

Another example of unique bio-individual needs could perhaps involve Niacin (B3). If you are schizophrenic, you may benefit from a few thousand milligrams of B3 spread throughout the day on a daily basis. Perhaps you are taking very large doses of B12 for another reason. Too much B12 can block the effect of B3 from controlling mania. Thus, everyone and every situation is unique to the individual. However, if done right, many can obtain a great benefit from nutrients optimized for the individual.

The following quote from the website about Dr. Pfeiffer is not only a good description of a great doctor’s work, but it also may help you understand what ortho-molecular practitioners are all about.

“‘If there's a drug that can alter the brain's biochemistry, there's usually a combination of nutrients that can achieve the same thing without side-effects,’ said Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, founding director of the Brain Bio Center in Princeton, New Jersey (1973). Dr. Pfeiffer spent most of his life researching for the causes and cure of mental illness. He found that biochemical imbalances in the body were the blame for many psychological problems. His study on more than 20,000 schizophrenic patients enabled him to divide schizophrenia into 3 biochemical groupings called histapenia, histadelia and pyroluric.” [xii]

Dr. Pfeiffer also worked to classify the root causes of all mental illnesses such as unipolar depression and bipolar disorder.

Many people came to a full recovery by using orthomolecular treatments as administered by Dr. Pfeiffer, Dr. Hoffer, and many others.

This article is Part II of a three part series.

If you would like some help with the process of applying the interventions to your unique situation, I coach people through a 6-month program toward recovery. This program includes 12 coaching sessions 50-minutes in duration. My goal is to be the guide on your side and not the sage on stage. To see if this is a program right for you, I also give away a free 50-minute Health History Coaching Session to bring the total number of sessions to 13. You can find out more about this Health Coaching Program Here.

References - Part II

[i]Hoffer, A. (2007). Psychiatry Yesterday (1950) and Today (2007), from despair to hope with orthomolecular psychiatry. Trafford Publishing.

[ii]Kalita D. K., Philpott W. H. (2000), Brain allergies: The psychonutrient and magnetic connections. Keats Publishing, Chicago, IL.





[vii]Perlmutter, M.D., & Loberg, K. (). Brain maker: The power of gut microbes to heal and protect your brain – for life. Boston: Little Brown & Company.

[viii]Emeran, M. (2016). The Mind – Gut Connection: How the hidden conversation within our bodies impacts our mood, our choices, and our overall health. Blackstone Audio, Inc.


[x]Pizzorno, J. (2017). The Toxin Solution. HaperOne, New York, NY.


[xii]“Orthomolecular.Org-History Of Orthomolecular Medicine.” Accessed September 12, 2020.