Guest: Dr. James M. Greenblatt
Presenter: Neal Howard
Guest Bio: James M. Greenblatt, MD, is a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and one of the founders of Integrative Medicine for Mental Health (IMMH). He currently serves as the chief medical officer and vice president of medical services at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Massachusetts. Dr. Greenblatt is also an assistant clinical professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.
Segment overview: Dr. James Greenblatt, MD, talks about his newly published book, “Breakthrough Depression Solution: Mastering Your Mood with Nutrition, Diet & Supplementation” (Sunrise River Press, May 17, 2016).
Health Professional Radio – Mastering Depression and Mood
Neal Howard: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. I’m your host Neal Howard, thank you so much for joining us today. Our guest in studio today is Dr. James Greenblatt, expert in Integrative Medicine and one of the Founders of Integrative Medicine for Mental Health or IMMH, currently serving as the Chief Medical Officer and Vice-President of Medical Services at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham, Massachusetts. He’s also an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and he’s here today to discuss with us his brand new book, ‘Breakthrough Depression Solution: Mastering Your Mood with Nutrition, Diet and Supplementation.’ Welcome to Health Professional Radio Dr. Greenblatt.
Dr. James Greenblatt: Thanks very much, it’s good to be part of the show.
N: Thank you. Now in addition to everything that you’re doing, you’re also as I said an author. You wrote this book, Breakthrough Depression Solution, are we talking about an absolute lack of medications for depression?
G: No. The term that I like to frame the work that we do is called Integrative Psychiatry. So we are looking at all the tools that we have to help our patients struggling with depression. The reality and what was the impetus behind this book is our current treatment models utilizing medication are not effective for a large number of patients, some of the 40 to 50 percent. So we need other tools and nutrition and metabolic medicine is one of the tools that we discuss in the book.
N: Normally when I hear of treating mental disorders, especially depression I’m hearing about Prozac, I’m hearing about other medications, I see it on the internet, I see it on television, I’m hearing about it on the radio and you’re saying that what we eat can play a huge part in treating depression specifically?
G: Absolutely. We use the term, depression’s not a Prozac deficiency and although the medicines can help particularly someone with severe depression that our diet can have profound effect and what we look for is the major nutritional deficiencies of vitamins and minerals and how the GI tract function that can contribute and/or aggravate an underlying depression.
N: Are there certain vitamins or minerals that are, I guess the major culprit when it comes to not controlling or treating depression through nutrition?
G: I think there are many and I think that’s kind of the difficult part for the consumer who reads an article on a B vitamin or a fatty acid and they take the pill and they hope that the depression is lifted and it’s not that simple. And so a lot of the work that we do is looking at nutritional deficiencies based on blood tests or other kind of ways of analyzing nutrition to see what might be contributing. One of the most common would be a deficiency of vitamin B12 and that’s something that’s what we’ve been using for many, many years.
N: Now, is a deficiency in some of these key nutrients the cause of depression or is it the cause of inefficient or ineffective treatment of depression? Or is it combination of the two?
G: I think a combination of the two, absolutely. If someone has a B12 deficiency that persists for many, many years the symptoms, the signs of B12 deficiency can be all the same kinds of symptoms that we would read in a textbook on depression, so it could be fatigue and not sleeping and sadness and low energy and even suicidal thoughts. You take the B12 and the depression can be lifted for some individuals. So for that individual it was the deficiency. What we’ve also found is sometimes these nutritional deficiencies get in the way of the medications working effectively. So the nutritional therapies can be used with or without the medications.
N: Have you found that, I guess recommending a change in a person’s nutritional intake, kind of as a standard once they start taking medications for depression or do you have to say “Hit-and-miss” kind of like when you’re trying to determine what’s the best medication for a person? Is it the same type of trial and error when it comes to nutrition?
G: Well the trial and error is really what we’re trying to minimize and that’s what the field of psychiatry has become, this trial and error pharmacy, polypharmacy approach. And what we’re describing is a really very clear organized pattern of one, we look at tests and genetic test that might help us predict which medications, so we start looking at personalized choices and then the laboratory tests will help us look at which nutrients. There is pretty good research that demonstrates there’s some nutrients particularly zinc magnesium and the essential fatty acids, what’s in fish oil, that has been shown if we added those to the antidepressant there’s an augmentation effect, there’s an enhanced effect of the medicine.
N: Let’s talk about Breakthrough Depression Solution: Mastering Your Mood with Nutrition, Diet and Supplementation, this brand new book that you’ve authored. Who is your audience? Are you talking to other health care professionals who are looking for a solution or better care for their patients who suffer from depression or is it to the consumer who’s looking for an alternative to medications and maybe an alternative to their current provider?
G: The book was written for the consumer to kind of empower, better understanding and to help with some of the frustration with the traditional psychiatry. The way the book is written that many professionals can really get a lot out of it because most professional psychiatrists, psychologists treating mental illness, they have no training in nutrition. So often times their patients who’ve done their homework and research no more than our doctors. So it’s really written for the consumer but very appropriate for a professional learning how integrative medicine can help patients with depression.
N: What type of reception have you received from your colleagues who’ve taken a look at your book or some of the patients who’ve taken a look at your book and maybe some lights have gone on in their heads as well?
G: Well we’ve been doing this for many, many years and I think that the rest of medicine and our culture in terms of health and nutrition has really caught up that what’s good for the body we now know is good for the brain. So in the old days 20 years ago I was lecturing to naturopathic and chiropractic groups and now I’m being asked to talk at grand rounds, at traditional medical and psychiatric hospitals because they’re hungry for this information. How nutrition effects the brain and how nutrition can affect their mental health.
N: And where can our listeners get a copy of your book other than the normal outlets, say Amazon and Barnes and Noble?
G: We have a website that’s jamesgreenblattmd.com, where it lists this book and other books on integrative medicine that we have written.
N: And you are currently an Assistant Clinical Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. Have some of your techniques or information been implemented already as you teach future psychiatrists?
G: Absolutely. I do a lot of education around them, eating disorders, women who have anorexia and malnutrition and between grand rounds and teaching residents how important some of these nutrients are, the essential fatty acids, folic acid and B12 in particular are all part of the teaching that we do with the residents.
N: Thank you so much. You’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio, I’m your host Neal Howard. And we’ve been in studio talking with Dr. James Greenblatt, pioneer in the field of integrative medicine and also one of the Founders of Integrative Medicine for Mental Health also currently serving as an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and Chief Medical Officer and Vice-President of Medical Services at Walden Behavioral Care in Waltham. And we’ve been here discussing his brand new book, Breakthrough Depression Solution: Mastering Your Mood with Nutrition, Diet and Supplementation, talking about why he wrote the book, to who the book was written and some of the results from the publishing of this brand new book, talking about some breakthrough methods in treating depression not with pharmaceuticals but with proper nutrition. It’s been a pleasure talking with you today Dr. Greenblatt.
G: Thank you very much, appreciate the opportunity.
N: Thank you. Transcripts and audio of this program are available at healthprofessionalradio.com.au and also at hpr.fm and you can subscribe to this podcast on iTunes.