Holford and Histadelia

September 5, 2008 at 7:14 pm (Alternative Medicine, Bad Science, Nutritionism, Patrick Holford, Supplements) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

[BPSDB] Patrick Holford’s book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind (ONM) includes information on a condition known as histadelia. Weirdly, it doesn’t seem to get a mention on his website. Similarly, a seach of Pubmed returns zero results. I’m not surprised to see that Patrick Holford has been suggesting nutritional treatments for a condition that may not exist – but I am surprised he isn’t doing so on his website. Maybe you have to buy the book to get such specialist knowledge? Since writing this opening, I have found out that he does still write about histadelia – but he now refers to it as “high histamine” and the full article is available only to 100% Health members. Fortunately, I don’t have to sign up as I have access to a copy of ONM and can check there for his views [pp 183-7 of the hardback edition]. So I was wrong that histadelia may no longer be something Patrick believes in, but right that you have to pay for the info.**

Another thing you have to pay for is the test – it will cost you £55 if you want to know whether the Orthomolecular Medicine crowd thinks you have high histamine. Ths FftB info pack [PDF] includes prices for tests. Once you have been “diagnosed” as histadelic, you will then require treatment for your condition. There seems to be no good evidence that the condition known as histadelia is actually a problem for anyone [I can’t find any evidence it actually exists*]. There is no evidence that the test for histadelia works. There is no evidence that the remedies for histadelia (vitamins and minerals, natch) work.

Holford was diagnosed by Carl Pfeiffer as “high histamine”. This rigorous diagnosis was reached at by Pfeiffer after taking one look at Holford and his white, marked nails. That’s it – he could tell just by looking at his nails. If it is true that diagnosing histadelia is that simple, and if it is true that such a diagnosis is accurate then (1) why hasn’t it been recognised by anyone apart from the Orthomolecular Medicine crew and (2) why would anyone need to pay for a test kit?

What is the scientific evidence for Holford and Pfeiffer’s belief that histamine is a real condition, that can be accurately diagnosed and treated by pills? I don’t know. Despite Patrick’s famous referenciness, the section of his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind that deals with histadelia has no references. That’s right, not one single reference to back up the claims of these advocates of Orthomolecular Medicine. He cites a single case study, quotes some opinions from Carl Pfeiffer and speculates about Marilyn Monroe being high histamine. Marilyn Monroe? At least in “The Sixth Sense” that kid only saw dead people – Patrick Holford diagnoses them as histadelic!

What treatments does Holford recommend for high histamine? Well, he reckons a low-protein, high-carb diet is best. Does this mean that those following Holford’s low-GL diet are at greater risk of histadelia than people who don’t follow a low-GL diet? Do you think he’s warned them? Aside from the dietary changes, Holford recommends… pills. And lots of them. Two grams of Vitamin C, 15mg of Zinc, 5mg of Manganese, at least 50mg of Vitamin B6. If you are “experiencing undesirable symptoms”, Holford expects you to fork out for more pills: 500mg Calcium and 500mg Methionine [an amino acid found in abundance in, e.g., eggs] twice daily. All these pills must cost a fair bit, and by this point the customer has already paid for the information Patrick provides about histadelia via books and paywalled articles. Not to mention the £55 for a test. Expensive condition, this histadelia. He also refers to phenytoin, the anti-epilepsy drug, and claims 100mg morning and afternoon will usually provide some relief for certain patients. So the guy who wrote “Food is Better than Drugs” with Jerome Burns thinks that anti-epilepsy pharmaceuticals are appropriate for histadelia? Not only does he advocate pharmaceuticals, but he thinks off-label prescribing is a good thing. He also recommends you avoid taking more than 200 microgrammes of Folic Acid if you are histadelic – does he warn those taking his recommended Optimum Daily Amounts (ODAs) that they are in danger of triggering this condition? ONM on Google books shows an RDA of 400 mcg and an ODA of 800 mcg for Folic Acid – quite apart from the EU RDA being 200 rather than 400 microgrammes, this shows that Patrick Holford believes that it is OK to tell the general population that they should take four times the EU RDA for Folic Acid (the EU RDA is, of course the limit that Holford reckons should be a maximum for ‘histadelics’).

They have their own un-evidenced test – for an un-evidenced condition that requires un-evidenced treatment.


Does the publicising of a medical condition that may-or-may-not-exist remind anyone of the tactics of Evul Big Pharma? Here’s a quote from Ben Goldacre’s latest column on the medicalisation of everyday life, an edited extract from his book [Bad Science]:

So the story of “disease mongering” goes like this: because they cannot find new treatments for the diseases we already have, the pill companies have instead had to invent new diseases for the treatments they already have.

Selling dietary supplements is a bit like selling drugs. It should come as no surprise that similar tactics are used. Despite the blustering of those who make money from nutritional therapy (whether nutritionists, firms selling test kits, food supplement manufacturers – though not perhaps retailers such as chemists and supermarkets) about Evul Big Pharma, they benefit from the same tactics and it is disingenuous of them to assert otherwise, not to mention hypocritical of them to criticise Big Pharma.

** Cialdini:
Robert Cialdini’s book “Influence” discusses the principle of scarcity. When something is scarce, we find it more desirable. This is true of information as well as goods, but there is more – when information is scarce it not only becomes more desirable it is also treated as being more reliable. If he knows what he is doing, then Patrick Holford is very clever to make his information on histadelia unavailable to those who choose not to pay for it (by subscribing to 100% Health or buying the book) – he is using a weapon of influence in order to persuade people to want his information more and to make it seem more trustworthy. A fine piece of marketing in my opinion.

Who’s talking about histadelia on the internet?
Holford’s Food for the Brain organisation has a bit about histamine release in allergy sufferers, but funnily enough the list of symptoms has little in common with the list of symptoms of histadelia. [“Skin rashes, hayfever, rhinitis, sinusitis, asthma, eczema, swelling in the face or throat and anaphylaxis.”]

According to the Powerset website, “Histadelia is a medical condition in orthomolecular psychiatry, part of complementary and alternative medicine, which [is] characterized by elevated serum levels of histamine and basophils. It was identified by Carl Pfeiffer. Treatment generally involves the aminoacid methionine, vitamin B6, as well as other supplements.” Hmm, really? Treatment generally involves supplements? Well, I can see why Patrick would be interested. And it was identified by Carl Pfeiffer, eh? Would that be the same Carl Pfeiffer who had largely ceased to publish in the mainstream scientific and medical journals by the 1970s? Yes, it would – it is also the same Carl Pfeiffer who directed the Princeton Brain Bio Centre, which was not affiliated in any way with Princeton University (perhaps a bit cheeky to call it the Princeton Brain Bio Centre, one might think). See Dr Aust’s Spleen for more on Pfeiffer: Holford’s Mentors.

According to someone on an internet health forum, “supplements which help are methionine, SAMe, calcium, manganese, magnesium, B6 and zinc. Histadelics are supposed to avoid folic acid and B12. A higher carbohydrate, moderate fat and lower protein diet is recommended for histadelics by Patrick Holford”, which is weird – Holford is always pushing that low-GL diet. As I asked earlier, has he warned his followers that the low GL diet may psychologically damage those with histadelia?

Links: Powerset, Health Forum, FftB on allergy and histamine.

Of course, the best place to visit if you want to read about Patrick Holford is http://holfordwatch.info/. He’s also made some appearances on the Bad Science blog. And on various blogs aggregated on the excellent badscienceblogs site. I would like to thank these sites for inspiring me. Holford’s heroes may be Pfeiffer and Hoffer, I think mine are the HolfordWatch and BadScience blogs.

Comments, clarifications and additional information are welcomed.

[Digg this post]


  1. draust said,

    Nice post, jdc.

    A bit of B/G: Carl Pfeiffer claimed he could divide 90% of schizophrenics up into three groups, based on what he insisted was causing their schizophrenia:

    – “Histadelia” (too much histamine)
    – “Histapenia” (not enough histamine)
    – “Pyroluria” (wonky vitamin B6 metabolism)

    ..plus a collection of other minor vitamin deficiencies for the other 10%, and with a side order of hypoglycaemia mixed in for good measure.

    You can read more about this here, if you can face it (site written by one of Pfeiffer’s disciples in the early 90s).

    Of course, these ideas go back forty years now. One might think that, if there was anything to them, it might have shown up by now… oh, no silly me, the Global Pharma Conspiracy makes that impossible.

    Which is, of course, why a search on PubMed for either histadelia or histapenia reveals precisely NO hits, as you have already spotted.

    Alternatively, you might think the whole thing was bonkers, based on long outdated hopelessly simplistic notions of how the brain works, and utterly without foundation… and that is why it is unknown in mainstream medicine.

    Holford and his acolytes have been known to suggest people take weird urine tests for “Pyroluria” – I remember us discussing this briefly a while back over at Holfordwatch. So it is no surprise, though rather depressing, to find them recommending meaningless tests for histamine too.

  2. jdc325 said,

    Thanks Dr Aust,

    The histadelia section I looked at in Holford’s book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind is in the chapter on depression.

    Looking at the schizophrenia chapter, I find that Patrick refers to it as “so-called schizophrenia” and recommends pursuing the following avenues:
    Blood sugar problems; Essential fat imbalances; Too many oxidants and not enough antioxidants; Niacin, B12 and Folic Acid therapy; Pyroluria and the need for Zinc; Wheat and other allergies; Histadelia/histapenia.

    In this chapter, he refers to the work done by [among others]:
    Horrobin; Hoffer; Osmond; Pfeiffer; a Dr Iain Glen [who “found that schizophrenics are EFA deficient”]; Prof Derri Shtasel [gave a mentally ill woman vit C apparently]; Dr Arthur Sohler [worked on pyroluria with Pfeiffer at ‘Princeton’ Brain Bio Centre].

  3. LeeT said,

    “it will cost you £55 if you want to know whether the Orthomolecular Medicine crowd thinks you have high histamine.”

    Professor Ernst once posed a challenge to people who could locate a CAM trial that had a negative outcome for whatever they were testing.

    I just wonder if any nutritional therapist has ever NOT diagnosed a health problem or advised people to give up certain foods? Obviously, from the point of view of the therapist it becomes easier the more disorders you and your friends invent!

  4. dvnutrix said,

    What is particularly timely yet slightly sad about this is that FFTB has recently advertised for applicants for an MSc in nutrition and mental health.

    We are seeking a BANT registered nutritional therapist with clinical
    experience, to undertake a MSc research project evaluating the clinical
    efficacy of a nutrition-based approach in the treatment of depression,
    ADHD or schizophrenia. The research will involve both a comprehensive
    literature review and analysis of client data treated at the Brain Bio

    The objective of this research is to review both mainstream and
    anecdotal evidence of nutritional interventions in depression, ADHD or
    schizophrenia, and to determine whether individualised nutritional
    interventions, as an add-on to existing treatment, improve psychometric
    scores in specific patients using an open label study design. [Email.]

    Isn’t it a trifle odd for an MSc to be entirely independent research without any taught element? Plus, that would have to be an astonishingly strange set-up – very like the one that Holford had with Surrey for his MPhil course that ended in *crickets*.

    So 40 years on, it looks like they are ready to settle for analysing anecdotes and calling it research. Who is going to supervise this? What will happen if the hapless student reports that there are plenty of anecdotes but a dearth of actual clinical evidence?

  5. draust said,

    You can have a “research-only M.Sc.” – it is commonly a code for “we’d like a PhD student BUT we only have funding for one year”.

    However, I wouldn’t trust any of the FFTB lot to supervise a knitting circle, let alone a higher degree of any kind. I guess they might get one of the “scientific advisory board” to be the official academic supervisor, but they surely must be getting cold feet by now.

  6. LeeT said,

    I have just written up something on “The Food for the Brain” researcher advert. Do pop by if only to find out what ADHD really stands for

  7. dvnutrix said,

    You can have a “research-only M.Sc.” – it is commonly a code for “we’d like PhD student BUT we only have funding for one year”.

    I stand horrified and corrected. Maybe that is the plan – blarney someone into accepting an MSc and then convince them that the results are so amazing that the person must be allowed to pursue a PhD. And then claim that the research must be valid because it is being pursued at post-doc level in a UK university.

    And – the people who signed off on that lamentable FFTB Child Survey should not be allowed to oversee finger painting at a local playgroup.

  8. LeeT said,

    The Bank Manager: How can I help you?
    Ms Jones MBANT: I need a career development loan
    BM: And what’s your career?
    Ms J: I am a healthcare specialist in the field of nutrional therapy
    BM: You don’t seem to have been earning much in the last couple of years.
    Ms J: Well I have been doing an MSc. Fortunately, my other half is something in the City.
    BM: Where have you been doing that?
    Ms J: At the Institute for Optimum Nutrition
    BM: It is not an accredited university is it?
    Ms J: [slightly huffy tone] Well the MSc has been accredited by the University of Bedfordshire and my research has been carried out under the rigorous supervision of Patrick Holford, The Food for the Brain Foundation and The British Association for Applied Nutritonal Therapy.
    BM: Very nice too.
    Ms J: The trouble is the funding has run out. Our initial findings indicate we are on the verge of finding a cure for schizophrenia. You could be looking a future Nobel prize winner.
    BM: Where you are the only other person in this room. Okay let’s put the information in the computer
    Ms J: What does the computer say?
    BM: Computer says, “Nutribullocks”

  9. jed said,

    man you are full of it. just shut up.

  10. jed said,

    man you are full of it. just shut up. its extremely obvious you are wrong through and through. something is seriously wrong with what you are doing but then again you obviously work for a drug company as your true profession.

  11. jed said,

    and thus denying people natural products in return for poison.

  12. jdc325 said,

    It just goes to show you can’t be too careful.

    “you obviously work for a drug company as your true profession.” Wrong. Predictable, too: the Pharma Shill gambit is hardly new.

    “and thus denying people natural products in return for poison.”
    There are no pharmaceutical treatments for histadelia – nobody’s even sure if it exists. As I made perfectly clear in the above post, “There seems to be no good evidence that the condition known as histadelia is actually a problem for anyone [I can’t find any evidence it actually exists*]. There is no evidence that the test for histadelia works. There is no evidence that the remedies for histadelia (vitamins and minerals, natch) work.”; “they have their own un-evidenced test – for an un-evidenced condition that requires un-evidenced treatment”.

  13. dvnutrix said,

    Can’t fault the logic – outside of the community of those who have an interest in the existence of histadelia because it allows them to sell diagnostic tests and various supplements there is no support for the existence of histadelia.

    Of course people are free to purchase these tests and solutions – but that is no reason for this faux condition to be recognised in default of any evidence that it is authentic.

  14. christine smith said,

    re histadelia i was diagnosed 8 months ago with this disorder and pyrrloe disorder. the results of 8 months of pfeiffer treatment is nothing short of astounding. numerous allergies, digestive disorders r.s.i.,blood sugar problems,low body temperature,low blood pressure,extreme anxiety and extreme fatigue all resolved. I feel i am reborn in a functioning body. diagnosis took 15 yrs.

  15. jdc325 said,

    I’m glad that you feel your health has improved Christine. If the testing for and treatment of high histamine / pyrrole disorder is really so effective then it is a shame that no-one has published any serious research into these conditions.

    As I mention in my blog post, a search on Pubmed for “histadelia” yields no results (I also pointed out that “Despite Patrick’s famous referenciness, the section of his book Optimum Nutrition for the Mind that deals with histadelia has no references”). [Emphasis added.]

  16. christine smith said,

    I would suggest looking at William Walsh’s research at the Pfeiffer Research Institute. He has done a lot of research in this area

  17. jdc325 said,

    Thanks Christine. I shall see if this research is available to the public. I would certainly be interested to see it.

  18. unityemissions said,

    I have severe pyrrole disorder & histapenia. Went to the Pfeiffer Center last October. I’m incredibly better now. This treatment works. There is some publications on it, but you gotta dig deep.

    The fruit is in the pudding. I’ve spoken with several pyrolurics who have got well through diet & nutrient supplementation.

  19. jdc325 said,

    Thanks for your comment unityemissions. I’m glad you are feeling better.

    I am concerned that in order to find publications on treatment for pyrrole disorder or histapenia, one has to “dig deep”. If a treatment works and has been shown to do so in well designed trials then that research should be peer-reviewed and publicly published in reputable journals. If the trials aren’t well designed then they aren’t reliable as evidence of efficacy.

    I have now contacted the Pfeiffer Treatment Center and requested their publications on pyrrole disorder and histapenia/histadelia.

  20. Ignoreland: A Refusal To Engage « jdc325's Weblog said,

    […] there is the strange case of the histadelia and pyrrole research… Back in September 2008, I wrote about histadelia (a condition referred to by Patrick Holford in his book Optimum Nutrition for the […]

  21. Helen Clemens said,

    I strongly agree with Christine Smith and Unityemissions. Pfeiffer/William Walsh’s approach have revolutionised my life and those of my children.

  22. dvnutrix said,

    To adapt Chris MacDonald:

    The side-effects of medical interventions…only become known *because* they are carefully studied and monitored. Sometimes such discoveries are made later rather than sooner — but better that it’s well-studied than not.

    …Researchers are forced, by the legal and ethical standards that govern them, to design trials carefully to rule out the dozens of ways in which personal, first-hand observation is likely to be biased. If drug or medical product companies were allowed to market a drug/product based solely on mere anecdotes from happy customers, can you imagine just how bad that would be?

    Anecdotes can not be sufficient, no matter how compelling to the individual.

    Bertolt Brecht summed up the rationale for amassing and scrutinising robust evidence: Life of Galileo:

    The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.

  23. sassy said,

    To answer the question:
    “If a treatment works and has been shown to do so in well designed trials then that research should be peer-reviewed and publicly published in reputable journals.”

    Because there is no money to be made by the people funding the research to take people off medication and give them their lives back. The current medical motivation seems to be simply a pill for each symptom. Modern doctors do not look at root biochemical causes or even attempt to help people regain their health. Too much money is made from keeping people on medication.

    There may not be a lot of peer reviewed stuff out there, but as a person who was diagnosed as histapenic (and no – no one just looked at me – there were a lot of blood tests) and suffering crippling depression, I was glad to be able to finally come off antidepressants and regain control of my life.

    I have been off medication for 3.5 years now and have not suffered a relapse.

  24. jdc325 said,

    I’m pleased to hear that you have been able to, as you put it, regain control of your life. If your treatment for histapenia was responsible for your recovery, then it is a shame that nobody has publicly published what research there is into histadelia and histapenia. If I had evidence that a treatment could be helpful in depression I would certainly make efforts to publish it.

    Here, I’ve written about my attempt to correspond with the people at the Pfeiffer Treatment Centre. Unfortunately, they have never published their research into histadelia and histapenia in a journal available to the public (let alone one that is peer-reviewed and indexed on Pubmed) and they seem unwilling to share their research with me – or even to reply to my emails.

    Best wishes.

  25. Christine Smith said,

    It is my understanding that when Abrahm Hoffer disovered pyroluria in 1958, that his own profession totally ignored his finding and still do today, in spite of the fact that many people like myself are living proof of the validity of his claims. I imagine that William Walsh does not wish to put himself in that position and thanks to the internet can quietly prove his point because, when those of us who have been diagnosed and cured,feel we must get on the web ,and share our experiences in order to help others. I think he is creating a “quiet revolution”.

  26. Nix said,

    With all respect to people’s right to have all sorts of opinions, I must say that I can see some problems in this article.

    You have expressed your total opposition to the notion of neurotransmitter imbalances as sources of mood and other disorders. My personal opinion, based in my first hand experiences with anxiety/depression is that this is probably the way future psychiatric research should be directed.

    Unfortunately, money is a really big obstacle to our improvement of scientific understanding of mood and other disorders as functions of genes and nutrition and the ways this can be corrected, possibly without drugs.

    Scientific research in pharmacology is funded by large corporations and therefore inherently biased. This state of affairs is motivated not by care for other people, but by enormous profits.

    One example that comes to mind are anti-depressives. While there is a cheap amino-acid alternative to main-stream SSRI drugs, and has been there for decades, the scientific community is still in a state of “no evidence that it works”, even when plain common-sense tells us that it OBVIOUSLY DOES. Why? No money in selling stuff that just cannot be patented.

    This is not to say that the work of Pfeiffer and others is completely without flaw and final.

    Let’s just try to examine new ways intellectually and practically outside of the corporate box, with the motivation of helping people who suffer and not just money.

  27. jdc325 said,

    “With all respect to people’s right to have all sorts of opinions, I must say that I can see some problems in this article.

    You have expressed your total opposition to the notion of neurotransmitter imbalances as sources of mood and other disorders…”

    I can’t understand how you have got that from my article – where on earth have I expressed opposition to the notion of neurotransmitters as sources of mood [and other] disorders? I have written that histadelia is a condition that may or may not exist – I would like to see the evidence that it exists, that their special test reliably detects it, and that their special pills to treat it actually do so.

    I think that mood disorders are a bit more complicated that “high histamine” or “serotonin deficiency”, but I don’t think I have ever denied that these neurotransmitters could play a part in mood disorders.

  28. unityemissions said,


    I’m convinced that pyroluria is a result of lyme disease, a spirochete called borrelia burgdorferi, or similar species. This seems to be widespread, and the causes may not be as typically presented. It seems the reason there’s been a huge cover on lyme is because it was the result of a bioweapons program back in Germany during WW2, and also in the US after WW2 from scientists brought about via Operation Paperclip.

    There’s a book on this called Lab 257: the Disturbing Story of the Government’s Secret Plum Island Germ Laboratory. Check it out.

    What is interesting to note is that niacin in large doses is very effective against Lyme disease. Pyrolles cease to exist in large quantities after taking just niacin and ascorbic acid, while the traditional treatment via Ortho is Zinc and b6. This keeps you somewhat well, but doesn’t go after the microbe, only the effects of malnutrition caused by the diseased state.

    I ended up stopping p5p & zinc, and cut off links with Pfeiffer. My last test showed zinc level was toxic high after only taking 66mg. I take zinc, 50mg, only if I notice excessive stress building up, especially in neck and sholders. Only happens once a month or so now.

    Lyme disease is causing many diseased states in people, from MS, to Parkinson’s, to Alzheimer’s, to Schizo, and more..It is being transmitted not only by tics, but by other bugs like mosquitos, and has been found in tears!! It is transmissible by sex, guys. An epidemic, caused by our governments, and silenced by controlled organizations.

    Do the research. Blow the cover. Demand answers and liability.

  29. draust said,


    Every conspiracy-woo irrationality button pushed in a few short paragraphs..And Nazis too! Double kudos.

    That was a parody… …right?

  30. Risks of CAM Part One: Nocebo « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] have written about histadelia before, so rather than rewrite my thoughts have simply copied and pasted from my previous post. […]

  31. Debbie S said,

    Weird how this whole thing has to be such an either/or battle.

    I was diagnosed with “adrenal insufficiency” (go ahead and look it up on PubMed, if it’s there, it must be real! And it’s there). Immediately my endocrinologist wanted to put me on Prednisone (a drug, therefore “real”). Problem is, long term use of Prednisone leads to Cushing’s Syndrome (yeah, look that one up on PubMed too; the only source for real illnesses–everything else they can’t explain or don’t list must just be hypochondria–wait, does PubMed list hypochondria? Maybe that’s not real either!)

    I don’t want to take Prednisone. Instead, I take licorice root capsules (which boosts my low blood pressure–82/56–up to more normal levels), as well as a tablespoon of sea salt, 10MeQ of potassium, 150mg B6, 75mg zinc, and ginseng extract every day. And it works. Even according to my endocrinologist. Not that he recommended or prescribed these things; in fact he scoffed. He doesn’t know what to think now–hard to “fake” having adrenal insufficiency or Addisons disease, after all, and his extensive tests don’t lie. The things I am doing have no side effects (like Cushing’s syndrome from Prednisone).

    Adrenal insufficiency is a serious issue. It can be life threatening, much like diabetes. I have to wear a medical alert bracelet in case I am seriously injured and need surgery. Because anesthesia could kill me–I require intravenous saline, dextrose, and cortisol to make it through surgery.

    Yeah, yeah, I know–who cares? What’s this have to do with “histadelia” you ask?

    Well, my husband was diagnosed 25 years ago with schizophrenia (look it up on the omniscient PubMed) almost immediately after he graduated with honors from Stanford University (I don’t think that’s on PubMed, but you can google “Stanford University”–it’s a real place). It was periodic, not constant, though low level symtoms were present most of the time.

    Right after we got married, he had “an episode”–not something you want to deal with, I assure you. It sucked. We had just started a business and had little money and no insurance. Therefore we could find no mainstream help. Those particular drugs are VERY expensive (while you make fun of the cost of vitamins). Not only that, they actually work for very few people. VERY few. What they do is tranquilize schizophrenics so the rest of us can deal with them more easily (and there is something to be said for that at times as well). My husband had taken psychiatric drugs on and off over the years (when he could afford them when he wasn’t crazy) with useless results. The side effects overwhelmed the tiny benifits. Especially Haldol, which worsened the typical schizophrenic insomnia and made his tongue stick out.

    I took him to our local mental health clinic, where they talked to him very loudly and slowly, using grade school sized words. It was insulting. They wouldn’t help because we didn’t have insurance. They told us he needed psychotherapy at $200 per hour (NOW let’s talk SNAKE OIL). What exactly would be the point of a delusional person talking about their childhood? No matter–this is mainstream accepted, so it must be good and right! What a joke.

    Things got worse and worse until finally my husband landed in jail because he thought the postman was spying on him so he threatened him with a pair of nail clippers. By the way, that’s a felony.

    I went to the library to research and all I could find was long boring articles about the mysteries and weirdly typical content of delusions. I didn’t need to read that–I was living with it. And NOT “happily”.

    I came across something from the people at the Health Research Institute-Pfeiffer Treatment Center. I called them and talked to their head research scientist (Bill Walsh PhD–google him up, he’s an intersting person with an interesting government background), who asked me questions that made me impatient because they seemed so completely, foolishly unrelated to what we were dealing with. Who cares if he has hayfever??? That was the least of our problems at the time!!!

    Long story short, he recommended I put my husband on 2 grams of L-Methionine (an amino acid) and several other vitamins, minerals and metals (zinc, C, B6, etc). The standard treatment for “Histadelia”.

    Now understand me–this sounded STUPID to me. STUPID. How in the holy hell are vitamins going to even TOUCH this situation? But we had nothing to lose, and hell, it might help a little, maybe make him sleep (he’d only slept about 10 hours in an entire month). The jail was giving him a drug I don’t remember the name of now (this was 14 years ago) that had ZERO effect on the schizophrenia, but did make him pee the bed. I asked them to take him off it (wasn’t working anyway) and give him the vitamins (why not experiment? The guy is in jail, after all, in solitary confinement, because he thinks he’s in the CIA). The jail folks said NO WAY. Not a chance. That’s goofball crap. After a lengthy battle with them, they agreed to try it if I got a doctors prescription (FOR VITAMINS! HAHAHA!). It took a while, but I found a doctor who would do it.

    Doctor Walsh told me to expect 4 to 8 weeks to see any significant improvement. Honestly, I didn’t expect ANY improvement at all, but I didn’t want to see him humiliated by peeing himself along with uncontrollable facial and body movements from the drugs. And they required him to be taking SOMETHING.

    My husband was unable to comprehend what the vitamins were. He thought they were more drugs, and probably the drugs that are often prescribed with anti-psychotics to lessen the side effects (which have their own side effects). His family told me I should divorce him and they would get a court order to have him permanently institutionalized (since he didn’t “want” to get better, or he’d take more drugs. Apparently peeing yourself isn’t good enough. You need to crap yourself to prove you want to get better. Obviously he was having a pharmaceutical deficiency!)

    Exactly 2 days after he started the vitamins, there was an astounding change. And I mean astounding. He wasn’t in the CIA anymore. in fact, he was degraded, humiliated, and embarrased about being in jail, and about having been schizophrenic again. He also lapsed into depression (which was probably there all along, but not noticeable under the dramatic delusions. His “mainstream” diagnosis was bipolar paranoid schizophrenic, also sometimes diagnosed schizo-affective)

    Look, I don’t care what works. And this worked like a miracle. No side effects. No drugs. We went to the Pfeiffer Center after he finally got out of jail (months later–this was a felony charge after all), and they did some blood, urine, and hair tests. They then individualized his vitamin treatment plan based on those results. They treat him with respect instead of like a criminal or a “retard”. He takes 2 grams of methione every day, plus a myriad of other things, including 5-HTP for depression. When he does not take these things (and he has stopped a couple of times) he becomes schizophrenic again in a matter of a couple of days. His case was a little different. Since then, I have seen others (schizophrenics) who have tried this treatment, and it takes weeks to see the improvement that was rapid and dramatic for my husband.

    So go ahead, get out your scissor sharpeners, and hack away. Easy when you haven’t dealt with the devastation of mental illness yourself–either you or a loved one. Maybe drugs work for some people, maybe vitamins work for others, maybe a combination for some people, and maybe some don’t get any relief from anything. It’s not either/or like you want it to be. Drugs have their place. But they are for treating symptoms, not root causes. Especially in mental illness issues.

    This wasn’t a matter of “belief” for me. Or my husband. It was a matter of what worked and what did not. Since then, I of course have researched extensively about orthomolecular medicine.

    Don’t knock what you don’t know or understand, friends. You have over simplified and ridiculed this for your own amusement. Fine. Laugh away. But I hope you will think about what I have said, and the tragedy of schizophrenia, and not deter people from finding SOMETHING that works. What kind of a success rate does the psychiatric route boast? They say scizophrenia is INCURABLE. Yet they go ahead and prescribe VERY expensive drugs that don’t work very well and cause a host of serious problems. It’s INCURABLE because their treatment is UNWORKABLE. That’s something to look forward to, isn’t it?

    Debbie S

  32. Debbie S said,

    Another addendum post…

    I don’t want to make the impression that there AREN’T phony snake oil things out there. There are. But this ain’t one of them, folks.

    Colloidal Silver is one of the fake things. Pushers of it claim it will cure Hepatitis C. There “science” claim is that the silver encapsulates the HCV virus and prevents it from reproducing. Except viruses don’t reproduce. They replicate. They break into host cells and program the host cell to produce virus cells. Colloidal Silver is a rip off.

    Another rip off is Haldol. And so is Seraquil. And so is Thorazine. These don’t work. They are expensive, too. What a scam.

    A side story about my husband…his amazing recovery in jail was certainly noticed by the jailers, the jail doctors and psychiatrists, the district attorney (who my husband accused of being involved in a CIA plot–before the vitamin treatment), and his public defender. They, like me, had no explanation for this nothing short of amazing recovery. Not sure what they told themselves to dismiss it (I didn’t have that luxury), but the psychiatrist who had talked loudly and slowly to him (like he was deaf and dumb) approached me some months later to see how he was doing. He was still stable, rational, and functional. She then told me her husband suffered from depression and drugs weren’t working. I told her about the Pfeiffer Center and she took him there. Not because she “believed”, but because she was at wits end–as all of us who deal with the mentally ill become. She contacts me from time to time–every 2 or 3 years–to thank me and let me know how well her husband is doing with his vitamin treatment. But what does she do? She continues to prescribe drugs for her psychiatric patients. Go figure….

    Debbie S

  33. Christine Smith said,

    You and your husband’s experiences brought tears to my eyes. I agree with everything you said, regarding our health systems in western countries today. There is so much needless suffering, and total inhumanity and ignorence, in the treatment of mental health issues, which in many cases are really physical health issues.

  34. ian said,

    debbie s ,i just stumbled across this website as i was actually searching for histadela!
    a topic which has fascinated me for a long time and one so poorly understood by alot of people it seems.I was shocked by the criticism of Patrick Holford.I think i 1st found the mention of this subject in one of Carl pfeiffers book and it actually struck me how much my own symptons were characteristic of histadelia.A simple multi gram dose of vitamin C daily can cut histamine up to 40 percent for most people ,methionine is needed for severe cases like schizophrenia.All i can say is taking several grams of vit C a day i feel calm mood is balanced and all the symptoms of histadelia are reduced for sure.
    I will keep doing what im doing and ignore the pharmaceutical idiots making billions trying to keep us from the reality!!


  35. jdc325 said,

    Hi Ian,

    Would you like to explain why you were shocked by the criticism of Patrick Holford? He’s making claims without evidence, so I think that the criticism is legitimate and am surprised that anyone would be shocked by it.

    Just by way of an aside, I was interested to note that you wrote, in defence of Patrick Holford, that you “…will keep doing what im doing and ignore the pharmaceutical idiots making billions trying to keep us from the reality!!” In the post above, I’ve written that Patrick Holford has referred to phenytoin, the anti-epilepsy drug, and claims 100mg morning and afternoon will usually provide some relief for certain patients. How do you feel about Big Pharma making money from off-label use of an anti-epilepsy drug for a condition that may or may not exist? See also here.

    Patrick Holford, media nutritionist, “managed to sell his Health Products for Life business to Biocare (owned by Neutrahealth, who [are] 30% owned by Elder Pharmaceuticals) for £464,000.” According to the NeutraHealth website, their Chief Executive was previously at Galpharm, “the UK’s biggest supplier of non-prescription [OTC] medicine.” Meanwhile, Equazen (perhaps best known for the Durham trial-that-wasn’t-a-trial) are, as Ben Goldacre reminds us, owned by the £1.6bn pharmaceutical company Galenica.

  36. ian said,

    ok i`d like to ask you a question .What is your beef with this man? The only thing i know about Patrick Holford is that i bought his book and it had alot of good information that helped me among many others like him.Why do you state that Histadelia is not real? I`d like you to please give me some references you have to evidence that high histamine is not an issue that affects alot of people.I`m sure people like Patrick and others who deal in orthomolecular medicine such as the late great Linus Pauling the greatest chemist of the 20th century have found there accomplishments were to provide people with a mostly cheap and alternative method of helping and even curing mental disorders for many people in distress ,is this so bad?
    The only money Patrick Holford had off me was 10pounds book which was money well spent to further my understanding a little bit more of the way nutrients indeed do have a powerful influence on the brain.Please provide the evidence you have here that histadelia isn`t real.

  37. jdc325 said,

    “What is your beef with this man?”
    I don’t have a beef with Patrick Holford. I do have concerns about some of the claims that he makes, with the way he interprets evidence, and with claims that are made without supporting evidence.

    “Why do you state that Histadelia is not real?”
    I’ve said I’m not sure the condition exists, and pointed out the lack of evidence for it. If someone is claiming that histadelia is a medical condition then it’s up to them to show the evidence on which this claim is based.

    “…the late great Linus Pauling the greatest chemist of the 20th century”
    Yes, Pauling was a great chemist. Outside his own field, though… the Nobel disease.

    “…to provide people with a mostly cheap and alternative method of helping and even curing mental disorders for many people in distress ,is this so bad?”
    Is this so bad? No, not at all. As long as they provide evidence that such a method actually works.

  38. Daniel said,

    I am very interested in contacting someone who has been cured with this type of treatments. I suffer untreatable mental/nervous disease with lots and lots of physical diseases too. I have tried a thousand treatments over 30 years and only recently I noticed how methione + B1 + CoQ10 gave me a big boost just after two days taking it.

    I have had low blood copper for ages and liver and digestive problems of all kind. Wheat makes me swollen and a doctor suggested that everything came from gluten intolerance leading to low copper and all kind of symptoms and problems.

    So, I just would like to talk with someone who benefited much from this sort of treatments or who went to the Pfeiffer Center.

    My email is stv984 at gmail com

    Thank you

  39. dee lougane said,

    Interesting site, this. Not a word said yet by the OP/author to Debbie. Perhaps he didnt like her tone. i rather did, for many a reason. As for colloidal silver, i wouldnt still have my left thumb without it. Like so many things, silver may work in one situation and not another; that is not a reason to dismiss it outright.

    We would probably all do well to remember that information is not knowledge, and knowledge is not wisdom.

  40. Histadelia: A Doctor Writes « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] I wrote about Patrick Holford and Histadelia, I pointed out that those promoting the idea that high histamine was linked to depression and OCD […]

  41. Why Write About Alternative Medicine? Part Three: Risks « Stuff And Nonsense said,

    […] for Kids), which costs between $150 and $350 (cached page). Some also offer tests and treatment for histadelia (£55 for a test, plus the cost of daily doses of two grams of Vitamin C, 15mg of Zinc, 5mg of […]

  42. Sarah said,

    Debbie S rocks! Your story has been retold many times over but sadly anecdotal evidence isn’t ever good enough.
    Bill Walsh is a solid scientist with plenty of case histories and evidence to hand. Histadelia may also be known as undermethylation – methylation studies are very evident in the medical press.
    Holford may well be a businessman in the world of ‘Snake oil’ but a lot of what he states is commonsense and what our grandmothers’ often knew way before us eg sunshine is good for you, eat fresh unprocessed recognisable food.
    Yes – western medicine saves lives – undoubtably – BUT chronic disease is less successfully tempered and this is where orthomolecular medicine can make a difference. No-one is saying you have to do either/or – how about both modalities existing side my side and COMPLEMENTING each other?

  43. jdc325 said,

    Hi Sarah,

    If Bill Walsh has “plenty of case histories and evidence to hand” then why doesn’t he share them? You know, like scientists do. They share evidence, they publish it publicly so that others can benefit from their discoveries. So why is it that Bill Walsh hasn’t published his evidence? Why is it that the Pfeiffer Treatment Center didn’t respond to my emails by sharing this evidence with me? What sort of solid scientist makes important discoveries and then keeps them to himself?

  44. Jonathan said,

    What a miserable little life you must lead, jdc325.

    I’m not going to outline my personal history so that you can chirp about how you’re glad I’m feeling better but that you doubt it’s true without reams of documented evidence. Even a cursory knowledge and understanding of research funding, acceptable data and scientific publications would make you sound more reasonable and less like a demented, obsessive robot.

    Truth is, your willful obtuseness makes you sound like an absolute idiot – please send me research and evidence to prove that you’re not. Maybe vitamins might help?

  45. Linda Nedderman-Eaton said,

    While the idea of histadelia is widely debated (much to the chagrin of those who actually suffer from

    the devistating effects of high histamine levels), the scientific literature does have evidence of

    genetic defects that result in abnormally high histamine levels which when they activate Histamine

    receptors 1, 2, 3, and/or 4 cause body wide symptoms.. Furthermore, if one understands the relevance

    of the histamine degradation pathways, it all makes perfect biochemical sense.

    By the way I suffered terribly for years before finding out I had such gene defects (for me

    homozygous snps for RS1049793 and RS10156191) and have been greatly helped by a low histamine diet

    and some targeted supplements

    Here are some links:




    “For ABP1 the most relevant polymorphisms are rs10156191 Thr16Met, rs1049742 Ser332Phe, and

    particularly because of its functional effect, rs1049793 His645Asp.” (Red highlighting is mine.)





  46. tom rose said,

    Holford is a charlatan. He is not to be taken seriously. In fact, like fake “Doctor” Gillian McKeith he is dangerous

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