In episode 10 of our Mental Horizons Podcast, Dr. Chris Palmer of McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School introduces us to the growing field of nutritional psychiatry.

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Dr. Palmer is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine and completed his internship and psychiatry residency at McLean Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard Medical School. He is currently the director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean and is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Palmer has a private practice near Boston where he focuses on, “the interface of mental health and metabolic disorders”. His website is a great resource for anyone interested in this topic.

Dr. Palmer is also a researcher and is the author and co-author of numerous published studies. This summer, he published an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry titled, “Diets and Disorders: Can Foods or Fasting Be Considered Psychopharmacological Therapies?” and his work with the ketogenic diet with people who have psychotic disorders was recently featured on NPR in a segment titled, “Prescription: More Broccoli, Fewer Carbs. How Some Doctors Are Looking To Food To Treat Illness”.

Dr. Palmer is pioneering the use of the ketogenic diet as a medical intervention for mood and psychotic disorders. He delves into his work on this topic at the end of our conversation, after giving an overview of what nutritional psychiatry actually is.

For links to recent podcasts featuring Dr. Palmer, scroll to the bottom of this post.

The show follows 3 main talking points:

  1. Dr. Palmer orients listeners to the field of nutritional psychiatry. How have psychiatry and nutrition already been overlapping? And what is nutritional psychiatry?
  2. Dr. Palmer drills down specifically into the area of “serious mental illness” and how research and practices in nutritional psychiatry can be brought into treatment plan discussions for people with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
  3. Dr. Palmer’s discusses two case studies and his won research and the most promising areas of nutritional psychiatry that he believes deserve more attention.

Additional Resources about Nutritional Psychiatry, Metabolic Disorders, and using the Ketogenic Diet for Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder

  • Chris Palmer, MD website
  • Chris Palmer, MD Twitter and Facebook pages
  • The ketogenic diet and remission of psychotic symptoms in schizophrenia: Two case studies.
  • Metabolic syndrome and mental illness
  • 2018 research from Poland: Ketogenic diet for schizophrenia: Nutritional approach to antipsychotic treatment.
  • 2009 case report: Schizophrenia, gluten, and low-carbohydrate, ketogenic diets: a case report and review of the literature
  • Stanford University, current clinical trial underway: Impact of a Ketogenic Diet on Metabolic and Psychiatric Health in Patients With Schizophrenia or Bipolar Illness
  • The Food and Mood Centre in Australia: the SMILES trial (using the Mediterranean diet for depression and other mental health issues).

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