The Missing Link between Beef Jerky and Mental Illness

NBC News reported on a study published in Molecular Psychiatry which suggested a link between jerky consumption and bipolar disorder. Most mental health practitioners and researchers do not yet understand how today’s environmental exposures can lead to conditions such as bipolar disorder.

Theron Randolph first described the links between psychiatric disorders and exposures just after World War II when U.S. production and use of synthetic organic chemicals were beginning their meteoric rise.

Through decades of international studies in dozens of industrialized countries, we have documented a new two-stage disease mechanism which we have named “Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance,” or “TILT”. In Stage I of TILT, Initiation, a major exposure or series of exposures to pesticides, combustion products, mold, or repeated lower-level exposures such as indoor air chemicals associated with remodeling or new construction, especially when buildings are poorly ventilated, results in loss of tolerance to everyday chemicals, foods, food additives, and drugs that never bothered the person before, and do not bother most people. In Stage II (Triggering), exposure to structurally unrelated substances at very low levels trigger multi-system symptoms.

TILT remains a concept few doctors, including psychiatrists, learn about in their training. Understanding TILT makes the underlying process clear.

We are not at all surprised to hear that tiny amounts of food preservatives [such as nitrates] can drastically alter behavior in some people. We are dismayed, however, to see the continuing lack of sophistication about TILT in psychiatry. Treatments for behavioral problems routinely rely upon use of synthetic drugs that clearly affect behavior, including bipolar disorder, as well as depression, anxiety, and concentration. Innumerable adverse effects, many very serious, result from these therapies, but are deliberately downplayed in drug advertisements.

Every health professional needs to be aware of TILT and ask patients about potential initiating exposures and the plethora of chemicals, foods, and drugs they no longer tolerate. The underlying cause may not be inflammation; inflammation is most likely the result of our exposures to myriad synthetic chemicals, foods and drugs for which people lose tolerance. They may need to avoid certain exposures, e.g., home extermination or off-gassing of new construction materials. Physicians owe it to their patients to understand this disease mechanism so they can explain it to them.

By labeling the growing numbers of chemically induced illnesses as “inflammation,” researchers and pharmaceutical companies are setting inflammation up as THE new target for drug development, meanwhile overlooking the myriad chemical exposures that are ruining so many lives.

A questionnaire called the “Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory” (QEESI) is available, free of charge, and being used by physicians and researchers worldwide to document TILT.

-Dr. Claudia Miller