Metabolic Psychiatry: A Unifying Theory of Mental Illness

Audio only version

May 15th, 2024
Dr. Christopher Palmer

Show Description

In this episode of The MindHealth360 Show in conjunction with the How To Academy, distinguished Harvard psychiatrist and prolific researcher Dr. Chris Palmer unveils his pioneering insights into how metabolic processes underpin mental disorders, challenging traditional psychiatric paradigms.

Dr. Palmer leads the Metabolic and Mental Health Program and directs the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital. He is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His revolutionary work advocates for the medical ketogenic diet and a metabolic approach as a treatment for psychiatric disorders, proposing significant shifts in how we understand and treat mental illness.

Insights from Dr. Palmer Include:

  • Dr. Palmer’s evidence-based theory that mental disorders – whether psychiatric or neurological – are metabolic diseases affecting the brain and involving dysfunctional metabolic processes which can be fixed
  • The role of inflammation in metabolic dysfunction and its impact on mental health
  • How mitochondria in the brain are not only the power houses of cells and mental energy production but also regulate neurotransmitter production, immune response and inflammation 
  • How enhancing mitochondrial function can dramatically improve mental and neurological health
  • How trauma and stress affect mental health via their effects on metabolic health
  • How ADHD and the phenomena of hyper-focus and distractibility can be explained in terms of metabolic activity in the brain 
  • How diet, and in particular low glycemic and ketogenic diets, can affect metabolism and mitochondria and dramatically improve outcomes in psychiatric and neurological patients, when traditional therapies often fall short
  • The comprehensive strategies Dr. Palmer recommends, encompassing dietary changes, lifestyle adjustments, sleep hygiene, and nutritional supplementation to improve mitochondrial health, and therefore mental health

About Dr. Christopher Palmer

Podcast guest photo

Dr. Christopher M. Palmer is a Harvard psychiatrist and researcher working at the interface of metabolism and mental health. He is the Founder and Director of the Metabolic and Mental Health Program and the Director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital and an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. For almost 30 years, he has held administrative, educational, research, and clinical roles in psychiatry at McLean and Harvard. He has been pioneering the use of the medical ketogenic diet in the treatment of psychiatric disorders—conducting research in this area, treating patients, writing, and speaking around the world on this topic. Most recently, he has proposed that mental disorders can be understood as metabolic disorders affecting the brain, which has received widespread recognition in both national and international media outlets.

Show Notes