As we have noted before, not every MD in history has recoiled from the food addiction paradigm. A few shining lights have gone on record, and risked being thought of as cranks, or worse.
Sobriety coach Cynthia Perkins is the author of Get Sober Stay Sober: The Truth About Alcoholism. With 21 years of “uninterrupted and craving-free sobriety,” Perkins is living proof of the validity of Dr. Theron Randolph’s ideas. At PlanetThrive, she honors the memory and achievements of this physician who truly strove to understand addiction.
Dr. Randolph taught that cravings originate in neurotransmitters that are deficient or malfunctioning, and the root of addiction is the same whether the substance of choice is alcohol, caffeine, sugar, carbohydrates, methamphetamine, nicotine, or even gambling.
In order for addiction recovery to take place, balance needs to be restored to the neurotransmitters. What causes the unbalanced functioning of neurotransmitters? Here is the list, as conveyed by Perkins:
… [N]utritional deficiencies, candida overgrowth, hypoglycemia, food allergy or sensitivity, healing child abuse issues, hypothyroidism, sugar, caffeine and nicotine and environmental toxins… Our main goal in recovery from any addiction, is to keep the neurotransmitters in balance.
Environmental toxins may exert the worst influence, because they are seldom suspected, and they are usually far beyond our control. When neurotransmitters and reward pathways are out of whack, humans could get sick physically and emotionally, including getting addicted. When the dopamine, serotonin, acetylcholine and norepinephrine are wonky, the habits and behavior will be too.
Perkins gives a blood-chilling example of how this works, according to Dr. Randolph’s discoveries:
If an alcoholic, drug addict, sugar addict etc., who is in recovery works as a pest exterminator or spends time on a golf course that are notoriously polluted with herbicides or has their apartment fumigated for cockroaches, then their neurotransmitters are inhibited and symptoms of anxiety, depression, irritability and confusion develop and then they have cravings for sugar, carbohydrates, caffeine or alcohol and/or drugs to get relief.
Dr. Theron Randolph observed and articulated the complex relationship between food sensitivities, chemical sensitivities, allergies, and addiction. He is called the grandfather of environmental medicine, and although he might have been considered a fanatic, we have him to thank for some of the awareness, and even some of the legislation, that has helped make the world a bit less dangerous.
Another medical maverick was Dr. Douglas Hunt, who specialized in allergies, hormone imbalance, phobias, and obesity, and who had become one of the world’s recognized experts on food addiction. In 1987, when his book No More Cravings was published, Dr. Hunt had treated 50,000 patients, including probably plenty of show business celebrities, because he was headquartered in Southern California. He used to have his own radio show, Alive in L.A. with Dr. Hunt.
Despite being a medical doctor with three years of psychiatric training and a special interest in nutrition — and despite being a qualified and the establishment-approved weight control expert — Dr. Hunt could not help himself or control his addictions. He was in bondage to chocolate and soda pop, which were, he wrote,
[… ] constantly associated in a vicious circle, as chronic and dangerous to my health as any heroin or cocaine habit.
Because of his own experience, he believed that there is such thing as actual physical dependency on certain foods, often very specific ones. One of his patients hid cheese sandwiches everywhere, even in her underwear drawer, so she wouldn’t run short. Another woman was fiercely addicted to apple fritters; and one of his male patients was enslaved to baked goods with added cream cheese and peanut butter.
Baffled by the terrible strength of these consuming passions, Dr. Hunt decided to start from scratch, and devised nutritional solutions that freed many people, including himself, from their addictions. He believed that drug and food addictions, while not identical, are very similar. He saw imbalances as caused by food allergies, vitamin or mineral deficiencies, and what he called “the ultimate unbalancer,” stress.
He, too, identified the problem as out-of-order brain chemical transmissions causing internal miscommunication. For instance, a grossly obese person’s body might be sending messages to the brain that it is starving, so the brain sends messages back to the body saying, “Grab that food and stuff it in your mouth.”
Not with willpower alone, but with carefully chosen and calibrated mineral supplements, Dr. Hunt had quit cold-turkey his two main problem foods — and never looked back.
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