Bipolar Disorder and Autoimmunity

There are many factors that contribute to bipolar disorder. Among them are genetic, nutritional, life history, and other environmental factors.

Some people with bipolar disorder have high levels of anti-thyroid antibodies (specifically anti-TPO). Thyroid autoimmunity can cause or contribute to bipolar disorder.

Your thyroid levels should be checked regularly and thoroughly, including autoimmune markers. If you have thyroid autoimmunity and bipolar disorder or symptoms thereof, we can take measures to lower inflammation and autoimmunity to improve your mental (and overall) health.


Kupka, R. W., Nolen, W. A., Post, R. M., McElroy, S. L., Altshuler, L. L., Denicoff, K. D., et al. (2002). High rate of autoimmune thyroiditis in bipolar disorder: lack of association with lithium exposure. Biological Psychiatry, 51(4), 305–311.

Lithium May Affect Thyroid Function Through inhibiting Tyrosine Utilization

Lithium is an essential nutrient and important in brain health. It has been shown to decrease stress reactivity, improve GABA function, and help with bipolar disorder and other forms of depression.

Unfortunately, pharmacological doses (300mg+) of lithium carbonate have been shown, in some people, to interfere with the production of another essential factor in mood and brain health: thyroid hormone. Lithium use is frequently associated with goiter and hypothyroidism. Nevertheless, in severe cases of bipolar disorder, the adverse effects on thyroid function have been seen as acceptable (with reservations) by mainstream medicine in light of the beneficial effects of lithium on mood and functioning. Thankfully, lithium does not appear to contribute to thyroid autoimmunity.

Goiter and hypothyroidism are exacerbated by iodine insufficiency or deficiency and, unfortunately, iodine levels in the general population here in the US have been declining over the last few decades due to inadequate intake of iodine-rich foods (like seaweed) and iodine-supplemented table salt.

To my knowledge, nutritional doses (5mg-30mg) of lithium orotate have not been studied in the literature for their effects on thyroid function. I suspect that the dramatically lower doses of lithium usually administered for nutritional supplementation (as compared to pharmacological dosing) are insufficient to cause appreciable decline in thyroid function, but this has yet to be studied specifically.

One major biochemical mechanism of benefit from lithium is the moderation of dopamine and other catecholamine “spikes” associated with mania and psychological stress. Lithium seems to help moderate catecholamine spikes in part through inhibition of tyrosine utilization to form dopamine, although the mechanism is not completely understood.

Tyrosine is not only used for catecholamine production, but is the primary precursor for thyroid hormones T3 and T4. The thyroid gland uses tyrosine to create thyroid hormone, and lithium has been shown to decrease circulating levels of tyrosine as well as inhibit thyroid tissue’s ability to utilize tyrosine. The connection between lithium administration and decreased thyroid hormone production (hypothyroidism) is quite possibly due to decreased availability of tyrosine for the synthesis of T3 and T4.

This begs the questions:

  1. Do nutritional doses of lithium suppress thyroid function?
  2. Would co-administration of tyrosine (and/or iodine) ameliorate the decrease in thyroid function caused by lithium administration?

I would love to see some studies done on this question. If you know of any studies or have other comments, please comment below.


Inhibitory effect of lithium on uptake and incorporation of tyrosine into protein in three thyroid preparations in vitro. – PubMed – NCBI.

Laakso, M. L., & Oja, S. S. (1979). Transport of tryptophan and tyrosine in rat brain slices in the presence of lithium. Neurochemical Research, 4(3), 411–423.

Marcus, S. R., Nadiger, H. A., Chandrakala, M. V., Rao, T. I., & Sadasivudu, B. (1986). Acute and short-term effects of lithium on glutamate metabolism in rat brain. Biochemical Pharmacology, 35(3), 365–369.

McFarlane, H. G., Steele, J., Vinion, K., Bongiovanni, R., Double, M., & Jaskiw, G. E. (2011). Acute lithium administration selectively lowers tyrosine levels in serum and brain. Brain Research, 1420, 29–36.

Kupka, R. W., Nolen, W. A., Post, R. M., McElroy, S. L., Altshuler, L. L., Denicoff, K. D., et al. (2002). High rate of autoimmune thyroiditis in bipolar disorder: lack of association with lithium exposure. Biological Psychiatry, 51(4), 305–311.

Increased Air Pollution Associated with Autism Risk

A study published in March 2015 showed that children whose mothers were exposed to the highest levels of Particulate Matter size 2.5 (PM 2.5) while pregnant were almost twice as likely to develop autism as compared to mothers exposed to the lowest amounts of PM 2.5. See this link.

Particulate matter in the air enters the bloodstream and breaks down important barriers between cells, leading to inflammation and autoimmunity. See this link. Autism is strongly correlated with autoimmunity. See this link . Fetal development is a sensitive time for the developing immune system.

Utah, where I live, is consistently in the highest quartile of PM 2.5 during the winter months because of a weather pattern we call “inversion”. During a winter inversion, air in the populated valleys does not circulate and particulate matter is trapped in living areas. See  this link.Utah also has higher than average autism prevalence compared to other states. See this link .

If you live in Utah or other areas where inversions occur, you may wish to plan your conception in the springtime so that you’re not exposed to higher levels of PM 2.5 during pregnancy.

Pediatric special needs clinician training conference



Nicholas Hundey, the director and founder of MindWhale Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah recently attended the MEDMAPS (Medical Academy of Pediatric Special Needs) 2016 Fall Educational Forum September 8-10, 2016. This conference attended by leading medical professionals in the field of pediatrics from around the world, including medical doctors, nurses, pharmacists, certified nutritionists, and biochemists.

The three-day conference training was aimed at training participants in Functional & Translational Medicine in the field of neurodevelopmental disorders and special needs children. Participants learned about modern and innovative biomedical treatment options for children with special needs, especially for children on the spectrum or struggling with ADD/ADHD.

Nicholas hopes that more people will be able to learn about these science-based and effective treatments for autism and other brain health concerns. He is “impressed with the grounding in science and care for these individuals and their families. I am excited to improve the health of these individuals through these approaches and bring back happiness and ease to the lives of my patients.”

Some of the topics covered at the recent MEDMAPS conference include assessing and addressing problems with the following issues in individuals on the spectrum:



*Heavy metals and chelation



*Food sensitivities



*Mitochondrial function

*Blood brain barrier

And a lot more.


If you want to learn more about MEDMAPS, you can see their website at


Upcoming Event: “Brain Health: The Key to Mental Health, Happiness, and Productivity ‘Open Access’ lunch with Nicholas Hundley”



Come see our resident expert, Nicholas Hundley, speak on Thursday, September 15, 2016 at 12:00 noon in Salt Lake City.

Class description:

Your brain is an organ, just like any other organ in the body. Unlike other organs, however, the symptoms of an unhealthy brain don’t show physically and are more subjective. Brain health problems manifest as fatigue, brain fog, difficulty focusing, depression, poor memory, scattered thoughts, anxiety, low mood, frustration and anger, sensory overload, and more. More severe cases of poor brain health result in autism, schizophrenia, OCD, and other mental illnesses.

The current healthcare model still focuses on drugs as a cure-all, when in fact science is showing amazingly effective methods of addressing brain health at the root cause.

In the talk, you will learn:

The true causes and contributors to poor brain health
How to evaluate your brain health and ensure you have a healthy brain.
How to maximize your brain health for optimal mood, productivity, happiness, focus, sleep, and more.
How to help loved ones struggling with mood or mental problems.

Q&A will be held at the end of the meeting.

Link to the Event page

Nicholas Hundley, MS, CNS, is the director and founder of The MindWhale Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah. He specializes in mental health nutrition, helping clients with a wide range of mental disorders to recover and live happy, productive, meaningful lives. In contrast to the traditional psychiatric healthcare model, Nicholas identifies and treats the root causes of brain health imbalances for genuine and lasting transformation.

Nicholas has a master’s degree in biochemistry and has studied brain health and illness extensively. He worked for several years in medical laboratory research. Since his transition to the clinic, he has translated his knowledge of brain and body chemistry to helping individuals overcome lifelong challenges they didn’t know they could overcome.

For more information check this link. See you there!

How to make Broccoli Sprouts

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What you need:

  • 2 tbsp. of organic broccoli sprouting seeds
  • Wide mouthed quart jar with sprouting lid (you can buy sprouting lid here).
  • Water (room temperature)


  1. Place the organic broccoli seeds into a jar. Cover the seeds with a few inches of room temperature water. Let them soak overnight in a warm place.
  2. After 8 to 10 hours drain the water off.
  3. Rinse the broccoli seeds with fresh water; do this 2 to 3 times a day for 4 to 5 days. Make sure to drain off all the water after each rinsing to prevent spoiling.

It will take about 2 to 3 days before the sprout will start to show, so be patient.  When your sprouts have grown a few centimeters long with defined yellow leaves, move your jar out into a place with indirect sunlight. It will help your sprouts to use the light and grow faster. Remember that you must keep rinsing at least twice daily, because the sprouts can dry out fast in hot and dry environments.  You can tell if the sprouts are ready when the leaves turn darker green and have grown an inch or longer in length. You can now eat and enjoy your broccoli sprouts plain or on salads.

Read about Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts for Autism

Benefits of Broccoli Sprouts for Autism

One double-blind placebo-controlled study shows that autistic individuals who received 46%, 54%, and 42% of sulforaphane (broccoli sprout extract) were much or very much improved on social interaction, aberrant behavior, and verbal communication, respectively.

Thirty-five percent of participants on sulforaphane improved at least 30% on the ‘Social Responsiveness Scale’ compared with no improvement on placebo. Additionally, 60% of participants receiving sulforaphane improved substantially on the ‘Aberrant Behavior Checklist’ compared with only 20% improving on placebo.

If a drug did what sulforaphane does, we’d all have heard of it and it would be all over the news as a miracle drug for autism. No joke. But of course, since it’s a natural compound and not patentable and big bucks can’t be made, most don’t hear about it, unfortunately. Maybe if we all share it, those people who desperately need this information will get it.

See how to make broccoli sprouts


Singh K, Connors SL, Macklin EA, Smith KD, Fahey JW, Talalay P, Zimmerman AW.  Sulforaphane treatment of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 28;111(43):15550-5.


Nutritional Roots of Postpartum Depression and Other Postpartum Mood Disorders

Postpartum depression is extremely common. You are not alone. In fact, depression is the #1 complication in childbirth. Postpartum depression is a result of diminished functioning of the brain that is not your fault, and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you. Postpartum depression is a brain health issue that can be resolved.

Are you suffering from Postpartum Depression? Take this online quiz to see if you may be suffering from postpartum depression


You can address postpartum depression through steps I’ll outline in this article.

The brain requires adequate levels of nutrients and hormones to function properly. Because the growing baby demands so much of the same nutrients and resources, pregnancy regularly depletes key nutrients in mothers. This often results in insufficient nutrients for normal functioning of the brain, which can have severe consequences if it isn’t addressed appropriately. When the brain doesn’t have the nutrients it needs, the most common symptoms are anxiety, depression, OCD, heightened sensitivity to trauma, and sometimes even psychosis (break from reality).

Psychiatric drugs are sometimes helpful and necessary in the short term. However, to address the root causes of postpartum depression, nutrition needs to be assessed and replenished. This way, the brain has the capacity to create the neurotransmitters necessary for calm and happiness.

Common Causes of Postpartum Depression

Researchers have uncovered nutritional associations with postpartum depression and developed methods of addressing nutrient depletion in a way that improves brain function in pregnant and postpartum mothers.

Lowered Hormones

For good reason, postpartum pregnancy is often blamed on the hormone slump that occurs after the baby is born. Certain hormones (such as progesterone and T3) make you happy, and when they’re suddenly gone, the brain suffers.

Hormone depletion is often caused by nutrient depletion. Because of this, the post-baby slump in hormones (and mood) is decreased if nutrients are replenished. For example, low progesterone levels are associated with low zinc levels and too-high copper levels. Zinc is an incredibly important mineral that is often depleted in pregnant and nursing mothers. Therefore, zinc and copper levels should be assessed in women with postpartum depression. If you’re experiencing a major depressive or psychotic episode, you may ask your doctor for a progesterone injection, in the meantime, while you are getting to the bottom of the problem.

Low thyroid functioning is a common cause not only of postpartum depression, but many other cases of depression as well. About 7% of women get postpartum thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid) in the first year after giving birth. Thyroiditis is associated with nutrititional factors that are too complicated to go into here, but iodine levels and unnoticed food sensitivities often play a role. These factors can be checked and addressed for optimal thyroid functioning and therefore optimal brain functioning.

Other Nutrients Involved in Postpartum Depression

Pregnancy places a lot of demands on iron stores. Iron is of course essential for blood, but it is also essential for brain function and mood. You should have your iron levels and other causes of anemia assessed if you’re pregnant or suffering from postpartum depression.

Essential fatty acids are another crucial brain chemical essential for brain function. Pregnancy depletes store of omega–3 fatty acids, and keeping them high during pregnancy and after pregnancy is important.

There are many other nutrients and nutritional factors related to postpartum depression. Additionally, these nutrient deficiencies can be present at other times of life and may or may not cause full-blown symptoms.

Get Help Now

At MindWhale, we specialize in finding the nutritional roots of mental illness and supporting your brain’s biochemistry for optimal functioning. We assess nutritional status and help you quickly understand your brain biochemistry so that you can move on with your life, empowered, happy, and free. Contact us for an assessment of your situation.

Call (385) 202-5154

Or have us contact you:Have us contact you

Watch Nic's Story of Depression and Anxiety

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Zinc and Diminished Taste Perception in Autism

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Children and adults with autism perceive sensory stimuli such as light, sound, taste, and touch differently than the average person.

At the bottom of this difference is imbalanced neurochemistry. Often times, this neurochemistry can be re-calibrated to bring sensory perception closer to the normal range. This re-calibration often results in substantial improvements in mood, social interaction, and behavior, partly due to increased comfort and ease.

Temple Grandin, a famous individual on the autism spectrum, stated that ‘eating problems usually have a sensory basis.’ She is exactly right. Taste perception is altered in autistic individuals, and therefore dietary preferences are altered as a result.

An essential ingredient not only for proper taste perception, but for proper functioning of other forms of sensory perception, is the mineral zinc. Without enough zinc, the neurons and brain cannot process sensory input correctly. This is just one of thousands of reasons zinc is essential for optimal functioning of anyone, not just those with autism.

Interestingly, autistic individuals consistently have low amounts of zinc in their bodies. Is this a coincidence? Not at all. Zinc supplementation has been shown to recover taste perception in certain individuals who have lost it. In addition to taste perception, zinc has a fundamental role in addressing many of the core problems in ASD including, not surprisingly, sensory perception. Does this mean that zinc supplementation is going to cure autism? No. There are more problems occurring in autism than just low zinc. Zinc is, however, a powerful addition to the a comprehensive approach to addressing autism.

At MindWhale, we assess your zinc status as part of the initial consultation. See the box below for more information, and call us at (385) 202-5154.

How Emotional Health and Brain Health Affect Your Results in Life

By mastering your emotions, you learn to create the results you want in the five key areas of life: Personal Fulfillment, Relationships, Spirituality, Career & Finances, and Physical Health.

For example, brain health and emotional wellness result in:

  1. Personal Fulfillment
    1. Enjoying leisure time and doing activities you love
    2. Learning skills or going on trips you’ve always wanted to go on
  2. Spiritual Growth
    1. Forging a deeper connection with your Higher Power
    2. Unveiling and living your purpose in life
  3. Loving Relationships
    1. Attract a loving partner with your positive personality
    2. Connect with your children in a healthy, authentic, nurturing way
    3. Confidently find and keep true friends who fully satisfy your social needs
  4. Career Success
    1. Find the confidence to increase your income, change careers, build a business, or work more energetically
    2. Truly love what you do for a living
    3. Happily tackle your budget, savings plan, and investment strategies
  5. Healthy Body
    1. Stick to a workout regimen you enjoy
    2. Savor healthy food on a daily basis
    3. Enjoy energy, vigor, and lasting bodily health

Take the time to focus on yourself and your health and emotional growth.

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