ZINC DEFICIENCY LECTURE by  DR CARL PFEIFFER IN 1984

I had zinc deficiency myself then. My mouth was full of mercury amalgam fillings and I needed around four zinc supplement tablets a day. The fillings were replaced and these days I seldom have zinc supplements.

Carl Pfeiffer1 was 76 when he lectured in Melbourne, Australia, 4 years before he died. He was as sharp as a tack, answering a question from the audience which the much younger moderator didn't understand. He started with the history of discovery of zinc deficit2 in the Middle East, mentioning the unleavened bread diet (with phytates preventing absorption of what little zinc was there3.)

He then immediately started on schizophrenia, as mental disorders were his main field of study. Depressed levels of zinc and elevated copper levels are typical of that condition. Kryptopyrrole (mauve factor) present in 30%, robs the body of zinc and vitamin B 6.

He next mentioned factors such as lack of sleep and oral contraceptive medication, which can also depress zinc levels, as does copper excess if drinking water reticulated through copper pipes. The upper limit for copper in drinking water should be 0.05 to 0.1 ppm, but can be 10ppm in some bore water and in hot water tanks. In kidney disease, zinc is lost due to albuminuria (protein in urine.)

He quoted early research showing brains from autopsies on schizophrenic people had low zinc levels, but this appears to have been refuted.4 However recent research has shown that tissue biopsy from the nose can allow one to obtain neurones for testing from living people, with little discomfort and risk. This is allowing study of neuronal metabolism in schizophrenia.5

Talking about pyroluria, he said it is associated with depression, school phobia, delinquency, dysperceptions, amnesia and confusion. Symptoms seen with it include painful knees, splenic pain which can cause scoliosis, stretch marks, white spots on fingernails, crowded upper incisor teeth, acne, cystitis, oedema, otitis media, hypogonadism, amenorrhoea and all girl families (as males were miscarried.)

Pyroluria also removes vitamin B6 and if one is deficient in B6 one cannot use zinc adequately. The hair analysis will then show increased zinc despite deficiency. Combined zinc and B6 deficiency can cause amenorrhoea in young women. He went so far as to say even apparently healthy people deserve a trial of B6 and zinc, to see if they feel better and recall dreams better.

Continued B6 and zinc deficiency probably contribute to cancer. He commented that one sees a lot of cancer in older members of families with pyroluria.

He reminded us that vitamin B6 can be toxic in excess, first described in two women taking it for PMT in doses of 2-6gm per day and on no other treatment. The dose should be enough to have dream recall. Taking it with zinc protects against neuropathy. If paraesthesiae develop, B complex should be added as well. B6 is best taken early in the day, to avoid insomnia.

Zinc supplementation lowers manganese, so he always includes 50mg of Mn with the 30mg of zinc (and B6.)

References for zinc deficit

1. Dr. Carl Pfeiffer story

2. Another pioneers' story

3. About soil zinc deficiency

4. Regional zinc staining in postmortem hippocampus from schizophrenic patients. Adams et al

5. study of olfactory neuroepithelium of schizophrenia patients


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Mercury exerts toxicity by replacing metals such as zinc and magnesium but not doing their normal job. One way of reducing this toxicity, is to flood the system with more Zn to compete for positions in enzymes.

The mauve spot was discovered in urine from experiments with LSD and then in schizophrenia, by Abram Hoffer's laboratory in 1957.

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