How Your Mitochondria Control Your Brain Energy

Christopher Palmer, M.D.

A new theory explores how mitochondrial dysfunction cascades into metabolic disorders and then to mental illness.

In this Episode of The Human Upgrade™...

…Harvard psychiatrist, researcher and assistant professor Christopher Palmer, M.D., introduces a bold new premise about the root cause of mental illness based on decades of research. Dr. Palmer integrated existing theories and research into one unifying theory—the brain energy theory of mental illness that’s rooted in your metabolism.

Through his research, he initially pioneered using a medical ketogenic diet to treat psychiatric disorders. In this conversation, you’ll learn how he went even further to uncover the connection between mental health and metabolic disorders of the brain. That connection lies in mitochondrial dysfunction or dysregulation.

“The deeper the dive you do into mitochondria and the decisions or the algorithms that they’re using—because mitochondria don’t have brains, but yet they are behaving in certain ways, they are responding to the environment in certain ways—it starts to mess with almost everything we know about biology,” Dr. Palmer says.

His new book, “Brain Energy: A Revolutionary Breakthrough in Understanding Mental Health and Improving Treatment for Anxiety, Depression, OCD, PTSD, and More,” also explains the increased risk for mental disorders in all metabolic conditions, including diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, pain disorders, obesity, Alzheimer’s disease, and epilepsy.

“Once you see the big picture of metabolism and all of the things that influence metabolism, you actually can see novel ways to intervene,” Dr. Palmer says. “And you can also raise some red flags about some of our current treatments.” Psychiatric medications can impair mitochondrial function and cause metabolic side effects such as weight gain and diabetes and premature cardiovascular disease.

Understanding the important distinctions between mental states, mental disorders and mental illness, prompts a look at different symptoms and a change in treatments.

Watch this episode on YouTube!

“Metabolism is the lowest common denominator of all mental illness.”

Christopher Palmer, M.D.

More about Chris Palmer, M.D.: He’s worked in clinical, research, educational, and administrative roles in psychiatry at Harvard for more than 25 years. He’s currently an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and the director of the Department of Postgraduate and Continuing Education at McLean Hospital.

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