A Harvard Psychiatrist Rethinks Mental Health As A Metabolic Disease

Episode 575 1h 9m


The common medical approach to psychiatric disorders, from schizophrenia to anxiety, is to treat the symptoms.

But the truth is that we just don’t know how the biological, psychological, and social risk factors and symptoms of these problems all fit together. We don’t know what the underlying pathology is. For example, if it’s due to a chemical imbalance, what is the cause of that chemical imbalance?

I was excited to sit down with Dr. Christopher Palmer who is disrupting the paradigm of psychiatry, to talk about new ways of treating psychiatric disorders, specifically with the ketogenic diet and mitochondrial repair.

Psychiatric disorders are some of the most debilitating, devastating, and expensive health issues, and rates are climbing. Diet is usually the last resort that conventional practitioners take in treating patients with these problems, which is why Dr. Palmer’s work is so revolutionary. Throughout this episode, he shares some truly amazing stories about patients struggling with severe psychiatric illnesses that are able to regain health, along with greater quality of life and independence.

The ketogenic diet is often touted for weight loss but its origins are in brain support, specifically for epilepsy. Now, we’ve seen it can be therapeutic for a range of issues that we blame on the brain, but are in fact issues of inflammation and metabolic and mitochondrial dysfunction.

Diet isn’t a magic bullet for everyone with mental illness, but it’s often a safe change that can lead to some improvement. Combine that with things like targeted supplements, improved sleep, social support, exercise, light therapy, and other interventions, and many disorders can be dramatically improved and sometimes even reversed.


This episode is brought to you by Butcher Box, InsideTracker, and Cozy Earth. The Doctor’s Farmacy podcast works with a select group of sponsors to allow for ongoing production and allow it to be zero-cost to anyone who wishes to listen to and watch the podcast.

Topics Covered

  • Why mental illness happens and is so hard to treat


  • The patient who changed the way Dr. Palmer treats mental illness


  • The ketogenic diet as a treatment for epilepsy, seizure disorders, and mental health disorders


  • Getting to the root cause of inflammation in the brain


  • Viewing mental disorders as metabolic disorders of the brain


  • Mitochondrial energy deficits in children with autism


  • How to improve mitochondrial function


  • Addressing inflammation in the body


  • Scientifically validating a multifaceted approach to treating mental health disorders


  • Dr. Palmer’s experience treating a child with ADHD


  • Children with high levels of insulin resistance and associated risk for schizophrenia, bipoloar disorder, and depression in adulthood


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Ep. 575 - A Harvard Psychiatrist Rethinks Mental Health As A Metabolic Disease