Dr. Murphree's Health News
Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
January 2004
(updated January 2006)

Mood Disorders & Orthomolecular Medicine

Depression and mood disorders affect over 17 million Americans. Prozac was cleared by the FDA in 1988. By 1994, it had become the fastest growing prescription drug in America with sales over $1.2 billion. In one year, 1993, prescription anti-depressant drug sales grew by almost 20%. Prescription drugs have helped millions of people overcome their depression. However, prescription medications are not effective for everyone. They have side effects that can be life- threatening. Prozac has been associated with over 1,734 suicide deaths and over 28,000 adverse reactions.

From Death and Near Death Attributed to Prozac, Citizens Commission on Human Rights. •Whittle TJ, Wiland Richard, The Story Behind Prozac the Killer Drug, Freedom Magazine, 6331 Hollywood BLVD., Suite 1200 Los Angeles, CA 90028.

Prescription anti-depressants may cause depression, addiction, suicidal tendencies, tardive dyskinesia (involuntary muscle spasms), sexual dysfunction, and Tardive dementia (senility). These side effects are due to poor liver function and drug-induced nutritional deficiencies. Metabolizing these anti-depressants uses up essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids and may create nutritional deficiencies. These deficiencies then lead to further symptoms including depression.

Talking Back To Prozac, by Peter R. Berggin, M.D.

The June 1990 Health Letter, published by the Public Citizen Health Research Group, estimates that muscle tremors, or akathisia, affect a whopping 15 to 25% of Prozac patients. Akathisia is a medical term for a condition characterized by inner tension or anxiety that drives or compels afflicted individuals to move their bodies.

Prescription anti-depressants attempt to increase the brains efficiency in using adequate amounts of neurotransmitters. Prozac is classified as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI). Other SSRI's include Zoloft, Paxil, and Lexapro. These medications inhibit the destruction of serotonin. This allows more time for more serotonin to circulate in the brain. But no one has a Prozac or SSRI deficiency. A serotonin deficiency, yes. But is prescription medication always necessary? Using SSRI's is similar to using a gasoline additive in an empty gasoline tank. Most individuals with mood disorders have been running on fumes (low serotonin or other neurotransmitters) for years. A gasoline additive isn't going to help. Some individuals do notice an improvement for a period of time but then their nutritional deficiencies begin to rob them of what little serotonin they have left. Once their serotonin is used up they are left to try yet another anti-depressant. Is it any wonder these individuals are depressed? There is a better way. Why not just correct the nutritional deficiencies? Why not pour gasoline into the tank? Forget the gasoline additive. Let's just fill the tank back up with serotonin.

Nutritional Deficiencies

Medical science has now determined that how we feel is largely controlled by the foods we eat and how well these building blocks are converted into brain transmitting chemicals called neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that control our moods. You may remember that chains of essential and non-essential amino acids make up proteins. Many of these amino acids are converted into neurotransmitters. The brain needs adequate amounts of protein and their amino acids for the production of neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitters include serotonin, dopamine, gamma amino butyric acid (GABA), and norepinepherine.


Serotonin elevates mood, reduces food cravings, increases pain threshold, promotes deep sleep, relieves tension, and calms the systems of the body. Serotonin is created from the amino acid, Tryptophan. Gamma amino butyric acid (GABA) is a tripeptide made from three amino acids. It is an inhibitory hormone and has a calming affect on the brain. You may have heard of prescription anti-depressants that are called monoamine oxidase inhibitors or MAO inhibitors. Nardil and Marplan are MAO inhibitor drugs. MAO inhibitors and some tranquilizers (Xanax) work by increasing the effectiveness of the neurotransmitter GABA. This is another example of using a gasoline additive. Why not just use GABA? Dopamine and norepinepherine increase mental and physical alertness, reduce fatigue, and elevate moods. Dopamine and norepinepherine are synthesized from the amino acid, phenylalanine.

Orthomolecular Medicine

A group of progressive-minded physicians helped pioneer a new way of treating mental disorders. In 1968, Nobel Prize-winner Linus Pauling, Ph.D., originated the term "orthomolecular" to describe an approach to medicine that uses naturally occurring substances normally present in the body. "Ortho" means correct or normal, and orthomolecular physicians recognize that, in many cases of physiological and psychological disorders, health can be reestablished by properly correcting, or normalizing, the balance of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and other similar substances within the body.

The premise of orthomolecular medicine extends back to the 1920s when vitamins and minerals were first used to treat illnesses unrelated to nutrient deficiency. During that time, it was discovered that vitamin A could prevent childhood deaths from infectious illness, and that heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) could be stopped by dosages of magnesium. Like their more conventional colleagues, orthomolecular physicians acknowledge that mental disorders originate from faulty brain chemistry. However, unlike their more conventional colleagues, orthomolecular physicians rely less on prescription medications. Instead, orthomolecular psychiatrists recognize the important role nutrients, including amino acids, play in creating and regulating neurotransmitters. They then seek to uncover any nutritional deficiencies that may be causing mental disorders. Once these deficient nutrients are found, they are replaced to provide optimal levels needed to correct the neurotransmitter dysfunctions.

Perhaps the greatest contributions made by orthomolecular medicine involves psychiatric disorders. Psychiatrist, and one of the founding fathers of orthomolecular medicine, Abram Hoffer, M.D., and Humphrey Osmond, M.D., began using large doses of niacin, along with other medicines, to successfully treat schizophrenics. Their studies showed that niacin, along with standard medical therapy, doubled the number of recoveries in a one-year period. Even today, many physicians neglect the role proper nutrition plays in relation to our health. The prevalent notion, and a grossly incorrect one, is that a balanced diet will supply all the nutrients needed for the body to work properly. This draconian thinking flies in the face of the research that shows up in our very own medical journals. The majority of American diets are deficient in many of the vital nutrients needed for good health. Complicating the matter is the reliance on the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for proper vitamin and mineral doses. The RDA originated in the 1940s and has had only minor increases since its beginning. Yet, individuals in our society are bombarded with over 500 toxic chemicals on a daily basis. This is combined with the fact that our food supply is processed and grown in nutritionally depleted soil.

The concept of biochemical individuality is based on the work of Roger J. Williams, Ph.D. In treating his patients, Dr. Williams realized that each individual is unique. Although the government minimum, or RDA, for nutrients may prevent severe deficiency disease, orthomolecular physicians say that these levels do not provide for optimal health, and people may need many more times the RDA levels. For example, studies of guinea pigs show a twenty-fold variation in their requirements for vitamin C. Similar studies have been done in humans, and children have been shown to have varying needs for vitamin B6.

In 1987, Richard Kunin, M.D, of San Francisco, California, summarized the principles of orthomolecular medicine.

1. Nutrition comes first in medical diagnosis and treatment, and nutrient-related disorders are usually curable once the nutritional balance is achieved.

2. Biochemical individuality is the norm in medical practice; therefore RDA values are unreliable nutrient guidelines. Many people require an intake of certain nutrients far beyond the RDA suggested range (often called mega doses), due to their genetic disposition, and/or the environment, in which they live or work.

3. Drug treatment is used only for specific indications and always mindful of the potential dangers and adverse effects.

4. Environmental pollution and food adulteration are an inescapable fact of modern life and are a medical priority.

5. Blood tests do not necessarily reflect tissue levels of nutrients.

6. Hope is the indispensable ally of the physician and the absolute right of the patient.

Megadoses: are they safe?

One of the arguments against megavitamin treatment is that high doses of certain vitamins are toxic and may cause certain adverse reactions.

A major study, however, indicates that the total number of fatalities from overdoses, or adverse reactions, from prescription medications is the cause for over 106,000 deaths a year.

The total number of deaths from vitamin/mineral therapy during the years of 1983 to 1990 is zero. Nevertheless, we are aware that problems can occur with megavitamin or herbal therapy. If symptoms arise, reducing or stopping the therapy will almost always terminate any side effects. Once again, working with a physician who specializes in vitamin/mineral or herbal therapies is highly recommended. In the three years we've been using orthomolecular doses of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids, both intravenously and orally, there has not been a single major side effect.

(Kunin, R.A., M.D."Orthomolecular Psychiatry," The Roots of Molecular Medicine: A Tribute to Linus Pauling, ed., R.P. Heumer, M.D. New York: W.H. Freeman and CO. 1986,180-213.)(Woods, K.; et al. Intravenous Magnesium Sulfate in Suspected Acute Myocardial Infarction: Results of the Second Leicester Intravenous Magnesium Intervention Trial (LIMIT-2)." Lancet 339 No. 8809 (June, 1992):1553-1558)

Depression, mental fatigue, and mental confusion share several underlying causes

Poor Sleep
Poor sleep depletes mood-controlling neurotransmitters including the happy hormone, serotonin. Decreased serotonin leads to depression, mental fatigue, lowered pain threshold, and sugar cravings. The amino acid Tryptophan is converted into serotonin. Low-protein diets, malabsorption disorders, and nutritional deficiencies can contribute to serotonin deficiencies.

Protein Deficiencies
Low-protein diets, poor digestion, and malabsorption syndromes contribute to amino acid deficiencies. Remember, amino acids, along with certain vitamin and mineral co-factors. create the neurotransmitters.

Nutritional Deficiencies
Nutritional deficiencies are quite common in America. In one study up to 50% of patients admitted for hospital care had nutritional deficiencies.
Roubenoff R, et al, Malnutrition Among Hospitalized Patients: Problems of Physician Awareness. Arch Intern Med 147:1462- 1465.1987

Fifty% of the population is deficient in magnesium.
Rogers SA, Tired or Toxic?, Prestige Printing, Box 3161, Syracuse, NY 13220, 1990.

A chromium deficiency, which is especially common among those taking cholesterol-lowering drugs, can cause hypoglycemia and mood disorders.
Anderson RA, Poansky MM, Bryden NA, Canary JJ, Chromium Supplementation of Humans with Hypoglycemia. Fed Proc 43:471,1984.

A deficiency in any of the B vitamins can lead to depression, brain fog, and mental fatigue. Magnesium and vitamin B6 are co-factors in the production of dopamine, GABA, and serotonin. Birth control pills and Premarin can deplete B6.
Russ C, Hendricks T, Chrisley B et al. Vitamin B6 Status of Depressed and Obsessive-Compulsive Patients. Nutr Rep Intl 1983; 27:867-873

Vitamin C helps produce dopamine, norepinepherine and serotonin. It plays a major role in the production of the adrenal hormone adrenaline. Adrenaline is the fight-or-flight hormone. A deficiency in adrenal function can contribute to fatigue, depression, and confusion.

A deficiency of any of the essential nutrients can create a chain reaction leading to all sorts of mood disorders, anxiety, depression, and panic disorders

Allergic Disorders
Food and chemical sensitivities can cause all sorts of symptoms. Allergic inflammation of the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract causes irritable bowel. Allergic inflammation of the nasal membranes creates sinusitis. Allergic reactions in the respiratory tissue creates bronchial spasms (asthma). Allergic reactions can also occur within the brain, creating mental confusion, depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.

Amino Acids and Orthomolecular Medicine

Most individuals who consult their medical doctor for mood disorders are placed on prescription medications. Many of these anti-depressants are in the form of selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRI). These drugs (Lexapro, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Zoloft) are supposed to help the brain be more efficient at using the serotonin it produces. And, as I've already stated, it is analogous to a gasoline additive to help your car get more mileage out of the gasoline in your tank. Unfortunately, many of these individuals don't have any serotonin in their tanks and they are running on fumes. Since their brain isn't making serotonin, an additive isn't going to help.

Where do the neurotransmitters come from?
Neurotransmitters are brain chemicals that help relay electrical messages from one nerve cell to another. Neurotransmitters are produced from the amino acids in the foods we eat. Amino acids join together in different patterns to form a protein. Eating a protein-rich food allows us to replenish our ongoing demand for the essential amino acids. Half of the amino acids are essential. This means our bodies can't manufacture them and we must get them from the foods we eat (protein). Certain amino acids, along with vitamins (B6, B3, C) and minerals (magnesium), produce the neurotransmitters. The amino acid Tryptophan turns into serotonin. The amino acid phenylalanine turns into epinephrine. Amino acids are the raw nutrients needed to manufacture the neurotransmitters which regulate our moods.

What do neurotransmitters do?
Neurotransmitters help regulate pain, reduce anxiety, promote happiness, initiate deep sleep, boost energy, and mental clarity. The neurotransmitters that cause excitatory reactions are known as catecholamines. Catecholamines, epinephrine and norepinepherine (adrenaline) are derived from the amino acid phenylalanine. Inhibitory or relaxing neurotransmitters include serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).The neurotransmitter serotonin is produced from the amino acid tryptophan. GABA is produced from the amino aid glutamine.

Correcting the cause of mood disorders.
No one is born with a Prozac deficiency. However, people can develop a serotonin deficiency. Using a SSRI doesn't correct the cause. If someone is out of gas (serotonin), why would you use a gasoline additive (SSRI)? Why not fill the tank (brain) up with gas (serotonin) instead?

I've been using amino acid replacement therapy for several years and have found this approach to be far superior to using prescription medicines (in most cases) for treating mild to moderate mood disorders. I've treated thousands of patients with mood disorder. Over the years, I've used various questionnaires or tests to determine which amino acids needed to be recommended. On the next pages you'll see questionnaires which provide quick and accurate assessments diagnosing a person's brain chemistry. I've found very few problems with mixing amino acid therapy with prescription anti-depressants. However, you may wish to work with a health-care professional familiar with orthomolecular or amino acid therapy.



Did your doctor tell you that Antidepressants have actually been shown to increase the risk of suicide. Prozac® alone has been associated with over 1,734 suicide deaths and over 28,000 adverse reactions. Prescription antidepressants can cause anxiety, depression, addiction, suicidal tendencies, poor sleep, sexual dysfunction, fatigue, weight gain, confusion, involuntary muscle spasms, and senility.

Antidepressants can actually deplete serotonin. Studies now show that SSRIs eventually cause the brain to release less and less serotonin.

Up to 70% of those taking antidepressant drugs would see the same benefits from a placebo (SUGAR PILL)



I receive many letters and emails and really appreciate hearing about your experiences. This is what keeps me going and keeps me excited about helping others. Here are some recent letters. Dr. Rodger Murphree

From Father Tim Bryant, Montgomery Alabama
I am a chaplain in the United States Air Force. I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia (FMS) 7 years ago. After nearly 7 years of problems sleeping, I decided I could no longer handle tossing and turning through the night and the psychological stress of facing bedtime wondering what the night would bring. I was surprised by the diagnosis as I thought it was a syndrome that affected only women. I knew something about FMS because my mother was one of the very early diagnoses after the syndrome was identified. Over the course of the last 7 years my doctors have prescribed many different medications to help me get a good night's sleep. All of them were helpful to a degree or for a period of time. However, none of them allowed me a really deep, good night's sleep and all of them had unwanted side effects. Last year, I told my doctor I couldn't deal with the "hangovers" anymore in the morning from my medications. He suggested I try Trazadone. While this helped me to get into a fairly deep sleep, there was something better to come along - 5 HTP! I was at my local Natural Food Store one afternoon when I saw a poster announcing that a doctor from Birmingham was going to be speaking about "treating and beating" fibromyalgia at one of our local universities. My first reaction was skeptical. Would it be possible to "beat FMS?" Yet, I figured there may be some new information out there about "treating" it that could be helpful. So, I went. Dr. Murphree explained how recent research indicated that FMS patients' brains do not create enough serotonin. That intrigued me. I knew serotonin was essential for sleep. Could it be that simple, I wondered? Worth a try, I thought! So, I bought some 5-HTP after the lecture and began taking it according to Dr. Murphree's directions. Within 3 days, I was sleeping as soundly as when I was in college. No kidding! That was 3 months ago. The deep, sound sleep I now experience has contributed significantly to my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being. As an example, in the military we are required to do physical exercise (running 1.5 miles) 3 times a week. I could not do this without significant pain that lingered for up to 3 days, sometimes making it impossible for me to pass my fitness tests. This was stressful emotionally as well as physically. Now, I have no pain from exercising. I'm serious! As a chaplain, I don't believe in coincidence. I believe God made sure I saw that announcement and attended that lecture. Every night I ask God to bless Dr. Murphree in his important work. Because of him I am better able to do my important work... serving my God and my Country!