According to federal data, over 40% of prison inmates are diagnosed with a mental disorder. A 2014 study found that more than 50% of prisoners who were taking psychiatric medications before incarceration were not receiving their meds in prison. Those who are often deal with debilitating side effects.
For prison psychiatrist Dr. Carol Saur, these statistics are not surprising. She has seen first-hand the struggles that people in prison face including lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and lack of socialization. Conditions like these, Dr. Saur says, often lead to anxiety, stress, anger, moodiness, self-injurious behaviors, and even violence. Additionally, many inmates are struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Working With Inmates
In her extensive experience working in the New Mexico prison system, Dr. Saur treated inmates with conventional psychiatric medications, having come from a traditional psychiatric background. But after a while, she says she became disillusioned with the results.
“[With medications], depression usually doesn’t resolve completely, many other problems do not resolve completely, and there are multiple possible side-effects from these psychiatric medications as well. So I started looking elsewhere hoping that I would find something else that would help people,” Dr. Saur explained.
The first time she heard about Hardy’s Daily Essential Nutrients clinical strength broad-spectrum micronutrients, was at an integrative medicine health convention where the 30+ independent university studies supporting the supplement were featured. Shortly thereafter, Dr. Saur began a fellowship at the Integrative Psychiatry Institute where the Daily Essential Nutrients were featured once again. This time, she decided to give them a try with her patients.
“I was working in the prison system at that time and we picked three patients who were particularly difficult and not really very treatable with their current medications. Nothing was really working very well. We tried Daily Essential Nutrients on them and everybody saw what happened and was amazed at the results.”
Trying Micronutrients With Inmate Patients
Over the course of a couple of months, the three test patients experienced decreased anger outbursts, irritability, and physical problems like tremors. They also exhibited an increase in social engagement, empathy, and even seemed to smile more, according to prison staff.
“This was astounding to all of us!” recalled Dr. Saur.
While taking Daily Essential Nutrients, Dr. Saur also noticed her patients had tremendously decreased self-harm behaviors such as biting and headbanging.
“They’re in better control of their behavior, and they interact much more appropriately with other people instead of just acting like other people are not there. There’s an appropriate and normal give-and-take between them and other people.”
Dr. Saur says she has always approached treating her patients by looking at the whole picture. So when it came to trying Daily Essential Nutrients, she wanted to start slowly. This method was especially important, she says, for patients who were on psychiatric medications. In those cases, it was imperative to monitor their medications simultaneously in order to determine if they could be tapered off over time as they worked up to the full clinical dose of the micronutrients.
“We titrated them up starting with one pill, three times a day, and went up by one pill, three times a day every few weeks. So by the end of the month or so they were taking four pills, three times a day.”
After a few months, Dr. Saur thought it would be appropriate to try decreasing the patients' psychiatric medications, and found she was indeed able to do that successfully.
“It takes a while for most patients to notice a lot of difference with Daily Essential Nutrients. It really depends on their diagnosis and how severe their symptoms are. Some people might not see very much happening, maybe a little decrease in depression or fewer anger outbursts, and it seems to take a month or two before you see a whole lot of results,” she explained. "But they're in better control of their behavior and they interact much more appropriately with other people."
Overall, her patients reported an increased sense of well-being, feeling less depressed, enjoying life more, and feeling more socially and physically active.
Dr. Saur explains that before coming to prison, many inmates did not have access to proper nutrition. Some suffered from PTSD and ADHD, which can cause chemical and structural changes in the brain.
“I bet at least 90% of the patients that I’ve interviewed in the prison system have a history of at least one or more head injuries that no one has attempted to treat and because they have poor nutrition, it’s not gonna get treated. Most of them have done drugs, many of them have had anoxic injuries because of trying to hang themselves. A good share of people in the prison system have ADHD. Daily Essential Nutrients is good for addressing all of those issues,” Dr. Saur reports.
First Line of Defense Treatment
Based on her experience implementing Daily Essential Nutrients into a few patients at the prison, Dr. Saur believes this could be an effective way to treat other inmates.
“I would like to see Daily Essential Nutrients offered as one of the first-line treatments for anybody that has a mental health issue in the prison system. The reason I say that is because I have seen Daily Essential Nutrients markedly decrease violence, behavioral dyscontrol, depression and improve sleep.”
Daily Essential Nutrients is currently FDA approved as an investigational new drug for the treatment of ADHD and has been clinically proven safe and effective for the treatment of ADHD in double-blind studies. It is also backed by multiple independent university studies for a wide range of mood and mental health disorders including anxiety and depression.
In the big picture, Dr. Saur believes Daily Essential Nutrients could be a cost-effective way to make sure every prisoner who comes into the system is still able to be treated. While medication has its place, especially in the short-term, clinical-strength micronutrients have been shown to be a safe and effective first line of defense against mental illness which also address nutrient deficiencies so prevalent in the prison population.
“Good nutrition first, before trying psychiatric medications which often can be very expensive...It’s a better treatment anyway because so many of them have nutritional deficiencies, so it’s actually addressing the root cause of why they have the psychiatric issue to begin with,” said Dr. Saur.
“I do believe immensely this can decrease dangerousness in the prison system both for the inmates and for the people that work there.”
At least three double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trials have shown that nutrition can make a difference in prison populations when it comes to violence. Researchers at a maximum-security US hospital showed reductions in the incidence of violent and nonviolent offenses in juvenile delinquent youth—predominantly in subjects whose blood samples showed evidence of improved nutritional status.
Research from several United Kingdom universities showed reductions in prison offenses (including violence or serious rule violations) in hundreds of young adult prisoners.
In another study, researchers from a Netherlands university and the Netherlands Ministry of Justice also found fewer aggressive and rule-breaking behaviors in young adult prisoners.
Dr. Charles Popper, Harvard psychiatrist and psychopharmacologist, who recommends Daily Essential Nutrients to his own patients, commented on these independent double-blind studies: "Especially in view of the minimal side effects, the three [randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials] in young incarcerated offenders are sufficient grounds to proceed now with [micronutrients] implementation in correctional facilities."
Growing Body of Independent Research
Daily Essential Nutrients is backed by a growing body of independently-funded university research. It has been clinically proven to help with stress, anxiety, mood swings, depression, bipolar disorder, PTSD, sleep, and ADHD. Learn more at HardyNutritionals.com/studies