Metabolic Adjustment Theory
of Depression and Weight Gain

Author: Mark J. Mason

The Theory

This theory proposes that when an essential nutrient, that is needed to keep a person alive, drops below the level needed to keep the person alive, the pituitary gland in the brain (controlled by the hypothalamus), will reduce the amount of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) it secretes until the metabolic rate of the person is low enough to slow down the bodyís biochemical reactions to the point where there is, again, enough of the essential nutrient to keep the person alive at this lower metabolic rate. This person will then have a lower than optimum metabolic rate, until such time as he or she starts consuming a sufficient quantity of the essential nutrient in question. This lower than optimum metabolic rate may cause the person to become depressed, gain weight, and suffer from any of the diseases associated with weight gain, such as diabetes, and heart disease. Eventually, however, it could reach the point where the metabolic rate canít be reduced any lower, and the person will die from the effects of the nutritional deficiency. It should be noted that the hypothalamus will also, in this situation, keep the person feeling hungry more of the time, in the hope that if the body eats more food it might get more of the nutrient(s) it desparately needs. This will, of course, add to the person's weight-gain problem.

The theory further proposes that Vitamin B17 is the essential nutrient most often deficient in modern diets, even apparently healthy ones, and that the epidemics of depression, weight gain and diseases caused or aggravated by weight gain, and finally cancer, in our society, are largely caused by dietary deficiencies of this one nutrient. Vitamin B17 is a cyanide containing vitamin (like cyanocobalamin, the most common synthetic form of Vitamin B12). It was isolated and named by the biochemist Ernst T. Krebs Sr., and it is present in substantial amounts in the seeds of fruits of the Rose family, such as apples and apricots, and in small amounts in some other foods.

It should be noted that the FDA in the USA, and similar authorities in many other countries, and western medicine in general, do not recognize Vitamin B17 as a vitamin. This lack of recognition could well be a reason why deficiency is so common, even in otherwise healthy diets. Vitamin B17, also known as Laetrile, is believed by many to be an anti-cancer agent Ė a kind of targeted natural chemotherapy agent that kills cancer cells and only cancer cells, and so has no adverse side effects. The theory is that it is a part of the natural way that all mammals defend themselves against cancer. Vitamin B17 consists of a cyanide molecule bonded to a benzaldehyde molecule and two glucose molecules. The bonding to the glucose renders both the cyanide and the benzaldehyde in Vitamin B17 non poisonous, but the theory is that at the site of cancer cells there is an enzyme present that can release the cyanide and benzaldehyde from the B17 molecule, and that the cyanide and benzaldehyde working synergistically then kill cancer cells. To find out more about this theory, I refer you to the book World Without Cancer by G. Edward Griffin. (You can also go to the World Without Cancer website by clicking here, and watch a YouTube video of a woman who cured herself of five cancers using vitamin B17 by clicking here. The cheapest place to buy good "Apricot Power" brand bitter apricot kernels is online from and type "Apricot Power" in the search box. Some apricot kernels for sale in health food stores are not bitter and would not, as a result, appear to have any appreciable vitamin B17 content.) That cancer can be healed by Vitamin B17 has long been known, and is not a part of the Metabolic Adjustment Theory of Depression and Weight Gain. That the body adjusts to a shortage of Vitamin B17 by lowering its metabolic rate, since (if the bodyís other cancer fighting resources have also been exhausted) it will get cancer and die if it doesnít, and that this lowered metabolic rate causes many other conditions such as depression, weight gain and weight gain related diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, is a part of this theory ó indeed it is the essence of it.

How, According to this Theory, Sickness Results From a Lack of Vitamin B17 in the Diet

This theory assumes the commonly held belief in scientific circles that most people have relatively fewer cells going cancerous when they are younger, but as they get to middle age, their cells turn cancerous at a higher rate, partly because the cells are older and more likely to be damaged, and partly because they have been exposed to carcinogens for longer. The theory suggests that the tiny amount of Vitamin B17 in the typical diet is enough (along with the bodyís other anti-cancer resources, which some believe includes pancreatic proteolytic enzymes) to kill off the cancer cells that appear in most young people, but at some time in middle age, that varies from person to person, it reaches the point where there is not quite enough Vitamin B17 to kill off all the cancer cells. If there is, say, a 3% deficiency, the body will reduce its metabolic rate by 3%. This will slow the chemical reactions in the body down by an average of 3%, and there will again be enough Vitamin B17 in the diet, for a while, to kill off all the cancer cells that are appearing. Later the body may have to reduce the metabolic rate even further, to, say, a 10% reduction. At some point persistent hunger will start to plague the person, and depression and weight gain, which are so common in middle-aged people, will usually begin to be a problem. Weight-gain related illnesses might also occur. Eventually it will often reach the point where the body canít reduce its metabolic rate any further, and an increase in the number of cells turning cancerous means some of those cells canít be killed by the available Vitamin B17. At this stage the person will get cancer, and will likely die of it.≠

Predictions of this Theory

This theory predicts that at any point in this progression of illness, short of getting cancer (and even then, most often, if the cancer is not too far advanced), adding sufficient Vitamin B17 to an otherwise healthy diet, including at least 2000 mg of Vitamin C a day, will halt the progression of these diseases, and, in time, reverse them. (The theory suggests that elevated Vitamin C levels are needed, amongst other things, to produce the collagen needed to replace the cancerous cells that are killed.)

In particular, this theory predicts that in most cases of depression, and many cases of weight gain, thyroid hormone tests will show T4 levels to be near the low end of the normal range or lower, and TSH levels will be fairly normal, and not highly elevated. It is for patients with test results like these (and only for them) that this theory predicts that a genuinely nutritious diet, including sufficient extra Vitamin B17, will, within a few months, and often as soon as one month, bring T4 levels up to a higher level, usually to the middle or upper part of the normal range, and that a lessening of depression, an abating of feelings of constant hunger, and weight loss will soon follow, leading to a return to good health within about a year.

This theory also predicts, quite obviously, that if the metabolic rate of such patients is artificially raised by giving them thyroid hormone supplements (when the body is trying to reduce the metabolic rate to protect against cancer), then cancer will frequently follow.

For the purposes of these predictions, sufficient extra Vitamin B17 is between 10 and 20 apricot kernels per day (starting with one a day, then building up by one extra a day to 10 to 20), accompanied by at least 2000 mg of Vitamin C a day.

Note that if low T4 levels are accompanied by very high TSH levels, it is an indication there is thyroid dysfunction that needs to be addressed. In this situation, Vitamin B17 will not be able to raise T4 levels, and thyroid hormone supplements would not be expected, in general, to bring on cancer at an elevated rate.

This Theory Explains Leptin Resistance in Obese People

Leptin is a hormone secreted by fat cells that signals to the hypothalamus that a person has had enough to eat, and the hypothalamus' response is to supress the appetite and make the person have a feeling of satiety. Much of the time, this is what happens, but not always. Most obese people have been found to have "leptin resistance." This means that despite the fact that their fat cells produce much more leptin than normal, the leptin doesnít cause the hypothalamus to supress their appetite. Many reseachers consider this a malfunction in the bodies of obese people, but other researchers consider it may confir some survival value. I am of the latter point of view.

I would suggest that leptin is the signal that tells the hypothalamus that the body has eaten sufficient calories, but that the hypothalamus is also aware of whether the body has eaten sufficient food to supply all the other essential nutrients as well. As has been stated earlier, this theory proposes that it will only be if all essential nutrients have been supplied that the hypothalamus will supress the appetite and make the person feel sated. If the body is short on one or more essential nutrients, it is in its best interests to eat more so it can have a chance of getting more of the essential nutrient(s) it is short of. So, I propose it is not that the hypothalamuses in obese people are resistant to leptin's message that the body has eaten enough to get the calories it needs. Rather it's that leptin's message is just part of the overall story about whether the body has eaten enough, and the hypothalamus will only supress the appetite when the body has obtained enough of all the essential nutrients it needs.

Yes, the apparent "leptin resistance" is confiring a survival advantage: it is protecting the body against the consequences of a deficiency of one or more essential nutrients. In the case of Vitamin B17 deficiency, it is protecting the body against cancer, and that certainly is a survival advantage!

This theory would predict that leptin resistance would not so much be a function of how overweight people are, but of whether they are getting all the nutrients they need. It would predict that people who have a metabolic rate at the low end of normal or lower and who are gaining weight, would have, in most cases, more leptin resistance than much more obese people who have a higher metabolic rate, and are beginning to lose weight.

The Observations that gave rise to this Theory

My former wife, Joanne, a few years ago, when we were still married, suffered from depression and weight gain. She was started on the SSRI drug Zoloft, which did alleviate the depression, but had side effects that were unacceptable to her. Under the supervision of her doctor, she gradually reduced the dose and stopped taking Zoloft, hoping she would no longer need it. Unfortunately, the depression returned. At this point, I did some internet research, and found out that many doctors believe that much, if not most, depression is caused by low metabolic rate, rather than by seratonin deficiency. So to see if this could be the case for her, we made a doctors appointment to get a blood test for thyroid hormones. When the results came back, her T4 level was near the low end of normal, which the doctor thought was adequate, since it was, just, in the normal range, and her TSH level was pretty much normal (certainly not highly, or even noticeably, elevated). From the normal TSH level, we concluded that she didnít have thyroid dysfunction, and from the T4 level being near the low end of normal we considered it was possible that her depression was being caused by low metabolic rate. We went ahead and made an appointment for her to see a specialist endocrinologist, but had to wait about six weeks for that appointment.

During the first of those six weeks, I did internet research about what could be causing a low metabolic rate if it wasnít a dysfunctional thyroid (which the normal TSH level ruled out in this case). When the thyroid is functioning adequately, the brain controls the metabolic rate by the hypothalamus sending thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) and Somatostatin to the pituitary gland in the brain via a blood portal system, and the pituitary gland sending TSH to the thyroid, via the general blood stream, to control the level of thyroid hormones. The thyroid hormones, T4 and T3 then control the metabolic rate of all the cells in the body. Now why would the brain lower the metabolic rate to the point where it was sub-optimal? Surely there would have to be a reason for that? Yet I couldnít find a reason why the brain might be doing that in my internet research. The closest I could get was an article about some case studies where people had a rare form of benign tumor in the brain that pressed against the pituatary and reduced its secretion of TSH. This made me think of Vitamin B17, that is thought to be able to not only kill cancer cells, but also shrink and eliminate benign tumors. I thought, why not give it a try? We purchased a one pound bag of apricot kernels from a local health food store, and Joanne and I both started taking them, building up to seven kernels a day over a seven day period. We continued taking about seven kernels a day for the next four weeks leading up to her appointment with the endocrinologist. The endrocrinologist arranged for Joanne to have another blood test for thyroid hormones just prior to the appointment, for his up-to-date information in assessing her case. At the appointment we learned that the test showed her T4 level had risen to being well into the top half of the normal range ó up from near the bottom of the normal range after just four weeks of taking a relatively moderate supplement of Vitamin B17! That was incredibly exciting to us, but baffling to the endocrinologist, even though I tried to explain it to him. He basically just said Joanne didnít seem to have a metabolic rate problem, so she didnít need his help.

This dramatic increase in Joanneís metabolic rate to an optimum level also jibed with the fact that she was already starting to feel a little less depressed toward the end of those four weeks, and hadnít gained any extra weight during that time. We continued taking the same level of apricot kernels after that. A month later she was feeling a lot less depressed, and was starting to lose a little weight. Two months later she was not at all depressed, and had lost quite a few pounds. After being on Vitamin B17 for about four months total, she went back to Australia to live. I didnít want to return to Australia, for various reasons, including the fact that Iíd just become a US citizen, and that I had self published a book in the USA, that I would have had to abandon if I left. Our separation led to our divorce. About a year later, though, I made a trip to Australia, and visited Joanne to give her some things of hers Iíd brought back for her. She was now as slim as the day we met, if not slimmer, and looked wonderful. I asked her about the depression, and she said it hadn't come back, and that she was sure it was the apricot kernels that healed her.

After the appointment with the endocrinologist, I really began to think about what the mechanism could be for this striking result. Before this I had been putting on some weight myself ó gaining some middle-aged spread, as it were. I had decided to take the apricot kernels myself, along with Joanne, thinking that they might help ward off any cancers that might be lurking within me. By the time of the appointment with the endocrinologist, I had begun to lose a little weight myself, and over the next month lost quite a bit more, and soon returned to being my former slim self, and I have stayed that way ever since. It would be extremely unlikely that both of us would have had that rare benign brain tumor pressing on our pituitaries. No, there had to be a more universal mechanism at work.

There obviously needed to be a very good reason why the brain would reduce the bodyís metabolic rate to a sub-optimal level. It would have to confir an overall advantage to the body ó meaning that the advantage gained would have to outweigh the considerable disadvantages of a lower metabolic rate, including depression, weight gain, and all the other diseases weight gain can bring on. Also, it had to be linked to the function of Vitamin B17, since the metabolic rate rose again very quickly when there was enough Vitamin B17 in the diet. So, the body reduced its metabolic rate when there was a deficiency of Vitamin B17, and Vitamin B17ís only previously documented function was to protect the body from cancer. Could the reduction of metabolic rate and the protection against cancer be linked? On pondering this question, it occurred to me that if the brain lowered the body's metabolic rate, it would be lowering the rate of all the chemical reactions occurring in the body, and lowering the amount it needed of all the precursor molecules needed for those chemical reactions, including the amount of Vitamin B17 needed to protect against cancer! If the body were getting 2% less Vitamin B17 in its diet than it needed, and it reduced its metabolic rate by 2%, it would then have enough of it again to kill off all its cells that went cancerous! That certainly met the criteria I had set that the advantage confired would have to outweigh the considerable disadvantages of having a reduced metabolic rate! The advantage is no less than protecting the body from getting cancer! Seeing this for the first time, I was in awe of the bodyís intelligent ability to regulate and protect itself!

After this, I looked further into the function of the hypothalamus, which ultimately controls the bodyís metabolic rate, and realized it does all sorts of things to control the bodyís health, and ward off disease. The hypothalamus controls the bodyís temperature, its sensations of hunger, thirst and fatigue, and its circadian cycles including when we sleep. It is aware, and responds to light and dark, smells, including pheromones, information transmitted via the autonomic nervous system from the heart, stomach and reproductive organs, substances in the blood including insulin and glucose, stress, and invading organisms. It responds to invading organisms by increasing body temperature to help the body fight them off. With regard to its autonomic functions (those we donít have to think about), the hypothalamus really is the bodyís command and control center! If the hypothalamus can be aware of bacteria invading the body, and raise the body temperature to help the body fight them off, it seems only reasonable that it could also be aware of cancer cells proliferating in the body, and help the body fight the cancer through one of the functions it controls ó the bodyís metabolic rate.


I cannot recommend to others that they take the approach, outlined here, that Joanne and I used to reverse her depression and weight gain. Firstly, Iím not a doctor, and secondly, there is not enough evidence for the theory Iíve proposed to have any degree of confidence that it would be of help. At the moment it is just a theory, with very little evidence to support it. As they say, ďOne swallow doesnít make a spring.Ē If, however, you do choose, of your own accord, to try an approach to reversing depression and/or weight gain similar to that described above, I hope you will keep a good record of what you do, and will email me with your method and results. It is only if a sizable body of evidence builds up that this theory works, that it will be taken seriously enough to get widespread publicity, and will be able to benefit large numbers of people. Also, if it turns out that the theory isnít born out in general, and Joanneís dramatically improved health was just a special case, then we need to know that, too, so the world can keep searching for the cure for these metabolic diseases. So, please contact me with your method and results, or any questions about what we did:

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Thank you.

June 9, 2011

Copyright © 2011, Mark J. Mason

Again, those links mentioned earlier:
The World Without Cancer website: here
The YouTube video of a woman who cured herself of 5 cancers using vitamin B17: here
The cheapest place to buy good "Apricot Power" brand bitter apricot kernels is online from (type "Apricot Power" in the search box). also has great discounts and rewards on a wide variety of health products.

Click here for the home page of my book, In Search of the Loving God, which includes two complete chapters from the book:

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