Bitter Pills

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about Glennon Doyle Melton, an author who shares her struggles on coping as a mother at momastery.com. I got a bit of flack for making the connection of the typical American “healthy” diet with her difficulties, but in fact the Internet is teaming with moms sharing their heartaches dealing with depression and lack of energy as they try to care for children (often very sick children)—and with far fewer resources than Doyle Melton enjoys. These problems—in both the moms and the children—could be greatly alleviated by embracing a nutrient-dense diet that contains lots of butter, cream, whole raw milk, egg yolks and old-fashioned foods like liver and cod liver oil, and getting rid of processed foods, even so-called healthy processed foods like granola and almond milk. My remarks were not meant to be critical in any way, but to indicate a solution—the right diet really can help kids and their parents to be healthy and happy.

Bitter PillsWhat kind of future is in store for American moms who eat according to government guidelines—lowfat, wrong fat, lots of whole grains, dutiful dry vegetables, lean meat, skim milk, diet sodas, etc? Or for moms who don’t pay any attention to their diet at all, and live on fast food and sugary treats?

A recent article in the September 1, 2016 Washington Post gives us a window on the future for millions of American women. The authors detail the life of Karen Franklin, age 60, who takes more than a dozen prescription drugs per day to deal with chronic pain, which started seventeen years earlier with a single prescription for the pain reliever Vicodin. At that time she lived in her own home and managed a grocery store. But side effects soon emerged—anxiety, sleeplessness, depression—and with each new symptom came more pills and increasing addiction to cigarettes and vodka. Now she is jobless and lives with her eighty-eight-year-old father. Her main food is chocolate Ensure.

This is a long way from the comfortable and conscientious life of Doyle Melton, but affluent women are not immune from similar fates. The standard American diet—whether the “healthy” kind or a diet based on processed concoctions like Ensure—eventually leads to depression, anxiety or some kind of painful injury that doesn’t heal, and then the anti-depressant and painkiller trap begins, with patients often getting prescriptions from multiple physicians. Sometimes the downward spiral leads to outright heroin addiction, as was the case of the young and lovely Alicia Campbell from a well-off family, one of the many opioid epidemic victims in America’s agribusiness heartland.

These tragic outcomes seem to strike disproportionately among women. Between 1999 and 2014, the number of middle-aged white women dying annually from opiate overdoses increased 400 percent, according to an analysis of CDC data. Anti-anxiety drugs contribute to a growing share of these deaths. These depress the central nervous system to temporarily relieve pain and anxiety, but also depress breathing, heart rate and the gag reflex. They are especially dangerous when combined with alcohol. And when they stop working, desperate women often turn to heroin—real or synthetic.

Solutions proposed include focus groups, better communication between prescribing physicians, and a return to hormone replacement therapy for menopausal women, all of which beg the question: why do these women feel so anxious, and why are they in so much physical pain? Pain immediately after an injury is normal, but injuries that won’t heal and lingering pain is not.


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Most people would laugh if you told them that the fundamental solution is to eat lots of animal fats. After all, we have now had almost seventy years of conditioning that makes us feel guilty for eating butter, and creates the impression that it is vulgar to cook in lard. We are in our third generation of processed foods based on vegetable oils, and we know from Pottenger’s cat studies, each generation gets weaker until breeding ceases or the young fail to reach adulthood.

What’s in animal fats that can protect us against anxiety and pain? First and foremost is cholesterol, which is the body’s repair substance, needed in large amounts after any injury. And the receptors for serotonin, the body’s main feel-good chemical—require cholesterol to work. Many other components of animal fats—such as saturated fat, arachidonic acid, and vitamins A, D and K–play numerous roles in helping the body repair after injury and regulating our moods.


Many are turning to cannabis for help in dealing with pain. But the body makes its own endocannabinoids—exactly the same substance that occurs in marijuana—and these can help the body modulate pain naturally. We make these endocannabinoids out of an omega-6 fatty acid called arachidonic acid, which occurs uniquely in animal fats like butter, egg yolks, cream and lard.

To anyone struggling with anxiety, depression and chronic pain, my first suggestion would be butter, butter, butter! Eat half a pound per day, along with several egg yolks. At the same time, get off all products that contain industrial seed oils, which basically means all processed foods, including awful concoctions like Ensure. This one step alone can go a long way to mitigate pain and ease depression and anxiety—and best to do this when you are young so that your later years are joyful and pain-free, as they should be.

The Weston A. Price Foundation has received many testimonials from women who have found that eating lots of animal fats has a mellowing effect on their moods. Consider supporting their work by being a member.

Author: Sally Fallon Morell

Sally Fallon Morell is best known as the author of Nourishing Traditions®: The Cookbook that Challenges Politically Correct Nutrition and the Diet Dictocrats. This well-researched, though-provoking guide to traditional foods contains a startling message: animal fats and cholesterol are not villains but vital factors in the diet, necessary for normal growth, proper function of the brain and nervous system, protection from disease and optimum energy levels.

4 thoughts on “Bitter Pills”

  1. Sally, being a leader in any field is leaving yourself open to getting a flacking. I agree with your take on Glennon Doyle. I have seen her interviewed many times recently and while I see how she is an inspiration to many, I too have thought (without seeing her kitchen) that she was in need of some balance and maybe that is from the inside out. Hold firm Sally, your work is not fly by night, it is strong and steady based on evidence and experience. Thank you for your good work and how you have influenced not only my family’s health but also my work, which although is juicing based it is viewed through a wholefood perspective. Connie http://www.juicingkids.com

  2. Kellybroganmd.com shes a practicing psychiatrist who requires a real foods diet. She wont write Rxs anymore either.
    Shes on ur side 🙂

  3. I love how practical and direct your writing (and your approach is), Sally! I can’t thank you enough for helping so many of us improve our lives, through eating real foods.

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