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Filtering by Category: mental health

My secret love affair with Harry Selfridge

Aisling FitzGibbon

It must have been the cold winter months when I normally cocoon in front of the fire that I was drawn into the seductive world of Harry Selfridge. His smouldering brown eyes lit by the twinkle of a rogue caused me to fall in love with this rebel of a man who changed forever the retail world. Yes I know he’s dead, well the real one is anyway, and I’m engaged but feelings are feelings. I blame Netflix. Who wouldn’t love Harry’s creativity, his energy, his utter self -belief? I was mesmerised by this colossus of a man who linked pleasure to shopping and who encouraged women to shop unchaperoned for the first time. Harry’s character, immortalised by the TV network series Selfridges has captured the imagination of the public (I’m not alone) who are left wondering how a man who once had it all could have ended up destitute at the end of his life. 

Maybe you know someone like Harry- incredible entrepreneurs who when things are going well make rash impulsive decisions and risks that negatively affect their business. What causes men like Harry to find themselves embroiled in destructive dalliances or who addict so much to work that their home life suffers? Is there an underlying biochemical issue that propels them away from the empires they create, causing them to risk it all?

Harry Selfridge was a man who was highly driven and motivated. He was also very competitive and wanted his emporium to be the best in the UK. Harry was what we would call a classic undermethylator, one who is driven by perfectionistic traits and a strong desire to succeed. Dr Bill Walsh, author of Nutrient Power,  found that 38% of people with depression were undermethylators and he also stated that there are plenty of people who are undermethylators who are not depressed but who are driven by their inner biochemistry to succeed at all costs. Harry Selfridge had a high libido (an undermethylators trait) as evidenced by his relationship with the Dolly sisters who cost him a considerable fortune by gambling 5 million pounds by today’s standards. It was reported that he once offered one of them 10 million dollars to marry him! A fit of madness you might think, but addicts care little for doing the sensible thing. At a time when he should have relaxed to enjoy the fruits of his labour Harry was rushing to clubs and casinos. His nickname of “a mile a minute Harry “ really suited him.

Addiction is fuelled in part by a biochemical craving for a dopamine hit. Scientists have looked at the link between lower levels of dopamine and ADHD. ADHD behaviour can cause impulsive behaviour and a tendency to acting first and thinking later. There can be lack of attention to detail. Low levels of dopamine are linked to high copper levels and low zinc. I would imagine that Harry Selfridge had lower dopamine levels that made him prone to take huge financial risks and gamble his fortune. He also did not attend to the fine print of his spending that soon went out of control.  

Our dopamine levels are drained by stress. Toxins of all kinds such as air fresheners, perfumes, cosmetics and  soap also decrease dopamine levels.  Dopamine is released in high amounts with sugar, alcohol, nicotine and gambling(2-10 times higher than normal) The greater the surge of dopamine the more you feel pleasure and the more driven you are to do it. This is what creates the addiction cycle. Unfortunately the dopamine receptors downregulate when over stimulated, leaving a person needed more and more outside stimulation. 

Dopamine is the celebrity of brain chemicals and one of its functions is the pleasure pathway. Unfortunately the dark side of pleasure is addiction. David Linden PHd, a neuroscience professor at John Hopkins School of Medicine and author of The Compass of Pleasure: How our Brains make Fatty food, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijauna, Generosity, Vodka, Learning and Gambling Feel so Good said that most people are able to achieve a certain degree of pleasure with only moderate indulgence but those with blunted dopamine systems are driven to overdo it. In order to get to the same set point of pleasure that others get so easily with two drinks at the bar and a laugh with friends they need 6 drinks at the bar to get to the same thing. Although drinking gives a temporary hit of dopamine overtime you can develop a progressive tolerance of alcohol. Alcohol depletes zinc and this starts a downward cycle of craving more alcohol.

Harry Selfridge who had clawed his way up from being a 14-year-old stockroom boy in Chicago to becoming an international retailer, eventually blew his 60 million fortune on reckless gambling, womanising and out of control spending. The sad thing about Harry is that he could never enjoy what he had as he was constantly leaping ahead to the next thing in the constant drive to needing more and more. Could he have been governed by his biochemistry that eventually had him ousted from the empire he had served to create? Did his quest for a dopamine hit lead him to take more and more risks? Did his undermethylation issues, that predisposed him to being highly motivated drive him eventually to addiction. 

I am lucky to be able to offer blood tests in my practice that test for methylation status and zinc levels. This takes away the guess work and provides a scientific baseline for clients to see where they are at and where they need to be. Depending on whether you are under or over methylated will determine your prescription for nutrients. I offer individualised plans that are tweaked on my weekly coaching programme.

If you want to work with me please fill in my clarity call application. 

A Simple Blood Test Can Transform Your Life

Aisling FitzGibbon



Let this year be a time when you begin to understand your energy and mood. A simple blood test can give you an insight into your own unique biochemistry and can explain why you feel the way you do. 

Our inner biology can determine how we feel, how we respond to others, how creative and motivated we are and how we manage stress in our lives. This is why no amount of positive thinking or mindset work can be fully effective if our inner chemistry simply isn’t functioning optimally.

Due to a combination of genetics (what we inherit from our bloodline) and epigenetics (how we are influenced by what we eat) we can incur deficiencies that affect our mindset. A simple blood test can reveal our own unique biochemistry that shows what nutrients are deficient and what nutrients are in overload.  It can explain why moods can cycle from being happy and positive one minute to feeling depressed and down in the dumps the next. A simple blood test may explain why some people are prone to explosive rages and fractured relationships. It may even reveal why some people can make grandiose plans and yet are unable to carry them out. 

Having the privilege of training with Dr Bill Walsh, author of Nutrient Power , has deepened my understanding of mental health. Conventional psychiatry views depression as coming from a single entity of low serotonin activity and treatment involves making more serotonin available for the brain.  Dr Bill Walsh’s understanding of depression has come from a wealth of research of over 2,800 people with depression. Examination of the blood results repeatedly showed that the blood of those with depression was different from the general population and that nutrient overloads could be more problematic than deficiencies. Inspired by Dr Carl Pfeiffer and having collaborated with him, Dr Bill Walsh separates depression into five major chemical classifications or biotypes, only two of which have problems with serotonin levels.  

1)   38% of those with depression will exhibit undermethylation as their dominant chemical imbalance and will experience the classic symptoms of low serotonin. These people report better mood with SSRI medication. They respond negatively to folates.

2)   20% of those with depression will be in the overmethylation biotype. They often have anxiety along with depression and will have elevated serotonin and dopamine and an intolerance to SSRI medication.

3)   17% of those with depression will have copper overload with elevated norepinephrine. 96% in this category are women and will experience their first depressive episode following a hormonal event such as puberty, childbirth or the menopause.

4)   15% of those with depression will be in the Pyrrole biotype and will experience a nasty double deficiency of serotonin and GABA (chief calming neurotransmitter). Both Emily Dickinson and Charles Darwin had all the classic signs of pyroluria. 

5)   5% of those with depression will suffer from a toxic metal overload that can alter the concentration of certain neurotransmitters.

We all need a healthy functioning neurotransmitter system to carry messages between our brain cells. This system can affect our mood, our memory, our cognitive function as well as other physical processes such as our heart beat and our body temperature. We are not born with a supply of neurotransmitters so they need to be made on a daily basis from the nutrients we consume such as from amino acids, vitamins, minerals and trace minerals. Serotonin, for example, is produced from the amino acid tryptophan but the final step in the conversion process requires vitamin B6. Zinc and B6 are required for the production of GABA, a neurotransmitter that helps relieve anxiety. Vitamin B12, a B vitamin that may be deficient in vegans and vegetarians, is essential for healthy neurotransmitter levels and its lack can cause cognitive changes such as memory decline, depression and elevated levels of homocysteine.

In my practice I am delighted to be able to offer blood testing as part of my Health Coaching protocol.  Based on the results of your biotype I will help design a programme that suits your nutritional needs to help normalise brain chemistry. As we are biochemically different a one size fits all approach is short sighted and what works for one person may not work for another.  For instance those with an overload of copper, methionine, folic acid or iron are likely to deteriorate if they take a multivitamin supplements containing them.

Healing our inner biochemistry not only helps to heal depression but in some cases it can affect future generations if undertaken prior to conception. For example undermethylation can alter gene programming during pregnancy where epigenetic errors can be transferred to future generations. An undermethylated in-utero environment can result in life long vulnerability to oxidative stress and may contribute to autism in the next generation.

If you are interested in working with me please fill in my clarity call application