Neurochemistry of War and Peace

By : Dr. D. C. Jain, MBBS, MD, DM
Head of the Department of Neurology
Safdarjang Hospital, New Delhi

Paper presented at 2nd All India Jain Doctors Conference-2003 at Sri Mahavirji


It is believed that violence in the mind comes from outside nut recently, medical scientists have found that it arises from within also. It results from interaction of various chemical substances ingested by men or animals. These chemicals are called neuro-excitatory neurotransmitters. These chemical substances reach to brain and excite the nervous system to compel the person to indulge in violence. This hypothesis support the old proverb "Whatever you eat, so shall you become". It means behaviour is regulated through food. If food is pure. simple. devoid of alcohol, flesh, meat and excitatory foods. Behaviour will be pleasant, tranquillized. But if food is full of excitant foods like alcohol, chilly, flesh, fish, one is bound to be restless, aggressive, indecisive.

Dietary influences on human behaviour has been a subject of scientific studies in recent years. Wurtman, a neuro-endorinologist, working at Massachussette Institute of Technology, U.S.A., has been the pioneer in this field. According to him, it has been found that changes in behaviour is through neuro-transmitters, neuro-modulating substances in the brain. Their levels change according to the type of diet. Thus diet influences the behaviour pattern of brain.

Role of Neuro Transmitters : These are endogenous opiate like substances which are abundantly found in basal ganglia, thalami and brain stem. These substances have pain relieving properties similar to opiates. Certain food substances like curd, carbohydrate rich substances have high concentration of these opiates rise in the brain.

Neuro-Modulators : Cyclic AMP, melatonin, tyramine, putative neuro-transmitters, substance P are other substances which also modify the brain behaviour. Tyramine, immediately after ingestion, produces tachycardia, flushing headache, restlessness, apprehension, excitement. Cyclic AMP is the terminal messanger of any pharmacological or physiological activity. Its levels are influences by A.T.P.

Melatonin is secreted through pineal gland. It resembles in its activity and chemical structure to A.C.T.H. It has been found to regulate the sleep pattern, awake sleep cycle. It maintains the circadian rhythm (Biological clock). Its levels if changed, can lead to insomnia to changes in Biological behaviour.

Evidences which support that diet does influence the brain behaviour are varied. Physiological, pharmacological, clinical epidermiological studies strongly support that behaviour modifies by the type of diet.

Pharmacological Evidences : It has been of daily observation that immediately after administration of catecholamines-excitatory response can be seen. Person becomes apprehensive. Tachycardia, flushing, sweating takes place similar to aggressive behaviour pattern. In contrast to it the hyperactivity of Cerebral neurons can be suppressed by administration of GABA.

Physiological Evidences : Hyperactive and Aggressive individuals have blood levels of excitatory neuro-transmitter especially catacholamines. However no study till date is available to demonstrate positive co- relation to tranquilized states.

Dietary Evidences : It is a common observation that in summers taking of curd mixed with sugar (Lassi) produces sleepness. Similar betel nut produces excitement. Tea, coffee after intake, produce neuronal excitement. Meat diet produces excitement.

Clinical Evidences : In psychiatry practices illnesses like schizophrenia, depression and Mania it has been found that neuro-transmitter levels are modified. Inl Mania, and schizophrenia-catecholamine levels are found to be high, whereas in depression their levels are found to be low. Various therapeutic agents used for the treatment of these disorders alter the levels of CA in the brain. ill Schizophrenia drugs which causes depletion of CA in the brain, like Phenothiazines are being used. In depression drugs which inhibit the degradation CA are used. This observation strongly support that the behaviour modifies with the type of neuro-transmitters present in the diet. However, no clinical double blind control trial has been undertaken to support this hypotheses.

Epidemiological Evidences : Epidemiological survey conducted in carnivorous and herbivorous animal suggest that herbivorous animals are non-aggressive where carnicorous animals suggest that herbivorous animals are aggressive in nature. Carnivorous animals in acute hunger particularly after delivery eat their own new borns to satisfy the hunger. To be more specific cat after delivery eats her own kitten. Herbivorous animals are exceptional in tolerance to hunger and are never aggressive. In human beings such behaviour is not so clearly evident but in a study conducted in U.S. on 7th day Adventist it has been found that vegans have-more tolerance. Their Judgement more accurate, and balanced. Their intelligence is high as compared to non-vegans.

Carnivorous animals have nocturnal restleness. They come out during nights and attack the animals. Their general behaviour is unpredictable. No herbivorous animal kills other animals for food purposes. Studies carried out in Central Jail, Gwalior, shows that diet could modify the aggressive behaviour of prisoners. Double blind control trials showed that the criminals become amenable to reasons. Their sleep pattern changed and they could feel guilty of the crimes committed by them.

In a study done in U.S.A. on insomniacs (Neal Bernard 1985) that carnivorous animals had difficulty in getting sleep after eating meat, whereas dietary modification to vegan diet induced early sleep. Extending this observation to human beings. similar observation has been found. Die rich in carbohydrates particularly sweet dish could induce the sleep very effectively. It could reduce the amount of drugs used for inducing sleep.

Review Of Indian Literature : On reviewing Medical Literature in India -no report is available However, in religious texts, Bhagwat Gita Chapter 3, diet has been classified as Tamsic, Rajsic and Satwic diet. This classification is based totally on the basis behavioural relationship to food. Tamsic diet, consists of rotten food -induced feeling of dullness. Rajsic diet consisting of alcohol, spices, tea, coffee excites the nervous system, whereas Satwic Ahar, consisting of sweets, curd, milk, butter induces tranquillizing actions. Whatever might be the basis of such tranquillizing actions, it is clear that a thought was amongst the people to classify the food on the basis of behavioural changes.

Conclusion : The violence in the mind of men and animals is due to particular type of diet. Meat, alcohol, tea, coffee produces aggression, whereas vegetarian diet consisting of vegetable and fruits has tranquillizing action. It is hoped that many criminals would turn non-violent, if their diet is modified. The search of peace lies Within and not outside and it lies in the type of food, one eats.


Article Received Through Dr. S. C. Jain, (Jain Clinic, 32 HIG Duplex, Brij Vihar, Gaziabad, Uttar Pradesh-201011
E-Mail : Organiser, 2nd All India Jain Doctors Conference-2003


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