Dr. Walsh's Commentary on Johns Hopkins Study Excessive Folate Levels in Pregnant Women


Undermethylated mothers appear more likely to bear children with spinal bifida, autism, and certain other conditions than most other mothers.  Research clearly shows that folate supplements for the mother can lessen the incidence of these disorders.  Folates have critical roles in cell division and epigenetic gene regulation for the growing fetus.  To protect the baby, most prenatal vitamins contain robust amounts of folates.  

A complication is that many undermethylated women suffer from clinical depression associated with low serotonin neurotransmission, and folates tend to worsen this condition by an epigenetic mechanism.  For these women, we recommend supplements of methionine or SAMe that act as serotonin reuptake inhibitors be taken together with the folates.

Days 16-24 of gestation represent a critical period of in-utero development, and many mothers are unaware of pregnancy at that time.  Ideally, folates and other supplements should be started a few months before potential or expected pregnancies.

It's clear that methylation status and folate availability are critical factors during in-utero development of a fetus.  The ideal would be for mothers to achieve "normal" or proper levels of methyl and folate availability before and during pregnancy.  Although folate supplements can reduce the incidence of spinal bifida and certain other birth defects, we believe that excessive folate dosages or an overmethylation condition would likely result in altered epigenetic DNA regulation and a different set of birth defects.  We recommend that mothers anticipating having a child be tested for folate and methylation status by an experienced physician to normalize biochemistry before pregnancy.  In my clinical experience I've learned that genetic or acquired nutrient overloads usually cause more mischief than deficiencies. - William J. Walsh, PhD, FACN

This article appeared in the Walsh Research Institute June 2016 e-newsletter.



Collaborative effort has schizophrenia in its sights

The complexity of schizophrenia has long been a barrier to understanding the disorder, with no definitive understanding of triggers, underlying biology or its unrelenting persistence after onset. Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) researcher Dr Joanne Voisey is collaborating with US peers to gain a better understanding.

Extensive international study into schizophrenia has so far led to plausible explanations but not necessarily in-depth understanding. Researchers around the world agree that schizophrenia involves a combination of genetic and environmental factors. They believe the emerging research field of epigenetics is best placed to provide explanations of the disorder.

Epigenetics refers to changes in gene expression, or the distinction between active and inactive genes, that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA. 

An example of a mechanism that causes these changes is DNA methylation. Dr Voisey says methylation profiling enables the measurement of the activity of thousands of genes at once. “The methylation profiles allow us to determine differences seen between schizophrenia patients with particular symptom severity and their response to medication,” she says. 

Dr Voisey is leading IHBI’s collaboration with the Walsh Research Institute in Illinois in the US, using a prestigious Hilton Family Foundation Inc grant of $165 838. An aim of the research is to provide evidence that schizophrenia is a gene-regulation disorder. Such a disorder is characterised by an abnormality or impairment in regulatory mechanisms that govern metabolism, immune response or organ function.

“Our objective is to identify specific genes that are dysregulated, so we can target them with improved treatments,” Dr Voisey says. “We also aim to use epigenetics to eventually enable identification of people at risk of developing schizophrenia and provide strategies for effective prevention.”

Beyond investigating epigenetic avenues, the collaboration will study environmental factors that can cause altered gene expression.

“Researchers are developing effective methods for identifying cancer-prevention genes that have been ‘turned off’ by environmental factors. Our study aims to determine if a similar approach will work in schizophrenia.”

It is probable that some people are born with a predisposition to developing schizophrenia and that certain factors, including stress or use of drugs such as marijuana, LSD or speed, can trigger their first episode. 

Dr Voisey says a key element missing in most research is recognition that schizophrenia may be an ‘umbrella’ term used to describe several different disorders. The Walsh Research Institute has identified three major schizophrenia biotypes based on their database of 3600 diagnosed patients.

“Our study is expected to provide sharper, more definitive evidence that schizophrenia is epigenetic in nature, validate the classification of schizophrenia into biotypes and identify specific gene-regulation abnormalities for each biotype,” she says.

The ultimate aim is to understand triggers; develop tools for identifying at-risk people and providing early diagnosis; and introduce effective prevention and treatment strategies based on the specific schizophrenia biotypes.

“I am excited to be working with the Walsh Research Institute as we have a common goal of discovering better diagnoses and treatment options for patients,” Dr Voisey says. 

“It is such a debilitating disorder and antipsychotic treatments don’t target individual symptoms. Side effects can be just as negative as some of the schizophrenia symptoms. By identifying DNA methylation patterns we are targeting both environmental and genetic risk factors which may uncover more of the schizophrenia puzzle.”


A medical condition affecting the normal functioning of the brain, interfering with a person’s ability to think, feel and act. People with schizophrenia have one personality. It is a myth that those affected have a split personality.


Outside of treatment, people with schizophrenia experience persistent symptoms of what is called psychosis. These include:

  • Confused thinking: The everyday thoughts that let us live our daily lives become confused and don’t join up properly.
  • Delusions: Holding a belief that is not held by others of the same cultural background.
  • Hallucinations: Seeing, hearing, feeling, smelling or tasting something that is not actually there. Often disembodied voices that no one else can hear.
  • Associated symptoms: Low motivation and changed feelings.


  • Can reduce and even eliminate the symptoms, generally including a combination of medication and community support. Both are usually essential for the best outcome.
  • Medication: Can assist the brain to restore its usual chemical balance.
  • Community support: Should include information, accommodation, help with finding suitable work, training and education, psychosocial rehabilitation and mutual support groups. Understanding and acceptance is very important.

This article was published in the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) newsletter June 2016, edition 26.



From the President - August 2016

Our 2016 Outreach and Conference has finished, our American faculty have gone home, and all our 70 doctors who attended the training have gone back to their respective clinics and the 30 new doctors have begun using some of the protocols they were taught. A larger number of doctors than usual are asking questions of their peers through the special doctors website, which has become quite active as the doctors share their knowledge. All doctors are welcome to register to be able to receive ongoing help from this site and we encourage it. We now have a technical team who will attend every Outreach to assist doctors in this regard.

This year we had some international doctors from London, the USA, NewZealand and Hong Kong as well as our first Northern Territory doctor, so we now have every state in Australia covered.  Some of these doctors have already said they will be returning in 2017, so we will look forward again to welcome many of our previous participants as we do every year. 

We are also thrilled to welcome more and more psychiatrists each year.  The Walsh Research Institute in their training programme in October this year at this stage have 50% psychiatrists in their intake.  We would love to increase our intake for 2017.as well. Bill Walsh had been asked to lecture in Japan and Switzerland in March and June this year with the result there have been Japanese and Swiss doctors registering for training in the USA and we have been told some are thinking of coming to Australia in March, so we look forward to welcoming them, and sharing their experiences with our Australian doctors.

We received a request from the Japanese team to translate some of our website into Japanese, and the book “Nutrient Power” by Bill Walsh will soon be translated into 6 languages, Indonesian, Chinese, German with the Japanese and Portuguese version out in the next couple of months.

Our Menzies Research Project (Griffith University) project on Violent and Aggressive children is being written up and by the end of the year will be looking for a publisher, and our QUT project on Schizophrenia is moving ahead slowly,(see further details in the newsletter) as well as our own special researcher Dr Stephanie Fryar-Williams is continuing on with her research.

Our Conference was a big success again with all the exhibition stands occupied and over 300 people present. We received a number of compliments on the quality of the lecturers especially because we try to treat the audience as very knowledgeable, as many are, because of the research many have done for their own children.

We look forward to a very successful Outreach and Conference again in 2017.


General | Outreach

The Bio-Balance Approach (Written By an Australian Doctor)

Several years ago I went to my first Bio-balance training. I had really very little idea of what it is about. I heard that it was a very detailed biochemical approach to illness.

Little did I realize that it would change how I practiced, not only technically but also in other dimensions.

In my early days as a doctor, I went to live in the UK and worked in psychiatry in a big Mental hospital.

I became fascinated with psychiatry and the residents of the facility. This was just prior to de-institutionalization in the early 80’s. Doctors came from all over the world to train in psychiatry here. I was intrigued, but shocked by the straight jackets, the padded cells, the locked wards and the administration of ECT (which was one of my duties). What concerned me the most were the medications and their side effects, particularly the anti psychotics.

I contemplated studying psychiatry. There was something appealing about dealing with people who were in such an altered state and whose reality was so different from the norm. 

I did love psychiatry, but I had to abandon it. I could not accept the terrible often-permanent side effects that were caused by the medications. I also knew that there did not appear to be an alternative. I also despaired of the revolving door syndrome, with patients being admitted, sedated and discharged, only to be re admitted several months later. I particularly disliked addiction medicine for similar reasons. The relapse rate was so high. I preferred to work in an area where I could make more difference, so I kept on the path of General practice. Eventually I studied Integrative Medicine and opened my own clinic offering this.

I did want to work with people who were motivated to take charge of their health. 

However when I  went to the Bio Balance training,. I re-visited Biochemistry. The man who  has inspired the training doctors in this approach, based on the work of Dr Pfeiffer, is a chemical engineer. He is an eminent scientist who works closely with psychiatrists and other doctors. I learned how to assess a patient for biochemical abnormalities that could affect their mental health and manage them with targeted nutritional therapy. I could either manage them with or without drugs or often reduce the doses of medication of those more seriously affected. It seemed that the patients who presented without having ever been on medication often did better.

What I could not have predicted is that I started to experience some magic occurring in my consults with these patients. It seemed to go beyond what I had experienced before. On reflection, I think  what is happening is that labels are being removed. 

Rather than being a Schizophrenic or a “manic depressive” they are being accepted as a “patient without a label”. They are being offered non-pharmaceutical assistance. It gives them hope that they might be able to re claim their life. They feel empowered by understanding some of the biochemical imbalances and by learning how to manage some of this without drugs. 

The doctors who attend the Bio-balance trainings are very open minded, compassionate and deep thinking individuals and mixing with them during the week long training is very uplifting.

Volunteers who persuaded Dr Walsh to come to Australia to train doctors founded the Bio Balance organization. It is still run mainly by volunteers. The integrity and compassion of Dr Walsh and of the organizers is palpable. 

As I shared with Dr Walsh, I am now finally able to practice psychiatry with more in my armamentarium than drugs alone.

Australian Doctor who has attended many Bio-Balance Outreach Training Programs.


Bio-Balance Scientific Advisory Committee

The members of the Bio-Balance Scientific Advisory Committee are listed below. We thank them for their contribution.


Dr William J. Walsh

William J. Walsh is a scientist with more than 30 years of research experience. After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1958, he went on to earn a Masters degree at the University of Michigan and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Iowa State University, Ames.

Before founding the Health Research Institute in 1982 and, subsequently the Pfeiffer Treatment Center (now closed) in 1989, Dr. Walsh worked for some of the most prestigious scientific institutions in the country, including: Institute for Atomic Research (Ames, IA); Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory (Los Alamos, NM); University of Michigan Research Institute (Ann Arbor, MI); Savannah River, (Aiken, SC); and Argonne National Laboratory (Lemont, IL). Dr. Walsh spent 22 years as a researcher in nuclear fuel processing, liquid metal distillation, and electrochemistry.


Professor Anne-Louise Ponsonby, B Med Sci, MB BS, PhD, FAFPHM

Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Royal Children’s Hospital, University of Melbourne, Australia

Anne-Louise Ponsonby is an epidemiologist and public health physician. She commenced public health research on a large infant cohort study into sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). This work contributed to a more than 70% decline in SIDS incidence internationally during the 1990’s. More recently, her research focus has been on the early life environment and immune and other child disorders- ranging from asthma and allergy to multiple sclerosis and type 1 diabetes. Her work includes the developmental origins of adult health and disease. Prof essorPonsonby has published over 230 research articles and is involved in public health policy development. Professor Ponsonby is Head of the Environmental and Genetic Epidemiology Research Group, Population Health Theme, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute and Professor with the Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne and the Australian National University Medical School. 


Professor Ross Young

Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health, Professor Ross Young, is a clinical psychologist with a research background in integrating genetic and environmental risks for mental illness. He was Executive Director of the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation (IHBI) at QUT from 2006 until joining the Faculty of Health in early 2013.

Professor Young has research interests in the psychological and biological factors contributing to substance misuse, and major psychiatric illness, such as schizophrenia. He is part of a team that has identified an important gene in the risk for schizophrenia. He maintains a Visiting Clinical Appointment at the Princess Alexandra Hospital Alcohol and Drug Assessment Unit (ADAU) and sits on a variety of health related Boards including Cancer Council Queensland and the Gallipolli Medical Research Foundation. He is Chairman of the Board of Mantle Housing and Patron of the Association of Relatives and Families of the Mentally Ill (ARAFMI) Queensland. He is a past National President of the Australian Association for Cognitive and Behaviour Therapy.

Professor Young has a visiting research appointment at the Alcohol Research Center at the University of California, Los Angeles . Professor Young has published over 190 refereed journal articles and book chapters.



Dr Alison Haywood

Senior Lecturer

Academic Staff, School of Pharmacy, Griffith University

Dr Alison Haywood is a Senior Lecturer at the School of Pharmacy, Griffith University and an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Mater Medical Research Institute. Her research interest in personalised medicine and involvement in clinical research includes drug analysis, formulation and stability, pharmacometrics, pharmacogenomics and evidence based medicine. Dr Alison Haywood provides expertise in the field of pharmaceutical science.



Dr Joanne Voisey 

Senior Research Fellow, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) 

Dr Joanne Voisey is a senior research fellow at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation. Her research training is in molecular biology and human genetics. She has worked as a Queensland Smart State Fellow for the last 6 years in psychiatric genetics with a special interest in schizophrenia. She has published over 30 articles in peer reviewed journals. Dr Voisey is currently supervisor to three PhD students. 


  • BSc (major in Biochemistry) at the University of Queensland 
  • Honours at Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB), University of Queensland 
  • PhD at the Queensland University of Technology 

Professional Experience 

  • Research Assistant NH&MRC at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research (QIMR) in the Epidemiology and Population Health 
  • Senior Research Assistant at the Queensland University of Technology, in the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Diagnostics unit 
  • Research Associate at Queensland University of Technology. 
  • Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine at Bond University. 
  • Lecturer in Life Sciences at the Queensland University of Technology. 
  • Casual Lecturer in Masters of Biotechnology at the University of Queensland. 
  • Smart State Research Fellow at the Institute of Health of Biomedical Innovation, QUT.




From the President - August 2015

2015 once again saw us holding our Outreach and Conference at the Outrigger Resort on the Gold Coast at the end of March. After a brutal winter in Chicago, Drs Walsh, Mensah, Bowman and Dr Mumper from Virginia loved coming to the warmth of the Gold Coast where Bill has said how much he loves being here with the wonderful views of the sea and the hinterland of the Gold Coast.

It was a great success again with 74 doctors attending, 33 new ones and whilst we wondered if we could manage those numbers, it turned out that it went very well so next year, if the demand is there, we might take 80 doctors. It was so encouraging to see the numbers of psychiatrists increasing. We would like to see some Pediatric doctors as well so I hope in 2016 we might be fortunate to find someone from that specialty coming to join the 170 doctors already trained in these protocols. 162 patients attended with their Australian doctors and we had four rooms seeing patients. 

Our International doctors came from India, Singapore and New Zealand this year. We were fortunate to have some volunteers during the week, which helped enormously.

One of the more exciting projects getting under way is our two research projects, one at Griffith University on Aggressive and Violent children, Ethics approval has been received, so that will be going full steam ahead, and for our QUT project on Schizophrenia the funding has been received so they will be organizing Ethics approval and then the project can begin.

Our Conference attracted 320 people and the highlight for many people was to hear one of our patients taking back her life after so many lost years with mental illness. We had great lectures from Dr Julie Buckley, Dr Liz Mumper, Dr Judy Bowman, Dr Joanne Voisey and Dr Bill Walsh, along with some Australian doctors at the Q & A panels.

We look forward to our 2016 Outreach and Conference in March next year and hope we can break more records in the number of doctors attending and the wonderful Gold Coast community in supporting the Conference.

Judy Nicol


General | Outreach | Outreach Conference

Outreach Doctor Testimonial

Hi all!
I am a GP in Australia, and have been attending Dr Walsh’s training programs with Bio-Balance for the last 3 years. I have to say, his protocols have revolutionised my treatment of patients with mental health problems – especially depression, anxiety ( adults and children) and behavioural problems in children. 

What is wonderful is the feedback from parents and then from the children’s teachers, who notice such a difference in classroom behaviour, focus and attention. And then the questions, and referrals of new patients, start coming from other allied health professionals such as Occupational Therapists and psychologists who have been dealing with these kids. The question has been raised about making protocols available to the general population and I am completely convinced by my own experiences that that is NOT a good idea! Each protocol is actually worked out individually – each patient is assessed both clinically and biochemically and dosing of each nutrient is worked out for that individual. You wouldn’t let people just go out and by Prozac over the counter when they have self diagnosed depression, would you? Different people will have side effects to some of the nutrients at lower doses, such as the B6, requiring adjustments with each prescription and regular follow up is necessary. 

Some patients need “stress dosing” when faced with extra stresses such as exams or relationship issues – you need the training provided to be able to understand how to identify the needs and make the appropriate adjustments. And you need to learn what to do when things aren’t working – like the difficulties people with A Positive blood groups have! It can initially be quite overwhelming – but the end result is just amazing! And now I have the local gynaecologists interested as so many women have high copper issues associated with severe anxiety and often panic attacks, or post natal depression – because they are on a combined contraceptive pill. Once the pill is ceased and a prescription of appropriate nutrients is made up to help balance their copper, their symptoms dramatically improve – but I then need to send them to the gynaecologist for alternative contraception – giving the consultant a little lesson on copper metabolism in the process! (They are used to me now!) 

So you doctors in the US – be bold and run with this! It is life changing treatment! And Albert Mensah is right – it takes several years to really get your head around it – every patient is different – and so every year we head back for the next training program.


Outreach | Outreach Conference

From the Walsh Institute November 2014

"Practitioners need to know that genetic testing that identifies a 677T SNP, whether homozygous or heterozygous, does NOT necessarily mean that the patient is undermethylated. One must also consider SNPs in SAMe utilization pathways that tend to produce overmethylation. Essentially there is a "tug of war" between SNP mutations that tend to enhance or depress methylation.

Over the years, I've tested more than 25,000 patients for methyl status, a very important factor in mental and physical disorders. My database suggests that about 22% of the population are undermethylated and about 8% overmethylated. We have seen occasional patients with the 677T polymorphism that are overmethylated.

The bottom line is that genetic testing does not provide a decisive and completely reliable indication of methyl status. Fortunately there are lab tests that can directly test for methyl status and identify the net effect of the opposing SNPs -- these include SAMe/SAH ratio and whole-blood histamine."

- William J. Walsh, PhD


Vale John Skelton

Bio-Balance Health Association is sad to report that one of our Founding Members passed away on Sunday 31st August.   John Skelton was 89 and since his daughter became ill in the early 1980’s devoted the rest of his life to find answers to help her recover her former self. 

Early in that decade ACNEM brought Dr Abram Hoffer from Canada and Dr Carl Pfeiffer from the USA to Australia and their words inspired John to try to bring their type of medicine to Australia.

John became President of ARAFMI in Brisbane and made a great contribution to improving conditions for mental health in Queensland in many different areas.

It wasn’t until 1998 that he was able to fulfill his dream of bringing the Hoffer/Pfeiffer Biomedical treatment to Australia by helping to establish the Bio-Balance Health association to bring Dr Carl Pfeiffer’s protégé, Dr Bill Walsh to Australia to train the first doctor in these methods in 2004.  

John became our Newsletter Editor when he moved to Eden, NSW and was passionate about scanning scientific journals for the latest research in this field and inspired Bill to research essential fatty acids in the 1990’s which resulted in an article which is on our website.

We now have 140 doctors trained, some research projects under way and many people have benefited from these protocols, which John recognised in the early 1980’s would be so beneficial to those struggling with a mental illness.

John received an Order of Australia as recognition for the many hours of volunteer work he put in working on mental health in Australia.

John was ably supported in all his endeavours, and they were many, by his wife Margaret.

We will miss him. 

John Skelton receiving his OAM from  then Governor General Quentin Bryce.



From The President November 2014

It is with great pleasure that I can report that Bio-Balance Health Association now has two research projects underway.

Today we received word that the Hilton Family Foundation in the USA will be funding a research project on Schizophrenia by Brisbane QUT researchers,  Dr Joanna Voisey and Professor Ross Young – both of whom will be speaking on our public Conference day.

The first research project by Griffith University on the Gold Coast on Aggressive and Violent children being undertaken by Dr Alison Haywood and PhD student,

Jessica Hambly is moving forward and we hope to be able to report in the next newsletter on some advances there.   One of our Bio-Balance doctors is involved in the project as well.

Dr Walsh has just completed a very successful doctor training program in the USA where 47 doctors attended, 16 of whom were psychiatrists.  Bio-Balance would love to have at least double our number of psychiatrists who attended the 2014 Outreach training, so would love to have at least 8 attending in 2015.  A review of the training by one of the USA psychiatrists attending is in the newsletter.

We would also like to break our 2014 record of 64 doctors attending in 2015, so please encourage all your colleagues or your doctors to attend.   We need more doctors because the waiting lists of many of our doctors are getting too long, so people are having to wait far too long for an appointment in many instances. Doctor training brochures and registrations forms are available to be downloaded from our website www.biobalance.org.au

Bookings are being accepted now and we are thrilled by the numbers of patients who have booked so far and look forward to meeting you all when you attend with your Australian doctors at the Gold Coast in March 2015.

Wishing you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Healthy Happy New Year from all of us at Bio-Balance Health Association.

Judy Nicol – President


General | Outreach