Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group - Psychology Dept - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Mental Health and Nutrition Research Group


About us

The aim of our research group is to find nutritional interventions that are effective in treating psychiatric/psychological illness. At our lab, we independently test new, groundbreaking multinutrient formulae, probiotics and other natural, beneficial substances. We run studies on many different psychological disorders, including ADHD (in both adults and children), addictions, depression and stress. We use all kinds of different trial designs to test these products, including multiple baseline designs, open label, and the ‘gold standard’ of clinical testing, the randomised, placebo-controlled trial (RCT). We are not employed by the manufacturers of these products; we have no interest in getting a good result for them. All we’re interested in is finding real treatments that work, for the good of people affected by psychological illnesses.

At the moment, our studies are only open to people who are not taking any psychiatric drugs. If you’d like to find out what trials we are running at the moment, or would like to take part, please visit the Studies page. If you’re not eligible for any of our trials, or you just feel as though you’d like a bit of support, please visit the Services page, where we have provided a list of counselling and other relevant services within Christchurch. For information about the products we study, please email

The range of the response to micronutrients can vary from a small but noticeable improvement to a substantial and dramatic life changing improvement. Based on short-term trials, about 50% show a meaningful and clinically important change. Others show a more modest improvement. A minority (probably about 20%) do not respond at all. Our research shows that the number of people responding goes up the longer they stay on the micronutrients. One appealing aspect of the approach is that people report very few side effects and they tend to be mild and transient. This research has been done on many different psychiatric conditions, ranging from bipolar disorder to ADHD to anxiety to stress.

All our studies have ethical approval from the University of Canterbury Human Ethics Committee and the Southern Regional Ethics Committee.

Our funding sources include: Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, Gravida, Vic Davis Memorial Trust, the GAMA Foundation, Foundation for Excellence in Mental Health Care, the University of Canterbury and a number of private donations.

This research is hard to fund with public funds. Anyone interested in financially supporting this line of research can make donations to the University Foundation (with tax benefits). Simply go to In the Designation section, click choose Nutrition and Mental Health Research Group. Or you can choose “other” and then in the box provided indicate that you would like to support Dr Julia Rucklidge's research programme on nutrition and mental health.

University of Canterbury ' What If ' seminars

Prof Rucklidge has delivered two one hour long talks at the University of Canterbury on the field and the rationale behind using nutrients to treat mental illness:
What if Nutrition could treat mental illness 2014:
What if Nutrition could treat mental illness 2015:

To learn more about the research on micronutrients, please watch a TEDx talk Prof Rucklidge delivered on November 1st 2014 in Christchurch (only 18 minutes):

Or this documentary that featured on Sunday Report TVNZ1 gives some good insights into our work:

Prof Kaplan and Rucklidge recently put together a three hour educational series (free unless you want continuing education credits):

Alternatively, follow a blog that Prof Rucklidge and Kaplan write together:

This cover story in the NZ Listener by Sally Blundell is a great piece encouraging us all to think differently about mental illness:

We also have a Facebook page where we post information about new studies. Please like our page and you will receive updates on our research:

Please follow Prof Rucklidge on twitter and you can find out more about upcoming research: @JuliaRucklidge