Abram Hoffer PhD, RNCP, President Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre speaks about treating mental health concerns with nutrients. This alternative therapy employs vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to create optimum nutritional content for the body, as well as the right environment and equilibrium. Like most alternative medicine techniques, orthomolecular medicine targets a wide range of conditions. [depression, bipolar, adhd, schizophrenia, add, addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction…]
Orthomolecular medicine was developed by Linus Pauling, Ph.D., winner of two Nobel prizes, in 1968. It is designed to enable individuals to reach the apex of health and the peak of their performance by utilizing only naturally occurring substances (e.g. vitamins, minerals, enzymes, trace elements, co-enzymes). The proper balance of these substances in the body is the key to reaching physical, mental, and emotional health and stability. Orthomolecular medicine can be used therapeutically to treat diseases such as cancer and AIDS, or preventatively to impede the progress of degenerative disease and aging. When all is said and done, however, the main objective of orthomolecular medicine is to help the patient reach an optimal level of health; his or her self-esteem will probably improve in the process.
Although orthomolecular medicine did not fully develop into a therapy until the late 1960’s when Pauling coined the term “orthomolecular,” the premise behind this practice originated in the 1920’s, when vitamins and minerals were first used to treat illnesses unrelated to nutrient deficiency. It was discovered that vitamin A could prevent childhood deaths from infectious illness, and that heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) could be stopped by dosages of magnesium. Hard scientific evidence supporting nutritional therapy did not emerge, however, until the 1950’s, when Abram Hoffer, M.D., and Humphrey Osmond, M.D., began treating schizophrenics with high doses of vitamin B3 (niacin). As a consequence of their studies, it was revealed that niacin, in combination with other medical treatments, could double the number of recoveries in a one-year period.
Eventually, it was determined that malnutrition and consumption of refined, empty-calorie foods such as white bread and pastries and overconsumption of sugar could yield disease and psychiatric disorders. It became apparent that a person’s diet was an overwhelmingly integral part of his or her health and well-being. Further studies showed that decreased intake of dietary fiber, bran, minerals, and complex carbohydrates was prevalent in patients with certain forms of mental illness, accompanied by a loss of vitamins and an increase in dietary fat.
Biochemical individual is a main principle of orthomolecular medicine. This principle was elucidated by Roger J. Williams, Ph.D. This principle is quite simple: every living organism is unique! Furthermore, each individual requires different relative amounts of nutrients for his or her satisfaction and optimal level of health. The government sets a minimum recommended daily allowance (RDA) which is supposed to be adequate for all individuals. However, many may need to exceed the RDA as well as the recommended 2,000 calorie diet in order to prevent severe deficiency disease. Thus, RDA values are not perfect guidelines for everyone. Several studies have proven the existence of biochemical individuality. For example, studies of guinea pigs showed a twentyfold variation in their requirement for vitamin C. A study conducted with human subjects revealed that children have varying needs for vitamin B6.