“People are always down on what they are not up on.” ~ Linus Pauling (1901 – 1994)
Origins of Orthomolecular Medicine
Linus Pauling’s eight-decade-long career, crowned by two Nobel prizes, began when it dawned on him at age 13 that chemistry produced “these remarkable phenomena in which one substance is converted into another substance, or two substances react to produce a third substance with quite different properties” than the originals. This insight also perfectly describes the whole of nutrition and its primary role in all disease and healing processes. In chemistry we encounter true magic, which also does not expect to be accepted on faith but allows for rigorous analysis and yields replicable results – in fact, the magic never stops.
Pauling’s father was a drug chemist in the days before the FDA existed. He compounded medicines in his store, undoubtedly causing a lot less harm than modern standardized medicines do. He died when Pauling was nine years old, so teenaged Linus went to work in a machine shop and as a road inspector to support his mother and sisters. His mother died in an insane asylum from pernicious anemia, which today is known to be preventable and curable by vitamin B12 – a disease that can only (!) be treated with this vitamin, a discovery that resulted in the Nobel Prize for Karl Folkers and Alexander Todd in 1946.
In the 1940s, Pauling’s research into molecular biology led him to discover the first molecular disease, the B-vitamin related cause of sickle-cell anemia which laid the foundation for modern molecular biology. Pauling continued then to explore the molecular deficiencies in psychiatric illnesses, research funded by the U.S. government for some 12 years. Once it became clear to Pauling that vitamins, especially of the B complex, are one key to maintaining or restoring mental health, and due to his friendship with Szent-Gyorgyi (winner of the Nobel prize for discovering vitamin C), Pauling began to deepen his research into nutrients and formulated the classic definition of orthomolecular medicine: “The preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentrations in the human body of substances normally present in the body”. (The word “ortho” is Greek for “right”, i.e. the right molecule.)
Over the following decades, Pauling was impressed by the almost total lack of toxicity of these nutrients and the enormous bioindividual requirements for them in different people. He was equally amazed at the mindless nonsense the government began to publish called the RDA, a recommended daily allowance of nutrients – advice based on no science at all. Pauling’s peer-reviewed research was published in the leading journals worldwide and could not be ignored. A trial using vitamin C in the treatment of cancer was initiated at the Mayo Clinic – but wound up scuttled in the manner that we now know to be routine: the dosage of C was too low. (This smacks of deliberate misrepresentation of the effects of vitamins on disease that was seen again years later when the National Cancer Institute tried to discredit the work of Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez by supposedly testing his protocol which was shown to cure even pancreatic cancer (see Vitality magazine archives; November 2010 issue: http://tinyurl.com/ks6busv).
In a 1990 interview, Pauling was asked about the reception of his pioneering work in medicine. He replied that the basic science community did not have a problem with his work, but “it’s the MDs – the physicians – that constitute the problem, with few exceptions… it is mainly just the medical establishment that supplies the opposition to orthomolecular medicine.” This is still true today, and Dr. Abram Hoffer’s explanation for this, in conversation with me some years ago when I published his autobiography, Adventures in Psychiatry, was: “Doctors are not trained as scientists. They operate as a guild to protect their group interests. They don’t work for their patients.” Pauling observed dryly that “Vitamins are very cheap, you know.”
Despite the profit motive in conventional medicine, along with Big Pharma’s big lies and loud propaganda, research into medicine that produces positive clinical results has continued unabated ever since Pauling’s work laid the foundations. The most startling characteristic of orthomolecular research, all of whose key components are founded solidly on a great many Nobel prizes, is the fact that none of it has ever needed to be retracted as wrong or harmful. This is in stark contrast to the offerings by Big Pharma, whose leading drugs have been the subject of court cases the world over due to the harm caused, and the body count resulting from, the false hope in disease being curable by poisons. No vitamin or micronutrient has ever been in court for alleged harm.
Orthomolecular Medicine Today
If you only buy one book this year – this is it: The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic Disease: 65 Experts on Therapeutic and Preventive Nutrition, edited by Andrew W. Saul, PhD and published by Basic Health Publications at a cost of US$29.95. It is a huge tome of some 800 pages, all worth their weight in gold. Here the great ‘oldies’ like Linus Pauling, Max Gerson, Abram Hoffer, Frederick Klenner, Carl Pfeiffer, David Horrobin, and more share their amazing clinical experience and research alongside the new greats like Atsuo Yanagiswa, Alan Gaby, our own Carolyn Dean, and Jonathan Prousky.
This book features a stellar parade of some of the greatest minds in medical history. They are worthy of high praise because they not only increased the body of medical knowledge available to us, they also proved to thousands of patients that they can be genuinely cured – provided, of course, one is willing as a clinician to step outside the box of standard thinking. Due to this problem of being boxed in by an outdated medical paradigm, the researchers featured in this wonderful anthology are new and relevant today, and will remain so until that box finally falls apart under the weight of its own failures.
The value of this book, for which no praise is high enough, lies in its massive accumulation of proof, and yet more proof. The research assembled here comes from Nobel laureates, the world’s leading universities, and gilt-edged published research. Unfortunately, your physician probably doesn’t know anything about all this and, as Pauling observed long ago, your physicians are likely to be down on what they aren’t up on. But you, the patient, can be up on it anyway.
The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic Disease is organized as follows in order to be of the greatest benefit to both the medically trained and to patients:
Part One – describes the foundations of orthomolecular medicine where one meets the work of the founders, past and more recent, such as Linus Pauling and Abram Hoffer, both pioneers in orthomolecular psychiatry. There is a first class critique of the absurd notion of “safe upper limits” for vitamins and a major eye-opener by Frederick Klenner who, in the 1940’s, cured polio and prevented paralysis through vitamin C treatment. The articles on how and why vitamin C as a therapeutic agent was stonewalled for so long are most valuable.
Part Two – introduces the reader to more than 60 of the most famous orthomolecular doctors and scientists from the 1930s to today. I was delighted to find among them the German Dr. Josef Issels who, in the 1960’s, treated my father for lung cancer. The Shute brothers, who pioneered vitamin E as a therapeutic agent, are here too; they were attacked for malpractice by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario and nearly lost their licenses. Medical geographer Harold Foster of the University of British Columbia’s work with HIV and mega-vitamin therapy is also featured.
Part Three – is devoted to the evidence of orthomolecular treatment in alcoholism, Alzheimer’s, cancer, cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety, drug addiction, eye diseases, fatigue, HIV, learning behaviour problems, radiation sickness (including the recent Fukushima disaster), and schizophrenia and psychosis. Of the greatest importance is a 2002 article by that one-man research powerhouse, Bruce Ames of the University of California at Berkeley. Here is brought together all the evidence on over 50 diseases that can only be treated with mega vitamin and nutrient therapy (at least 10 times greater than the RDA) because they all have a common denominator: these diseases are known to result from a genetic mutation that reduces the ability of one or more enzymes to bind to its co-enzyme, which reduces the rate at which a normal metabolic reaction would occur. Providing the pre-requisite vitamin or related micronutrient will get the show on the road again. Ames observes that these 50 well-studied diseases are “just the tip of the iceberg.” Due to the enormous genetic variation in humans, we have only just begun to understand how illness manifests, and that symptoms are a cry for the correct nutrient.
The appendices include the entire vitamin C protocol for cancer from the Riordan clinic, Klenner’s information on vitamin C as an anti-toxin, and a thorough discussion of the safety of vitamins and micronutrients.
A delightful satire by Abram Hoffer deals with the side effects of over-the-counter drugs such as electrolyte imbalances, central nervous system toxicity, gastrointestinal emergencies, deafness, death by acute respiratory distress syndrome, blood clotting problems, liver toxicity, and kidney failure.
Now also remember that, according to recently published information in the British Medical Journal and Clinical Oncology, only 11% of standard current medical interventions have been proven to benefit the patient; another 23% are “likely to be beneficial”; and chemotherapy contributes only 2.1% effectiveness for cancer therapy. Consider that in the context of the political push in the European Union (see Vitality magazine archives October 2014 issue: http://tinyurl.com/oapc6a3) to reduce vitamin and nutrient dosages to ineffective levels through bizarre over-regulation in the name of safety, and for the benefit of the drug cartel. Abram Hoffer hit the nail on the head observing that “all attacks on supplement safety are really attacks on supplement efficacy."
Conventional Versus Orthomolecular Approach
Question: What distinguishes the orthomolecular approach from what we usually get – a prescription for a toxic drug that can hide or suppress our symptoms?
1) The orthomolecular clinician is in dialogue with the chemistry of life in a search for the cause, instead of risking the patient’s life via a standard-of-practice prescription inevitably contaminated by Big-Pharma research. The doctor treating you today likely graduated some 20+ years ago and does not know what medical students are now being taught. The orthomolecular doctor never looks upon illness as a drug deficiency. As Dr. Sherry Rogers, of the American Academy of Environmental Medicine, points out: “Depression is not a Prozac deficiency!” And nothing ever is a Lipitor deficiency, or any other drug deficiency. The illness did not begin because of a lack of Prozac, Lipitor, Zantac, etc. It began because a supportive, or essential, nutrient became depleted for want of nutritious food or because existing healing pathways were poisoned by environmental toxins or legal, or illegal, drugs.
2) The orthomolecular doctor wants testable and repeatable clinical results showing the cause and the cure of a condition. Cures remain the primary focus of all intervention. Orthomolecular doctors do not “manage” disease, they ascertain causes and study the patient’s individual chemistry to cure. Years ago, at a conference of orthomolecular/environmental doctors, the chairperson requested a show of hands among the members present, asking: “How many of you were bored practising the standard way and found medicine exciting again when people actually got better?” All hands went up.
3) Orthomolecular medicine is wholistic, not reductionist. Colin Campbell, famous for his great book The China Study, describes the difference in his new book Whole. Our bodily parts all have medical specialties associated with them and so it rarely occurs to a rheumatologist that the patient is being poisoned by mercury in the tooth fillings. And the gynecologist does not realize that so many women’s ailments might be due to lack of magnesium, or toxicity from pesticides. (In physics, chemistry, and ecology reductionism is dead – in medicine it still putters along in its antiquated thought patterns!) Campbell writes: “The reductionist paradigm leads us to focus on parts of things separate from, and to the exclusion of, the whole. The body is a wholistic, interconnected system, but we are accustomed to thinking of it instead as a collection of individual parts and systems, in which solitary chemicals are solitary, unrelated things. Through the lens of reductionism, we see nutrition as a matter of individual nutrients rather than a comprehensive diet, and as an isolated field of study rather than the most influential determinant of our health as a whole.” Compare that with Linus Pauling’s insight at age 13 cited above!
Why do any of us simply believe a doctor and accept a diagnosis like a magic spell and fill prescriptions without asking questions and looking for alternatives? This book will go along way to cultivate healthy doubt, teach self-reliance, and encourage respectful disobedience – the three protectors against iatrogenic disease.
(Ed note: The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic Disease will be available for sale at Whole Life Expo, at the Orthomolecular Health booth #95, (Tel: 416-733-2117). And it is soon to be released at major bookstores and online at: www.basichealthpub.com)
• Andrew Saul, PhD, ed. The Orthomolecular Treatment of Chronic Disease, Basic Health Publications, 2014
• Interview with Linus Pauling, November 11, 1990 available from www.achievement.org, or go to Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University http://lpi.orgeonstate.edu/infocenter and Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation/International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine (416) 733-2117
• B. N. Ames et al, High-dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 75:616-658, April 8, 2002
• Colin Campbell, Whole, BenBella, 2013