Just as was customary at the previous conferences of the International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine, Dr. Abram Hoffer was the last speaker and the most honored and prominent specialist to address the audience of mainly medical practitioners.
Dr. Hoffer and Dr. Humphry Osmond, were the first physicians to reverse mental illness (and other diseases) with orthomolecular medicine more than 70 years ago, at a time when they were both considered mavericks in medicine and their research was ignored.
Some years ago, Dr. Hoffer announced that beginning January 1st of 2006, he would no longer be a psychiatrist and medical doctor and would only use his PhD. “I am now a nutritionist. I have experienced a terrible and prolonged antagonism from the medical establishment. I am writing a book called The Chronic Ethically Sick Medical-Industrial Complex.”
A famous pathologist, Dr. Virchow, declared: “No disease was ever caused by a deficiency of anything.” He believed that only infections caused disease. His view was a major factor and stumbling block in preventing new concepts that included insights into smart use of nutrients.
By 1930 the vitamin concept was well established in medicine and over the next ten years major discoveries were made about how to synthesize these vitamins; why they were needed; and how to use them optimally to prevent the known major deficiency diseases.
This first paradigms of vitamin use enshrined the beliefs that vitamins were needed in very small amounts, and were required merely to prevent these “deficiency” diseases from occurring. It is called the vitamins-as-prevention paradigm. These earlier recognized deficiency diseases included beriberi, pellagra, scurvy, rickets and xerophthalmia and they were prevented by making sure foods contained enough of the vitamins thiamin (B-1), niacin (B-3), ascorbic acid (vitamin C), vitamin D and vitamin A. It followed, back then, that these nutrients were never needed for any other conditions and never in amounts more than would be normally present in our food. By 1950 this paradigm was as well established as The Ten Commandments written in stone. One result was that the medical profession fell for the hypothesis that anyone eating a good diet would never need to take any extra vitamins. This is still an article of faith in the healing professions and especially in the holy Recommended Daily Allowances pushed and enforced by governments worldwide.
So Dr. Hoffer asked: “What would you call starvation?”
“In the 1800’s, negative changes to our diets started with the removing of nutrients from flour to make it white and give it shelf-life while giving the rest of the nutrients to the peasants and animals. This was the beginning of losing the B vitamin content in our most basic food supply. There was a major pandemic from 1850 to 1942 during which one third of patients admitted to mental hospitals in the southeastern USA suffered from pellegra. The were ill due to a heavy diet of corn and salt pork. Dr. Joseph Goldberger, discovered that pellagra was caused by a deficiency of food which did not provide vitamin B-3. Through this discovery, he prevented more mental disease than the whole profession of psychiatry ever has. As a result of his findings the United States government made the brilliant decision to mandate the addition of niacinamide to the white flour it had been removed from.
Dr. Hoffer, in his talk, referred back to cases he had worked with in the 1950’s, when it was a life sentence to be admitted to a mental institution. “In 1950, we had 50 different psychoses and now the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) has over 300 listed. Psychiatry does not look for causes now. This is not done today. In modern psychiatry, each diagnostic term is merely a description and has little value in directing treatment.
In 1952, as the Director of Psychiatric Research for Saskatchewan, Dr. Hoffer had a patient with catatonic schizophrenia who had been given electric shock treatment and was in an insulin coma, could not swallow and dying. This patient was given niacin and vitamin C using a stomach tube. The next day, he sat up and was able to drink the solution! One month later he was normal and went home. This was the first mentally ill person Dr. Hoffer was aware of, who had been given mega doses of vitamins.
In the 1960s, Dr. Hoffer had suggested giving niacin to a 12 year old schizophrenic boy, who had been declared permanently and hopelessly mentally ill. His father, a physician, acting on information from Dr Hoffer, obtained niacin in 500 milligram tablets. But his son’s psychiatrist refused to give it to him, telling him that the niacin would “fry his brain” and that “they” had tried it and it did not work.These statements were both fiction. However, the boy was a sugar junkie and every day his father secretly fed him sandwiches of white bread, jam and niacin. That institutionalized young man became well, grew up and became a doctor himself and it was all due to niacin!
The oldest Canadian of 112 years, (not having been mentally ill in her later years), died recently. Dr. Hoffer treated her many years ago with niacin. And she, too, became completely well. (“With niacin,” he added, “there is also the need to add selenium and vitamin B6.”)
“At one time, one percent of the population was thought to have schizophrenia,” said Dr. Hoffer, “but the real figure is probably closer to two percent, as it is becoming more common. Why are we having so many people with schizophrenia today?
Dr. Hoffer stated that 90 percent of schizophrenia patients who have been sick less than two years, can become normal with orthomolecular vitamin therapy. He suggested that adding more niacinamide to our food would in a few decades greatly reduce the incidence of schizophrenia, as it did for pellagra in 1942. All we have to do is what was done in 1942 in the U.S., which is to add niacinamide to flour at the cost of mere pennies. “Let’s drop the name schizophrenia. It is wrong. It has social stigma. It has no scientific merit. It does not indicate the cause and never indicates the correct treatment. It is really one of the forms of pellagra – call it pellagra.”
Dr. Hoffer, PhD passed away in 2009. His right hand, Frances Fuller, RNCP, is still continung this great work – at the Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre, Victoria, 250-386-8756 – https://orthobc.ca
adapted from an article by Jocelan Caldwell