Author: Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD

© 2007 The International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine


Orthomolecular medicine describes the practice of preventing and treating disease by providing the body with optimal amounts of substances which are natural to the body. The term “orthomolecular” was first used by Linus Pauling in a paper he wrote in the journal, Science, in 1968. The key idea in orthomolecular medicine is that genetic factors are central not only to the physical characteristics of individuals, but also to their biochemical milieu. In the orthomolecular view, the provision of vitamins, amino acids, trace elements and fatty acids in amounts sufficient to correct biochemical abnormalities will be therapeutic in preventing or treating such diseases.

This guide describes orthomolecular treatment for mental illness. I have been using this approach in my practice for the past fifty years. It is based upon the culmination of research and reflection starting in 1952 when I began to treat schizophrenic patients with large doses of vitamin B3. Orthomolecular treatment is valuable for all forms of mental illness as it consists of a combination of nutrition, nutrients added to the diet in optimum doses and medication. This must not be taken as the bible of orthomolecular treatment or looked upon as a “cookbook” whose recipes have to be followed slavishly. It is a guide. As physicians become more familiar with the program, they will find that there is substantial variation in the number and dosages of nutrients, for we are all biochemically unique. I hope that in the years to come this guide will be expanded upon as research and development accrues. Information about orthomolecular treatment is scattered and not easily available to patients and families who wish to learn more about it and for physicians who wish to incorporate orthomolecular medicine into their treatment programs.