In 1969 Linus Pauling coined the word "Orthomolecular" to denote the use of naturally occurring substances, particularly nutrients, in maintaining health and treating disease.
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 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. Biochemical pathways of the body have significant genetic variability and diseases such as atherosclerosis, cancer, schizophrenia or depression are associated with specific biochemical abnormalities which are causal or contributing factors of the illness.
"The methods principally used now for treating patients with mental disease are psychotherapy (psychoanalysis and related efforts to provide insight and to decrease environmental stress), chemotherapy (mainly with the use of powerful synthetic drugs, such as chlorpromazine, or powerful natural products from plants, such as reserpine), and convulsive shock therapy (electroconvulsive therapy, insulin coma therapy, pentylenetetrazol shock therapy). I have reached the conclusion that another general method of treatment, which may be called orthomolecular therapy, may be found to be of great value, and may turn out to be the best method of treatment for many patients." - Linus Pauling, Science, April 19, 1968, p. 265
The author defines orthomolecular psychiatry as the achievement and preservation of good mental health by the provision of the optimum molecular environment for the mind, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body, such as the vitamins.
The orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia involves the use of vitamins (megavitamin therapy) and minerals; the control of diet, especially the intake of sucrose; and, during the initial acute phase, the use of conventional methods of controlling the crisis, such as the phenothiazines. The phenothiazines are not, of course, normally present in the human body and are not orthomolecular.
Orthomolecular psychiatry is the achievement and preservation of good mental health by the provision of the optimum molecular environment for the mind, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body, such as the vitamins. There is evidence that an increased intake of some vitamins, including ascorbic acid, niacin pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin, is useful in treating schizophrenia, and this treatment has a sound theoretical basis.
The following therapeutic modalities fit the definition of orthomolecular:
- amino acids
- essential fatty acids
- cell therapy
- chelation therapy
- thermal therapy
- electrotherapy (including electroconvulsive therapy)
- air ion therapy
- ddght therapy
- solar therapy
- hypnotherapy and other psychotherapies.
Here is a list of 15 principles that identify the spirit" of Orthormolecular Medicine:
- 1.) Orthomolecules come first in medical diagnosis and treatment. Knowledge of the safe and effective use of nutrients, enzymes, hormones, antigens, antibodies and other naturally occurring molecules is essential to assure a reasonable standard of care in medical practice.
- 2.) Orthomolecules have a low risk of toxicity. Pharmacological drugs always carry a higher risk and are therefore second choice if there is an orthomolecular alternative treatment.
- 3.) Laboratory tests are not always accurate and blood tests do not necessarily reflect nutrient levels within specific organs or tissues, particularly not within the nervous system. Therapeutic trial and dose titration is often the most practical test.
- 4.) Biochemical individuality is a central precept of Orthomolecular Medicine. Hence, the search for optimal nutrient doses is a practical issue. Megadoses, larger than normal doses of nutrients, are often effective but this can only be determined by therapeutic trial. Dose titration is indicated in otherwise unresponsive cases.
- 5.) The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of the United States Food and Nutrition Board are intended for normal, healthy people. By definition, sick patients are not normal or healthy and not likely to be adequately served by the RDA.
- 6.) Environmental pollution of air, water and food is common. Diagnostic search for toxic pollutants is justified and a high "index of suspicion" is mandatory in every case.
- 7.) Optimal health is a lifetime challenge. Biochemical needs change and our Orthomolecular prescriptions need to change based upon follow-up, repeated testing and therapeutic trials to permit fine-tuning of each prescription and to provide a degree of health never before possible.
- 8.) Nutrient related disorders are always treatable and deficiencies are usually curable. To ignore their existence is tantamount to malpractice.
- 9.) Don't let medical defeatism prevent a therapeutic trial. Hereditary and so-called 'locatable disorders are often responsive to Orthomolecular treatment.
- 10.) When a treatment is known to be safe and possibly effective, as is the case in much 0 Orthomolecular therapy, a therapeutic trial is mandated.
- 11.) Patient reports are usually reliable, The patient must listen to his body, The physician must listen to his patient.
- 12.) To deny the patient information and access to Orthomolecular treatment is to deny the patient informed consent for any other treatment.
- 13.) Inform the patient about his condition; provide access to all technical information and reports; respect the right of freedom of choice in medicine.
- 14.) Inspire the patient to realize that Health is not merely the absence of disease but the positive attainment of optimal function and well-being.
- 15.) Hope is therapeutic and orthomolecular therapies always are valuable as a source of Hope. This is ethical so long as there is no misrepresentation or deception.