A Brief History of Orthomolecular Nutrition
By: C. Carleton-Fitchett, ROHP
Healing with Optimal Nutrition Based upon Biochemical Individuality: “When in doubt, try nutrition first”. – Roger J. Williams Ph.D. The term “orthomolecular” comes from the root words ‘ortho’ and ‘molecule’, meaning ‘correct molecules’ or (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and essential fatty acids) that are essential for the biochemistry and physiological functioning of the body.
Two –time Nobel Prize winner, and molecular biologist, Linus Pauling Ph.D., first coined the term “orthomolecular” in the journal of “Science” in 1968. Pauling referred to orthomolecular therapy as a means of health preservation and dis-ease prevention through varying the concentrations of substances normally present in the body. While Linus may have been the first to use the term “orthomolecular”, there are a number of pioneers in the concept of orthomolecular nutrition responsible for development and advancement in the use of varying diet and supplements for optimal health and healing.
Hipprocrates, a Greek physician referred to as the “father of medicine” is first credited with using food as a form of medicine more than 2500 years ago. He saw illness as the result of bodily imbalance and therapy was simply unlocking the body’s own inherent ability to re-balance and heal itself.
It was not until the 1700s that British navy phsycian, James Lind, conducted one of the first scientifically controlled medical experiments that showed lack of a specific nutrient created disease. Lind proved scurvy could be prevented with citrus fruits such as lemons, limes and oranges. Vitamin C deficiency was later identified and then recognized as the cause of scurvy. In 1893, Dutch physician, Chritiaan Eijkman discovered a diet consumed consisting primarily of polished rice, deficient in vitamin B, caused beriberi and other diseases.
Then in the late 1920s, Max Gerson, MD, found cancer patients typically suffered from toxicity and nutrient deficiencies. Gerson Therapy consisting of vegetable juices, and other natural therapies facilitated the filtration of liver toxins, and became known as a metabolic treatment that cleanses and strengthens the body’s ability to heal itself.
Later in 1937, Hungarian Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Ph.D., won a Nobel prize for discovering and isolating ascorbic acid or vitamin C earlier identified as preventing scurvy.
Only a short fifty years ago, Toronto physician William J. McCormick M.D., found vitamin C deficiency a primary reason for many degenerative conditions and communicable illnesses. He advocated vitamin C as an antiviral and antibiotic.
Rodger J. Williams, Ph. D. (2004 Hall of Fame Inductee), advocated “the nutritional microenvironment of our body cells is crucially important to our health, and deficiencies in this environment constitute a major cause of disease.” Williams discovered pantothenic acid or vitamin B5.
Prior to world war II, Dutch physician, Cornelius Moerman (1898 – 1988), published his view on cancer and that ‘strengthening the immune system is the answer to this disease, and nutrition plays the central role’.
In 1933, Dr. Wilred and Evan Shute, defied conventional medicine’s understanding of disease, and used vitamin E to successfully treat and lower the incidence of heart disease. Their discoveries about vitamin E were largely suppressed by organized medicine who opposed nutrition being used to improve health.
In the early 1950’s, Dr. Frederick Klenner, produced consistent cures of a wide variety of viral and bacterial diseases using large doses of vitamin C.
In 1974, Dr. Carl Pfeiffer, furthered nutritional understanding, by relating trace element and mineral metabolism in schizophrenias. His research uncovered that biochemical imbalances were underlying many psychological issues. Pfeiffer said, “If there’s a drug that can alter the brain’s biochemistry, there’s usually a combination of nutrients that can achieve the same thing without side-effects.” Pfeiffer’s Law – “For every drug that benefits a patient, there is a natural substance that can achieve the same effect.”
Dr. Alan Cott in 1977,presented to the senate committee on nutrition, his research on therapeutic fasting and orthomolecular treatment for psychiatric patients and children with learning disabilities.
Dr. Josef Issels, (1907-1998), focused cancer treatment on nutrition and detoxification. He believed cancer was the by-product of lifelong immune system damage and it could not be eradicated with surgery or radiation.
William Kaufman, M.D.,(1910 -2000)treated arthritic patients with joint dysfunction using megadoses of vitamin B3 (niacin)and described dramatic improvement. He employed megavitamin therapy safely and effectively for a wide range of conditions to help people live healthier lives.
Dr. Cheraskin, (1916 – 2001)physician, dentist and lecturer, wrote many scientific articles and books on nutrition and was one of the first to relate oral health with total body health.
Dr. David Horrobin, (1939 – 2003) was one of the pioneer researchers of EFAs, lipid biochemistry and its correlation with disease.
Dr. Humphry Osmond, (1917 – 2004), co-discovered niacin therapy for schizophrenia and was a pioneer in the investigation of chemistry of consciousness.
Hugh Desaix Riordan M.D. (1932 – 2005), defended orthomolecular concepts, challenging the medical establishment to use high dose vitamins in hospital and was the first to show the chemotherapeutic effect of large doses of vitamin C for cancer, helping to establish vitamin therapy treatment.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.,(1917-2009) a physician, author, medical researcher and pioneer in orthomolecular treatment of disease. In the 1950’s, Dr. Hoffer co-developed treatment for schizophrenia using vit C and B3. He also discovered niacin’s cholesterol lowering capability. Dr. Hoffer moved to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada in 1976 where he practiced psychiatry for many years, and was a consultant in orthomolecular nutrition and in the proper use of vitamins. He was the illustrious President Emeritus of the International Schizophrenia Foundation and Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, and a director of the International Organization of Nutritional Consultants (IONC). Dr. Hoffer believed orthomolecular nutrition to be the future of all the healing arts and professions and consulted with IONC on the addition of the designation, Registered Orthomolecular Health Practitioner (ROHP).
DICTIONARY (Wikipedia resource)
Ortho – (from the Greek word meaning “straight” or “correct”) Molecular – of, relating to, or consisting of molecules. Molecule – [L. Molecula, little mass]. The smallest quantity into which a substance may be divided without loss of its characteristics. Health – [AS. Health, wholeness]. A condition in which all functions of the body and mind are normally active.
Practitioner – Someone who engages in an occupation, profession, religion, or way of life. Even if the person has been practicing their entire life or has a PHD in the subject they will always be known as a Practitioner.
Orthomolecular – Indicating the normal chemical constituents of the body or the restoration of those constituents to normal. Orthobiosis – [“ + bios, life]. Right living. A term used by Metchnikoff to encompass all the factors that may affect longevity and well-being.
Health is the level of functional or metabolic efficiency of a living organism. In humans, it is the general condition of a person’s mind and body, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain (as in “good health” or “healthy”). The World Health Organization (WHO) defined health in its broader sense in 1946 as “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity