From: http://www.weeksmd.com/articles/psychiatry/ABRAM_HOFFER.html

A riddle: how many years does it take for a truly new way of treating

disease to be generally accepted? The answer is forty, according to Abram

Hoffer, M.D, Ph.D. There are few physicians who have sufficient experience

to personally validate such a claim, but Dr. Hoffer can. He pioneered

megavitamin research and treatment back in the early 1950's, and, half a

century later, he has still been largely ignored by the medical profession.

Why? Because Dr. Hoffer treats with vitamins. And, he gets results.

Dr. Hoffer, now a lively 84 years of age, still maintains an active practice

on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He has written 20 books and over 500

scientific articles that contain more than enough information to set the

medical profession on its ear. His work forms the most elegant explanation

of orthomolecular (megavitamin) medicine since Dr. Linus Pauling's historic

1968 paper in Science. In fact, Hoffer had a 17-year jump on Pauling;

vitamin B-3 (niacin, or niacinamide) to treat behavioral disorders was first

used by Hoffer and colleague Dr. Humphry Osmond in 1951. Happy Fiftieth


Why on earth should acceptance take so long ? After all, if megavitamin

treatment is so good, how come your doctor doesn't use it? How come it is

not on the news? The answer may have more to do with medical politics than

with medical science. Consider Hoffer's views on Attention Deficit

Hyperactivity Disorder: "The DSM system (the standard of the American

Psychiatric Association) has little or no relevance to diagnosis. It has no

relevance to treatment, either, because no matter which terms are used to

classify these children, they are all recommended for treatment with drug

therapy" combined, sometimes, with other non-megavitamin approaches. "If the

entire diagnostic scheme were scrapped today, it would make almost no

difference to the way these children were treated, or to the outcome of

treatment. Nor would their patients feel any better or worse" (Dr. Hoffer's

ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children). Statements like these do not exactly

endear one to the medical community.

And, as if such critical statements are not enough, Dr. Hoffer then writes

book after book setting out genuine nutritional alternatives to drug

therapy. He provides vitamin dosage details, food tables, references, and

many, many case histories, numerous research summaries, precise

recommendations for optimum diet, comparisons of drugs and vitamins,

discussions of food additives, behavioral self-tests, and, most importantly,

a wealth of professional experience.

The best part of Dr. Hoffer's writing is that it offers practical, positive

advice. Criticisms and even lawsuits over the hazards of pharmaceuticals are

on the rise, but neither court nor controversy can cure. "Saying no to

drugs" also requires saying "yes" to something else. That something else is

nutrition, properly employed.

For those who say there is insufficient scientific evidence to support

megavitamin therapy, perhaps they haven't been looking hard enough. Hoffer

and his colleagues were first to employ vitamin C as an antioxidant, use the

B-vitamins against heart disease, and prescribe niacin to treat behavioral


Half a century ago.


The United States Patent Office delayed issuing a patent on the Wright

brothers' airplane for five years because it broke accepted scientific

principles. This is actually true. And so is this: Vitamin B-3, niacin, is

scientifically proven to be effective against psychosis, and yet the medical

profession has delayed endorsing it. Not for five years, but for nearly


This may be a puzzler, but isn't the bottom line. This is: The simple way to

determine whether vitamins will help is to try them. We are all fortunate to

have available to us invaluable guidance from the foremost authority on the


In 1951, Abram Hoffer had just completed his psychiatry residency. What's

more, he had proven, with the very first double-blind, placebo-controlled

studies in the history of psychiatry, that vitamin B-3 could cure

schizophrenia. You would think that psychiatrists everywhere would have

beaten down a path to Saskatchewan to replicate his findings.

You'd think so.

In modern psychiatry, niacin and schizophrenia are both terms that have been

closeted away out of sight. And patients, tranquilized into submission or

Prozac-ed into La-La Land, are often idly at home or wandering the streets,

where either way it is highly doubtful that they will get much in the way of

a daily vitamin intake. Those in institutions fare little better

nutritionally. For everyone "knows" that vitamins do not cure "real"


But Dr. Hoffer dissents. For half a century Dr. Hoffer has dissented. His

central point has been this: Illness, including mental illness, is not

caused by drug deficiency. But much illness, especially mental illness, may

be seen to be caused by a vitamin deficiency. This makes sense, and has

stood up to clinical trial again and again. If you do not believe this, Dr.

Hoffer's book Vitamin B-3 and Schizophrenia will provide you with the

references to prove it.

We've all been carefully taught that drugs cure illness, not diet. And

certainly not vitamin supplements!

But the truth will out eventually, and nothing succeeds like success. Ask

the patients who have recovered, like Jim.


Jim had been totally unmanageable. At 21, he'd already been kicked out of

the State Hospital for being too violent. So they sent him home to his

parents, whom he threatened on a daily basis while punching holes in the

living room walls. Jim slept one hour per night, and roamed the streets for

the other seven. His face was scaly and severely broken out with acne. His

dietary and digestive habits were appalling, and he appeared to be, to quote

Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson, just plain nuts.

So there they were, three feet away from me: a psycho with two terrified

parents. Medical science had not helped him, and had, ironically, discharged

him in the face of its own impotence. So I told the family about Dr.

Hoffer's approach: take very large quantities of niacin, starting at three

thousand milligrams, plus an equal or larger amount of vitamin C.

And why exactly would this work?

Advanced niacin deficiency, or pellagra, actually causes psychosis, as well

as the skin and gastrointestinal problems that Jim was experiencing. He

needed more niacin than the average person, and probably a lot more. At

really large doses, niacin has a profound calming, sedating effect. Yet it

is not a drug, but a nutrient. The safety margin is huge. Dr. Hoffer has

prescribed as much as 20,000 milligrams a day. Therefore 3,000 milligrams is

actually not a particularly high dose.

About two weeks later, Jim's father called. "Let me tell you what happened,"

he began. "You know Jim only sleeps maybe an hour a night? Well, the first

night on the niacin, he slept 18 hours. He's been sleeping about 7 hours a

night since."

"That's terrific," I said.

"That's not all," he said. "Last Friday morning, for the first time in I

don't know how many years, Jim came down for breakfast. He walked into the

dining room and said 'Good morning, Dad.'"

Even on the phone I could hear the tears in the man's voice. It was


And niacin is cheap, non-prescription and easy to monitor: if you flush, you

took too much. Still sick, you took too little. No flush and no psychosis

means you did it right.

Odd, really, that with a medical mood favoring medication over analysis,

that Abram Hoffer's niacin protocol is so unappreciated. After all, why NOT

use vitamins? They are far safer than pharmaceuticals. Yet a fundamental

bias in both medicine and dietetics rises darkly from the swamp when you

even hint of a therapeutic validity for megavitamin doses. Why such

resistance to such a useful nutritional tool? Is it perhaps because niacin

therapy is really, really cheap? Or is it because it is hard to see

psychotic behavior as a nutritional deficiency?

"Pellagra" is the classic niacin deficiency disease. It was once common in

the rural South where the poor had little else to eat except tryptophan-poor

foods like milled corn. The symptoms are the "Three D's": diarrhea,

dermatitis, and dementia. More specific pellagra symptoms include weakness,

anorexia, lassitude, indigestion, skin eruptions, skin scaling, neuritis,

nervous system destruction, confusion, apathy, disorientation, and insanity.

Does this sound a bit like schizophrenia to you?

But the success, convenience and relentless advertising of new so-called

"wonder drugs" diminished niacin's popularity. Then, the American

Psychiatric Association unscientifically trashed megavitamin therapy in

1973. So now we have growing legions of nutritionally challenged,

mentally-malnourished Americans who don't know, or care, that they are

malnourished. For they are happily (and legally, and profitably) drugged

into a mood-altered wonder land, aptly termed a "pharmacological lobotomy"

by fully-recovered former Dr. Hoffer patient Margot Kidder. (She'll tell you

her story herself at

http://www.margotkidder.com ) It is disquieting to see an arsenal of

"Mother's Little Helper" psychotropic pharmaceuticals are used by millions

daily, even while so many doctors and dieticians condemn megavitamin

therapeutics out of hand.

The many negative side effects and dangers of these drugs are now restoring

interest in niacin. Even trendy "somas du jour," such as Paxil and Prozac,

have serious failings. A quick read in the Physicians' Desk Reference (or

"PDR.," available at any library) will illustrate this.

Psychosis is not caused by drug deficiency, but rather by a functional

nutritional deficiency. There is a chemical found in quantity in the bodies

of schizophrenic persons. It is an indole called adrenochrome. Adrenochrome

(which is oxidized adrenalin) has an almost mescaline-like effect on the

body. That might well explain their behavior. Niacin serves to reduce the

body's production of this toxic material. It takes a lot of niacin to do the


Dr. Hoffer says: "Dr. Humprhry Osmond, John Smythies and I originated the

adrenochrome hypothesis in 1954. We are delighted that (after some 45 years)

this hypothesis which has been so fruitful in directing research, which was

one of the roots of orthomolecular medicine, is at last receiving serious

examination in the establishment literature. It is likely that over the next

decade there will be a major explosion of interest into adrenochrome and

similar oxidized derivatives of the catechol amines."


Niacin toxicity does exist, but is rare. Dr. Hoffer found that even 40,000

mg daily is not toxic but estimated that over 200,000 mg/day is fatal. The

most psychotic person you are ever likely to meet could probably not hold

more than 10,000 mg/day, and most of us would never exceed 1,000 mg daily.

Medical physicians frequently give patients 2,000 to 5,000 milligrams of

niacin to lower serum cholesterol. The safety margin is large. There is not

even one death from niacin per year. Check CDC or Poison Control Center

statistics, the Merck Manual, and the PDR and see. Side effects of niacin

therapy include flushing, skin itching, and, upon large overdose, nausea.

Such symptoms vary with dose, the body's need, and volume of food, water, or

soluble fiber consumed.

"Negative side effects are easily dealt with by physicians who know niacin,"

Dr. Hoffer told me. "In most cases they are minor irritants. Some of the

side effects may be minimized with vitamin C. The positive side effects,

such as increased general health, improved healing, and prolongation of high

quality life, are all benefits. In sharp contrast, very few drugs have

positive side effects."

So it is a lack of niacin that is the real public health problem. The US RDA

is only about 20 mg, and bodily need for niacin varies with activity, body

size and illness, according to Williams, Nutrition and Diet Therapy (6th ed,

p 239). About half of all Americans will not get even that much from their

diets. Niacin's special importance is indicated in that the US RDA for

niacin is twenty or more times higher than the RDA for other B-vitamins, and

that's just for everyday, healthy people.


Dr. Hoffer's clinical megavitamin research has included work with over one

thousand cancer patients. Those taking large quantities of vitamins achieved

significantly longer life, and vastly improved quality of life. I cannot

imagine a more important and uplifting news for the family of a cancer


Not everyone agrees with this.

Certain politically powerful medical authorities have openly discouraged

cancer patients from taking large doses of vitamin C. It is unethical for

any doctor to deny therapy that might be of value to her patient. Still, the

number of cancer patients who have ever had their doctor recommend a

therapeutic trial of large quantities of vitamin C remains small. I predict

that there will eventually be a class-action lawsuit brought against

orthodox medicine by patients who were wrongly kept from supportive

high-dose vitamin therapy.

The grounds for disparaging vitamin C usually center on three inaccurate

claims: 1) vitamin C is ineffective against cancer; 2) vitamin C interferes

with conventional cancer therapies; and 3) vitamin C is in itself harmful to

the cancer patient.

Hoffer refutes each of these fallacious views with the authority of 50 years

of medical research and medical practice behind him. So let's let him set

the record straight:

1) There are many controlled studies that demonstrate that vitamin C is

indeed effective against cancer. These studies are discussed in Hoffer's

book Vitamin C and Cancer. Some of the most interesting studies were done in

Japan, using over 30,000 mg of vitamin C a day. Extensive clinical reports

from orthomolecular (megavitamin) physicians, such as Robert F. Cathcart


( http://www.orthomed.com ), indicate that higher quantities of vitamin C

are even more effective.

2) Vitamin C reduces the side-effects of chemotherapy, surgery and radiation

therapy. Patients on a strong nutritional program have far less nausea, and

often experience little or no hair loss during chemo. They experience

reduced pain and swelling following radiation. They have faster,

uncomplicated healing after surgery. Such vitamin-mediated benefits mean

that oncologists can give vitamin-taking patients the full dose of

chemotherapy, rather than having to cut the dose to keep the patient from

giving up entirely. Obviously, full-strength chemo is more likely to be

effective against cancer than reduced-strength chemo. A similar benefit is

at work with radiation therapy: the full intensity of treatment is far

better tolerated by an optimally-nourished patient. With surgery, the risk

reduction aspects of vitamins, both pre- and post-op, are well established.

Therefore, vitamin C, far from being detrimental, makes a most positive

contribution to the conventional treatment of cancer.

3) Even at very high doses, Vitamin C is an unusually safe substance;

countless studies have verified this. As an antioxidant, collagen-building

co-enzyme, and reinforcer of the immune system, vitamin C is vital to a

cancer patient. Yet the blood work of cancer patients will invariably show

that they have abnormally low levels of the vitamin. What is dangerous is

vitamin deficiency.

Fortunately there are physicians like Dr. Hoffer who still look to the

patient, and not the test tube, for their answers. A patient's therapeutic

response is the highest of all guiding principles in medicine. If it works,

do it. If it seems to work, do it. If it does no harm, do it. Remember: If

there were a sure cure for cancer, you would have heard about it. There

isn't. But this just makes it all the more important for patients to demand

adjunctive vitamin therapy from their physicians. The number of

conventionally-educated, hospital trained doctors that support vitamin C

therapy is growing. Hoffer was among the first. Your family doctor could be


But rather than wait, I would go so far as to advise reading everything Dr.

Hoffer has ever written. The following would be a great start:

Vitamin B-3 and Schizophrenia: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy

by Abram Hoffer, MD (1998) Quarry Press, Kingston, Ontario Canada ISBN

1-55082-079-6 Softcover, 150 pages plus bibliography and two appendices.

Vitamin C and Cancer: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy

by Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, with Linus Pauling (1999) Quarry Press, Kingston,

Ontario ISBN 1-55082-078-8 Softcover, 180 pp plus bibliography and 74 pp

of appendices

Dr. Hoffer's ABC of Natural Nutrition for Children

by Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D (1999) Quarry Press, Kingston, Ontario ISBN

1-55082-185-7 (Softcover, 280 pages plus tables and bibliography)

Abram Hoffer's complete nutrition bibliography of books and journal articles

is posted at


http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/ is Dr. Hoffer's cancer information home


http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/hofferhp.htm is Dr. Hoffer's schizophrenia

information home page.

http://www.orthomed.org has information and posted articles from the Journal

of Orthomolecular Medicine, of which Dr. Hoffer is editor-in-chief.

You can also read articles of his at













and reviews of his books at





John Hammell ( jham@iahf.com ) at IAHF writes: "Please call your Senators

and ask them to cosponsor S 1330 IS, the Dietary Supplement Tax Fairness Act

of 2001. This bill was introduced by Senators Hatch and Harkin on August 2,

and would provide for the IRS to allow tax exempt status for any dietary

supplements that you buy so you can write them off just like medications.

Please therefor call your Senators today via the Capital Switchboard at

202-225-3121 and if you aren't sure of the name of your Senators give them

your zip code and they can look them up. All you have to say to the person

who answers is that you are a constituent and that you would like for the

Senator to Cosponsor S 1330 IS: Dietary Supplement Tax Fairness Act of 2001

because you would like to write off all expenses for vitamins.


More from John Hammell: "Also, please call your Congressman and ask him to

cosponsor Foods Are Not Drugs Act of 2001 HR 2265 IH. It only has four

cosponsors to date and the bill needs many, many more to pass.

"Please help! Contact your Congressman via that same Capital Switchboard

number (202-225-3121). Tell them you want him or her to cosponsor HR 2265

IH, The Foods are Not Drugs Act, because present law allows the FDA far too

much leeway to ban safe products through restrictive United Nations CODEX

Vitamin Standards currently under development."

(Editor's Note: For easy letter-writing hints and email links to the Senate,

please look at

http://www.doctoryourself.com/write_now.html More information on CODEX is p

osted in the Doctor Yourself NEWSLETTER Vol 1, #4 Dec. 22, 2000, which you

can read at

http://www.doctoryourself.com/backissues.html . You will also want to check

http://www.iahf.com for greatly expanded coverage of this important



"Are those beaks coming up in my garden?" Or: Why Chicken is in the "Meat"


Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Chemo, Radiation, Vitamins

Why Rice is Nice

Doctors' Strikes: No Worries

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