One-and-a-half years ago, a very worried mother brought her son from New York to see me. He had been sick for over two years and had been in and out of the mental hospitals. He was on heavy doses of clozapine. His body may have been in my office chair, but his mind was off somewhere in his psychotic world, drugged by medication and barely aware of what was going on. His mother had been told that he would never get off medication and that he would never complete his education. In other words, he was doomed to be sick forever, just one of a growing number of chronic schizophrenic patients.
The boy in the above testimonial went on a nutritional program I helped develop called “orthomolecular” (provision of the optimum molecular environment for the mind) while his medication was maintained. In his case, medication by itself was totally inadequate. Only when the correct nutritional program was added did the boy begin to recover. Today he is completing his college degree and is a fully functional normal individual, although he’s in the process of being weaned away from the much smaller dose of the drug he is still taking.
Pioneered in Saskatchewan many years ago, the success of orthomolecular therapy illustrates what a limited vision modern psychiatry can have and what really happens to patients placed solely on medication. I have practised psychiatry for more than 50 years and specialize in treating schizophrenia, one of two major mental diseases confronting society today. The other disease-category includes mood disorders such as depression, bipolar, and manic states. The orthomolecular program works for almost all diseases currently requiring psychiatric help. The principles used in treating these two major psychoses also apply to other psychiatric disorders, except that for each class of disease there will be variations in the type and dose of the nutrients.
Principles of Treatment
Nutrition: The body is cleansed by eliminating all junk foods. By junk foods, I mean any foods containing added simple sugars such as sucrose. Patients are also examined for the presence of food allergies, and those foods are then eliminated as well. Those who do not eliminate such food allergens will not recover, even if placed on a very good vitamin program.
Supplements: Most often prescribed are the B vitamins as follows.
- Thiamine (vitamin B1) for depression and chemical addictions
- Niacinamide (vitamin B3) for schizophrenics and children with learning and behavioural disorders; and in lower doses for many of the other conditions
- Pyridoxine (vitamin B6) for premenstrual syndrome and any cyclical condition associated with the premenstrual phase
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) for allergic conditions, hypoglycemia and for weight reduction
- Folic acid for depression and many other conditions
- Cobalamin (vitamin B12) for chronic fatigue syndrome.
We also use vitamin C in optimum doses for every condition and vitamin E for circulatory problems. Other vitamins may have some use as well. The main minerals are selenium, zinc and chromium for depression.
The Road to Recovery
Drugs are used as needed in the same sense that a crutch is used until the leg is so well mended the extra support is no longer required. Once the patient is on the full nutritional program and has achieved stability over a long time, the drugs are gradually withdrawn until the patient is off the medication or on such low doses that there are no side-effects. The orthomolecular approach is much more effective than conventional treatment. About 90 percent of patients on the program will recover in less than two years. However, the program takes about two months to kick in. For chronic patients, it may take several years to recover and recovery rates are not as high.
My definition of recovery includes freedom from symptoms, a good relationship with family and the community and the ability to be gainfully employed or preparing for it. For example, one of my patients was schizophrenic in his teens. He recovered, became a doctor and is now the chair of a department of psychiatry at a large North American university. I treated another patient in the early 1950s who recovered, also studied medicine and later became president of a very large psychiatric association. Yet another of my patients, now at age 50, was sick since he was 13 and was treated in the best psychiatric institutions for years. He is now much better, but it has taken about 30 years of very good care with strong family support. If he had been started on treatment at age 13, he would have become well while still in his teens.
For more information about my patients and the orthomolecular approach to mental illness, please see the film “Masks of Madness, Science of Healing,” made by the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation, 16 Florence Ave, Toronto, ON, M2N 1E9. Ph: (416) 733-2117. Website: orthomed.org. Price: $39.95. This film features actress Margot Kidder, who remains well, and includes a number of my patients who recovered on this treatment. More information is also available at islandnet.com/~hoffer/hofferhp.htm.