In the series of articles titled “Nutritional And Orthomolecular Mental Health Treatments” I share (copy/paste) educational articles that highlight how orthomolecular medicine and nutritional therapies can impact mental health. These articles are shared for educational purposes and to promote research and debate.
The articles below mention the following: ADHD, Alcoholism, Autism, Bipolar disorders, Depression, Schizophrenia, Hyperactivity, and Psychotic behavior. Also the harms of: Sugar, Additives, Caffeine, food colorings and preservatives. They will also discuss the nutritional treatments used, with these the following nutrients are mentioned:
Vitamin B9 – Folate, Folic Acid, L-5-Methyltetrahydrofolate (5-MTHF)
Vitamin B12 – Cobalamin, Methylcobalamin
Vitamin B3 – Niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, or nicotinic acid
Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine
Essential fatty acids EFAs
October 7, 2005
Mental Health Treatment That Works
(OMNS) Doctors report that mental health problems including depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, ADHD, anti-social and learning disorders, and obsessive-compulsive disorders often have a common cause: insufficient nutrients in the brain. Nutritionally-oriented physicians assert that the cure for these problems is to give the body the extra nutrients it needs, especially when under abnormal stress.
Orthomolecular medical researchers say the future of psychiatry is in nutrition because nutrition has such a long, safe and effective history of correcting many mental problems. Nutrients such as the B-vitamins are most successful when taken regularly, taken in relatively high doses, and taken in conjunction with vitamin C, the essential fatty acids (EFA’s), and the minerals magnesium and selenium.
A summary of what has worked for many people follows below. The safety of vitamins and minerals is extraordinary, and the expense of trying them is much less than the cost of hazardous pharmaceutical drugs. These nutrients can be purchased in a discount or heath store.
Taking 1,000 mg of vitamin B-3 three times a day often cures mild to moderate depression. Dramatic results are often achieved within one week of beginning this nutritional program, especially in alcoholics. (1)
Taking this much niacin is very likely to cause a “niacin flush.” Other articles at the orthomolecular.org website discuss this, such as http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v09n07.shtml and http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v01n10.shtml . It is recommended that you always work with your physician with any health program.
Sometimes a simple deficiency of vitamin D causes depression. 3,000 I.U./day from all sources can alleviate the problem. (2)
3,000 mg/day or more of niacin (vitamin B-3), along with the same quantity of vitamin C, taken in divided doses throughout the day can successfully treat both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. (3)
Vitamins B-3, B-6, C and the minerals magnesium and zinc frequently produce a good response in ADHD and autistic children. (4)
Vitamins B-6, folate, and B-12 taken together lower elevated homocysteine levels in the elderly while improving mental function. (5)
As pointed out by chemistry professor and vitamin discoverer Roger J. Williams, PhD (6), each individual has different nutritional needs and responds differently to nutrients. Are you tired of being depressed, suffering from anxiety, paying huge prescription drug bills for unsafe prescriptions that don’t solve the problem or produce undesirable side effects? Are you tired of the piece-meal trial and error approach to finding a solution to your mental or emotional problems? If so, adults should consider the following nutritional protocol, which will bathe your brain and nerves in natural nutrients and may well produce dramatic results. The cost of trying the program below is less than the cost of a typical doctor’s office visit. It is safe and convenient. All of these nutrients can be purchased at large discount stores.
After the morning meal take:
- A multivitamin tablet
- 1,000 mg of vitamin B-3 (as niacinamide or inositol hexanicotinate)
- One B-complex tablet
- 100 mg of vitamin B-6
- 1,200 mcg of vitamin B-9 (folate or folic acid)
- 1,000-2,000 IU of vitamin D (the lower number if you get sunshine, the higher number if you don’t)
- 1,000 mg of vitamin C
- 200 mg of magnesium
- 50 mg of zinc
- 200 micrograms (mcg) of selenium
- 30 grams of soy protein powder and one tablespoon of lecithin granules mixed into a small glass of juice or milk A supplement of omega-3 fatty acids [eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)]
After the midday meal:
- 1,000 mg of vitamin B-3
- 1,200 mcg of vitamin folate
- 100 mg of vitamin B-6
- One B-complex tablet
- 1,000 mg of vitamin C
- 200 mg of magnesium
After the evening meal:
- A multivitamin tablet
- 1,000 mg of vitamin B-3
- 1,000 mg of vitamin C
- One B-complex tablet
- 100 mg of vitamin B-6
All of the above supplements are safe in the recommended amounts, as well as inexpensive and convenient. There is not even one death per year from vitamins. Pharmaceutical drugs, properly prescribed and taken as directed, kill over 100,000 Americans annually. Hospital errors kill still more.
Restoring health must be done nutritionally, not pharmacologically. All cells in all persons are made exclusively from what we drink and eat. Not one cell is made out of drugs.
The most common mistake made by people who take vitamins is they fail to take enough vitamins.
The reason one nutrient can cure so many different illnesses is because a deficiency of one nutrient can cause many different illnesses.
October 16, 2008
Bipolar Kids Need Nutrition, Not Junk Food and More Drugs
(OMNS, October 16, 2008) The NY Times Magazine’s cover story, “The Bipolar Kid” (September 14, 2008), is a very bleak article. While emphasizing the miseries of living with such a child, Jennifer Egan’s article offers little hope except for ever-increasing doses of lithium. Long on discussions of definitions and diagnoses, it is remarkably short on treatment alternatives. Not a word about diet. Not a word about vitamins. Indeed, in this 9,500 word feature, describing the daily life of an out-of-control, beyond-ADHD boy, the word “nutrition” is not mentioned at all. Neither are the words “sugar” or “caffeine.”
What astounding omissions. Pediatrician Lendon H. Smith, M.D., nationally famous as “The Children’s Doctor,” was very plain in stating that sugar causes profound mood disorders. He specifically advised parents to give their children a “sugarless diet without processed foods.” (1) It is not easy. The Center for Science in the Public Interest has reported that children between the ages of six and eleven drink nearly a pint of soda pop a day. 20% of toddlers drink soda pop, nearly a cup daily. (2) And, of the seven best selling soft drinks, six have caffeine in them. In sensitive persons, caffeine can cause psychotic behavior. (3)
Food colorings and benzoate preservatives increase childhood hyperactivity, according to research published in Archives of Disease in Childhood, June 2004. (4) The study, involving 277 preschool children, also demonstrated that withdrawing these chemical additives decreased hyperactivity. When additives were reintroduced, there was once again an increase in hyperactivity. “Additives do have an effect on overactive behavior independent of baseline allergic and behavioral status,” said lead author Dr. J.O. Warner. So many parents, and any of us who have taught school the day after Halloween, can verify this.
It is possible that the children profiled in the NY Times story are unusual in that they do not consume any sugar, or any artificial food colorings, or any benzoate preservatives, or any caffeine-laced soft drinks. But it is much more likely that they do. The article ignored these important factors even though health professionals are increasingly aware that the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system is nutrient-dependent and additive sensitive. Ian Brighthope, M.D., says, “What is going on in the mind can be influenced by the nutrients and chemicals going into it. You can’t get anywhere with a patient with psychiatric symptomatology if their brain is hungry, starved, or poisoned.” (5)
Yet in the entire Times article, the words “allergy” and “junk food” are not mentioned, not even once. Children’s learning and behavior problems often begin in their parents’ grocery carts. Allergist Benjamin Feingold, M.D., was convinced of the negative effect of food chemicals on children’s behavior and the role of good nutrition in treatment. (6) Says the Feingold Association: “Numerous studies show that certain synthetic food additives can have serious learning, behavior, and/or health effects for sensitive people.” (7)
Another word totally absent from the Times article is “vitamin.” Psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, M.D., has had decades of experience and considerable success treating children’s behavioral disorders with vitamins. High doses of vitamin B-3 (niacin, or niacinamide) were first used by Hoffer and colleague Dr. Humphrey Osmond in the early 1950s. The trials were double-blind and placebo controlled. Over half a century later, vitamin therapy has still been largely ignored by the psychiatric profession, and, evidently, by some newspapers.
What a loss to patients and their families. I know and personally observed a preadolescent who was having serious behavioral problems in school and at home. Interestingly enough, the child had already been taking physician-prescribed little bits of niacin, though totaling less than 150 mg/day, but evidently it wasn’t enough to be effective. When tried, drugs (especially Adderall) actually made him worse: far more angry and dangerously confrontational. I was present when his parents had to hold him down while he screamed death threats at them. In desperation, his mother finally tried giving him 500 mg of niacin, three times daily (1,500 mg total). There was some improvement. With about 500 mg every two hours (an astounding 6,000-8,000 mg/day), the boy was a new person. He was now a cheerful, cooperative, affectionate youngster. Adding vitamin C and B-6 to his regimen helped even more. His school performance soared, the teachers loved him, and they repeatedly said so. At age 15, his maintenance dose was about 3,000 mg/day. He has since graduated from high school and is successfully employed. This is exactly in line with what Dr. Hoffer has repeatedly demonstrated for over 50 years. (8)
People often ask, “If this treatment is so good, how come my doctor doesn’t know about it? How come it is not in the newspaper?” Those are good questions.
The NY Times should know that reporting one side is not good reporting. To tell the whole story, we need nutrition. So do bipolar children.
(1) Smith L. Foods for Healthy Kids. Berkley, 1991. ISBN-10: 0425127087; ISBN-13: 978-0425127087
(2) Jacobson MF. Liquid Candy: How soft drinks are harming Americans’ health. http://www.cspinet.org/sodapop/liquid_candy.htm Accessed Sept 18, 2008.
(3) Whalen R. Welcome to the dance: caffeine allergy, a masked cerebral allergy and progressive toxic dementia. Trafford Publishing, 2005. ISBN-10: 1412050006; ISBN-13: 978-1412050005. Reviewed in J Orthomolecular Med, 2005. Vol 20, No 3, p 215-217 and at http://www.doctoryourself.com/news/v5n11.rtf Synopsis at http://www.doctoryourself.com/caffeine_allergy.html
(4) Bateman B, Warner JO, Hutchinson E et al. The effects of a double blind, placebo controlled, artificial food colourings and benzoate preservative challenge on hyperactivity in a general population sample of preschool children. Arch Dis Child. 2004. Jun;89(6):506-11.
(5) Interview, in the documentary film, Food Matters. Permacology Productions, 2008. http://www.foodmatters.tv
(6) Feingold BF. Why Your Child is Hyperactive. NY: Random House, 1985. ISBN: 0394734262. List of Dr. Feingold’s publications: http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_feingold.html
(8) Hoffer A. Healing Children’s Attention & Behavior Disorders: Complementary Nutritional and Psychological Treatments. Toronto: CCNM Press, 2004. ISBN-10: 1897025106; ISBN-13: 978-1897025109. List of Hoffer’s publications: http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_hoffer.html See also: http://www.doctoryourself.com/review_hoffer_B3.html
October 27, 2014
Niacin and Schizophrenia: History and Opportunity
by Nick Fortino, PhD Candidate
(OMNS Oct 27, 2014) Schizophrenia is usually treated with prescription antipsychotic drugs, many of which produce severe adverse effects (1-6); are linked to an incentive for monetary profit benefiting pharmaceutical corporations (7-13); lack sufficient evidence for safety and efficacy (9, 14); and have been grossly misused (15-20). Orthomolecular (nutritional) medicine provides another approach to treating schizophrenia, which involves the optimal doses of vitamin B3-also known as niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, or nicotinic acid-in conjunction with an individualized protocol of multiple vitamins. The orthomolecular approach involves treating “mental disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment for the mind, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body” (21).
Evidence for the Niacin Treatment of Schizophrenia
Vitamin B3 as a treatment for schizophrenia is typically overlooked, which is disconcerting considering that historical evidence suggests it effectively reduces symptoms of schizophrenia, and has the added advantage, in contrast to pharmaceuticals, of mild to no adverse effects (22-35). After successful preliminary trials treating schizophrenia patients with niacin, pilot trials of larger samples commenced in 1952-reported in 1957 by Hoffer, Osmond, Callbeck, and Kahan. Dr. Abram Hoffer began an experiment involving 30 patients who had been diagnosed with acute schizophrenia. Participants were given a series of physiological and psychological tests to measure baseline status and were subsequently assigned randomly to treatment groups. Nine subjects received a placebo, 10 received nicotinic acid, and 11 received nicotinamide (the latter two are forms of vitamin B3). All participants received treatment for 42 days, were in the same hospital, and received psychotherapy from the same group of clinicians. The two experimental groups were administered three grams of vitamin B3 per day. Each of the three treatment groups improved, but the two vitamin B3 groups improved more than the placebo group as compared to baseline measures. At one year follow up, 33% of patients in the placebo group remained well, and 88% of patients in the B3 groups remained well. These results inspired many subsequent trials, and those that replicated the original method produced similarly positive results.
That schizophrenia may be caused or aggravated by a deficiency of essential nutrients appears to have eluded the majority of the health care providers serving the schizophrenic population, as evidenced by the fact that “antipsychotic medications represent the cornerstone of pharmacological treatment for patients with schizophrenia” (36). Waves of different antipsychotic drugs have been developed throughout the last 60 years, which have not decreased the prevalence of schizophrenia; in fact it has increased (15, 37).
Although dangerous when taken in high doses and for a long period of time, the value of antipsychotics appears to be that in the short term they can help to bring some control to schizophrenic symptoms, not by curing the condition but by inducing a neurological effect that is qualitatively different from the schizophrenic state. Dr. Hoffer acknowledged their value and in his private practice he would introduce antipsychotics and vitamins simultaneously because antipsychotics work rapidly and vitamins work more slowly, so a person could benefit from the short term relief from symptoms that antipsychotics provide while the vitamins slowly, but surely, healed the deficiency causing the schizophrenic symptoms. This also allowed for a much easier process of tapering from the drugs.
“For schizophrenia, the recovery rate with drug therapy is under 15%. With nutritional therapy, the recovery rate is 80%.” – Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD
More Research Needed
Further research into the orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia is imperative. Saha, Chant, and McGrath (38) found that mortality rates in schizophrenia have increased in recent decades and warned, “in light of the potential for second-generation antipsychotic medications to further adversely influence mortality rates in the decades to come, optimizing the general health of people with schizophrenia warrants urgent attention.” The orthomolecular approach may be, at least, an integral part of a treatment program that optimizes general health and leads to a life free from schizophrenic symptoms.
Questions abound regarding individuals’ experiences while on these different treatments. Particularly the psychological and relational, or, intrapersonal and interpersonal experience while on antipsychotics versus an orthomolecular treatment must be more thoroughly documented because it is in this domain that a person ascertains his/her quality of life. And only the person who has these experiences can provide such an account; no psychiatrist peering in from outside a one-way mirror on a person hearing voices, nor any brain image, nor any valid and reliable measure can ever reflect the person’s living qualitative experience as accurately as the person can. This is why I have designed a multiple case study to explore in depth the experiences of individuals successfully treating their schizophrenia using orthomolecular medicine. The central research question is: What is the experience of individuals with schizophrenia who switched from using antipsychotics to orthomolecular medicine to treat their condition?
A Call for Participants
Inclusion criteria for this study are: over age 18, diagnosed as having schizophrenia, treated for a period of time primarily with antipsychotics, and are currently treated by or were cured by an orthomolecular protocol. Participation will consist of three interviews with the researcher (in person or online video conference), each of which will focus on a distinct period: symptomatic but unmedicated, primarily using antipsychotic drugs, and primarily using orthomolecular medicine. The researcher will also request one interview with the orthomolecular practitioner if possible, the diagnosing psychiatrist if possible, and at least two close friends and/or family members about their experiences of relating with the primary participant during these different periods. Anonymity is guaranteed if requested.
I am a Psychology Ph.D. student and this is my dissertation study. I never had the privilege of meeting Dr. Hoffer, but his spirit, conviction, and massive production of great work have inspired my writing this dissertation. Toward that latter part of his career, he commented on the nature of schizophrenia treatment research:
Case histories have disappeared from journal articles, as if living patients no longer existed or counted for very much. Instead, authors describe their methods, describe what criteria they used in selecting their groups of patients which were used in their prospective double blind controlled studies, and provide ample charts and statistics. I have read many papers where it is impossible to get any feeling for a single patient. (29)
This dissertation attempts to address this deficit of qualitative data. The narrative accounts that multiple case studies yield are invaluable, and can be accessible and relatable for people in a position of gathering information about schizophrenia treatments for themselves or a loved one. This dissertation is not an attempt to prove the legitimacy of the orthomolecular treatment; Dr. Hoffer and others have dedicated their professional lives to that endeavor. This is meant to explore the experience of the treatment, especially as it compares to the experience of the antipsychotic treatment. I am recruiting from a very small population of people, so I ask you to consider participating if you fit the criteria, or pass this invitation along to someone you know who fits the criteria. I can be reached by phone (408) 840-1253 or email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to answer questions and/or to begin the research process.
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6. Woods, S. W., Morgenstern, H., Saksa, J. R., Walsh, B. C., Sullivan, M. C., Money, R., Hawkins, K. A., Gueorguieva, R. V., & Glazer, W. M. (2010). Incidence of tardive dyskinesia with atypical and conventional antipsychotic medications: Prospective cohort study. The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 71(4), 463-475. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3109728/
7. Angell, M. (2004). The truth about the drug companies: How they deceive us and what to do about it. New York, N.Y.: Random House LLC.
8. Berenson, A. (2007, January 05). Lilly settles with 18,000 over zyprexa. The New York Times, pp. 1-2. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/05/business/05drug.html?_r=0
9. Kendall, T. (2011). The rise and fall of atypical antipsychotics. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 199(4), 266-268. doi:10.1192/bjp.bp.110.083766 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22187726
10. Moynihan, R., & Alan, C. (2005). Selling sickness: How the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies are turning us all into patients. New York, N.Y.: Nation Books.
11. Moynihan, R., Heath, I., & Henry, D. (2002). Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering. British Medical Journal, 324(7342), 886. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11950740
12. Scherer, F. M. (1993). Pricing, profits, and technological progress in the pharmaceutical industry. The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(3), 97-115. https://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.7.3.97
13. Spielmans, G. I., & Parry, P. I. (2009). From evidence-based medicine to marketing-based medicine: Evidence from internal industry documents. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry, 7(1), 13-29. doi:10.1007/s11673-010-9208-8 http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11673-010-9208-8#page-1
14. Lieberman, J. A., Stroup, T. S., McEvoy, J. P., Swartz, M. S., Rosenback, R. A., Perkins, D. O., Keefe, R. S. E., Davis, S. M., Davis, C. E., Lebowitz, B. D., Severe, J., Hsiao, J. K. (2005). Effectiveness of antipsychotic drugs in patients with chronic schizophrenia. The New England Journal of Medicine, 353(12), 1209-1223. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17335312
15. Whitaker, R. (2010). Anatomy of an epidemic: Magic bullets, psychiatric drugs, and the astonishing rise of mental illness in America. New York, N.Y.: Crown Publishers.
16. Kuehn, B. M. (2010). Questionable antipsychotic prescribing remains common, despite serious risks. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(16), 1582-1584. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20424239
17. Moran, M. (2011). Misuse of antipsychotics widespread in nursing homes. Psychiatric News, 46(11), 2. http://psychnews.psychiatryonline.org/newsarticle.aspx?articleid=108671
18. Ray, W. A., Federspiel, C. F., & Schaffner, W. (1980). A study of antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes: Epidemiologic evidence suggesting misuse. American Journal of Public Health, 70(5), 485-491. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/6103676
19. Stevenson, D. G., Decker, S. L., Dwyer, L. L., Huskamp, H. A., Grabowski, D. C., Metzger, E. D., & Mitchell, S. L. (2010). Antipsychotic and benzodiazepine use among nursing home residents: Findings from the 2004 National Nursing Home Survey. The American journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: Official Journal of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry, 18(12), 1078-1092. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20808119
20. Szaz, T. (1974). The myth of mental illness: Foundations of a theory of personal conduct. New York, N.Y.: Harper Perennial.
21. Pauling, L. (1968). Orthomolecular psychiatry. Varying the concentrations of substances normally present in the human body may control mental disease. Orthomolecular psychiatry. Science, 160, 265-271. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/5641253
22. Cleckley, H. M., Sydenstricker, V. P., & Geeslin, L. E. (1939). Nicotinic acid in the treatment of atypical psychotic states. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 112(21), 2107-2110. http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=288714
23. Hoffer, A. (1962). Niacin Therapy in Psychiatry. Springfield, Il: C. C. Thomas.
24. Hoffer, A. (1963). Nicotinic acid: An adjunct in the treatment of schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 120, 171-173. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13963912
25. Hoffer, A. (1966). The effect of nicotinic acid on the frequency and duration of re-hospitalization of schizophrenic patients: A controlled comparison study. International Journal of Neuropsychiatry, 2(3), 234-240. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/4225426
26. Hoffer, A. (1970a). Childhood schizophrenia: A case treated with nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Schizophrenia, 2, 43-53. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1970/pdf/1970-v02n01-p043.pdf
27. Hoffer, A. (1973). A neurological form of schizophrenia. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 108, 186-194. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1941147/
28. Hoffer, A. (1994). Chronic schizophrenic patients treated ten years or more. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 9(1), 7-37. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1994/pdf/1994-v09n01-p007.pdf
29. Hoffer, A. (1996). Inside schizophrenia: Before and after treatment. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 11(1), 45-48. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1996/pdf/1996-v11n01-p045.pdf
30. Hoffer, A. & Fuller, F. (2009). Orthomolecular treatment of schizophrenia. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 24(3,4), 151-159. http://orthomolecular.org/library/jom/2009/pdf/2009-v24n01-p009.pdf
31. Hoffer, A., & Osmond, H. (1964). Treatment of schizophrenia with nicotinic acid: A ten year follow up. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 40, 171-189. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1964.tb05744.x http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14235254.
32. Hoffer, A., & Osmond, H. (1980). Schizophrenia: Another long term follow-up in Canada. Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 9(2), 107-113. http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/1981-13316-001
33. Hoffer, A., Osmond, H., Callbeck, M. J., & Kahan, I. (1957). Treatment of schizophrenia with nicotinic acid and nicotinamide. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Psychopathology, 18(2), 131-157. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13439009
34. Tung-Yep, T. (1981). The use of orthomolecular therapy in the control of schizophrenia-a study preview. The Australian Journal of Clinical Hypnotherapy, 2(2), 111-116. http://schizophreniabulletin.oxfordjournals.org/content/12/1/141.full.pdf
35. Verzosa, P. L. (1976). A report on a twelve-month period of treating metabolic diseases using mainly vitamins and minerals on the schizophrenias. Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 5(4), 253-260. http://www.orthomolecular.org/library/jom/1976/pdf/1976-v05n04-p253.pdf
36. Gilmer, T. P., Dolder, C. R., Lacro, J. P., Folsom, D. P., Lindamer, L., Garcia, P., & Jeste, D. V. (2004). Adherence to treatment with antipsychotic medication and health care costs among Medicaid beneficiaries with schizophrenia. American Journal of Psychiatry, 161(4), 692-699. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15056516
37. McGrath, J., Saha, S., Chant, D., & Welham, J. (2008). Schizophrenia: A concise overview of incidence, prevalence, and mortality. Epidemiologic Reviews, 30, 67-76. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18480098.
38. Saha, S., Chant, D., & McGrath, J. (2007). A systematic review of mortality in schizophrenia. Archives of General Psychiatry, 64(10), 1123-1131. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17909124
February 28, 2017
Niacin Rescues Cannibalistic Hamsters
The Historical Significance of 1940s Mandatory Niacin Enrichment
by W. Todd Penberthy, PhD
(OMNS, Feb 28, 2017) In a newly published research study, Tissier and colleagues at the Universite ‘ de Strasbourg, France, identified wild hamsters that were eating primarily corn monoculture diets and exhibiting siblicide and maternal infanticide. Cannibalism was one of the theories for the decline of their population. Mother hamsters fed exclusively corn would take their pups, place them together with the stashes of corn they had stored in the cage, and start eating their young. Siblicide was also observed. Only 5 percent of the offspring of the females fed corn survived. The rest were eaten. For the other group fed a varied diet, 80 percent of the babies survived. However, supplementation of corn diets with just vitamin B3 (niacin) prevented the aggressive cannibalistic behavior.
This recently published study raises the question of the historical significance of the timing of mandatory niacin fortification starting in 1942.[1,2] Mandatory fortification of the vitamin niacin in the United States was initiated at the precise moment when our society became aware of the need to rebuild. The historical tide began to change from “Let’s see how many people we can kill with all these new ways to kill each other” to, “I’m sorry, let’s rebuild your country” and ultimately to “I want that Westy/Volkswagen camper!” today. Was niacin fortification an integral to rescuing an otherwise excessively violent world in the 1940s?
The niacin-deficiency disease pellagra became more common after roller mills were used on an industrial scale in the United States starting in the 1880s. Although white flour had been available during the previous century, it was expensive and only available for the wealthy. Roller-milled wheat and corn were now inexpensive, and had a long shelf life. But this industrially processed corn was not correctly treated with alkali as practiced by the ancient Maya and Aztec people. Soon thereafter the masses enjoyed white flour and the new form of processed grits, but then came an epidemic of pellagra! Before the discovery of niacin, over 100,000 people died in the southern United States alone due to pellagra epidemics. Shortly after the discovery of niacin, scientists and medical professionals including Dr. Goldberger and Dr. Abram Hoffer helped to establish mandatory fortification in the 1940s.
Modern hominy is created by soaking corn in alkali as the ancients did in a process called nixtamalization. This allows niacin and tryptophan, its precursor, to be available for absorption in the gut. Although hominy grits are missing the bran and germ of the kernel that contain much of its vitamin content, they generally supply enough niacin to prevent pellagra in those who eat mainly corn.
Pellagra symptoms are conveniently remembered by the “4 Ds”: diarrhea, dementia, dermatitis, and death. Changes in behavior are difficult to measure, but mortality statistics for the United States suggest that pellagra was perhaps the most severe nutritional deficiency disease ever recorded in US history. With the fortification of niacin in white flour and bread, mortality rates were decreased by orders of magnitude in some states within a couple of years! This underscores the critical sensitivity of all animals including humans to niacin deficiency.
“Improperly cooked maize-based diets have been associated with higher rates of homicide, suicide and cannibalism in humans,” according to Gerard Baumgart, a scientist and expert on European hamsters. Epidemiological studies have confirmed this. 
Pellagra or schizophrenia?
Nearly a decade after the initiation of niacin fortification in the 1940s, Dr. Hoffer noticed similarities between pellagra and the schizophrenic patients he was treating, so he considered that perhaps these individuals needed higher amounts of niacin. In the 1950s and later, Hoffer treated over ten thousand schizophrenics with high doses of niacin. He showed that many schizophrenics can be successfully treated with niacin administered in high doses divided throughout the day. In Hoffer’s last book, Psychiatry Yesterday and Today , he said “Schizophrenia is not a multivitamin deficiency disease.” It is in fact the disease pellagra; a vitamin B3-dependency disease. It will not be treated successfully no matter how many dozens of vitamin pills are given if these patients are not given the correct doses of this vitamin.”  Hoffer and other practicing physicians have observed that high doses of niacin can work for the treatment of acute schizophrenia, but it is not as effective for longstanding cases.
Before niacin was discovered, there was a focus on corn and grits in particular because of their high correlative association with pellagra.[5,6] At the end the 19th century, this intense focus developed into medical conferences organized to discover the cause of pellagra.
On first thought, it seems incredible that a single vitamin can prevent a behavior as complex as cannibalism. How could niacin do this and exert so many other benefits? Niacin is converted to NAD (nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide) in the liver. NAD is involved in more reactions than any other vitamin-derived cofactor; over 400 different reactions (see database: https://www.cmescribe.com/vitamin-dependent-gene-databases/). NAD is required for basic bioenergetics (glycolysis and beta oxidation) and in P450 reactions like the phase I detoxification enzymes. Niacin is depleted by a wide variety of stresses (hyperglycemia, aerobic, ionizing radiation), pollutants, and more. Most practically, people with genetic polymorphisms in the DNA encoding for the NAD binding domain that result in reduced binding affinity for any of these greater than 400 different reactions can require higher amounts of niacin to prevent pathologies. These people are niacin-dependent. Dr. Abram Hoffer observed this condition in many schizophrenic patients.
History and this study of hamsters suggest that aggressive, unempathetic behavior may be an indication for a need for higher levels of niacin in the diet that could be met by high dose niacin therapy. With so many psychologically disturbed acts of violence occurring after years of trying to save individuals with pharmaceuticals, it may seem ironic that high doses of niacin have not been generally employed to help these individuals to more clearly sense the beauty of life.
How niacin is used as therapy
Dr. Abram Hoffer’s approach to niacin therapy involves administration of 1 gram (1,000 mg) taken 3 times a day. This high dose niacin therapy has an exceptional safety profile. It has been used for over 60 years and is lacking serious adverse events, except for when using the slow release types, which can cause hepatic toxicity. The common type of plain niacin, inexpensive and available over the counter, is not slow-release. It is considered “immediate release.” Therapy with plain niacin (also known as nicotinic acid) is far less expensive than pharmaceutical treatment.
When taking plain niacin for the first time, it is important to start at low doses because it gives a “niacin flush” on the skin. This is a vitamin that one will notice for sure. So get to know the flush by first taking 100mg of niacin (nicotinic acid form) and then gradually trying higher amounts up to 1000mg at a time until you notice the flush. A little flush is ideal for health. It raises HDL levels more than any pharmaceutical (including statins), lowers triglycerides, lowers VLDL, and has a better safety profile than statins.
Niacin and eyesight
Cystoid macular edema has been observed, but only in rare instances, when daily niacin doses are over 3 grams (3,000 mg). If during high-dose niacin therapy you experience blurred vision, reduce or stop taking the niacin and see your medical doctor.
In a recent study, niacin (in the form of niacinamide) was shown to be effective in reducing (by more than 90%) the development of glaucoma in a strain of glaucoma-prone mice. Glaucoma is a leading cause of blindness world-wide. It is thought to be caused by a sequence of pathological events including an increase in pressure inside the eye, which reduces the blood flow into the eye and damages the eye’s energy metabolism. When compounded with improperly functioning mitochondria in retinal neurons the result is cell death and blindness. A very high dose of niacinamide was therapeutic, especially in aged mice, and helped damaged mitochondria to support normal metabolism, allowing retinal neurons to survive.
The concept of orthomolecular medicine was born and pioneered by Dr. Linus Pauling in the 1960s with the inspiration of Dr. Abram Hoffer. Under pathological conditions, our body naturally needs much more than average amounts of certain vital nutrients due to stress-mediated vitamin/mineral depletions. Historically, this first involved administration of high doses of the essential vitamins B3 and C for the treatment of mental health disorders and cancer respectively, but the full list of responsive indications is always expanding and depends on the individual’s symptoms. As compared to pharmaceuticals, vitamins are exceptionally safe and have withstood the test of time [http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v13n01.shtml ].
Some niacin researchers believe that many people with mental illness might be saved if more physicians can end their subscription to the mantra “let’s develop foreign chemicals and drugs” as medicine and instead consider “maybe some people have subtle genetic differences that make them require higher amounts of niacin.” This theory has already been proven for several niacin vitamin-responsive genetic conditions.[8,10]
Orthomolecular medicine: fix what’s broken with your body’s flesh and bones, not foreign chemicals.
(W. Todd Penberthy is a niacin researcher and medical writer. His PhD is in biochemistry from the University of Tennessee. He was previously a professor at the University of Central Florida, and before that at the University of Cincinnati.)
1. Tissier ML, Handrich Y, Dallongeville O, Robin JP, Habold C. (2017) Diets derived from maize monoculture cause maternal infanticides in the endangered European hamster due to a vitamin B3 deficiency. Proc Biol Sci. 2017 Jan 25;284(1847). pii: 20162168. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.2168. http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/284/1847/20162168 PMID:28100816 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28100816
2. Park, Y. K., Sempos, C. T., Barton, C. N., Vanderveen, J. E., & Yetley, E. A. (2000). Effectiveness of food fortification in the United States: the case of pellagra. Am J Public Health, 90(5), 727-738.
3. Hoffer, A. (2005). Adventures in Psychiatry: The Scientific Memoirs of Dr. Abram Hoffer KOS Publishing.
4. Hoffer, A. (2009). Psychiatry Yesterday (1950) and Today (2007): From Despair to Hope with Orthomolecular Psychiatry: Trafford Publishing.
5. Etheridge, E. W. (1972). The Butterfly Caste: A Social History of Pellagra in the South. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Pub Co.
6. Roe, D.A. (1973). A Plague of Corn: The Social History of Pellagra (Ithaca NY: Cornell University Press).
7. Mawson, A., & Jacobs, K. (1978). Corn Consumption, Tryptophan, and Cross-National Homicide Rates. Orthomolecular Psychiatry, 7(4), 227-230.
8. Ames, B. N., Elson-Schwab, I., & Silver, E. A. (2002). High-dose vitamin therapy stimulates variant enzymes with decreased coenzyme binding affinity (increased K(m)): relevance to genetic disease and polymorphisms. Am J Clin Nutr, 75(4), 616-658.
9. Guyton, J. R., & Bays, H. E. (2007). Safety considerations with niacin therapy. Am J Cardiol, 99(6A), 22C-31C.
10. Williams PA, Harder JM, Foxworth NE, Cochran KE, Philip VM, Porciatti V, Smithies O, John SW. (2017) Vitamin B3 modulates mitochondrial vulnerability and prevents glaucoma in aged mice. Science. Feb 17;355(6326):756-760. doi:10.1126/science.aal0092
11. Smith RG. (2012)The Vitamin Cure for Eye Disease: How to Prevent and Treat Eye Disease Using Nutrition and Vitamin Supplementation. Basic Health Pub. ISBN-13: 978-1591202929.
12. Penberthy, W. T. (2013). Niacin, riboflavin, and thiamine. In: M. H. Stipanuk & M. A. Caudill (Eds.), Biochemical, physiological, and molecular aspects of human nutrition (3rd ed, pp.540-564). St. Louis, Mo: Elsevier/Saunders.
Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org