Tuesday, June 25, 2013

0. Hoffer's discovery of Niacin/ Vitamin C megadose treatment

The Discovery of Megavitamin Therapy

Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD, founded Megavitamin Therapy, now called Orthomolecular Psychiatry. He began this research in a hospital in Saskatchewan, Canada, in the early 1950's, with a half dozen double blinds investigating megadose niacin and vitamin C for schizophrenia. These studies introduced double blinds to the field of psychiatry.
One of the early patients was a young boy, who had become catatonic, unable to speak or use the bathroom. He had eventually lapsed into a coma and his doctors, judging him to be dying from his schizophrenia, had placed him on a terminal care list. Hoffer gave him 5 gm vitamin C and 10 gm niacin, divided doses, and the next day he was out of the coma. After two weeks, he was completely recovered. Twelve years later, he was still taking vitamins, still well, and an active member of his community.
Many others in these initial trials showed similarly marked improvement. Hoffer has commented that God must be smiling down on researchers, to give such encouraging results at the early stages of research, steering them in the right direction. (Usually patients who are so ill take a lot longer to improve, with initial improvement not so clearly discernible.)
Orthomolecular psychiatry gathered momentum, with the contributions of hundreds of physicians and researchers. Treatment came to rely on a panoply of nutrients and herbs and, often, differentiation into biotypes, as well as attention to allergies, Candida, toxins, and other health factors. Laboratory testing helped distinguish unique individual needs.
The late and great Dr. Hoffer, for more than half a century, and up til the end of his life, nourished, expanded, and fought for this nascent medical field of orthomolecular psychiatry.

The following series of posts will focus on histapenia, the most prevalent biotype in schizophrenia. Hoffer's original niacin/C therapy is probably essential for virtually all patients who experience voices, but is particularly critical for the histapenia biotype.

For details on niacin, C, other vitamins, and biotypes, see my compendium on nutrient-based approaches for schizophrenia, Natural Healing for Schizophrenia.
Available here.
You may also be interested in  Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder.
Available here.

This information is presented for educational purposes only, and is not intended for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you need treatment for schizophrenia or any other medical condition, please consult a knowledgeable physician.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Nutrient-based Psychiatry and Hoffer-Walsh-Pfeiffer Outcomes

Scurvy and pellagra (see Power of Nutrients) are not the only conditions in which severe mental symptoms are "cured" by vitamins.
Others include:
Wernicke-Korsakoff psychosis, associated with B1 depletion due to chronic alcoholism.
The dementia caused by difficulty absorbing and/or insufficient intake of B12.
The depression associated with lack of vitamin D and sunlight.
The depression of iron, copper, or B6- deficiency anemia.
And so on.

The basis of medical treatment: A period of sufficient intake of respective vitamins to resolve the psychosis / dementia / mood symptoms for almost all patients.

So perhaps we can extrapolate the power of nutrients to address those same symptoms in some of what is now thought of as exclusively psychiatric disorders.

Hoffer-Pfeiffer-Walsh Clinical Outcomes

To support this contention, we can look to the clinical outcomes reported by Drs. Hoffer, Pfeiffer and Walsh. Together, these three giants of orthomolecular psychiatry, treated at least 50,000 patients with severe psychiatric disorder, focusing on nutrients tailored to individual biochemical requirements, and considering, where relevant, metal metabolism, environmental toxins, and confounding health conditions. Outcome for schizophrenia, anxiety, and mood disorders was 75-85% great-improvement or recovery, in the higher range when patients were treated early in the illness. Follow-up was generally one year or longer.
Recovery (defined by Hoffer) meant that people could go back to school or work at comparable level to that at which they left off, and that they again got on reasonably well with the people with whom they associate.
Furthermore, each of approximately 40,000 of these patients were assessed with hundreds of tests of nutrients, enzymes, and health status, which correlated nutrient-induced biotype and other biochemical changes with psychiatric improvement.

ABA Subgroup

Which is not to say people get cured, in the sense that to maintain improvement those vitamins tailored to individual biochemical requirements usually must be taken for life. This is actually advantageous because, unlike most meds: nutrient benefits tend to increase slowly but steadily over time; taking many indicated nutrients tends to compound the benefit; and improved physical health is often a side-effect.
Which may have contributed to a decision by many hundreds of the above patients that they were so well they could go off the nutrients. Almost invariably, they deteriorated, then were started again on the vitamins. These situations produced an ABA (on-off-on) within-subject experimental design bolstered by several factors: (1) Most biochemical parameters (except those being manipulated by the vitamins) were as identical as you are going to get (since it was within patient). (2) During the "off" stage, the deterioration was opposite to subject expectations (which was that they were well). (3) Accompanying labs tracked biotype-related biochemistry as it related to psychiatric status.
So this ABA group produced particularly strong data.
The results for almost all patients were deterioration during B, improvement during both A stages, although slower the second time around. Improvement in biotype biochemistry correlated with psychiatric improvement.

How can anyone ignore these amazing outcomes

Altogether, we have long-term outcome on tens of thousands of individuals reported from three distinct clinics, with most recovering over time, or improving greatly, and with the degree of recovery largely unheard of in mainstream psychiatry. And this, using nutrients, which, by definition, are essential to life, and which, accurately-used and tailored to individual requirements, are not going to cause the heart-rending side effects we see with many psych drugs.
Now add to these outcomes, the many thousands of positive studies and clinical results from all other nutrient-oriented physicians and researchers, a fertile body of research, constantly expanded by new insights and findings. And just possibly, what we as a society will find ourselves moving towards is a way to treat the brain with all due respect to its natural processes.

For an extensively-referenced compendium of nutrient-based approaches for schizophrenia, see my book,  Natural Healing for Schizophrenia.
Available here.
You may also be interested in  Natural Healing for Bipolar Disorder.
Available here.

This information is presented for educational purposes only, and is not intended for diagnostic or treatment purposes. If you need treatment for schizophrenia or any other medical condition, please consult a knowledgeable physician.
Warning: Changes in medication can trigger episodes which are worse than the initial illness. If changes are desired, please consult a knowledgeable doctor. Orthomolecular doctors usually add the new nutrients to the prior drug regimen. They then reduce meds in very gradual steps, and each stage, only when enough improvement on the nutrients allows it.