(now Health Action magazine)
Several years ago I spoke to the nutrition section of the New York Medical Association. A young physician who appeared to be a professor coped with my presentation by falling asleep. Afterward he participated in the discussion by asking me the above question. He was not aware that he had demonstrated the answer, for no amount of evidence can persuade anyone who is not listening.
I could not be so rude as to point out to him that had he stayed awake he might have heard some of the evidence. Instead, I reminded him that Moses needed forty years (two generations) to walk from Egypt to Israel. An Israeli friend told me it could be done in about two weeks. Moses realized a people born in captivity as slaves could not take over the land of Israel even though it had been promised to them. He needed two generations of men and women bred in freedom. I then retorted when two generations of physicians enslaved by their orthodoxy have died, orthomolecular treatment would become accepted.
Orthomolecular therapy is controversial and by and large rejected by nearly every psychiatrist. But by no means is the debate scientific. A scientific controversy exists when: (1) a scientist makes a claim based upon evidence called data; (2) another scientist duplicates the method used by the originator and finds the first scientist's conclusion are not duplicated. There has been scientific attempt to repeat the work exactly. If this has not been done, the different conclusions are the result of the differences in the method. Too often in medicine the physician who claims to have repeated the study has not done so, but then ignores that difference as if it had not occurred and falsely claims he could not confirm the original report.
Recently Linus Pauling and the Mayo Clinic are involved in this type of non-scientific controversy started by the Mayo Clinic. In the Mayo Clinic's report on vitamin C and cancer they claimed they had repeated the original studies of Cameron and Pauling. An examination of the method they used shows they had not, diverging in several important ways from the original studies. But in their final conclusion they ignored these differences and claimed they were not able to confirm Cameron and Pauline. What they did prove was that their own method did not work. But then no one had claimed it would. This type of research is very harmful because it deters others from pursuing a profitable line of enquiry and potentially destroys millions of people suffering now and henceforth from cancer.
The situation is the same in the debate over schizophrenia. The controversy is not scientific because the psychiatrists who oppose it have never allowed themselves the chance of learning how it works and its results. The debate is between two groups.
One, the orthomolecular physicians who follow the procedures recommended by the pioneers in orthomolecular medicine. They are all trained in traditional medicine and have had many years of experience in practising traditional medicine. This experience has convinced them that the results obtained by using only tranquilizers for schizophrenics are not good enough. They have seen no patients become and remain normal on these drugs. At best they are very useful palliative drugs. Because they wanted something better for their patients they exerted themselves to learn the new psychiatry and to incorporate nutrition and supplements into their practice. As far as I know, only one physician having practised this way for at least one year has gone back to tranquilizers only. He was not able to face the loss of hospital privileges, ostracism and the silent treatment promised him by his angry colleagues.
Orthomolecular psychiatrists have all been unhappy with the results achieved by tranquilizers only. Theoretically it is impossible to be normal on tranquilizers because they make normal people sick. As schizophrenics begin to improve on tranquilizers and approach normalcy, they begin to respond to tranquilizers as normals do by becoming sick. Tranquilizers transform one psychosis (schizophrenia) to another—the tranquilizer psychosis. Any relative of a schizophrenic can describe this psychosis to you.
The second group (the establishment) know only tranquilizers. They are like the professor who fell asleep so he would not have to listen to the evidence.
The controversy is between physicians who use the treatment and can attest to its value, and physicians who have never used it but "know" intuitively or have been told by their professors that it does not work.
The evidence is simple. Everyone who uses the treatment gets similar results. I challenge anyone to show me one study where the original methods were used and these results were not obtained.
My philosophy of how one treats patients with schizophrenia is described in our book How to Live with Schizophrenia
by A. Hoffer and H. Osmond, and in a new book in press called Questions Commonly Asked About Schizophrenia and Their Answers
; the publisher is Keats Publications, PO Box 876, New Canaan, Conn. 06840.
Treatment is individualized as we are all unique biochemically. We use a combination of drugs (tranquilizers, antidepressants), diet and supplements. A few have to be treated in hospital. Tranquilizers bring major symptoms under control quickly while the rest of the program brings about recovery. When the patient is well the drugs are gradually withdrawn until they are drug-free or require so little there are no side effects and no restraint on ability to function.
Treatment may take several months to several years. Once the patient is well the program will have to be followed for many years, if not forever. Luckily, supplements are non-toxic and can be taken many years. I have been on large doses of niacin and vitamin C for 30 years myself.
The results are not comparable, for on orthomolecular therapy over 90 percent of early cases recover, (they have been ill one year or less, or have had several episodes from which they have recovered in between). On tranquilizers alone the natural recovery rate is not surpassed. Comparison studies show that natural recovery rates are not achieved on tranquilizers. In my opinion fewer than 20 percent recover spontaneously.
Patients sick many years need many years of treatment. Most of them will recover provided they have not been damaged psychologically by many years of incarceration in hospitals or prisons, or exposed to the hazards of the streets and rundown, seedy living quarters. But then even people never will be damaged by these environments.
I know personally 17 men and women who have recovered from schizophrenia and have then taken medicine and psychiatry, which they are practising in Canada and the United States. I know of no patients treated with tranquilizers alone who have been able to do the same. I would like to find at least one physician who has recovered from schizophrenia on tranquilizers alone. Out of one series of about 40 physicians who became sick, only six were able to continue their practice.
I will conclude by briefly describing one recovery. This one person has already saved Saskatchewan about $750,000 by being well and productive for the past 32 years. She was admitted to a mental hospital in 1939 and remained for the next 13 years. To control her psychotic behaviour she required a series of electroconvulsive treatments every six months. Dr. H. Osmond, superintendent of that hospital in 1952, classed her as one of the sickest.
In 1952 we took her into our home in Regina and I started her on niacin. She improved slowly. In 1955 she joined the cleaning staff of a hospital. She retired this year, having been one of the hospital's most faithful and efficient workers. We have been friends since 1952. She and her friend come to Victoria every two years for a visit.
How many patients after 13 years in a chronic back ward have been as well as long as this? She is probably the only patient from this large mental hospital from which she escaped into health, who has had a chat with Princess Ann. This occurred during the Princess' visit to the hospital where she was on staff.
I thought the Minister of Health, Saskatchewan, would be interested in the fact that his government had saved so much money. This estimate is based upon total costs over a lifetime of each schizophrenic patient—about $1 million over 40 years. The minister replied that he had checked with the Saskatchewan Psychiatric Association and the Saskatchewan College of Physicians and Surgeons who had assured him that this treatment was "controversial." The government of Saskatchewan where this work was done originally, like my professorial colleague in New York, is asleep.
Editor's Note: Many of you will notice that we are remembering Dr. Abram Hoffer on a regular basis—it is because yes, he has sadly passed, and we all miss him, but we want to keep his spirit going through his important work. Frances Fuller is in Victoria, and she continues on in his stead, carrying with her his years of knowledge. Contact information for her is in the HANS Wellness Directory at http://www.hans.org under Orthomolecular Medicine.