Orthomolecular medicine

From Academic Kids

Orthomolecular medicine emphasises the use of natural substances found in a healthy diet such as vitamins, dietary minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids in the prevention and treatment of diseases. Orthomolecular medicine focuses on the role of proper nutrition in relation to health. Nutrition comes first in medical diagnoses and treatment and drug treatment is used only for specific indications.

Dr. Linus Pauling proposed the term Orthomolecular Medicine in 1968 in the journal 'Science'. The field of orthomolecular psychiatry deals with the use of orthomolecular medicine to treat psychiatric problems. Some practitioners also use the term optimum nutrition to describe orthomolecular medicine.



Often supplementation with relatively large doses of vitamins is given and the name megavitamin therapy has become popularly associated with the field. Megavitamin therapy simply means that this therapy uses amounts of vitamins and other nutrients that are greater than the recommended dietary allowances (RDA) of nutrients. The substances may be administered by:-

  • Changing the diet to emphasise certain elements high in nutrients,
  • Dietary supplementation with tablets
  • Intravenous injection of nutrient solutions.


A survey released in May 2004 ( by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine focused on who used complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), what was used, and why it was used in the United States by adults age 18 years and over during 2002. According to this recent survey, mega-vitamin therapy was the 9th most commonly used CAM therapy (2.8%) in the United States during 2002 ([1] ( table 1 on page 8) when all use of prayer was excluded. Consistent with previous studies, this study found that the majority of individuals (i.e., 54.9%) used CAM in conjunction with conventional medicine ( page 6). "The fact that only 14.8% of adults sought care from a licensed or certified CAM practitioner suggests that most individuals who use CAM self-prescribe and/or self-medicate" (page 6).

Relation to conventional medicine

The International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine has many conventional doctors among its members. However most conventional doctors have little knowledge of the concepts of orthomolecular medicine and tell patients that a balanced diet will provide all the nutrition a person needs to be healthy. Critics arguing against vitamin therapy point out that high doses of certain vitamins are toxic and can cause problems. Proponents point to an almost zero level of deaths caused by overdosing of vitamins compared to the significant numbers from pharmaceuticals, and that studies giving negative results use much lower doses than they recommend.

Evidence of effectiveness

  • Hoffer, L.J., Tamayo, C., Richardson, M.A. Vitamin C as a Cancer Therapy: An Overview. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. 2000; 15(4):175-180.
  • Cameron E, Campbell A, Jack T. Related. The orthomolecular treatment of cancer. III. Reticulum cell sarcoma: double complete regression induced by high-dose ascorbic acid therapy. Chem Biol Interact. 1975 Nov;11(5):387-93. PMID 1104207
  • Riordan N. H., Riordan H. D., Meng X., Li Y. and Jackson J. A. Intravenous Ascorbate as a Tumor Cytotoxic Chemotherapeutic Agent. Medical Hypotheses (1995), Volume 44, Number 3, March 1995, pp. 207-213 [2] (

Evidence against effectiveness

  • Creagan ET, Moertel CG, O'Fallon JR. Failure of high-dose vitamin C (ascorbic acid) therapy to benefit patients with advanced cancer. A controlled trial. N Engl J Med. 1979 27 September;301(13):687-90. PMID 384241
  • Stansfield SK, Pierre-Louis M, Lerebours G, et al. Vitamin A supplementation and increased prevalence of childhood diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections. Lancet. 1993 4 September;342(8871):578-82. PMID 8102720
  • Kleijnen J, Knipschild P. Niacin and vitamin B6 in mental functioning: a review of controlled trials in humans. Biol Psychiatry. 1991 1 May;29(9):931-41. PMID 1828703
  • Kershner J, Hawke W. Megavitamins and learning disorders: a controlled double-blind experiment. J Nutr. 1979 May;109(5):819-26. PMID 374692
  • Arnold LE, Christopher J, Huestis RD, et al. Megavitamins for minimal brain dysfunction. A placebo-controlled study. JAMA. 1978 8 December;240(24):2642-3. PMID 712891


  • Hickey, Steve & Roberts Hilary ; (May, 2004), Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C, Lulu Press, Inc.

ISBN: 1411607244 (Note: Lulu ( is a print on demand self-publishing house.)

External links

fr:Médecine orthomoléculaire


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