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Reviews of The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism

Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism



“If you or a relative are troubled with alcoholism, The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism is a great read.” 

(Ronald Hoffman, M.D.)

"Having the foremost advocates of megavitamin therapy, or orthomolecular medicine, tell us how they define and treat alcoholism and other addictions, is quite exciting. Both authors have that great ability to boil down highly technical material into clearly understandable language."
(Ralph Campbell, M.D.)


The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism: Orthomolecular Treatment of Addictions

One reader writes:
"One day, not so long ago, I went searching online for a miracle to help me stop drinking. I have been a closet drinker for 25 years and spent much of every day thinking about picking up a bottle of wine on the way home and getting "relaxed." I hid bottles in my studio, my closet and in the basement. When I felt ashamed of how much I drank, I refilled the bottles to make it look as if I had only had a glass instead of an entire bottle. If I had a day off, I would start drinking at 11 in the morning. By the time my husband came home from work, I would already be on my second bottle of the day. I very rarely remembered conversations I had had with others from the night before.People just thought I was a bit of a wine snob and even my children purchased nice wine for me for my birthday. Honestly, I could have cared less about how it tasted.
"Every morning I hated myself as I nursed my hangover and promised to only have 1 or 2 glasses that day, but once I started, there was no stopping and my cravings became impossible to ignore by 6 in the evening.
"Then I saw your article on vitamin therapy, bought the book and decided to try it, thinking, "Oh well, at least it won't cost much or hurt me if it doesn't work." But it worked! Oh my God, it worked! It has now been a whole month with no drinking and no cravings. I am absolutely faithful about taking the vitamins and supplements. I am even starting to let go of the thought that I might fail again, because it is different this time. I am not feeling at a loss for the alcohol. I am not feeling deprived and I am not mourning the fact that I will never have a drink again. I am hopeful for the first time in years. Thank you for making something that seemed insurmountable something achievable."


The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism: Orthomolecular Treatment of Addictions

by Abram Hoffer, M.D., and Andrew Saul

2009, Basic Health, 134 pages

Reviewed by Robert Sealey 


The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism explains how patients can stop craving alcohol and restore their health. Two credible authors wrote this enlightening book. By the time he passed away at age 91˝, Abram Hoffer, PhD, MD, FRCP(C) had earned an international reputation for researching and developing orthomolecular psychiatry (as a complementary dimension of care), teaching other doctors and educating the public. Thousands of patients recovered. Co-author Andrew Saul, PhD contributed his fascination with forgotten treatments and his capabilities as an author and an educator.


Before he became a physician and then a psychiatrist, Abram Hoffer obtained a PhD in biochemistry. Hoffer’s advanced degree, research experience and observation skills proved useful during his medical studies. He learned to respect patients and above all, to do no harm. Starting in the 1950s and continuing for sixty years, Dr. Hoffer researched the chemical basis of psychiatry and developed treatments for schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety, depression and alcoholism. Hoffer did the first double-blind placebo-controlled experiments in psychiatry, in the 1950s. He tested niacin and niacinamide (vitamin B3) for schizophrenia and discovered that optimum (large) doses of vitamins B3 and C can heal psychosis and restore normal brain function. Linus Pauling, PhD (Nobel-prize-winning chemist) read about Hoffer’s vitamin therapy and found it so inspiring that, in 1968, Pauling invented a new word when he described Hoffer’s practice of prescribing nutritional supplements as “orthomolecular” psychiatry.


When his patients had hallucinations, neurotransmitter imbalances, food sensitivities or addictions, Hoffer knew that episodes of mental illness can have a number of causes. He treated each patient according to the practice guidelines of psychiatry. Hoffer noted their mental status and took medical, mental and family histories, checked for infections and tested for medical problems (such as thyroid, adrenal, blood sugar and hormone disorders) before prescribing medications and complementing other treatments with vitamins, minerals and other nutritional supplements. Dr. Hoffer noticed that some patients tried to self-medicate with alcohol. Perhaps patients drank during episodes of schizophrenia or psychosis because they hoped to control their hallucinations, delusions and perceptual distortions. Abram Hoffer administered vitamin treatments when patients went psychotic, over-indulged drinking or took LSD. Over his long and distinguished career, Dr. Hoffer helped thousands of patients by fine-tuning their diets and prescribing regimens of nutritional supplements (vitamins, trace minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, energy and enzyme cofactors) to normalize each patient’s metabolism and stabilize their brain chemistry. Orthomolecular treatments proved safe and effective. Many patients recovered and stopped drinking.


Orthomolecular regimens of vitamins complemented other treatments but contrasted with the standard methods. Most psychiatrists only offered talk therapy or treatments with drugs, talks or electric shocks. Why bother telling drunk, depressed, anxious or psychotic patients that their brains need optimum nutrition? Don’t sick patients know that alcohol can deplete nutrients and interfere with brain function? Dr. Hoffer remained true to the principles of good medicine; he considered the root causes of symptoms before making a differential diagnosis and recommending treatments. He knew that certain nutrients are essential for health and wellbeing. Hoffer researched metabolic, biochemical and nutritional factors involved with mental illness. He identified alcohol as a liquid sugar, just by looking at its chemical formula. Hoffer believed that biochemical individuality and sugar cravings contribute to alcoholism especially if patients have low blood sugar or problems metabolizing alcohol. As a biochemist, Hoffer reasoned that niacin (vitamin B3) could restore mental health, even after repeated episodes of drinking. He researched vitamin therapy for decades, found it safe and effective and helped thousands of patients recover and live well.


Over many years, Abram Hoffer published his research in scientific and medical journals. Perplexed and disappointed by the American Psychiatry Association’s refusal to accept his research, appreciate his discoveries or conduct their own double-blind placebo-controlled trials, Abram Hoffer decided to educate the public. Realizing that most physicians do not test for biochemical disorders, monitor nutrition or prescribe vitamins, Abram Hoffer wrote a series of books for patients, families and caregivers in which he introduced biochemistry, summarized research and shared scientific and medical information about orthomolecular medicine. Andrew Saul has also written books to remind readers about still-useful treatments developed decades ago. Whether readers are patients, families, caregivers or health professionals, Hoffer and Saul present their information clearly and succinctly. Abram Hoffer’s books include: The Chemical Basis of Clinical Psychiatry, Niacin Therapy in Psychiatry, How to Live with Schizophrenia, Nutrients to Age without Senility, Smart Nutrients, Healing Schizophrenia, Adventures in Psychiatry: The Scientific Memoirs of Dr. Abram Hoffer and Orthomolecular Medicine for Everyone. Decades of editorials and articles in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine share Hoffer’s views about schizophrenia, psychosis and alcoholism. (Free access to archives at


Hoffer and Saul credit Roger Williams, PhD with researching vitamins in the 1940s, observing that lab rats vary in their tolerance for alcohol, experimenting with vitamins, recommending vitamins for alcoholism and developing the concept of biochemical individuality. (Reference: Alcoholism – The Nutritional Approach by R. Williams, PhD, 1959). In 1968, Hoffer and Osmond wrote New Hope for Alcoholics to report their research and explain that their “ideal program for treating alcoholics” included “insightful experiences from which [patients] derived understanding about themselves and others”. Hoffer and Osmond paid careful attention to 1. diagnosis, 2. etiology, 3. assessment of drinking behaviors, 4. treatment of medical and metabolic aspects, 5. hopeful prognosis, 6. suicide prevention, 7. hospital access, 8. competent caregivers and 9. review of patient, family and community rights and duties. They used niacin therapy to treat many alcoholics. New Hope for Alcoholics shared patient case reports, recovery stories and heartwarming testimonials written by several of the hundreds of alcoholic patients who recovered at Guest House, Michigan.


Updated a remarkable forty years later, in 2009, The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism, a concise 134 pages, with references, presents (1) Abram Hoffer’s decades of research, progress and success using optimum doses of niacin (with other vitamins, minerals and nutritional supplements) to heal patients with alcoholism and/or schizophrenia and (2) Andrew Saul’s experiences learning about vitamin therapy and teaching about forgotten treatments. Readers can learn that even though Abram Hoffer kept busy treating his own patients and writing, he encouraged a worldwide network of doctors to consider restorative orthomolecular regimens. A number of physicians confirmed that opti-doses of vitamin B3 can heal alcoholic patients. For example, Dr. R. Smith in Detroit and Dr. D. Hawkins in New York used vitamin therapy to help hundreds of their patients recover from psychosis, depression, anxiety and alcoholism. Bill W., a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, found niacin therapy so important to his own recovery that as a layman, Bill wrote two booklets to encourage members of AA to take vitamin B3 - hundreds recovered.


The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism explains how to protect against and fight alcoholism using nutrition and vitamin supplementation. If you or someone you love has a problem with alcohol or another addiction, don’t wait for your doctor to discuss nutrition, test for metabolic disorders, consider your biochemical individuality or suggest an orthomolecular regimen of vitamins and minerals. You owe it to yourselves to read this fascinating book and learn that restorative treatments for psychosis and alcoholism have been researched, developed and administered successfully to thousands of patients, for more than fifty years!


“Dr. Andrew Saul and the late Dr. Abram Hoffer, have produced yet another absolutely essential book, THE VITAMIN CURE FOR ALCOHOLISM. The title is intriguing, as we have always been told that, even though an alcoholic may stop drinking, he can never actually be cured. The authors beg to differ. We learn that alcoholics suffer from a nutritional deficiency that can easily be treated with vitamin supplements. We learn also, that Bill W., the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, promoted the concept of a nutritional approach to curing alcoholism after being successfully treated by Dr. Hoffer. This is an important book. Integrating a nutritional therapy with the traditional behavioral and psychological approaches (as Bill W. did), has proven to be the key to the cure of alcoholism. If alcoholism is truly a ‘disease,’ then it is essential, the authors state, that we not forget to heal the body with nutrients, in order to bring about a truly holistic cure.” (Richard Bennett, Batavia, NY)

The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism
by Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. and Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D.

Reviewed by Ralph Campbell, M.D.

Readers might feel like they have opened a treasure chest as they read of alcoholism in a new light. The connection of alcoholism to nutritional deficiencies is presented convincingly, and is kicked off by this: “A person called an `alcoholic’ is an individual with a sick body who seeks relief and comfort by consuming alcohol in the same way people seek help from aspirin, or eat too much sugar or are given medication for their discomfort.” Having the foremost advocates of megavitamin therapy, or orthomolecular medicine, that heals minds and bodies, tell us how they define and treat alcoholism and other addictions, is quite exciting. Both authors have that great ability to boil down highly technical material into clearly understandable language.

Dr. Hoffer was a clinician with a firm medical knowledge base with the ability to observe and put two and two together. The co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill W., fortunately for him and the entire AA movement, got connected with Dr. Hoffer, accepted niacin megavitamin therapy for treating his alcoholism-related depression and had amazing results. Trials substantiated their findings. Dr. Hoffer early recognized the impact of hypoglycemia (a backlash from a large sugar intake calling too much insulin into play) and how it dovetailed in with nutritional deficiencies. These factors create the foundation for addiction and were made worse by the drinking itself. They considered nutrition factors to augment, not replace, the basics of AA including considering the spiritual side of a troubled client.

Dr. Hoffer’s biochemistry background reminded him of the structural and biochemical similarities between glucose and alcohol, and this led to taking a better look at how sugar affects the psyche. Nutritionally speaking, many alcoholics nearly starve while alcohol displaces food intake. The roles a number of nutrient deficiencies are described in the book, including vitamin C and other B vitamins. But first, attention is properly given to getting back the appetite for eating a whole-foods, healthy diet and avoiding nutritionally deficient foods.

The role of high doses of niacin (B3) in the treatment of alcohol addiction arose from Dr. Hoffer’s knowledge of its use in the treatment of schizophrenia. Several times, I was privileged to hear in person Dr. Hoffer’s presentations of schizophrenia cases, including his explanation of the biochemistry of niacin, or why it did what it did. The case histories and the results were dramatic. At the same time, I was made aware of the put-down of the man and his ideas by conventional psychiatry as I talked to some of my jail patients’ doctors. The book provides a good account of this controversy. Dr. Hoffer never played the “victim” role but continued to simply present honest facts without rancor, making attempts to discredit him seem almost unbelievable. For many physicians, defending their turf takes precedence over espousing truth.

In the appendix, the authors have listed some of Dr. Hoffer’s and other orthomolecular medicine greats’ studies published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Indeed, numerous references to published studies are given for every chapter. “Internet Resources” provides web addresses to directly access orthomolecular medicine studies. By checking these references, as well as following up by doing some of the “Suggested Reading” provided, readers will be equipped with self-help. Accurate education enables positing pertinent questions to their personal physicians. With a dash of doctor-patient rapport and respect, this could lead open-minded, caring physicians to investigate nutritional therapy for him/herself. Nowhere is this more essential than in the treatment of alcoholism.

Andrew Saul is also the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )



Andrew W. Saul


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