Review of Dr. Abram Hoffer's Vitamin B-3 and Schizophrenia
B-3 and Schizophrenia: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy
Review by Andrew W. Saul
The United States Patent Office delayed issuing a patent on the Wright brothers’ airplane for five years because it broke accepted scientific principles. This is actually true. And so is this: Vitamin B-3, niacin, is scientifically proven to be effective against psychosis, and yet the medical profession has delayed endorsing it. Not for five years, but for fifty.
In 1952, Abram Hoffer,
PhD, MD, had just completed his psychiatry residency. What’s more, he
had proven, with the very first double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in
the history of psychiatry, that vitamin B-3 could cure schizophrenia. You
would think that psychiatrists everywhere would have beaten down a path to
You’d think so.
In modern psychiatry,
niacin and schizophrenia are both terms that have been closeted away out of
sight. And patients, tranquilized into submission or Prozac-ed into
But Dr Hoffer dissents. For half a century Dr Hoffer has dissented. His central point has been this: Illness, including mental illness, is not caused by drug deficiency. But much illness, especially mental illness, may be seen to be caused by a vitamin deficiency. This makes sense, and has stood up to clinical trial again and again. If you do not believe this, Vitamin B-3 and Schizophrenia will provide you with the references to prove it. And remember that it was Dr. Hoffer who started off those clinical studies in the first place. In 1952.
I personally should have
first became aware of a food-brain connection during
those all-night, cookie-fired mah-jongg marathons I all-too-regularly
indulged in while attending
And certainly not vitamin supplements!
But the truth will out
eventually. Three years later, I first saw niacin work on somebody else.
He was a bona-fide, properly-diagnosed, utterly-incurable, State-hospitalized
schizophrenic patient. I did not see niacin work in the hospital, of
course; the only vitamins given there are what you can filter out of your “Jell-O”
and your “Tang.” No, the patient
was a fellow whose parents were desperate enough try anything, even
nutrition. Perhaps this was because their son was so unmanageably
violent that he was kicked out of the asylum and sent to live with
them. On a good day, his Mom and Dad somehow got him to take 3,000
milligrams of niacin and 10,000 mg of vitamin C. Formally a hyperactive
insomniac, he responded by sleeping for 18 hours the first night and becoming
surprisingly normal within days. I’d seen him before, and I saw
him after. I’d talked to his parents during the whole
process. It was an astounding improvement.
1) As a rule, the more ill you are, the more niacin you can hold without flushing. In other words, if you need it, you physiologically soak up a lot of niacin. Where does it all go? Well, a good bit of it goes into making nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD. NAD is just about the most important coenzyme in your body. It is made from niacin, as its name implies.
2) Niacin is also works in your body as an antihistamine. Many persons showing psychotic behavior suffer from cerebral allergies. They need more niacin in order to cope with eating inappropriate foods. They also need to stop eating those inappropriate foods, chief among which are the ones they may crave the most: junk food and sugar.
3) There is a chemical found in quantity in the bodies of schizophrenic persons. It is an indole called adrenochrome. Adrenochrome (which is oxidized adrenalin) has an almost LSD-like effect on the body. That might well explain their behavior. Niacin serves to reduce the body’s production of this toxic material.
That Dr. Hoffer can compress a lifetime of research experience into one readable and surprisingly short book is a tribute to how clearly he teaches both layman and physician the essentials of niacin treatment. I have taught nutritional biochemistry to high school, undergraduate, and chiropractic students. To most, it is not an especially gripping subject. But when even a basic working knowledge of niacin chemistry can profoundly change psychotic patients for the better, it becomes very interesting very quickly.
Dr. Hoffer has treated thousands and thousands of such patients for nearly half a century. At 83, he still is in actively practicing orthomolecular (megavitamin) psychiatry. He has seen medical fads come and go. What he sees now is what he’s always seen: that very sick people get well on vitamin B-3.
Review copyright c 2000 by Andrew Saul.
Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at http://www.doctoryourself.com/review.html ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/saulbooks.html )
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