A Documentary Film by Connie Littlefield
Psychiatrists Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond met in Saskatchewan in 1951, and embarked on a quest to do what traditional psychiatry deemed impossible: to find a cure for schizophrenia. Their work spawned a number of directions for research, many of which are only gaining acceptance in wider circles now.
Their primary contribution to psychiatry was a theory about treating people suffering from mental illness using nutrition. Hoffer and Osmond set out to prove that the symptoms of schizophrenia could be controlled with healthy, unprocessed food and large doses of vitamins.
Linus Pauling was an American scientist, peace activist, two-time Nobel Prize winning author and educator. Pauling & Hoffer became friends and together advocated for mega-doses of niacin, vitamin C and other nutrients in the treatment of all kinds of disease. Pauling came up with the name “Orthomolecular” for this new, yet ancient, form of treatment. Orthomolecular means “the right molecules in the right amounts.”
Hoffer, Osmond and Pauling were way ahead of their time. Their work coincided with a general movement towards de-institutionalization in mental health, releasing patients back into the community with no real support system. At the same time, economic changes were bringing budget cuts to all aspects of health care in North America.
This was also the dawn of the age of Big Pharma. Multi-national pharmaceutical corporations sprung up in the 1950s and 60s, introducing new anti-psychotic drugs that made it possible to control, if not actually help, the mentally ill. Consumers put their faith in the idea of the “magic bullet” and since then, psychiatry has been largely controlled by the pharmaceutical industry.
For their efforts, Hoffer, Osmond, Pauling & hundreds of like-minded doctors were condemned by their peers.
The tide is turning: a growing wave of consumer demand is driving an orthomolecular resurgence. Doctors and patients are being slowly won over by a simple idea that makes more sense every day:
WE ARE WHAT WE EAT.