One hundred years ago, the world was in the dark depths of the First World War. The Russian revolution erupted. Buffalo Bill Cody died. The Chicago White Sox won the World Series. John F. Kennedy was born, and so was Dr. Abram Hoffer. Born and raised on a farm in western Canada, Abram Hoffer began his education in a one-room schoolhouse, and on horseback he herded cattle. He would go on to complete both PhD and MD degrees, specialize in psychiatry, do pioneering research with niacin and other vitamins, and change medicine forever. On this centenary of his birth (November 11), I would like to honor Dr. Hoffer, who was my hero, mentor, coauthor and friend. Oddly enough for me, described by my father who said I "started talking early and never shut up since," I am going to simply let Dr. Hoffer's own words speak for him.
Here are my favorite Abram quotes:
"The history of medicine is a history of conflict. We should be making awards for infamy, but the list would be too long and thus no one would stand out."
"Drugs make a well person sick. Why would they make a sick person well?"
"The worst fate that can befall the critics of orthomolecular medicine is that they will never, ever use vitamins."
"No amount of evidence will persuade someone who is not listening."
"Double-blind clinical trials are for the birds."
"How much longer will society permit doctors the luxury of doing nothing, especially when the suggested treatments are safe, economical and, in the opinion of doctors who follow the treatments, so effective. The medical establishment should be ashamed of itself, and owes the American people an apology."
"Abram Hoffer has made an important contribution to the health of human beings."
"Anyone who wishes to become familiar with orthomolecular medicine may do so by simply beginning with a whole-foods, sugar-free diet, and a few vitamins."
"Sugar is the original addiction."
"Niacin is probably not quite as safe as water, but pretty close to it."
"If I told patients a funny story and they did not laugh, they needed more niacin."
"Patients ask me, 'How dangerous is niacin therapy?' I answer them, 'You are going to live a lot longer. Is that a problem for you?'"
"There have been no deaths ever from niacin. The LD 50 (the dosage that would kill half of those taking it) for dogs is 6,000 milligrams per kilogram body weight. That is equivalent to half a pound of niacin per day for a human. No human takes 225,000 milligrams of niacin a day. They would be nauseous long before reaching a harmful dose."
"Niacin is not liver toxic. Niacin therapy increases liver function tests. But this elevation means that the liver is active. It does not indicate an underlying liver pathology."
"I have treated 5,000 schizophrenic patients with niacin. The first was a 12-year-old boy in 1960. To get the boy to take it, his father crushed the niacin tablet and spread it into a jam sandwich. That boy is now a research psychiatrist."
"The treatment that worked in 1960 is still working today. That treatment is called orthomolecular medicine. Orthomolecular medicine restores natural metabolism with nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, in optimum quantities."
"For schizophrenics, the natural recovery rate is 50%. With orthomolecular medicine, the recovery rate is 90%. With drugs, it is 10%. If you use just drugs, you won't get well."
"Mental illness is usually biochemical illness. Schizophrenia is vitamin B-3 (niacin) dependency. [But] patients are given drugs and released. The new mental hospital today is the streets."
And what is my personal favorite Abram zinger? I guess it would have to be the one he quietly said to me at the dinner table as I was taking my small handful of vitamin supplements:
"You know, if you take all those vitamins, you are going to live a lot longer. If you don't, come back and see me."
But I no longer have that opportunity. Abram Hoffer died in 2009.
In 2007, at his 90th birthday celebration, he spoke of his long "run" as a physician:
"With me are thousands of patients from all over, most of whom who have benefited from orthomolecular theory and practice. I thank them all for allowing me to give them vitamins and for teaching me how to be a doctor. I thank my colleagues who are still running with me [and] I thank niacin, which has allowed my brain to keep working.
"My run is nearly over. But I contemplate the end of my run with absolute confidence that you will all keep on running long after I am gone, for the cause is so important. The cause is to bring orthomolecular sanity into psychiatry. That is the Promised Land.
"So many scientists are now joining the run that it will get easier and easier. The future is very bright."
Happy 100th birthday, Dr. Hoffer.
(Abram Hoffer authored more than two dozen books and nearly 600 research reports, reviews and editorials. Niacin: The Real Story, his final book, was published posthumously in 2012. You can learn more about niacin therapy by doing a site search for "Hoffer niacin" at http://www.doctoryourself.com . Readers who wish to share their own personal healing experiences with nutrition are invited to send them to the OMNS editor at firstname.lastname@example.org . Individual replies cannot be provided. Submissions become the property of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, may or may not be used in a future OMNS, and, if selected for publication, are subject to editing for space and content.)
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