In english, for health professionals interested information on nutrition, medicine, and psychiatry orthomolecular.

En ingles, para profesionales de la salud interesados, información en inglés sobre nutrición, medicina y psiquiatría ortomolecular.

viernes, mayo 29, 2009

Abraham Hoffer

Abram Hoffer

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Abram Hoffer (1917-2009) was a Canadian psychiatrist known for his claims that nutrition and megadoses of vitamins are effective treatments for schizophrenia. This general approach, called orthomolecular medicine by its proponents and questioned by most of the mainstream medical community, includes the use of megavitamins and is commonly called megavitamin therapy.




Hoffer received a degree in agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1938, followed by a Masters degree in agricultural chemistry in 1940. He received a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1944 with research into vitamin content of cereals. Hoffer graduated with an MD from the University of Toronto in 1949 and completed psychiatric training in 1954.[1]

Hoffer was a faculty member of the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan from 1955–67 and served as the Director of Psychiatric Research for the Saskatchewan Department of Public Health in Regina from 1950–67.[1] He stated that half the patients housed in the mental hospital were diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and that the conditions in the mental hospital and the treatment of these patients were poor, and looked for better answers to treat the mentally ill.[2] Critical of psychiatry for its emphasis on psychosomatic psychoanalysis and for what he considered a lack of adequate definition and measurement, Hoffer felt that biochemistry and human physiology should be used instead. He hypothesised that schizophrenics lack the ability to remove a hallucinogenic metabolite adrenochrome from their brains. He speculated that he could decrease the concentration of adrenochrome in the brain by using vitamin C to reduce adrenochrome to adrenaline and using niacin as a methyl acceptor to prevent the conversion of noradrenaline into adrenaline. Hoffer called his theory the "adrenochrome hypothesis".[3]

By the mid-1960s, according to Hoffer, psychiatry was emphasising the use of neuroleptic drugs. Hoffer claims that he and like-minded researchers, calling themselves "orthomolecularists", were snubbed and became the victims of a conspiracy, with their reports rejected by scientific journals.[4] In 1967, Hoffer resigned his academic and administrative positions, entered into private psychiatric practice in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and created the Journal of Schizophrenia as a means of publishing articles rejected by mainstream journals. After several name changes, the journal was called the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in 1986.[4] In 1976, Hoffer relocated to Victoria, British Columbia and continued with his private psychiatric practice until his retirement in 2005. Hoffer continues to provide nutritional consultations and to serve as editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.[2] He is also President of the Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre in Victoria, BC.[5]

Hoffer died May 27, 2009 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.[6]


Working with counterculture icon Humphry Osmond (who coined the term "psychedelic"), Hoffer sought to find medicinal uses for hallucinogenic drugs.[7] Theorizing that alcoholics needed to "hit bottom" before they were willing to stop drinking, Hoffer and Osmond treated alcoholics with LSD. Their stated goal was to simulate delirium tremens (i.e.: hitting bottom). Osmond reported a fifty percent success rate in one study, although Hoffer speculated that it was more likely the psychedelic experience of LSD, rather than simulated delirium tremens, that convinced the alcoholics to stop drinking.[8]

Incidental to Hoffer's psychiatric work with niacin, he was part of a team that reported an effect of niacin on cholesterol levels.[9]

Observing biochemical abnormalities and serendipitous cancer recoveries among his psychiatric patients, Hoffer worked for several years on the potential anticancer effects of nutrients, particularly the B vitamins, selenium, and ascorbate. He says this included treating hundreds of cancer patients with nutrients, with reported success.[10] Hoffer collaborated with Linus Pauling on several aspects of orthomolecular medicine,[11] co-authoring several books with Pauling.[12][13] These claims are rejected by medicine, with large-scale trials showing little or no effect of vitamins on cancer; large doses of some vitamins are correlated with an increase in the cancers they are claimed to prevent.[14]


Hoffer's claims regarding schizophrenia and his theories of orthomolecular medicine have been rejected by the medical community.[15] In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association reported methodological flaws in Hoffer's work on niacin as a schizophrenia treatment and referred to follow-up studies that did not confirm any benefits of the treatment.[16] Later studies similarly failed to find benefits in the use of megavitamin therapy to treat schizophrenia.[17] The term "orthomolecular medicine" was labeled a misnomer as early as 1973[16] and its practices are currently considered inadequate as a treatment for schizophrenia.[18]

Hoffer predicted in the 1950s that it would take at least forty years for his methods to become accepted. In a 2006 interview, Hoffer stated that while he felt that current mainstream psychiatric care was "terrible", his theories and treatments were starting to become more accepted. "[W]e're at a transition point. If I live another four or five years, I'll see it."[2]


Hoffer's publications include:

  1. ^ a b Hoffer, Abram. "Curriculum Vitae". Health World Online. http://www.healthy.net/bios/hoffer/CV.htm. 
  2. ^ a b c Rob Wipond (August 2006). "An interview with Dr. Abram Hoffer". Focus. http://robwipond.com/?p=21. 
  3. ^ Hoffer, Abram. "Vitamins and Minerals Help Fight Off Diseases of The Mind and The Body". Life extension magazine. http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2003/jan2003_report_hoffer_01.html. 
  4. ^ a b Hoffer, Abram. "Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine History". http://www.orthomed.org/jom/jomhist.htm. 
  5. ^ "Self published". Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre. http://www.orthomolecularvitamincentre.com/. 
  6. ^ "Controversial Victoria psychiatrist Abram Hoffer dies at age 92". Times Colonist. 2009-05-28. http://www.timescolonist.com/Health/Controversial+Victoria+psychiatrist+Abram+Hoffer+dies/1640012/story.html. Retrieved on 2009-05-29. 
  7. ^ Eisner, Bruce (February 11, 2004). "Humphrey Osmond Inventor of the Word "Psychedelic" Dies". http://www.bruceeisner.com/new_culture/2004/02/humphrey_osmond.html. 
  8. ^ Hoffer, Abram (1970). "Treatment of alcoholism with psychedelic therapy". http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/hoffer.htm. 
  9. ^ Altschul R; Hoffer A; Stephen JD. (1955). "Influence of nicotinic acid on serum cholesterol in man". Arch Biochem Biophys 54: 558–559. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(55)90070-9. PMID 14350806. 
  10. ^ "Hoffer's Home Page - Orthomolecular Treatment of Cancer.". December 26, 1999. http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/. 
  11. ^ "Correspondence, Abram Hoffer". Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers. Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections. http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/catalogue/pauling01_152-162.html. Retrieved on 2008-02-28. 
  12. ^ Hoffer A; Pauling L (2004). Healing Cancer: Complementary Vitamin & Drug Treatments. CCNM Press. ISBN 1-897025-11-4. 
  13. ^ Hoffer A; Pauling L (1999). Vitamin C and Cancer: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy. Kingston, Ontario: Quarry Press. ISBN 1-55082-078-8. 
  14. ^ Satia JA, Littman A, Slatore CG, Galanko JA, White E (2009). "Long-term Use of {beta}-Carotene, Retinol, Lycopene, and Lutein Supplements and Lung Cancer Risk: Results From the VITamins And Lifestyle (VITAL) Study". American Journal of Epidemiology. doi:10.1093/aje/kwn409. 
  15. ^ Bartlett, Stephen (2000-07-12). "Orthomolecular Therapy". Quack Watch. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/ortho.html. 
  16. ^ a b Lipton M, et al. (1973). Task Force Report on Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Therapy in Psychiatry. American Psychiatric Association. 
  17. ^ Vaughan K; McConaghy N (1999). "Megavitamin and dietary treatment in schizophrenia: a randomised, controlled trial" (abstract). Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry 33 (1): 84–8. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00527.x. PMID 10197889. 
  18. ^ Lerner Vladimir, et al. (2005). "The treatment of acute schizophrenia with high dose niacinmide plus ascorbate plus pyridoxine plus Centrum Forte vs. Centrum Forte only as an add-on to risperidone and dietary counseling (2005-2009 trial)". Clinicaltrials.gov. http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00140166. 

Lic. Nut. Miguel Leopoldo Alvarado

El siguiente es un obituario Abram Hoffer enviado por el hijo de John Hoffer

2006: Dr. Abram Hoffer in his office with portraits of his colleagues including Aldous Huxley,far left, and Linus Pauling

2006: Dr. Abram Hoffer in his office with portraits of his colleagues including Aldous Huxley,far left, and Linus Pauling

Photograph by: Darren Stone, Times Colonist

The following is an obituary sent by Abram Hoffer's son John Hoffer:

Abram Hoffer died in Victoria on Wednesday, May 27 after a brief illness and a long, healthy, productive and brilliant life.

Born November 11, 1917 on a farm in Hoffer, Saskatchewan, Abram Hoffer attended a one-room schoolhouse and studied on horseback, eventually graduating from the University of Saskatchewan (BSA, MSA), the University of Minnesota (PhD in nutrition) and the University of Toronto (MD). He specialized in psychiatry and was, for many years, director of psychiatric research for the Saskatchewan Department of Public Health and associate professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon. In these capacities he carried out groundbreaking research in several areas, ultimately authoring more than 500 peer-reviewed and popular articles and more than 30 academic monographs and popular books.

He challenged the then-dominant view of schizophrenia as a psychological disorder caused by poor mothering, and contributed importantly to the formation of the field of neuropsychopharmacology. He co-authored research on the genetics of schizophrenia with the renowned geneticist, Ernst Mayer. He co-discovered the first effective lipid-lowering agent, the B vitamin niacin. He developed a controversial treatment for acute schizophrenia based on the principles of respect, shelter, sound nutrition, appropriate medication and the administration of large doses of certain water-soluble vitamins, in the process carrying out among the first controlled clinical trials in psychiatry. He advanced a plausible biochemical hypothesis to explain the cause of schizophrenia and how niacin and vitamin C could eliminate its symptoms and prevent relapses. Intrigued by the concept of metabolic "models of madness," he and his research colleagues, notably his close collaborator Humphry Osmond, studied the properties of the hallucinogens and pioneered the use of LSD, which in conjunction with skilled compassionate psychotherapy, was found to be an effective treatment for alcoholism. His work with alcoholism led to a close friendship with Bill W., the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. He organized a self-help organization for people with schizophrenia, Schizophrenics Anonymous. Participants at SA meetings occasionally exchanged the friendly greeting, "Salutations and hallucinations!" His colleague and friend, the American chemist Linus Pauling, championed the biochemical model for treating schizophrenia that was developed in Saskatchewan and provided a conceptual underpinning for the notion that large doses of certain naturally occurring substances can favorably alter disordered brain biochemistry, coining the term "orthomolecular psychiatry."

Abram Hoffer moved to Victoria in 1976 where he practiced psychiatry for many years, becoming a founding member and president of the Senior Physicians Association of British Columbia. Sometimes criticized from afar for his controversial views, he was beloved by his many patients and close colleagues. He devoted his life to the goal of curing – not palliating – schizophrenia. His son Bill died in 1998 and his wife Rose died in 2001. He is survived by his daughter, Miriam (and her husband Guy Ewing), by his son John (and his wife Yehudit Silverman), and by four grandchildren: Adam, Megan, Joshua and Rebecca. At his request, the funeral will be private. We are immensely grateful to the nurses and physicians on West 2 of the Royal Jubilee Hospital. We are indebted to Dr. James Spence for his thoughtful and compassionate attention. Donations can be sent to the International Schizophrenia Foundation, founded by Abram Hoffer.

Lic. Nut. Miguel Leopoldo Alvarado


Abraham Hoffer fue el creador junto con Linus Pauling, Morton Walker y otros desacatados investigadores la Psiquiatría, la Medicina y la Nutrición Ortomolecular.
Descanse en Paz Abraham Hoffer.
A continuación su biografía en inglés.

A Summary of His Life & Work (pdf format)
A Poetic Limerick from Dr. Riordan
Dr. Hoffer's Books
Dr. Hoffer's Research Papers
Dr. Hoffer's Cancer Website
Dr. Hoffer's Schizophrenia Website


By Abram Hoffer
I have lived a full, interesting and creative life supported by my family and many friends and irritated and spurred on by the hostile criticisms of a group of psychiatrists representing APA and NIMH. Since they did not know me personally I never took it personally although I must admit I would have preferred had they been supportive. I give my critics full credit for having delayed the full introduction of orthomolecular medicine into the medical world and for having denied life, health and happiness for innumerable patients. Supporters of old paradigms never realize how much damage they do by their remarkable rigidity and adherence to old theories.
I was born on a farm in Southern Saskatchewan in 1917, completed High School in a rural school, my PhD at University of Minnesota and Medical degree at University of Toronto. By the time I got my first job I was 33 years old, had three children and was totally fed up with being a student. The last thing in the world I wanted to do was to become a psychiatrist, then the lowest branch of medicine. My wife Rose put up with these long student years while she brought up our three children. Bill became one of the world's best antiquarian book experts. He died 6 years ago from lung cancer. John is a Professor of Medicine at McGill University in Montreal a great clinician and researcher into nutrition, and Miriam is dietitian at Women College hospital in Toronto and recently published her very good book Fueling Body, Mind and Spirit. Rose died in August 2001 and since then I am alone but absorbed with my family and my work. I have the support of remarkable friends and scientists and all of us working together will eventually overhaul medicine back to its interest in nutrition and in nutrients.
My work with schizophrenia and later in developing orthomolecular psychiatry depends on a series of events that possibly cannot ever occur again. I began to work for the Government of Saskatchewan in July 1, 1950, to organize a research division in psychiatry. The government was very hopeful that this would help them bring our mental hospital into the twentieth century. Our two mental hospitals were classed in 1954 as among the three worst in the world by Dr. John Weir, Medical Director of the Rockefeller Foundation. My chief was very supportive because he trusted and liked me even though he did not understand much about what we were doing. Dr. Humphry Osmond joined us from England. He was a refugee from the stiff conservative research intellectual attitude of academic psychiatry in England. He and John Smythies had formulated their M hypothesis of schizophrenia which was that it was possible that in the body of these patients there was a chemical with the psychological properties of mescaline and somehow related to adrenaline. Osmond brought this idea to us in Saskatchewan in the fall of 1951, and to me it made a tremendous amount of good sense. It gave us a map to follow in pursuit to the elusive schizophrenic toxin. I was Director of Psychiatric Research and was given full control. I knew no psychiatry, which was a major stroke of luck because I did not know that what we were trying to do was impossible. We had no medical school, another stroke of luck because we had no one who could countermand the direction I wanted to follow. Our team developed the adrenochrome hypothesis, which stated that adrenalin was oxidized to adrenochrome and this caused the disease. It was the first super oxidation hypothesis in medicine and it called for certain biochemical tricks to reverse this oxidation. We developed our research program with the help of the Rockefeller Foundation and showed that adrenochrome is an hallucinogen and showed how it could be made and studied. Later it was found in the body and is today receiving serious consideration as an element in many degenerative diseases of the brain. But we also wanted to treat our patients more effectively. All we had was ECT.
We deduced from our biochemical theories that large doses of vitamin B-3 and vitamin C might be therapeutic. We obtained a large supply of pure crystalline niacin, niacinamide, ascorbic acid and riboflavin. Our first patient Ken was a catatonic schizophrenic in the mental hospital run by Dr Osmond. He had had insulin coma and also ECT and had been left in a coma and was dying. We decided that he must be our first patient to be given niacin and hoped he would not be our first victim. We used a stomach tube and gave him a large dose of niacin and ascorbic acid. He survived. The next day he sat up and drank it and thirty days later he was well. He was discharged and remained well. We were very fortunate. It is essential that the first patient one treats with any new treatment responds and he did. We then knew that we had something but our conviction was not great. After six double blinds, thousands of patients I have treated since then, and dozens of open clinical studies, I am convinced that what I saw in 1952 did represent a new way of treating these patients. The question is why do we need double blinds, which never initiate anything and merely consume tons of money and time and do very little to further progress in medicine. Under my direction, we did the first double blinds in psychiatry and I felt perfectly justified in also being one of the first to criticize this method.
The adrenochrome hypothesis has been a map that we have followed since then and it has been remarkably effective in directing our investigations in to fruitful areas of research. These include the discovery of the mauve factor, psychedelic therapy, special clinical tests for schizophrenia such as the HOD and EWI test, the discovery that niacin lowers cholesterol levels, better housing for patients, better and more humane treatment of patients and more. Our research, and the use of mega doses of vitamins led to Linus Pauling's formulation of Orthomolecular Psychiatry and Medicine. And I now know a lot more psychiatry than I did when I first started so many years ago.

Top | Autobiography | His Life & Work | A Poetic Tribute |
Books | Research Papers | His Websites for Cancer | Schizophrenia

Lic. Nut. Miguel Leopoldo Alvarado