Philosophy / History Of The Origins Of Orthomolecular Medicine
The orthomolecular medicine (Greek: «orthos» = correct, «molecule» = small chemical compound, «molecular» = relating to the molecules) uses substances such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, or fatty acids to maintain health or complaints and To alleviate illnesses. The American chemist Linus Pauling (1901-1995), a two-time Nobel Prize winner, was convinced that taking large amounts of certain vitamins could maintain health and prevent disease. With this conviction, Pauling was one of the most famous supporters of orthomolecular medicine.
Many substances such as vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, or fatty acids (called “nutrients” in orthomolecular medicine) are essential for maintaining good health. These substances are normally ingested with food and some of them are produced by the body itself. The supporters of orthomolecular medicine are of the opinion that many complaints and illnesses can be traced back to a deficiency in these substances, although the need varies greatly from person to person. That is why there are people who, despite a healthy diet, take in too few “nutrients” and can subsequently become ill.
A lack of the nutrients that are important in orthomolecular medicine can have many reasons:
- Lack of nutrition
- Unilateral or unhealthy diet
- Preserved and alienated foods whose nutrient content decreases due to processing
- Loss of nutrients in food due to long transport, incorrect storage, or poor preparation
- An increase in nutrient requirements through the “modern” way of life, which is associated with stress, hectic pace, and the excessive consumption of alcohol, nicotine, and coffee
- Increased need for nutrients in times of increased stress, for example during a growth phase, an illness, or during recovery
- Environmental pollution
In orthomolecular medicine, attempts are made to prevent or compensate for a deficiency of the nutrients mentioned by paying attention to an increased intake of these substances. Linus Pauling, for example, consumed large amounts of vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A every day – he was 94 years old.
Technique Of Orthomolecular Medicine
The therapist or doctor who practices orthomolecular medicine has the patient’s complaints described in detail. From these symptoms, he can infer the possible underlying nutritional deficiency. In order to gain certainty about the nutrient supply of the patient, the therapist can have body cells and fluids (hair, urine, or blood) examined for their nutrient content. The therapist gives the patient advice on how to increase the supply of the missing nutrients by changing his eating habits (for example by avoiding foods such as white flour or sugar). In addition, the therapist prescribes nutrients for oral use.
Application Of Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine is used in the treatment, but above all in the prevention of diseases. Some examples are:
- Various vitamins to prevent cancer or improve performance
- Magnesium, zinc, selenium, and vitamins to prevent vision problems
- Omega-6 fatty acids for the prevention of circulatory disorders
- Magnesium against calf cramps and cardiac arrhythmias
- Chromium, zinc, and manganese for fluctuations in the sugar metabolism
- Vitamin C and sulfur-containing amino acids in case of a nickel allergy
- Zinc and Vitamin C to promote wound healing
A special field of application of orthomolecular medicine in psychiatry is because many people with mental problems or mental illnesses are said to suffer from nutrient deficiencies. There is some hope in the use of nutrients to treat these serious diseases.
Side Effects Of The Orthomolecular Approach
The intake of high doses of vitamins can in rare cases lead to an overdose and symptoms of intoxication. To date, it is also not yet known whether health damage can occur after years of ingestion of large amounts of nutrients.