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Orthomolecular Medicine

Orthomolecular Treatment

Many people start applying the concepts of orthomolecular medicine after researching it on their own, and begin taking supplements without a doctor's advice (which is rarely a good idea). It is possible to find a doctor who practices it, although it's a small field. Some may also practice other forms of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), although many practitioners claim that orthomolecular medicine is different because it is rooted in biology and can be tested using the scientific method.

Pauling and other orthomolecular researchers base their assertions on their own studies, which they claim show the complex interactions that take place in our bodies between substances like vitamins and other biochemical compounds like enzymes and hormones. Dr. F. R. Klenner was one of the first doctors to put this concept to use when he began prescribing megadoses of vitamin C to polio patients in 1948. Afterward, they were able to walk again [Source: Saul]. He writes of treating people with diabetes, leukemia, multiple sclerosis and other diseases with a regimen of vitamins and minerals as well as a special diet. Dr. Klenner is quoted in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine as saying that "some physicians would stand by and see their patient die rather than use ascorbic acid because in their finite minds it exists only as a vitamin."

If you went to an orthomolecularist with a specific complaint, he or she would start by giving you a physical exam and taking your medical history, including an extensive discussion of your diet and lifestyle, as well as your symptoms. Then, the practitioner would draw blood and have it tested for levels of different vitamins, minerals or other substances, depending on your complaint. For example, many orthomolecular practitioners believe that large doses of vitamin E can prevent or even treat cardiovascular disease. If you've been diagnosed with that disease, then he may check your vitamin E levels. These results help to establish a baseline, although some will contend that blood test results are not 100 percent accurate because they don't reflect the levels of nutrients in our organs.

After evaluation comes treatment. Next, find out why orthomolecularists often prescribe vitamins in doses that far exceed what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recommends.