What is orthomolecular medicine?

Orthomolecular medicine

Orthomolecular medicine is a form of complementary medicine that seeks to maintain health and prevent or treat diseases by correcting imbalances or deficiencies based on individual biochemistry, using substances natural to the body such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements, and fatty acids.  The term “orthomolecular” was first used by Linus  Pauling,  Ph.D., in his ground-breaking article in “Science” in 1968.    The key idea in orthomolecular medicine is that genetic factors affect not only the physical characteristics of individuals but also to their biochemical milieu. There  are  certain  principles  that  identify  Orthomolecular  Medicin (Dr.Kunin)


  • 1.  Orthomolecules come first in medical diagnosis and treatment.  Knowledge of the safe and effective use of nutrients,  enzymes, hormones,  antigens, antibodies, and other naturally occurring molecules is essential to assure a reasonable standard of care in medical practice.
  • 2.  Orthomolecules have a low risk of toxicity.  Pharmacological drugs always carry higher risk and are therefore the second choice if there is an orthomolecular alternative treatment.
  • 3.  Laboratory tests are not always accurate and blood tests do not necessarily reflect nutrient levels within specific organs or tissues, particularly not within the nervous system. Therapeutic trial and dose titration is often the most practical test.
  • 4.  Biochemical individuality is a central precept of  Orthomolecular  Medicine.  Hence, the search for optimal nutrient doses is a practical issue.  Megadoses, larger than normal doses of nutrients, are often effective but this can only be determined by therapeutic trial. Dose titration is indicated in otherwise unresponsive cases.
  • 5.  The  Recommended  Daily  Allowance  (RDA) is intended for normal, healthy people.  By definition, sick patients are not normal or healthy and not likely to be adequately served by the RDA.
  • 6.  Environmental pollution of air, water, and food is common.  Diagnostic search for toxic pollutants is justified and a high  “index of suspicion” is mandatory in every case.
  • 7.  Optimal health is a lifetime challenge.  Biochemical needs change and our Orthomolecular prescriptions need to change based upon follow-up, repeated testing and therapeutic trials to permit fine-tuning of each prescription and to provide a degree of health never before possible.
  • 8.  Nutrient-related disorders are always treatable and deficiencies are usually curable.  To ignore their existence is tantamount to malpractice.
  • 9.  Don’t let medical defeatism prevent a therapeutic trial.  Hereditary and so-called  ‘locatable disorders are often responsive to Orthomolecular treatment.
  • 10.  When treatment is known to be safe and possibly effective, as is the case in much Orthomolecular therapy,  a therapeutic trial is mandated.
  • 11. Patient reports are usually reliable. The patient must listen to his body. The physician must listen to his patient.
  • 12.  To  deny  the  patient  information and access to Orthomolecular treatment is to deny the patient informed consent for any other treatment
  • 13. Inform  the  patient  about  his  condition;  provide  access  to  all  technical  information  and  reports;  respect  the  right  of  freedom  of choice in medicine
  • 14.  Inspire the patient to realize that Health is not merely the absence of disease but the positive attainment of optimal function and well-being.
  • 15.  Hope is therapeutic and orthomolecular therapies always are valuable as a source of Hope.  This is ethical so long as there is no misrepresentation or deception.
  • The essential rules are: Nutrition comes first in medical diagnosis and treatment. Drug treatment is used only for specific indications and always with an eye to the potential dangers and adverse effects. Environmental pollution and food adulteration are an inescapable fact of modern life and are a medical priority. Biochemical individuality is the norm in medical practice; therefore stereotyped RDA values are unreliable nutrient guides. Blood tests do not necessarily reflect tissue levels of nutrients. Nutrient diagnosis is always defensible because nutrient related disorders are usually treatment responsive or curable. Hope is an indispensable ally of the physician and an absolute right of the patient. 
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