Schizophrenic Patients Treated Successfully With Niacin

The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 3, No 12) May 5, 2003

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Written and copyright 2003 by Andrew Saul, PhD. of , a free online library of over 350 natural
healing articles with nearly 4,000 scientific references.


Simply put, it is niacin, and plenty of it.

In the film "Masks of Madness; Science of Healing," psychiatrist Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD says:

"Mental illness is usually biochemical illness. Mental illness is a disorder of brain dysfunction. Schizophrenia is vitamin B-3 (niacin) dependency. If schizophrenia strikes someone at age 25, he's finished. That is, if he's only given drugs. Patients are given drugs and released. The new mental hospital today is the streets."

I viewed this film Friday night, April 10, at the 32nd Nutritional Medicine Today conference recently held in Toronto. During subsequent sessions, I paid special attention when Dr. Hoffer spoke to set the record straight on the alleged "dangers" of niacin therapy:

"Niacin is probably not quite as safe as water, but pretty close to it. 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.

"The top niacin dose ever was a 16-year-old schizophrenic girl who took 120 tablets (500 mg each) in one day. That is 60,000 mg of niacin. The 'voices' she had been hearing were gone immediately. She then took 3,000 mg a day to maintain wellness.

"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."

Early Saturday morning, I sat in as Dr. Hoffer did a video production about his work. He did the entire 43-minute video in one take.

"If patients look up 'schizophrenia' in the old textbooks, they'll die of frustration and fear. That is why I wrote my first book, "How to Live with Schizophrenia." Linus Pauling was 65 and planning to retire. He chanced to see this book on a friend's coffee table. Pauling did not go to bed the first night he read this book. He decided not to retire because of it. Not long after that he wrote his seminal paper "Orthomolecular Psychiatry," published in Science in 1968 (160:265-271. Read the entire paper for free at ).

"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."

"Niacin and niacinamide are equally effective for schizophrenia, but higher doses of niacin can be tolerated without nausea. Inositol hexanicotinate (a no-flush form of niacin) works, too."

Dr. Hoffer closed the conference on Sunday, April 13 by giving the Carl Pfeiffer Memorial Lecture. One of his statements was this:

"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. "


I had the privilege of delivering a speech at a banquet held to celebrate Dr. Abram Hoffer's 85th birthday. The text follows below:

"I am most pleased to have this opportunity to honor Dr. Hoffer this evening.

"Recently, I have been invited to do a regular column for the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine highlighting the work of the profession's pioneers. If I had my way, the subject of my first column would have been Dr. Abram Hoffer, our distinguished guest this evening. But Dr. Hoffer is far too modest to allow that in the pages of the Journal. Instead, he had me select his long-time friend and niacin pioneer Dr. William Kaufman. Therefore, I will honor Dr. Hoffer here tonight, and as our guest, there is nothing he can do about it.

"Two hundred and fifty years ago, in 1753, surgeon James Lind published his citrus-fruit cure of scurvy. It was not until 1795, forty-two years later, that the British Royal Navy mandated the treatment. Believe it or not, it was not until 1865 that the British merchant navy began to require a daily lemon or lime juice ration! During the intervening 112 years, countless tens of thousands of sailors died unnecessarily. No, all thought, nutrition can't possibly be the cure for a REAL disease.

"But it was. Lind was right.

"History sometimes repeats itself.

"It was fifty years ago that Dr Abram Hoffer and his colleagues began curing schizophrenia with niacin. While some physicians are still waiting, those who have used niacin with patients and families know the immense practical value of what Dr. Hoffer discovered. We have been the fortunate ones.

"Niacin is safe and effective. It is also very inexpensive. As George Bernard Shaw observed, "The test to which all methods of treatment are finally brought is whether they are lucrative (to doctors) or not." There may not be millions to be made with niacin, but in the end, the economics will not matter. What really matters, and what will always endure, is that Dr. Hoffer was right, and his work has benefited millions of people worldwide.

"Abram Hoffer's life has not merely changed the face of psychiatry. He has changed the course of medicine for all time. His twenty books and over 500 scientific papers have yet to convince everybody, but they have well taught all of us here. We who have seen the benefits will tell everybody. Such momentum is unstoppable. Tonight, I speak for everyone here when I say that we will not rest until nutritional medicine is the healing system available for all.

"Dr. Hoffer has said that it takes about two generations before a truly new medical idea is accepted. Perhaps in the case of megavitamin therapy, just a tad longer than that. Great ideas in medicine, or anywhere else, are never self-evident. At least not unless a brilliant mind sees more than others have seen, and has the courage to speak out in the teeth of some often surprisingly bitter professional adversity. As a college lecturer, I learned some years ago that if you want to clear the department's lunch room in a hurry, just say something positive about megavitamin therapy.

"If I were to pay one especially high compliment to Dr Hoffer, it would be this: By experience, I have found everything he has written to be true.

"If I had one wish for the Nobel Prize committee, it would be for them to do something they should have done a long time ago: select Dr. Hoffer for the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

"If I could limit myself to only one additional thought, it would be this: Dr. Hoffer, a happy 86th year, and may you have many, many more.

(To learn more about orthomolecular (megavitamin) treatment, including the psychiatric use of niacin, please do a website search for "Hoffer" from the search box at the top of the main page.)


"What do those little white spots in my fingernails mean?"

Carl Pfeiffer, MD, PhD, said that they commonly indicate zinc deficiency. (Dr. Pfeiffer's works are listed, with annotations, at )

As a young man I had those fingernail spots myself. Ever since I started taking 30 to 60 mg of zinc a day, they have vanished.


We learned this one in sixth grade:

DID YOU KNOW that the first sign of insanity is hair on the knuckles?

The second sign is looking for it.


I just bought a Stetson hat. Though pretty much required attire in Texas, we rural New Yorkers still see a big black cowboy hat as a bit far out. But it fits so well, literally and metaphorically, that I figured why not be a maverick. I still have a long way to go to surpass the chutzpah of my friend Wes, a clergyman who always wore a bogus but entirely convincing "Moscow University" beanie throughout the Cold War years. But token displays such as these can't compare with history's truly great individualists who have taken groundbreaking, and therefore very unpopular, stands.

I think Hugh Desaix Riordan, M.D., is one such true individual. Dr. Riordan is the director of the Center for the Improvement of Human Functioning, in Wichita, Kansas (, and is Associate Editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. He is tall, white-bearded, distinguished, and yet a very modest man. Dr. Riordan is world famous for his work using vitamin C against cancer. At his treatment facility in Wichita, Dr. Riordan has gained more experience with extremely high dose vitamin C therapy for "terminal" cancer than perhaps anyone else on earth. He gives patients up to 100,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, by IV. Very difficult to treat pancreatic, ovarian and bowel cancers have responded to this intensive treatment. (More on Dr. Riordan's work is posted at and )

Dr. Riordan has an understandably keen interest in the history of medical innovation. To some, such a subject might normally be expected to put one to sleep faster than a hypno-coin laced with Sominex, but Dr. Riordan knows just how to present such a subject: with admirable brevity.

I have a lot to say about brevity. (You did get that, didn't you?) There is no book, speech or sermon that would not benefit from being shorter. President Calvin Coolidge is remembered not for his presidency but for his astounding economy of words. Another U.S. president delivered his Gettysburg Address in three minutes; the orator on the program before him spoke for two hours. Which speaker's name do you remember?

Anyone can take a plain idea and make it complicated; just look at Congress. It takes real talent to take grand ideas and make them plain. It is a gift for the writer, and a relief to the reader. Dr. Riordan clearly understands this, and he makes medical history's great figures easy to assimilate and appreciate.

There are plenty of big, thick medical biographies. But there is only one really compact compendium, and that is Medical Mavericks. The two volume paperback set consists of only 180 pages in total. There is never a wasted word. Yet therein you will find some 35 biographical essays, each a stand-alone vignette illustrating a particular doctor's struggle to forward mankind's knowledge against the odds, against the grain of professional doctrine, against the current of public opinion, and sometimes against the law.

You cannot read Medical Mavericks without learning something. It is like a "Cliff's Notes" version of a medical "Who's Who." Of course Galen, Vesalius, Hippocrates and Harvey are included. But you will also learn how immigrant physician Joseph Goldberger's discovered that bad diet, and not some germ, causes pellagra. Clinical nutrition pioneer James Lind (referred to in my speech, above) is also included, as is Ignaz Semmelweis, the physician condemned by his profession for the heresy of urging doctors to wash their hands!

I like a good quote at least as much as the next person, and there are plenty of real gems to be found in Medical Mavericks.

"A man laid on the operating table in one of our surgical hospitals is exposed to more chances of death than the English soldier on the field of Waterloo." (Sir James Young Simpson)

"Obstinacy and vehemency in opinion are the surest proofs of stupidity." (Bruce Barton)

"People who will attack any innovation, however true and beneficent it may be, always have existed and always will exist." (Sir William Hale-White)

"I pleased nobody except the people I cured." (Paracelsus)

Dr. Riordan writes:

"The underlying messages we receive from this material is timeless. Whether it is the most ancient Hippocrates or the more recent, (they) repeatedly reflect the wisdom of Schopenhauer's observation than new thought and new truths most often go through three stages. First they are ridiculed. Next they are violently opposed. Then, finally they are accepted as being self-evident." (ix, Vol. 1)

The pioneers of the healing arts will not be forgotten, thanks to the efforts of authors such as Dr. Riordan, and to all readers who appreciate the real-life drama of the lives of true innovators. I am looking forward to Medical Mavericks, Volume 3.

Riordan, Hugh D. Medical Mavericks, Volumes 1 and 2. Wichita, KS, Bio-communications Press, 1988, 1989.


In a previous Newsletter ( and at the Doctor Yourself website ( ) I wrote why vitamin C in high doses is worth trying for candida, thrush and related fungal problems. I have recently observed a curious confirmation of vitamin C's antifungal properties. Having kept tropical fish for decades, I (like most aquarists) have had the occasional fish come down with eye fungus. Recently, in the evening I noticed one of my chichlids had lost its color, was very lethargic, and just parked its pectorals on the gravel. One of the fish's eyes was covered with a considerable amount of cottony fungus.

Fish fungus is usually and inexpensively treated with malachite green solution, though some fish do not take such therapy very well. Changing the tank water also helps. I promptly changed the water, but instead of malachite green I tried vitamin C, one rounded teaspoon of pure ascorbic acid (approximately 5,000 milligrams) sprinkled into a 29 gallon tank. (That would be about 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per 6 gallons water, or about 50 mg per liter.) The next morning, I noticed the fish in question was swimming with the rest, and its color had improved. The eye had some (but not much) fungus left on it. I added another teaspoon of vitamin C powder. By the next day, the fish's normal bright color was restored and the eye fungus was completely gone.

While I suspect that a weak acid solution might in itself have anti-fungal properties, 50 mg of vitamin C per liter makes such an extremely weak acid that other factors must be at work. I think ascorbate has special antifungal properties. (Ascorbic acid powder can easily be obtained from any health food store or found by an Internet search.)


Spring is here and the insects are out. Readers offer their suggestions to keep the bugs off you without having to coat yourself with industrial chemicals.


"I have found that mosquitoes dislike the smell of thiamin, vitamin B-1. If you take some every day, they will stay away."

"I feed my dog garlic, and that seems to keep her free from fleas and other insects. Works for people, too."

"Try topical 'Vicks Vapo-Rub' (or the generic equivalent). Applied to the skin, insects avoid it, and you."

"Citronella liquid or spray works great. You can walk through a cloud of gnats and they will not land on you."

"Eat less, or no, sugar. Sweet foods seem to attract many of the biting and stinging insects."

Thanks to all contributors. Your own non-commercial suggestions and health hints are welcome at . Some of the most interesting may be selected for use in a future Newsletter.

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