Orthomolecular Medicine Conference Report May 2013

By Helke Ferrie

Vitality Magazine June 2013

Orthomolecular: “the right molecules in the right amounts based on human bioindividuality” (ortho: Greek for “straight, correct”) Coined and defined by Linus Pauling, Science, April 19, 1968

In 1986, Linus Pauling wrote in his book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better, that some 500 physicians (at most) in the world were practicing orthomolecular medicine. For many of those doctors in the U.S., he often acted as an expert defense witness in prosecutions initiated by medical boards who charged doctors, for example, with “not having tried hard enough to get a cancer patient, who had decided against chemotherapy, to change her mind.” (One doctor lost his license over that charge.) In Canada, vitamin E pioneer Dr. Evan Shute, M.D., was threatened three times by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario with loss of license for his immensely successful and published clinical application of vitamin E. Pauling, a two-time Nobel laureate (chemistry and peace), observed that he had become personally familiar with this sort of group-think-generated absurdity when the State Department confiscated his passport preventing him from presenting a paper on protein structure to the UK’s Royal Society because his “anti-Communist statements had not been strong enough.”

How times have changed!

A recent gathering in Toronto of orthomolecular medicine doctors hosted many leading university researchers whose work is published in peer-reviewed mainstream journals. In Canada and the U.S., “toximolecular” Big Pharma-allied doctors still outnumber the orthomolecular ones. In South America it’s the other way around. Efrain Olszewer, M.D., an expert in bio-identical hormone therapy, recounted how in 1983 he brought this new medical approach to Brazil; today he coordinates the orthomolecular graduate programs in Brazil’s medical schools as well as in Bolivia, Argentina, Paraguay, and Peru. South America has 17,000 practicing orthomolecular physicians. Their international conferences are attended by several thousand such doctors from all over the world.

Pauling would be delighted with the amazing clinical results being reported throughout the mainstream PubMed-based literature, and impressed with how the latest research from genetics and biochemistry is incorporated to the benefit of so many patients. Meanwhile, toximolecular Big Pharma reels from multibillion dollar fines arising from lawsuits initiated by injured patients; yet, pharmaceutical companies frantically cast about for molecules that might be patentable to keep the fires of profit stoked – regardless of patient outcomes.

There is no denying the increasing polarization between drug-based disease management and the health optimization strategy of orthomolecular practitioners. The orthomolecular focus on curing disease by detoxing the body and then introducing nutritional medicine requires strict avoidance of toxic substances such as synthetic drugs.

Being keenly aware of those two worlds of medicine, my attention was captured during the conference by a flyer on the book table. Published by Wyeth Consumer Healthcare Inc. (now owned by Pfizer), was the September 2010 issue of the Whitehall-Robins Report, available for free download (http://bit.ly/18up0CQ) entitled “Micronutrients and Mental Health.” Here was a scholarly summary of the healing effects of vitamins C, B, D3, and essential fatty acids on schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder, and anorexia, and how to prevent or reverse movement disorders (tardive dyskinesia) caused by psychiatric drugs. The observations on what nutrients are known to be lacking in patients with these problems, started with a red-flag sentence: “Modern antipsychotic drugs effectively suppress the symptoms of psychosis and mood disorders.” Wow! My eyes quickly turned to the source list at the end and it took my breath away as I saw all my old friends: the leading journals and so many great researchers. “Who wrote this?” was my next thought. Well! The byline revealed Abram Hoffer’s justly famous son, John Hoffer from McGill University – a guy with unassailable credentials who spoke at this event on his years of work with vitamin C in hospitalized patients. He was the first to get mainstream journals to publish the results of vitamin C therapy with cancer patients.

This little flyer provides stunning insight into the ongoing and unstoppable slow-motion tsunami of medical truth that is in the process of overwhelming all of medicine. Remember, Wyeth/Pfizer is the source of some of the most toxic drugs on the market, such as the hormone replacement drug Premarin, which according to the New England Journal of Medicine has killed hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting women since its introduction. Wyeth also developed the antidepressant Effexor; check out what psychiatrists David Healy, Joseph Glenmullen, and Peter Breggin have to say about that one. These drugs are based on delusionary premises which result in disastrous patient outcomes. In this little flyer, those evil concoctions were revealed as the poisons they are, with the help of research from reputable scientific sources. We live in an age when the mighty fall in slow motion, and in desperation must begin transforming.

Cutting Edge Research Revealed at the Conference

Jeffrey Kotulski from Minnesota (www.bridgeshealingcentre.com) discussed basic principles of orthomolecular medicine in terms of stoichiometry (first described by Benjamin Richter in 1792), that branch of chemistry that studies and measures the relative quantities of chemicals working together in producing an end-product. A good example of such chemical reactions are all living things: everything alive conducts a chemical orchestra in which the parts chosen or exposed to determine the results of growth, health and disease.

One such key stoichiometric process was discussed by Saul Pilar from Vancouver (www.connecthealth are.ca) with regard to the sodium/potassium balance which is a fundamental principle of health. Since 2006 the World Health Organization has promoted the reduction of salt intake (excess salt is proven to be the major cause of hypertension). Imbalance of these two also reduces magnesium and combined this causes a large array of health issues ranging from muscle spasms to schizophrenia. Dr. Pilar showed the data to support his recommendation of a daily dietary intake of 3,500 mg of potassium citrate, rather than the customary 100 mg.

Dr. Hiroyuki Abe, M.D., from Japan described the benefits of pharmacogenomics which promotes highly individualizing treatment. He explained how the pharmaceutical model, based on large cohort studies whose results are homogenized to create statistical treatment averages, cannot work because one size simply does not fit all.

Dr. Nicholas Gonzalez, M.D., from New York, well known to Vitality readers from my previous articles and his presentations at Whole Life Expo, discussed his highly individualized nutritional protocols for cancer in which no two patients are prescribed the same diet. His upcoming book details the various therapeutic diets he has used to cure pancreatic cancer, prescribed according to a person’s genetic profile; it is due out next year (eagerly awaited).

Michael Gonzalez, Ph.D., from Puerto Rico (no relation to Nicholas) reported on the ongoing RECNAC project (cancer spelled backwards) devoted to developing non-toxic cancer treatment protocols. Most interesting was his discussion of standard cancer treatments (the cut-burn-poison approach) which statistically shows excellent response, i.e. the tumor shrinks or is cut out. But this removal of the symptom of cancer (i.e. the tumor) is no guarantee that the cancer itself is cured. In fact, the survival expectancy for cancer patients remains dismal, and is unchanged since 1950. Conventional medicine’s focus on eradicating the symptoms of cancer, rather than addressing its underlying root cause, never deals with the real problem: how to reboot the natural cancer defenses (shut down by carcinogens) whose function is vitamin C-dependent. Cancer patients, as Gonzalez explained, are essentially suffering from toxin-induced scurvy which causes generalized inflammation throughout the body, not just in the tumor, and disables the body’s natural defenses against cancer. Addressing that scurvy and removing carcinogens improves survival rates dramatically. Vitamin C is not only a nutrient, but a powerful COX-2 inhibitor, i.e. a potent anti-inflammatory.

Ron Hunninghake, the Chief Medical Officer of the Riordan Clinic in Kansas, discussed the role of stem cells, originally discovered in 1908. Most stem cell research focuses on embryonic ones, but in fact the ones that control the health of the lining of all organs (endothelium) determine our vascular health. The great 19th century doctor, Sir William Osler used to say, “You are only as old as your arteries.” These endothelial stem cells are compromised by free radicals, hypertension, stress hormones, chemical toxins, heavy metals, air pollution, low calcium, hormonal imbalances, alcohol, tobacco and  diabetes, herpes, H. pylori. His death statistics were revealing: all those causes of death from conditions dependent on endothelial health (e.g. stroke, heart attack, diabetes, kidney disease, Alzheimers = 125,687 in Canada in 2010) exceeded by far those causes of death not directly dependent on enthothelial health (cancer, lung disease, suicide, accidents = 89,176 in Canada in 2010).  Through key nutrients and vitamin D3, which regulates the activity of more than 60 regulatory genes, enthothelial health can be restored.

Kara Fitzgerald, N.D., discussed allergy as a function of environment and diet. Historically, allergy was unknown until the effects of Industrial Revolution challenged our immune systems. Its first medical description dates to 1819. Fitzgerald’s case histories showed photos of terrible skin diseases, rendered less haunting by the positive treatment results. She outlined the principles all orthomolecular doctors agree on, the so-called Six R’s: Reduce symptoms with nontoxic substances; Remove their causes through lifestyle changes and diet; Re-inoculate with beneficial bacteria to correct microbial balance; Repair the compromised gut barriers (e.g. leaky gut syndrome) or other organ damage through good nutrition, detox, and provision of therapeutic doses of supplements; Replace the depleted anti-inflammatory substances, such as glutathione, and guard against G.I. inflammation through added hydrochloric acid if needed; Rebalance the person’s life through stress reduction, exercise, meditation, etc., so the patient regains control.

Thomas E. Levy, a doctor, lawyer, and author of many excellent books, described how vitamin C deficiency provides the common denominator for both cancer and coronary artery disease because both are conditions brought on by inflammation. All immune responses involve white blood cells which are loaded with vitamin C, without which the immune system cannot work. In fact, both coronary artery disease and cancer are “focal scurvy.” According to Levy, the main causes of immune dysfunction include periodontal disease, dental plaque bacteria, and especially root canals. Indeed, 98% of all cancer patients have at least one such dead tooth. The proliferation of bacteria in the vicinity of a root canal has been well studied, and its action is understood to follow a pattern: bacteria will infiltrate arteries, but never veins. No cancer treatment can hope to succeed unless this root cause (removal of root canal) is addressed.

The field of psychiatry was discussed by Dr. Bo Jonsson, M.D., of Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and Jonathan Prousky, of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. Jonsson outlined the evolutionary history from the Paleolithic hunter-gatherer life style to the high-tech urbanite of today and the biologically measurable problems such a lifestyle cause for us. His references to the current research on the effect of food on mood was impressive, as was his smorgasbord of information on how specific nutrients can correct these health issues. He referred the audience to the excellent interview with Dr. Abram Hoffer, available online, published in the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients in November 2009, for an in-depth discussion.

Prousky spoke about preventive psychiatry, i.e. how to prevent an emotional breakdown by looking for the stressors and reducing them. He combined the findings from cognitive psychology and orthomolecular biochemistry, citing Carl Pfeiffer (1908-1988): “If there is a drug that can alter the brain’s biochemistry there’s usually a combination of nutrients that can achieve the same thing without side effects.” Prousky discussed research published this year in Metabolism and in 2006 in PLoS Medicine which showed that long-term elevation of the stress hormone cortisol is now proven to change the structure of the brain such as to atrophy many neurons and shrink the hippocampus of key importance to emotional function. Stress is in fact the result of emotionally caused damage to the brain itself, which makes the handling of daily experience even more difficult, thus tragically determining “the ultimate fate of the individual” (McEwen, 2013). In effect, the ortho­molecular approach to mood disorders has returned the soul into scientific discussion. Highly recommended is Prousky’s new textbook discussed in my new book, Creative Outrage.

D. Robert H. Lustig of University of California San Francisco spoke on obesity. His presentation blew my mind, as we children of the 60’s say, and it deserves its own full length article, due in the spring of 2014.

The relevance of orthomolecular medicine is two-fold: as individual patients we need doctors who treat us as individuals. But as members of the human race on Planet Earth, we also need a medical model that respects the web of life in its entirety and interconnectedness. During a lunch break I chatted with a representative of Doctors’ Data, the famous orthomolecular laboratory company (www.doctorsdata.com). He told me that a few years ago, this company and its researchers presented research to the U.S. Congress showing that the tonnage of mercury released into the water, soil, and air through dental practices amounted to quantitatively far more than all those other pollutants combined and thought to be the cause of global warming. True, about 50% of all dentists now no longer use mercury amalgam fillings, but the previously used mercury doesn’t just go away. At the very least, orthomolecular medicine comes to the rescue of those injured by such poisons. I have an orthomolecular-literate granddaughter in pre-meds, and what she tells me is being taught at university today is most encouraging the right molecules are increasingly being recognized and taught.

Sources and Resources:

 

Ferrie, Helke. Creative Outrage – A Medical Journalist Reports on the Good, the Bad and the Ugly in Current Medicine, Kos 2013. Available for free downloading from my website www.helkeferrie.com and contains the most extensive annotated source and resource list on all the issues of orthomolecular and environmental medicine. Go for it!

Pauling, Linus. How to Live Longer and Feel Better, Avon, 1986

Shute, Evan. The Vitamin E Story, Welch 1985

Levy, Thomas E., Stop America’s No. 1 Killer and many other books on dentistry and heart disease/cancer connections go to www.tomlevymd.com/books or amazon.com

To find doctors trained in bio-identical hormone therapy (sex hormones as well as thyroid issues) go to www.canadabioidenticaldoctors.com or inquire with Smith Pharmacy and York Downs Pharmacy in Toronto.

The sources cited by the presenters at this conference are too numerous to reproduce here or on the Vitality website. For specific inquiries contact helkeferrie@gmail.com

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