Orthomolecular Medicine in the Treatment of Alcoholism

Orthomolecular medicine or treatment (often called megavitamin therapy) is based on the belief that insufficient intake of certain vitamins, minerals and other natural substances in the body causes specific diseases and conditions. The practitioner seeks to determine the exact deficiencies suffered by each patient. Orthomolecular therapy consists of the administering what are ordinarily considered extremely high doses of the deficiencies diagnosed over a long period of time. The belief is that if a little is good, then more is better.

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The most commonly used megavitamin therapy for alcohol problems involves niacin (also called nicotinic acid, vitamin B3, and vitamin PP). Niacin megadosing can cause flushing, itching and liver damage. Therefore, those who use this therapy should have their liver functioning monitored carefully by a physician. Damage to liver cells (hepatotoxicity) and jaundice can occur in less than three months with intakes as low as 750 mg per day. Because it is generally better tolerated than niacin, nicotinamide is sometimes used. However, nausea, vomiting, and liver toxicity can occur at doses as low as 3 grams per day.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) co-founder Bill Wilson promoted the use of both niacin therapy and LSD therapy as early as the 1930s. However, 80 years later there is still no scientific medical evidence that orthomolecular therapy is effective for treating any disease or condition. On the other hand, there is extensive evidence that this often very expensive therapy can cause serious harm.

Note: This site is informational only. It does not provide suggestions or recommendations about alcohol, alcoholism, drugs, addiction, recovery, orthomolecular medicine, megavitamin therapy, niacin treatment, or any other subject and none should be inferred. Neither this website nor your host receives any compensation of any kind, directly or indirectly, for listing or describing any program. Neither listing nor description implies endorsement.

Reading on Orthomolecular Treatment of Addiction

  • Hoffer, Abram, and Saul, Andrew W. The Vitamin Cure for Alcoholism: Orthomolecular Treatment of Addictions. Laguna Beach, CA: Basic Health Publications, 2009.

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