Monday, September 8, 2008

Orthomolecular psychiatry

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Orthomolecular psychiatry is a branch of orthomolecular medicine, an alternative medicine known for its claims that dietary supplements and other unorthodox nutritional treatments can be effective in treating mental illness. The approach uses unorthodox forms of individualized testing and diagnosis to attempt to establish an etiology for each patient's specific symptoms, and claims to tailor the treatment accordingly, using a combination of nutrients, dietary changes and medications that are claimed to enhance quality of life and functionality as well as to reduce or eliminate symptoms and the use of xenobiotic drugs.

The origins of orthomolecular psychiatry date to the 1920s, and the work of Abram Hoffer in the 1950s established the orthodoxy of the field. Hoffer's therapies focused on using niacin, among other nutrients, to treat acute schizophrenia, which was identified using the Hoffer-Osmond test. In 1973, a task force of the American Psychiatric Association examined and rejected the practice and it has been considered an alternative therapy since that time. However, the conclusions of this APA report were strongly criticized by proponents of orthomolecular psychiatry for being politically motivated and scientifically unfounded.[1] Currently there is a clinical trial being conducted on the basis that previous trials were done without taking into account Hoffer's distinction between acute and chronic schizophrenia.[2]

Since Hoffer's early work, other possible nutritional treatments for mental illnesses from both inside and outside the orthomolecular community, and some mainly preliminary current scientific research is consistent with some the hypotheses advanced by orthomolecular psychiatrists,[3] but most orthomolecular practices have not been extensively tested by conventional clinical trials, instead practitioners rely on their interpretations of biochemical research, case reports and clinical series. Continue Reading >>

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