Linus Pauling was the first to use the term orthomolecular to characterize the treatment of disease with nutrients that naturally occur in the human body. The basic premise of orthomolecular medicine is that the greatest long-term health benefits in disease treatment are derived from establishing the concentration of essential nutrients, in the body through diet adjustments, eliminating of junk foods, andÑmost controversiallyÑ ingestion of large (mega-) doses of various nutrients.
Orthomolecular medicine is primarily utilized in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Initially used to treat schizophrenia, the scope of disorders thought to improve with application of orthomolecular principles has continually broadened to include, for example, epilepsy, autism, senility, arthritis, and allergies. Orthomolecular therapy is also used to treat diseases and chronic problems such as backaches and psoriasis. Whereas treatment programs vary, the main focus is on megavitamin therapy followed by a combination of other essential nutrients, which are either lacking or found to be in short supply in the body. Powerful drugs are used infrequently, the goal being to subsist on nutrients alone. Treatment programs are arrived at through clinical tests, psychiatric examinations, and consultation, recognizing the different nutrient requirements of each patient. Some believeÑalthough this is highly controversialÑthat the awareness of drug side effects and the desire for natural treatments will make orthomolecular medicine a dominant therapeutic tool of the future.