Orthomolecular medicine attempts to identify the imbalances that may lead to illnesses and corrects it using nutrition and utilizing the appropriate amount of nutrients to support the body and encourage it towards proper functionality and health. It also uses high doses of vitamins, minerals or hormones natural to the body to prevent and treat a wide variety of conditions. These doses are well above the recommended daily allowance (RDA) and are used along with special diets and conventional treatment.
Every cell in our body requires the right nutrients
The term "Orthomolecular" originates from the Greek word ‘ortho’ for "right" - which means "the right molecules in the right amount”. The term was coined by two-time Nobel Prize winner, and molecular biologist, Linus Pauling, Ph.D., (pictured left) in his 1968 article "Orthomolecular Psychiatry" in the journal "Science."
Dr. Linus Pauling believes that at the molecular level - every cell in our body requires the right nutrients to maintain health and function. The molecular imbalance caused by nutritional deficiencies is almost always the reason why many illnesses develop. He championed the use of vitamin C (and other vitamins and supplements) as a prevention and cure for numerous diseases way back in the 60’s.
Orthomolecular approach to cancer treatment
Orthomolecular treatment aims primarily at enhancing cancer defenses. It utilizes diet and Nutrient supplementation to improve the body’s resistance or immune defenses against the cancer. The treatment is to support the body to meet the increased demands for essential nutrients that are caused by the cancer and the body’s reaction to it.
Supplements are meant to provide essential nutrients which the body is deficient in or otherwise not found in regular diets. It could be vitamins, minerals, botanicals, amino acids, and enzymes.
Essential nutrients are those which the body cannot produce internally but need to come from food that we consume. Some categories of essential nutrients include vitamins, dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, and essential amino acids.
Dietary supplementation comes in various forms such as tablets, capsules, powder, liquids and also softgels. Scientific evidence shows that some dietary supplements are beneficial for overall health and for managing some health conditions.
Most of the functions of nutrients are fairly well understood for example, vitamin D is important for keeping bones strong and reducing bone loss; folic acid decreases the risk of certain birth defects; and omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils might help some people with heart disease. There is now solid evidence that vitamin D is critical to proper expression of at least 2000 genes and its role as an anti cancer nutrient.
Why do you need supplements?
Firstly, ever wondered what food ‘processing’ does to the nutrient content of your food? Listed below are some common food items that have been processed for you to decide whether nutritional supplementation is necessary.
- The complete milling and polishing that converts brown rice into white rice destroys 67% of the vitamin B3, 80% of the vitamin B1, 90% of the vitamin B6, half of the manganese, half of the phosphorus, 60% of the iron, and all of the dietary fiber and essential fatty acids.
- Refining of wheat to make white flour removes 80% of its magnesium, 70-80% of its zinc, 87% of its chromium, 88% of its manganese and 50% of its cobalt.
- Refining of raw sugar cane to make white sugar removes 99% of its magnesium and 93% of its chromium.
- Pasteurization and homogenization of dairy products reduces the bioavailability of calcium, phosphorus and some proteins in milk and other dairy products.
- Refining of oil is accomplished through filtration, the addition of various chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and high temperatures of around 450 degrees, deodorization, bleaching, stabilizing before it reaches the supermarket.
The process of refining wheat, rice, sugar, salt and oil into the desired ‘white’ version, takes a product full of natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other phytonutrients and reduces the original natural food into a relative "non-food"—devitalized, stripped.
Do you need nutritional supplements? The answer could be a ‘yes’ even if you eat a healthy, predominantly plant-based diet with lots of fruits and vegetables. The following are just some of the reasons why you need supplements.
The need for supplementation
1. ‘Dead food’ due to processing
Most of the ‘civilized and urban population’ eat ‘dead food’ which has little or no nutritional value due to processing, cooking, frying, sterilizing, homogenizing, microwaving etc. We have seen how the various ‘processes’ takes a natural product which was full of natural vitamins, minerals, enzymes and other food factors and alters their structure and reduces them into a relative “nonfood”—non-nutritional, devitalized and stripped of its essential nutrients.
Additionally, a host of other chemicals such as artificial flavors, preservatives etc. are added to these processed foods. While a few may be harmless, many are toxic and diminish the nutritional content of the food.
2. Depleted Soils reduce the nutrient content of our food
Our food comes from soils that have insufficient mineral content through continuous usage. In most of the commercial farming practice, superphosphate fertilizers containing mainly nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus are used extensively for fertilizer. The soil is deficient in many minerals (which has been exhausted) as well as trace resulting in food that is low in many minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients found in food.
3. Modern use of chemical pesticides and herbicides
The use of pesticides and herbicides not only makes food toxic, they also damage soil micro-organisms. Both of these reduce the nutrition of the crops. These chemicals severely tax the human system and they accumulate in the body. Glyphosate (Roundup) the most commonly used herbicide has conclusively been shown to have serious deleterious (harmful) effect on soil microbes as well as gut bacteria in human digestive system. It breaks down slowly and once ingested acts as a hormone disruptor.
4. Long Transit Time for Delivery
What we eat now comes from all over the world eg. mango from India, apple from china – these fruits are picked weeks before we see it on our shelves. As soon as the food is harvested, the levels of certain nutrients begin to diminish. Some fruits must be sprayed, preserved, irradiated or processed in order to survive the long journey. Chelating agents are often added to some frozen vegetables to preserve the color of the vegetables.
5. Food preparation
Overcooking and over refining/processing of foods result in a loss of nutritional value, meaning far fewer vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes are available for the body. In addition, additional chemicals are added to enhance the taste and appearance
6. Normal Aging
As we age, our bodies naturally produce fewer enzymes needed to properly digest and assimilate the foods we eat.
7. Toxic environment
Toxic chemicals and metals in the air, water and elsewhere increase our need for adequate nutrition to combat them.
Your goals regarding supplementation should be:
- to ensure that you receive the essential nutrients which may be lacking in your diet due to various factors discussed above and
- targeted supplementation to improve recovery from diseases.
What supplement to take?
There is sufficient scientific clinical data to indicate that certain antioxidant and other nutrient supplements can reduce cancer risk, clinical cancer occurrence, and/ or interrupt the carcinogenic process. Various combinations of vitamins and minerals working together are also known to shut down the cancer process.
To overcome cancer, you will be given a regimen of pharmaceutical grade quality supplements which you will need to take. It might take between 5-10 supplements to restore your health.
How long you need to take each supplement will also vary.
These supplements could include the following:
These supplements are used to boost immune function, alkalinize the body, cleanse the liver and colon and provide additional nutritional support. Please note that supplements are not intended to replace a healthy diet. A good diet, along with proper supplementation, can go a long way towards helping you maintain a better level of health. There are many others you could then consider depending on your specific circumstances, including a high quality multivitamin, additional antioxidant support and others.
Interesting article: Are vitamin supplements a bad idea for cancer patients?
General guidelines for selecting a high quality dietary supplement:
- Choose one that is as close as possible to its natural (whole food) form. Ensure it does not have synthetic additives and fillers.
- Follows industry standards for quality assurance including ISO 9001, ISO 17025, and Good Manufacturing Processes (GMP) certifications.
- Know the dosage
- Know the purpose
It is now quite difficult to obtain the complete nutrients we need without supplementation and many illnesses are linked to molecular imbalances caused by vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
Once you have a chronic disease, your nutritional deficiency is so great that supplementing is the only way to fully restore your health. To normalize malfunctioning cells, they must be supplied with all the nutrients they need to do their jobs. Accomplishing this usually requires an exceptionally large amount of nutrients.
While supplements are necessary, it is challenging to know which supplements you need. Consult a medical professional for recommendations regarding the type and amount of supplement best for your individual needs. Please note that the average physician has little or no training in nutrition, may not understand the need for supplementations, and may not support your effort.