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What is Orthomolecular Medicine and its history?

Before defining orthomolecular medicine, it may be useful to review some of the events before the introduction of orthomolecular medicine in 1968 by Linus Pauling in the journal Science. In 1949, Pauling and his colleagues published a paper in Science that announced the discovery of the cause of sickle-cell anemia, the first disease to be described as a molecular disease. For many years he had worked on hemoglobin and published a number of papers on its properties. Later on, he was able to test and confirm his hypothesis though demonstration that sickle-cell anemia is caused by an abnormal molecule. Later on Pauling became especially fascinated with vitamin C in the mid-1960s and quickly recognized that the intake of this vitamin and, consequently, its concentration in the body, significantly influences health and disease. 

The term "orthomolecular" was coined by Nobel Prize laureate Linus Pauling, and it comes from Greek word 'ortho', which means "correct" or "right," and "molecule," which is the simplest structure that displays the characteristics of a compound. Orthomolecular literally means the "right molecule."

Orthomolecular medicine is a nutritional health and medical approaches which claims that many diseases and abnormalities result from various chemical imbalances or deficiencies. They can be prevented, treated, or sometimes cured by achieving optimal levels of naturally occurring chemical substances, such as vitamins, dietary minerals, enzymes, antioxidants, amino acids, lipotropes, essential fatty acids, prohormones, dietary fiber and intestinal short chain fatty acids. Doctors, who practice orthomolecular medicine, recommend only medicines which are found in nature, or are manufactured in the body. These medicines include nutrients, vitamins and hormones but not the synthetic made by drug companies.   

Principles of Orthomolecular medicine

Orthomolecular medicine employs vitamins, minerals, and amino acids to create optimum nutritional content for the body, as well as the right environment and equilibrium. It can be considered as a alternative medicine technique, but also as an adjunct to appropriate conventional medicine.

Main principle of orthomolecular medicine is treating disease by bringing all of the natural substances of the body into the balance. This is done by nutrition control: nutritionists will often suggest patient to go on a healthier whole foods, high in fiber and low in fat diet. Diet of course includes elimination of all junk foods, refined sugar, and food additives. In orthomolecular medicine patient is given various vitamins and minerals to supplement the ones he or she already received in his or her diet. The types and amounts of the nutrients are determined by blood tests, urine analysis, and other tests that show nutrient levels.   

The nutrition is key aspect of diagnosis and treatment, for that reason nutrient-related disorder can be cured once nutritional balance is achieved.

Orthomolecular medicine suggested that all patients continue taking vitamin and mineral supplements for the duration of their lives because, if a person stops taking the vitamins all of a sudden and does not receive the proper amount of vitamins and other minerals in his or her food, patients nutritional balance is out of balance. For that reason, supplements are needed to ensure that a patient is getting the proper amounts of natural, organic substances at all times.

Orthomolecular medicine or megavitamin therapy

Orthomolecular medicine is sometimes referred to as megavitamin therapy. The main reason is vitamins prescribed by orthomolecular nutritionists. Many medical doctors see a danger inherent to megavitamin therapy because of its stance on prescribing an inordinate number of vitamin supplements. They argue that extremely high doses of vitamins can be toxic and can cause certain unfavorable chemical reactions.