Abram Hoffer

Abram Hoffer

Abram Hoffer (born 1917) is a Canadian psychiatrist known for his work in the development of biochemically based therapies based on the use of nutrition and vitamins in the treatment of schizophrenia — known as orthomolecular psychiatry. This general approach, known as orthomolecular medicine, includes the use of megavitamins.


Hoffer graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture ("Great Distinction") from the University of Saskatchewan in 1938, followed by a Masters Degree in Agriculture (agricultural chemistry) in 1940. He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1944 with research into vitamin content in cereals. Gaining an interest in human nutrition, Hoffer entered medical school, graduating with an MD from the University of Toronto in 1949 and completing his psychiatric training in 1954.cite web
last = Hoffer
first = Abram
title = Curriculum Vitae
publisher = Health WorldOnline
url = http://www.healthy.net/bios/hoffer/CV.htm
] Hoffer was a faculty member of the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan from 1955–67. Hoffer also served as the Director of Psychiatric Research for the Saskatchewan Department of Public Health in Regina from 1950–67. He noted that half the patients housed in the mental hospital were diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia and that the conditions in the mental hospital and the treatment of these patients were poor, and looked for better answers to treat the mentally ill.cite news
author = Rob Wipond
title = An interview with Dr. Abram Hoffer
work = Focus
date=August 2006
url = http://robwipond.com/?p=21
] He used biochemistry and human physiology as an emergent psychiatric research paradigm, and was critical of psychosomatic psychoanalysis and the lack of adequate definition and measurement in psychiatric methodology. Hoffer's theory is known as the adrenochrome hypothesis, which states that persons suffering from schizophrenia lack the proper ability to remove the hallucinogenic metabolite adrenochrome from their brains. He speculated that by using vitamin C to reduce adrenochrome back into adrenaline and using niacin as a methyl acceptor to prevent the conversion of noradrenaline into adrenaline that this would lead to a decrease in the concentration of hallucinogenic adrenochrome in the brain..cite web
last = Hoffer
first = Abram
title = Vitamins and Minerals Help Fight Off Diseases of The Mind and The Body
publisher = Life extension magazine
url = http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2003/jan2003_report_hoffer_01.html

By the mid-1960s the psychiatric establishment, moving heavily towards neuroleptic drugs, began to snub Hoffer’s orthomolecular theories and treatments, and refused to publish works favorable to orthomolecular medicine.cite web
last = Hoffer
first = Abram
title = Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine History
url = http://www.orthomed.org/jom/jomhist.htm
] Subsequently, in 1967 Hoffer resigned his academic and Director positions, entered into private psychiatric practice in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and created the "Journal of Schizophrenia" as a means of publishing articles related to orthomolecular psychiatry. After a few name changes over a number of years, this journal eventually became the "Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine" in 1986. In 1976, Hoffer relocated to Victoria, British Columbia and continued with his private psychiatric practice until his retirement in 2005. Hoffer continues to provide nutritional consultations and also continues as the editor of the "Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine". He is also President of the Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre in Victoria, BC, an organization which aims to provide accurate information to the public on the properties and uses of vitamins. cite web
title = Self published
publisher = Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre
url = http://www.orthomolecularvitamincentre.com/


Working with Humphry Osmond, MD and their scientific teams, Hoffer and Osmond developed the oxidized adrenaline - adrenochrome model of schizophrenia, the Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test (HOD), niacin therapy for schizophrenia, and tests for hallucinogenic indole metabolites.cite web
last = Eisner
first = Bruce
title = Humphrey Osmond Inventor of the Word "Psychedelic" Dies
url = http://www.bruceeisner.com/new_culture/2004/02/humphrey_osmond.html
date = February 11, 2004

In attempting to devise a treatment for alcoholism, Hoffer and Osmond did studies with LSD. Theorizing that alcoholics needed to hit bottom before they were willing to stop drinking, Hoffer and Osmond attempted to use LSD to simulate delirium tremens (i.e.: hitting bottom) in alcoholics. Hoffer claimed a 50% success rate with 2000 alcoholics, although he noted that it was more likely the psychedelic experience of LSD rather than simulated delirium tremens that convinced the alcoholics to stop drinking.cite web
last = Hoffer
first = Abram
title = Treatment of alcoholism with psychedelic therapy
url = http://www.druglibrary.org/schaffer/lsd/hoffer.htm
year = 1970

Incidental to Hoffer's psychiatric work with immediate release (pure) niacin, he discovered the first successful "anticholesterol" treatment for dyslipidemias.cite journal
author = Altschul R; Hoffer A; Stephen JD.
title = Influence of nicotinic acid on serum cholesterol in man
journal = Arch Biochem Biophys
year = 1955
volume = 54
pages = 558–559
doi = 10.1016/0003-9861(55)90070-9
pmid = 14350806
] Immediate release niacin treatment remains the cholesterol treatment best proven to actually extend life with highly beneficial improvements to HDL, Lp(a), Apolipoprotein B, triglycerides and lipoprotein particle size as well as lowering the general LDL value for several major types of hyperlipidemia,cite journal
author = The Coronary Drug Project Research Group.
title = Clofibrate and niacin in coronary heart disease
journal = J Amer Med Assoc.
year = 1975
pages = 231:360–381.
doi = 10.3354/meps316215
volume = 316
pmid = 1088963
] although the time release forms, particularly some of the slower pre-1994 formulations over 2 grams per day, can have potentially serious side effects.cite book
last = Parsons
first = William
title = Cholesterol Control Without Diet
edition = Revised Edition
year = 2003
pages = 181-211
isbn =
] cite web
title = Lifespan's A - Z Health Information Library - Cholesterol
url = http://www.lifespan.org/adam/indepthreports/10/000023.html
year = 2006

Taking note of biochemical abnormalities and serendipitous cancer recoveries among his psychiatric patients, Hoffer worked for several years on the anticancer effects of nutrients particularly the B vitamins, selenium, and ascorbate. He says this includes treating many hundreds of cancer patients with nutrients with reported success.cite web
title = Hoffer's Home Page - Orthomolecular Treatment of Cancer.
url = http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/
date = December 26, 1999
] Hoffer collaborated with Linus Pauling on several aspects of orthomolecular medicine,cite web
url = http://osulibrary.oregonstate.edu/specialcollections/coll/pauling/catalogue/pauling01_152-162.html
title = Correspondence, Abram Hoffer
work = Ava Helen and Linus Pauling Papers
publisher=Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections
] especially on inexpensive complementary treatment of cancer with vitamin C and other nutrients. Co-authoring several books with Pauling's contribution, [cite book
author = Hoffer A; Pauling L
title = Healing Cancer: Complementary Vitamin & Drug Treatments
edition =
publisher = CCNM Press
year = 2004
isbn = 1-897025-11-4
] [cite book
author = Hoffer A; Pauling L
title = Vitamin C and Cancer: Discovery, Recovery, Controversy
edition =
publisher = Quarry Press
location = Kingston, Ontario
year = 1999
isbn = 1-55082-078-8
] Hoffer's treatment protocols received Pauling's final recommendation on the complementary treatment and amelioration of cancer.cite web
author=Chowka PB
title=Linus Pauling, PhD: The Last Interview
work=Nutrition Science News


Hoffer's treatment for schizophrenia and theories of orthomolecular medicine remain controversial as they have not been generally accepted by the mainstream medical community as of 2006.cite web
last = Bartlett
first = Stephen
title = Orthomolecular Therapy
publisher = Quack Watch
url = http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/ortho.html
date = 2000-07-12
accessdate =
] An American Psychiatric Association Task Force Report of July 1973 on using niacin in treating schizophrenia claimed both methodological flaws in Hoffer’s early work and other studies which failed to show clear benefit of this therapy.cite paper
author = Lipton M, "et al."
title = Task Force Report on Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Therapy in Psychiatry
publisher = American Psychiatric Association
year = 1973
] Hoffer and Osmond wrote a lengthy rebuttal to this report, citing many errors, misrepresentations, and biases.cite paper
author = Hoffer A, Osmond H
title = Megavitamin Therapy in reply to The American Psychiatric Association Task Force Report on Megavitamin and Orthomolecular Therapy in Psychiatry
version =
publisher = Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation
url = http://www.iahf.com/orthomolecular/reply_to_apa_tfr_7.pdf
format = PDF
pmid = none
] However niacin, B6, and ascorbates are still not widely used or recommended in the conventional treatments of schizophrenia.cite web
title = Complementary schizophrenia treatments
url = http://www.schizophrenia.com/treatments.htm#niacin
publisher = Schizophrenia.com
year = 2004
accessdate =
] Some other limited studies that did not meet Hoffer's original conditions have also failed to find benefits in use of megavitamin therapy to treat schizophrenia.cite journal
author = Vaughan K; McConaghy N
title = Megavitamin and dietary treatment in schizophrenia: a randomised, controlled trial
journal = Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
year = 1999
volume = 33
issue = 1
pages = 84–8
doi = 10.1046/j.1440-1614.1999.00527.x
pmid = 10197889
format = abstract

As of 2005, orthomolecular psychiatry remains to be adequately tested and independently verified by conventional authoritative bodies. "Controlled studies using the orthomolecular approach have been few. Those that were done were performed in chronic schizophrenia or in populations that included bipolar and schizoaffective patients. Both of these diagnostic groups are not today considered to benefit from the orthomolecular approach. Moreover, some negative studies of high-dose niacin were done in patients who were not otherwise given general counseling for good diet..."cite web
author = Lerner Vladimir, "et al."
publisher = Clinicaltrials.gov
title = The treatment of acute schizophrenia with high dose niacinmide plus ascorbate plus pyridoxine plus Centrum Forte vs. Centrum Forte only as an add-on to risperidone and dietary counseling (2005-2009 trial)
year = 2005
url= http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct/show/NCT00140166

Hoffer stated in the 1950s that such controversy would exist regarding his treatments and that he felt that it would take at least forty years for his methods to become accepted. In a 2006 interview, Hoffer stated that while he felt that current mainstream psychiatric care was "terrible", he felt that his theories and treatments were starting to become more accepted. " [W] e’re at a transition point. If I live another four or five years, I’ll see it."



Hoffer has authored over 500 scientific articles [cite web
author=Saul A, Hoffer Abram
title=Bibliography of the Nutrition-Related Publications of Abram Hoffer, M.D.
] and over 35 books. [cite web
author=Saul A, Hoffer Abram
title=Bibliography of the Nutrition-Related Publications of Abram Hoffer, M.D.
(More complete book list)
* cite book
author = Hoffer Abram, Osmond Humphry
title = Chemical Basis of Clinical Psychiatry
edition =
publisher = Thomas
location=Springfield, Illinois
year = 1960
oclc = 631787

* cite book
author = Hoffer Abram
title = Niacin therapy in psychiatry (American lecture series)
edition =
publisher = Thomas
location = Springfield, Illinois
year = 1962
oclc = 1629909

* cite book
author = Hoffer Abram
title = How to Live With Schizophrenia
edition = 2nd ed., revised
publisher = Citadel Press
year = 1992 ("1966, 1978")
isbn = 0-8065-1382-9

* cite book
author = Hoffer Abram
title = New Hope for Alcoholics
edition =
publisher = University Books
year = 1966
id =

* cite book | author = Hoffer Abram
title = The Hallucinogens
edition =
publisher = Academic Press
year = 1967
isbn = 0-12-351850-4

* cite book
author = Hoffer Abram; Osmond Humphry; Kelm H
title = Hoffer-Osmond Diagnostic Test
edition =
publisher = Behavior Science Press
location = Tuscaloosa, Alabama
year = 1975
isbn =

* cite book
author = Hoffer A; Pauling L
title = Healing Cancer: Complementary Vitamin & Drug Treatments
edition =
publisher = CCNM Press
year = 2004
isbn = 1-897025-11-4

* cite book
author = Hoffer A
title = Adventures in psychiatry, the scientific memoirs of Dr. Abram Hoffer
edition =
publisher = KOS Publishing
year = 2005
isbn = 0-9731945-6-1

External links

* [http://www.healthy.net/bios/hoffer/ Abram Hoffer - Biography - HealthWorld Online]
* [http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/ Hoffer's Home Page - Orthomolecular Treatment of Cancer]
* [http://www.islandnet.com/~hoffer/hofferhp.htm Hoffer's Home Page -The Schizophrenias]
* [http://www.orthomolecularvitamincentre.com/ Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre]
* [http://www.lef.org/magazine/mag2003/jan2003_report_hoffer_01.html Vitamins and Minerals Help Fight Off Diseases of The Mind and The Body - Interview with Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D.]
* [http://robwipond.com/?p=21 Rob Wipond interviews Abram Hoffer]

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