By Richard P. Huemer, M.D.
Medical Advisor, The Nutrition Reporter newsletter
I didn't set out to be a great healer. My first love was science. As a youth, my imagination was fired by a book called The Microbe Hunters, which described in heroic proportions the exploits of men like Ehrlich, Koch and Pasteur - warriors against the ancient enemies of all men. I determined to become a research scientist.
My resolve lasted a few years past medical school, until I came to
understand the importance of organizational hierarchy and politically
correct thinking in modern-day science. So I opted for independence
over science, and joined a friend in medical practice.
Medicine wasn't satisfying, as I knew it wouldn't be. Patients were
generally assumed to have one disease, originating from a single
cause, amenable to one or a very few treatments. Diagnose the
disease, and the treatment was automatic. I missed the opportunity
for analytical thinking.
I missed the satisfaction of a job well done, too. Patients usually
had vague and seemingly unrelated complaints; hardly a one had a
textbook case of anything. The medications I prescribed for the
complaints often didn't work. Patients kept returning with unresolved
problems. I dreaded the words, too often pronounced: "Doc, that
medicine you gave me just made me worse!"
Why couldn't one translate the in-depth analysis and critical
thinking of the research lab into the clinical area? Why couldn't
each patient become a research project?
A little before then, Linus Pauling had written his seminal paper
titled "Orthomolecular Psychiatry." He proposed using
optimal amounts of substances normal to the body for treating disease
and maintaining health. I knew Linus was on the right track. But
several years passed before I realized how to apply his ideas in practice.
My understanding dawned while I was working with the late and great
Joseph D. Walters, M.D. My perceptions shifted dramatically over a
short time, as when one is looking at the figure in an optical
illusion: one moment it's a solid cube, the next it's inside out and
upside down. Finally I understood.
What I understood, and based my subsequent practice upon, is that
everyone's infirmity is unique, just as each person is unique, and
that every infirmity (other than physical trauma) originates in
disturbed body chemistry. Because body chemistry is complex,
illnesses are complex. They are mosaic entities, big pictures made of
many little pieces of deranged chemistry.
To heal, then, we need not to ask what the big picture is, but what
it is composed of. What natural substances are deficient? Which are
excessive? How can we bring the body chemistry into a state of
balance to compensate for the deficiencies and the excesses?
I began running a lot of lab tests and prescribing a lot of natural
substances. I used all kinds of things: vitamins, minerals, amino
acids, hormones, metabolic intermediates. And the more I did and the
more I gained confidence in the technique, the more I was rewarded
with those words I longed to hear: "Doc, those pills you gave me
sure did the job!"
I've been recommending nutritional therapies for 20 years now and
practicing orthomolecular medicine almost that long. It's an ancient
art, however. The first doctor who fed a lime to a scorbutic sailor
was practicing it; so was the first doctor who treated a goitrous
patient with thyroid. Now surgeons are replacing deficient brain
hormones with neural-cell transplants - that's orthomolecular. The
genetic engineers are coaxing cultures to produce missing
hormones-that's orthomolecular too.
Abram Hoffer, M.D., a pioneer in orthomolecular psychiatry, once
expressed the view that someday we wouldn't need a word like
"orthomolecular," because all of medicine would embody the
orthomolecular principle. Abe was right. Orthomolecular medicine is
the medicine of the future.
Note: Dr. Huemer practices medicine at 1739 West
Ave. J, Lancaster, CA 93534. The phone number is (661) 945-4502.
updated 12/04/96 by Challem and 3/24/00 by Huemer
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