Orthomolecular medicine

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Against allopathy
Alternative medicine
Clinically unproven

Orthomolecular medicine is a form of vitamin woo based on nutritional supplements. The name was picked by Linus Pauling, in his Vitamin C quack period, to mean "the right molecules." He hypothesized that "substances that are normally present in the human body" are therefore good, so high doses will treat disease. This has been shown to be false; many vitamins in high doses, especially fat-soluble ones that can accumulate in the body, will cause you quite some harm.

Despite this, desperate cancer patients get lured in by this one a lot, feeling that actual medicine has failed them and Big Pharma cares more about money than their well-being.[1]

Other diseases attract this, too: Matthias Rath pushed this bullshit to AIDS patients in South Africa, killing several. He tried to sue Ben Goldacre to stop him from writing about it. This, of course, failed.

Some even claim that vitamins cure psychiatric problems. The American Psychiatric Association is not impressed:

This Task Force considers the massive publicity which they promulgate via radio, the lay press and popular books, using catch phrases which are really misnomers like "megavitamin therapy" and "orthomolecular treatment," to be deplorable.

Despite all this evidence that orthomolecular medicine is more harm than help, proponents of orthomolecular medicine allege a Big Pharma conspiracy to suppress their important insights, and have done so since Pauling.


  1. Velicer CM, Ulrich CM (2008). "Vitamin and mineral supplement use among US adults after cancer diagnosis: a systematic review". J Clin Oncol 26 (4): 665–73. doi:10.1200/JCO.2007.13.5905. PMID 18235127.
  2. Lipton M, et al. (1973). Task force report on megavitamin and orthomolecular therapy in psychiatry. Washington DC: American Psychiatric Association.