Vitamins Instead of Drugs: Orthomolecular Alternatives to Pharmaceuticals

Dr. Andrew W. Saul is Assistant Editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and Editor-in-Chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. He has a nontraditional Ph.D. in Human Ethology and was on the faculty of the State University of New York for nine years. He has studied in Africa and Australia, earned a master's degree and three state certificates in science education, and has twice won New York Empire State Fellowships for teaching. Saul has a reputation for his commanding knowledge of clinical nutrition. For a list of his publications, with online links to most of them.

Saul's books have been used as both college textbooks and reference works for health practitioners. In Brazil, a number of rainforest Indian tribes are now megadosing with vitamin C due to his guidance. The result is that these natives' miscarriage and infant mortality rates have plummeted. His 2003 book, DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works, is in its fifth printing. The latest, FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy, is already in its second printing.

Andrew Saul has been a consulting specialist in natural healing for over 30 years. What makes this man dangerous is that he won't shut up and go away.

That, and the fact that he's helped thousands of people restore their health without drugs or surgery.

Psychology Today named him one of seven natural health pioneers in its November-December 2006 issue. A complete list of his publications, most of which are available online, is posted at . Dr. Saul is also Editor of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.

DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works
has utterly abandoned traditional "food groups" nutrition. Instead, it focuses on what readers really want to know: exactly how can we prevent and cure illness without drugs or surgery? Which vitamins and which minerals have the most powerful therapeutic uses? How much do we really need to take? How will our kids benefit? How can we do this inexpensively and safely? And why haven't we heard about this sooner? To purchase an autographed copy of the book, Click here.

Fire Your Doctor is about asserting yourself. For over thirty years, I have worked with lots of folks who have made the transformation from being somebody else’s fear-filled patient to being their own self-reliant, naturally healthy Self. It can be done, and you can do it. But merely saying “Nuts!” to your physician is not enough. There must also be a set of positive, proactive, and practical alternatives ready for you to use. Fire Your Doctor shows you exactly how to employ safe and effective natural therapies for dozens of health conditions. Interestingly enough, the foreword to FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! is written by one of the world's most distinguished physicians: Abram Hoffer, M.D. To purchase an autographed copy of the book, click here.

Questions and Answers

by Trung Nguyen

As a teacher and college instructor, you studied and taught biochemical science. At what point in your career did you discover orthomolecular medicine?

It was either the shots or the blood.

Since the earliest I can remember, going to the doctor meant getting a needle in the rear end. When I was a preschooler, our family doctor seemed genuinely old. He had been a general practitioner for thirty years or so before I went to him. As soon as I could read, I noticed that his ancient medical degree dated from the 1920's. His methods were not refined. He gave me what he thought was a smile, had my parents forcibly flip me upside down onto his worn, paper-covered black leather examination table, and jab me in the keester. I couldn't have been thinking too deeply at that age, but evidently the impression those hypodermic needles made on me were deep in more ways than one. Somewhere in the back of my mind it seemed that there must be more to medicine than silver-colored instruments and pain.

While in high school, I looked, and occasionally acted, like the type of kid who would someday be a doctor. Combine skinniness, eyeglasses, honor society, and graduating two or three years ahead of my class, and you might just expect that. I was the kid who could cut up anything in biology class and dissect toads, bullheads and fetal pigs at home on Saturdays. I turned my bedroom into a chemistry lab. I started a science club at school and attended future physicians' seminars. Once, at a meeting of the local medical society, we watched a movie showing some surgical operations. From the first foot-long incision, I knew I had a problem. During small group discussions, I lightly asked if anyone had ever become a doctor who could not stand the sight of (human) blood. The responding doctor said, politely smiling, that rather few had done so.

During my second and third years in college I arranged to observe surgery at various hospitals. This seemed like a good way to overcome my aversion to slicing into a live person. It took over two hours by bus to get to see my first operation at the then small hospital in Dansville, New York. I was the first gowned-up non-nurse in the operating room when they wheeled in the patient. She was old enough to be my great-grandmother, and in for a breast biopsy. As she turned towards me she could not have missed seeing that I was as white as my mask. Perhaps she noticed the cold sweat on my forehead.

She quietly said, "You're not the doctor, are you?"

"No, ma'am," I answered.

"Oh, good!" she said, and closed her eyes, smiling.

I had brought comfort on my very first day.

When they gave her anesthetic, she was asked to count backwards from one hundred. She never made it to 99. I managed the opening incision, saw that fat was bright orange, and the lump proved benign. Afterwards, I was offered coffee by every single person in the doctors' lounge. Maybe that was out of courtesy, but I think word got around and they thought I needed the caffeine.

I knew now that I could handle an inch-long incision without passing out. From there, I watched more extensive operations at larger hospitals. One procedure is particularly memorable. Another elderly woman was in for an adrenalectomy. I was told that this was to help relieve her severe arthritis pain. Having by now seen enough abdomens opened up, I watched with well concealed surprise as the operating team turned her over and made really generous cuts at the level of the lowest rib. It then occurred to me that, of course, this was the shortest route to the kidneys on which the adrenal glands are perched. The kidneys are each protected by ribs. I waited for the rib-spreaders next. In a stainless-steel flash, the chief surgeon instead produced the largest pair of tin snips I have ever seen. By "tin snips" I mean those massive metal-cutting scissors that would cut through a Buick.

Oh, no, he's not really going to...


Yes, as a matter of fact he was.

"CRUNCH!" Those were the genuinely loud sounds of human ribs being cut. The lady's body shook with each cut. Oh well, I thought, they'll put them back when they're done. They didn't. The ribs were removed, casually placed in a pan, and that was the last of them. The adrenals were easily removed after that.

You might think that right then and there I'd immediately begin a passionate search for a painless, natural cure for arthritis. No, for I could now better stand the incisions and the blood, and I wanted to be a doctor.

It was Professor John I. Mosher at the State University of New York College at Brockport who first asked me to reconsider what "being a doctor" actually meant. Was it about being the M.D. in the white coat, or was it about really helping people get well? It was a good point, and I largely ignored it. After all, I already assumed that it was essential to be a medical doctor in order to do healing. Weren't chiropractors, dentists, optometrists and other professionals just helpers? I wanted to be one of the guys at the TOP of the health heap!

Dr. Mosher told me to read a book, The Pattern of Health (now out of print), by an English physician named Aubrey T. Westlake, M.D. It changed everything. Dr. Westlake wrote of his long experience as a practitioner. He said that during his professional life, he had mostly been engaged in "bailing out leaking boats." I followed Dr. Westlake's narrative with increasing fascination as he described his search for real healing. He ended up WAY outside of conventional medicine. Herbology, homeopathy, naturopathy... these approaches were utterly new to me. Yet Dr. Westlake, a fully qualified doctor of medicine, saw value in these unorthodox treatments. I could not simply disregard them. This man just did not seem to be a complete idiot.

I began to think that there was something to these natural healing methods after all.

That, of course, was only the beginning. The really subversive thing about reading books is that each good one leads to many others. So it was with me. If there wasn't yet a medical blacklist or "Index" listing all health heresy in print, I think I came reasonably close to creating one during college and graduate school. I read Medical Nemesis, by Dr. Ivan Illich, Who is Your Doctor and Why, by Alonzo J. Shadman, M.D., and dozens of research papers reprinted by the former Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research. Works of Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Abram Hoffer, Drs. Wilfred and Evan Shute, Dr. Paavo Airola, Dr. Ewan Cameron, Dr. Richard Passwater, Dr. Robert Mendelssohn, Dr. Roger J. Williams, Dr. Edward Bach and many other respected scientists eventually persuaded me that natural healing was not only valid but was generally superior to conventional drug-and-surgery medicine.

As an undergraduate, I spent a year studying at the Australian National University. While there, a friend and I calculated that a person would have to eat something in the neighborhood of 7,000 oranges a day to get the amount of vitamin C recommended by Dr. Linus Pauling. Seemed like a lot to me, but I soon began to take a daily vitamin C supplement. While doing graduate work as a bachelor, I began vegetarianism. To tell you the truth, I did this mostly to have fewer dishes to wash. It also seemed to me that vegetarian meals were cheaper and took less time to prepare. I avoided a lot of greasy pots and pans and, as a side benefit, began to feel better as well.

Around this time I tried fasting. Not on myself, of course, but on my dog. It happened that the dog developed quite a fever and curled up in a corner of the dining room all day and night. I checked with the vet, and he said that it was not dangerous to leave the dog to itself, so I did. That dog stayed curled up in that corner for three days. It moved only for water and to go outside for bathroom purposes. The dog ate nothing at all during those three days. It slept, and I watched. On the fourth day, the dog got up and was its own doggy self again. The fever was gone, and it was generally as if nothing was ever wrong.

This got me thinking.

Not long afterwards I got sick. Real sick. Sick enough that neighbors stopped by to check on me. I began to fast, basically duplicating what my dog had done with the exception that I did not sleep in the corner. (I also did not use the outdoors for excretory purposes). To my dull-headed surprise, I was comfortable eating nothing. All I wanted were liquids and sleep. The illness was over quickly, without any medicines. The result was good, but it was the PROCESS by which I'd gotten better that really intrigued me. This sounds odd, but while fasting I'd felt the best I had ever felt while feeling bad. Certainly I had been very ill, yet this simple cure was completely satisfactory. Hmm.

I continued with my informal postgraduate study in naturopathy. This kept me reading more and more books on natural healing written by experienced doctors. These physicians treated extremely serious diseases with fasting, diet, herbs, homeopathy, minerals and vitamins. I finally began taking a natural multiple vitamin every day, and continued to live alone, work and further my education.

From reading we can soak up many facts but it is having children that really tests our knowledge. Exams and theses on one hand, babies on the other. Raising a family provides plenty of opportunity to see whether an idea is any good or not. Marriage and kids showed me that nature-cure works. It is simple, safe, economical, and effective. Of course, we've all been told that anything easy, cheap and harmless cannot possibly be any good.

That's what I had thought, too. Ever since those first injections in the rump.

It turns out that the natural therapeutics are as good or better than allopathic (drug-based) medicine. During my bouts with pneumonia, experience showed me that Erythromycin will not cure it as fast as high-dose vitamin C therapy will. My father once had angina and an irregular heartbeat. He now has none of those symptoms, because he takes quite a lot of vitamin E each day. He found that the vitamin works better than the prescriptions he'd been taking, and doesn't have the side effects, either.

Outside my family, I have seen "hopeless" cases turn around with natural therapy: impending blindness reversed, multiple sclerosis improved, mental illness ended, hips rebuilt without surgery, malignancies shrunken, immune systems restored, severe arthritis eliminated, all these and many more; all cured without drugs.

After you see this happen again and again it begins to reach you: these truly ARE simple, safe, economical, and effective natural treatments. And, they work on the REAL diseases.

Does health have to hurt and cost a fortune? Are blood and drugs prerequisites for healing? Is a hospital really the best place for getting better? Have medical doctors cornered the market on healing knowledge? Is nature-cure a lot of hooey?

Don't you believe it. Instead, see for yourself. Read a few of those books at the health food store. Change your diet. Next time you are sick, try a natural alternative instead. Find out for yourself. That's what I did, and it has worked.

And that is how I got into natural healing.

For those who are not familiar, what is Orthomolecular Medicine and Orthomolecular Psychiatry?

Orthomolecular medicine is nutritional treatment, generally employing very high doses of vitamins. The word “orthomolecular” (“the correct molecule”) was given to the profession by Linus Pauling [The only person in history who won the Nobel Prize twice that were not shared with another recipient].

Drug deficiency does not cause illness; nutritional deficiency does. More specifically, many illnesses, such as the psychoses, are actually nutrient dependencies.

What is the main difference between conventional medicine and Orthomolecular Medicine?

Safety. There are at least 100,000 deaths from pharmaceutical drugs each year in the USA, properly prescribed and taken as directed. Fatalities caused by drugs and doctors may total as high as 800,000 deaths per year.

To compare: according to extensive data collected by the American Association of Poison Control Centers over the last 23 years, there is not one death per year from vitamins.

You are the Assistant Editor of the peer-reviewed Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. What is the history of Orthomolecular Medicine and the key players behind it?

For a full answer to this good (but big) question, I recommend that interested persons look at my website Doctor Yourself and also

What is the current status of orthomolecular medicine-- is it growing, declining, or holding its own in the face of psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry?

Orthomolecular treatment has been repeatedly demonstrated to be highly effective. Doctors, professors and especially the public are largely unaware of this, to a large extent because the US National Library of Medicine is censoring access to orthomolecular research and publication.

It’s been said that the pharmaceutical industry has been very successful at getting their pills to the public through doctors. How do, if they do, doctors benefit when they prescribe medication?

Aside from having something to put on a prescription pad to justify their fee, in my opinion, doctors really do not benefit. But once they learn about, and switch to practicing nutritional therapeutics, then doctors really do benefit: now their patients get well. Orthomolecular physicians rarely go back to drugs.

Despite hundreds of millions of dollars in research every year, the pharmaceutical industry has not found a cure for any mental illness or disease—they’ve been very good at providing treatment. Do you think the pharmaceutical industry has any incentive to find cures?

Yes: cash. “Magic bullets,” once patented, bring in huge profits to the half-trillion dollar per year drug industry.

Saul AW. Review of The truth about the drug companies, by Marcia Angell. J Orthomolecular Med, 2005. Vol 20, No 2, p 120-122.

Can you provide examples of how Orthomolecular Medicine can help those with the following conditions:

Depression: Click here for Orthomolecular Medicine's view of depression.

Bipolar: (several mentions at my website)

ADD/ADHD: Orthomolecular Medicine's view of ADD/ADHD

Schizophrenia: Orthomolecular Medicine's view of Schizoprhenia

Addiction: Orthomolecular's view of alcoholism

What is the APA’s (American Psychiatric Association) view of Orthomolecular Medicine and why?

It is negative, because they have not fairly looked into it. Many individual psychiatrists have, and now know better.

Do you think that the relationship between doctors and patients is affected because of the relationship between doctors and the pharmaceutical industry?

Yes, but not by those doctors curious enough, and courageous enough, to learn about nutritional treatment alternatives. Our Journal (the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine) exists for them. It has been published for 41 years. If you want to, you may read many back issues on line free of charge at Orthomolecular Library

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is an important component of Orthomolecular Medicine. What is the importance of vitamin C?

Very important indeed. I raised my kids all the way into college and they never once had an antibiotic. How? The answer is clear when you consider the antibiotic, antitoxic, antihistamine, antipyretic, and antiviral properties of vitamin C when taken to bowel tolerance (saturation) doses.

There has been much talk about psychiatry being a pseudo-science. What is your view on this?

Drug psychiatry certainly fits that description. It may be even worse than that: in addition to numerous and harmful side effects, it is common for a medication to create an actual vitamin deficiency. Doing nothing is usually safer than drugging a patient.

How important does diet (the food we eat) play a role in mental health and why?

Not one cell in your brain is made from a drug. All body cells are made from what you eat. Without adequate nutrients, no cell can work properly. How can a brain fed on junk food, sugar, artificial colors, caffeine, and pharmaceutical drugs be expected to work properly . . .or even work at all?

Any parting words for our readers?

Yes. Do not be buffaloed and do not be bullied. If someone tries to scare you from taking vitamins, ask to see the scientific papers that they base such a warning on. Assuming that the vitamin critic actually respects you enough to honor your request and produce such documents, here's how to spot bias:


Thank-you very much for taking the time off from your busy schedule to do this interview.

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