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Dr. Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D., was an internationally recognized physician, author, medical researcher, and pioneer in the use of nutrients and vitamins B3, C, and niacin to treat diseases such as schizophrenia and cancer. He practiced medicine until his last days, and worked with renowned scientists such as geneticist Ernst Mayer, American Nobel chemist Linus Pauling, and Founder of Alcohol Anonymous, Bill W. He was Editor-in-Chief of The Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and founded Schizophrenics Anonymous. He also worked with counterculture icon, Humphrey Osmond (who founded the term “psychedelic”), seeking to find medical uses for hallucinogenic drugs. If there ever was a renaissance scholar figure in psychiatry, and Hippocratic champion of the patient, Dr. Hoffer was it. In the U.S, former patient Margot Kidder of “Superman” fame remains one of his most outspoken U.S. advocates.
In 2001, I made the trip to Victoria, B.C., a six hour drive and ferry ride from Portland, Oregon, and had the privilege of meeting the man. The building was simple contemporary. A single receptionist, a grandmotherly woman, greeted us with a minimum of formality, and led us into his office, a room of about twelve-by-twelve feet. The walls consisted of book-laden shelves with volumes of every size, age, and shape, exactly like some erudite grandfather’s den. Eighty-three-years-old then, Dr. Hoffer was direct, unassuming, and pleasant; and prescribed from behind his wood desk some simple nutrients, Vitamin C and B3. Examining fingernails, he surmised from white spots that there was a vitamin B deficiency. I do remember buying the niacin (B3) at a Victorian pharmacy, where I purchased 500 milligram tablets over the counter, at a minimum cost, whereas such a dosage would have to be prescribed by a doctor in the U.S.
What Dr. Hoffer offered in Canada was hope and a humane way of treating people, whereas in the U.S., mental illness is presented as something that can never be cured, but just palliated with multitudes of pharmaceutical cocktails that can cauterize the soul, wrack a body with a lifetime of harmful side effects, along with a mixed message that McDonald’s may be the best career one can hope for, a bottle washer at the best. In the U.S. psychiatric-pharmaceutical system, families are marginalized; and many patients end up alone on the street, where they perish. The pharmaceutical industry does not get rich by finding cures; it gets rich by selling pills. and it needs sick people, lots of them, to grow their economy, the most profitable, in the U.S. Although there are exceptions, many U.S. doctors are courted by, and work for, the pharmaceutical industry, not the patient.
Hoffer, on the other hand, never sought riches; he counseled recovery and achievement, and many of his patients benefited. Just by adding vitamins to the program, Hoffer found that the could halve the two-year recovery rate of patients. In 1955, he discovered that niacin lowered cholesterol levels.
Dr. Hoffer remains an anathema to the U.S. Pharmaceutical Industry, and is duly reviled and rejected, with almost sycophantic servitude, by Big Pharm’s stepchildren—the American Medical Association and American Psychiatric Association—even though countless patients have benefitted from Hoffer’s discoveries and treatments. Even Wikipedia is beholden to pharmaceuticals, with its pandering misrepresentation of Dr. Hoffer’s achievements (entries, no doubt, forwarded by AMA-dependent physicians). In spite of that, Hoffer has a growing number of devoted followers.
Abram Hoffer died in Victoria on Wednesday, May 27, after a brief illness and a long, healthy, productive and brilliant life.