International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine

The purpose of the ISOM is to further the advancement of orthomolecular medicine throughout the world, to raise awareness of this rapidly growing and cost effective practice of health care, and to unite the many and various groups already operating in this field. The society will serve to educate health professionals and the public in the benefits and practice of orthomolecular medicine through publications, conferences and seminars.


Orthomolecular Psychiatry is the treatment of mental disease by the provision of the optimum molecular environment for the mind, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the body (Pauling L. Orthomolecular psychiatry. Varying the concentrations of substances normally present in the human body may control mental disease. Science 1968; 160(825):265-71).

Orthomolecular Medicine is the preservation of good health and the treatment of disease by varying the concentrations in the human body of substances that are normally present in the body". He sometimes appended "and are required for health (Pauling L. How to live longer and feel better. Freeman, New York, 1986).

Dr. Linus Pauling defined in Science (1968) 'Orthomolecular Psychiatry'. He later broadened this definition to include orthomolecular medicine. He sometimes appended "and are required for health" to this definition and noted, "the adjective orthomolecular is used to express the idea of the right molecules in the right concentration".

A number of molecular diseases have been described, such as phenylketonuria, in which an enzyme deficiency allows the accumulation of the amino acid phenylalanine in the body, leading to mental and physical problems. This illness arises from abnormalities in the amounts or the structure of enzymes, and by the late 1950s, Pauling had become increasingly interested in the role of enzymes in brain function. He learned about changes in mental function that precede the overt B vitamin deficiency diseases—pellagra, pernicious anemia, and beriberi—and later learned about the work of two psychiatrists, Abram Hoffer and Humphry Osmond, who were reporting success in treating schizophrenics with niacin, the B vitamin that prevents pellagra.

Text derived from Stephen Lawson, Linus Pauling Institute