Dr. Abram Hoffer (November 11, 1917 – May 27, 2009) was a Canadian psychiatrist known for his claims that nutrition and megadoses of vitamins are effective treatments for schizophrenia. This general approach, called orthomolecular medicine by its proponents and questioned by most of the mainstream medical community, includes the use of megavitamins and is commonly called megavitamin therapy.
Dr. Abram Hoffer received a degree in agriculture from the University of Saskatchewan in 1938, followed by a Masters degree in agricultural chemistry in 1940. He received a PhD in biochemistry from the University of Minnesota in 1944 with research into vitamin content of cereals. Hoffer graduated with an MD from the University of Toronto in 1949 and completed psychiatric training in 1954.
Critical of psychiatry for its emphasis on psychosomatic psychoanalysis and for what he considered a lack of adequate definition and measurement, Hoffer felt that biochemistry and human physiology should be used instead. He hypothesised that schizophrenics lack the ability to remove a hallucinogenic metabolite adrenochrome from their brains. He speculated that he could decrease the concentration of adrenochrome in the brain by using vitamin C to reduce adrenochrome to adrenaline and using niacin as a methyl acceptor to prevent the conversion of noradrenaline into adrenaline. Hoffer called his theory the “adrenochrome hypothesis”.
By the mid-1960s, according to Hoffer, psychiatry was emphasising the use of neuroleptic drugs. Hoffer claims that he and like-minded researchers, calling themselves “orthomolecularists”, were snubbed and became the victims of a conspiracy, with their reports rejected by scientific journals. In 1967, Hoffer resigned his academic and administrative positions, entered into private psychiatric practice in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and created the Journal of Schizophrenia as a means of publishing articles rejected by mainstream journals. After several name changes, the journal was called the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine in 1986. In 1976, Hoffer relocated to Victoria, British Columbia and continued with his private psychiatric practice until his retirement in 2005. Hoffer continued to provide nutritional consultations and served as editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine. He was also President of the Orthomolecular Vitamin Information Centre in Victoria, BC.