"Orthomolecular is a term that comes from ortho, which is Greek for "correct" or "right," and "molecule," which is the simplest structure that displays the characteristics of a compound. So it literally means the "right molecule."
The importance of diet in relationship to optimal health has been understood throughout recorded history. Hippocrates regarded food as a primary form of medicine more than 2,500 years ago. Records from ancient Egypt as far back as 5000 BC show the use of specific foods to treat various conditions.
True scientific understanding of diet did not occur until the 18th century, beginning with the work of French physicist Rene de Reaumur, who is credited with conducting the initial research of digestive chemistry. Later in that same century, Reaumur's work was built upon by chemist Antoine Laurent Lavoisier, who, prior to being guillotined during the French Revolution, provided the scientific foundation for the study of how the body metabolizes food to create energy.
The first person to show a direct link between disease and a lack of a specific nutrient was James Lind, a physician in the British navy, who discovered that sailors on long voyages without rations containing citrus fruits developed bleeding gums, rough skin, poor muscle tension, and slow-healing wounds, all symptoms characteristic of scurvy. In 1757, in one of the first controlled medical experiments, Lind demonstrated that when sailors were supplied with lemons, limes, and oranges, scurvy could be prevented. As a result of his findings, Captain James Cook made it mandatory that every English sailor be supplied with rations of lemons and limes, enabling to sail around the world scurvy-free, as well as supplying them with the nickname "limeys." Today, it is well known that scurvy is due to vitamin C deficiency.
"Vitamin C is a specific antagonist of chemical and bacterial toxins."
Over 50 years ago, it was Toronto physician William J. McCormick, M.D., who pioneered the idea that poor collagen formation, due to vitamin C deficiency, was a principal cause of diverse conditions ranging from stretch marks to cardiovascular disease and cancer. This theory would become the foundation for Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron's decision to employ large doses of vitamin C to fight cancer.
Over twenty years before Pauling, McCormick had already reviewed the nutritional causes of heart disease and noted that four out of five coronary cases in hospital show vitamin C deficiency. McCormick also early proposed vitamin C deficiency as the essential cause of, and effective cure for, numerous communicable illnesses, becoming an early advocate of using vitamin C as an antiviral and an antibiotic. Modern writers often pass by the fact that McCormick actually advocated vitamin C to prevent and cure the formation of some kidney stones as far back as 1946. And fifty years ago, McCormick "found, in clinical and laboratory research, that the smoking of one cigarette neutralizes in the body approximately 25 mg of ascorbic acid." His early use of gram-sized doses to combat what then and now are usually regarded as non-deficiency-related illnesses set the stage for today's 100,000 mg/day antiviral/ anticancer vitamin C IV's.
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