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  • Schizophrenia, depression, etc: 1 gram of niacin plus 1 gram of vitamin C three times per day

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Tuesday, September 28, 2004 7:05 am Email this article
    Several people taking drugs for schizophrenia, such as Zyprexa (olanzapine) or Seroquel (quetiapine), have complained how much weight they have gained taking these drugs. Someone called yesterday and said he had gained 80 pounds taking Seroquel (quetiapine), and asked if I had heard of any other medicines that did not cause weight gain. Yes, maybe there is. 1,000 mg of niacin plus 1,000 mg of vitamin C, 3 times per day after meals

    In a very interesting interview conducted by Life Extension Foundation, Dr. Abram Hoffer discussed treating schizophrenia with 1 gram of niacin (vitamin B3) plus 1 gram of vitamin C three times per day after meals. (1 gram equals 1,000 mg.)

    How does it work?

    Dr. Hoffer explains that the combination of these vitamins works by reducing the amount of oxidized adrenaline in the body called adrenochrome, which seems to be at least partially responsible for schizophrenia.

    Vitamin B3 reduces conversion of noradrenaline to adrenaline, thus reducing oxidized adrenaline (adrenochrome)

    More specifically, vitamin B3 is a methyl acceptor (as opposed to a methyl donor)—“it picks up methyl groups,” Dr. Hoffer explains.

    Giving large doses of vitamin B3 reduces conversion of noradrenaline to adrenaline—which takes place by a process called methylation, that is adding a methyl group to noradrenaline—thereby reducing the amount of adrenaline that is produced and therefore reducing the amount of oxidized adrenaline (adrenochrome).

    Vitamin C helps to stabilize adrenaline, reducing conversion to oxidized adrenaline (adrenochrome)

    Vitamin C was added because it helps to stabilize adrenaline, thus reducing conversion to oxidized adrenaline.

    How long to see results? 1-2 months

    It appears to take 1-2 months to fully realize the effects.

    100,000 patients: “The results were very good… certainly an awfully lot better than what you get today by simply taking drugs”

    “By 1960, a large number of American psychiatrists had joined us, and by 1970, I think we had a collective experience of over 100,000 schizophrenic patients treated,” Dr. Hoffer noted. “The results were really good. They weren’t perfect—we’ve never claimed that—but they were certainly an awfully lot better than what you get today by simply taking drugs.”

    80% recovery rate for acute schizophrenia

    They had about an 80 percent recovery rate for acute schizophrenia compared to about a 35 percent recovery for those given a placebo.

    Also effective for some people with bipolar disease and depression

    This combination of vitamins also works for bipolar disease (manic depression) and depression according to Dr. Hoffer, although he does not give any details as to how effective it is.

    To read the interview, click here

    To read the entire interview with Dr. Hoffer, click here.

    Effective for diet-drug-induced psychosis? (phentermine, diethylpropion, ephedrine, etc)

    There have been case reports of diet-drug-induced psychosis, induced by drugs such as ephedrine, phentermine, phenylpropanolamine, diethylpropion, and amphetamines. (Psychosis is when a person loses touch with reality or when reality is highly distorted.)

    Since all of these drugs stimulate the release of adrenaline or noradrenaline, I imagine that the combination of vitamin B3 and vitamin C that Dr. Hoffer describes would also be effective in these cases as well.

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


    On Sep 29, 2004 at 3:23 pm John wrote:

    . . . . .

    Its is irresponsible to publish this throughly discredited "cure" for schizophrenia. see

    On Sep 30, 2004 at 4:00 pm Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thanks for the information. I was not aware of this.

    I did not get the impression that is was a cure, just a treatment to reduce psychosis.

    When I looked at the supporting evidence on the page you reference, the first abstract says:

    "all trials show serious short-comings... [and] there is no adequate support from controlled trials in favor of vitamin supplementation."

    I read this to mean that some studies have reported positive effects, but the studies were not well done. This could also be said of old diet drug studies. Studies today are much more involved and much better controlled than those done back in the 1950's and 1960's. If you look at papers from the 1950's or 60's, many are only 2-3 pages long whereas today most papers are 5-10 pages long.

    The second abstract is of a 1975 review paper that concludes that:

    "After reviewing the literature on nicotinic acid in the treatment of schizophrenia, the authors present the results of the Canadian collaborative study. The data indicate that nicotinic acid has no therapeutic effect of schizophrenia."

    I do not have a copy of this paper so I cannot comment on it.

    The third paper referenced gave 200 mg of niacin to schizophrenics to look for flushing of the skin (erythema). They noted that 3/4 show flushing and 1/4 do not, suggesting that 1/4 of schizophrenics may have a metabolic defect related to niacin.

    They also noted "No significant differences in basal clinical features between schizophrenics with and without erythema reaction [skin flushing or skin redness] were found."

    Would anyone expect 200 mg of niacin given once to have an effect?

    Dr. Hoffer's recommended 1,000 mg of niacin plus 1,000 mg of vitamin C three times per day and noted that it took 1-2 months to see the effects.

    I don't think this paper could be said to disprove Dr. Hoffer's idea.

    The next abstract (Petrie, 1981) concluded that niacin plus vitamin B6 did not produce therapeutic changes.

    Dr. Hoffer recommended niacin plus vitamin C rather than vitamin B6.

    I would like to see a copy of this paper to look at the dosages used.

    The next abstract (Luchins, 1978) simply is a theoretical argument. It is not a study that tested niacin plus vitamin C.

    The last reference (Ban, 1974) does not have an abstract, however the title is "Negative findings with nicotinic acid in the treatment of schizophrenias."

    It appears that this study did not combine niacin with vitamin C as recommended by Dr. Hoffer.

    As Dr. Hoffer noted, vitamin C helps to stabilize adrenaline and reduce the conversion to oxidize adrenaline (adrenochrome).

    I would like to review a copy of this paper also to look at the dose used.


    Searching PubMed for "nicotinic acid schizophrenia" several interesting abstract pop up.


    Messamore E. Relationship between the niacin skin flush response and essential fatty acids in schizophrenia. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003 Dec, 69(6):413-19.

    Messamore et al (2003) state that:

    "The flush response to niacin is attenuated in schizophrenia... The results suggest that the skin flush abnormality in schizophrenia primarily reflects reduced pharmacological sensitivity to niacin..."

    This suggests the possibility that a metabolic defect related to niacin.


    Ross et al (2003) states:

    "A variety of biochemical, clinical and genetic evidence suggests that phospholipid metabolism may play an aetiological role in schizophrenia.

    "A key piece of evidence is the reduced vasodilatory response of patients with schizophrenia to nicotinic acid (NA). NA causes vasodilation via the activation of phospholipase A2 (PLA2) leading to the release of free fatty acids from membrane phospholipids and the subsequent production of prostaglandins.

    "Insensitivity to [niacin] may be due to a 'block' in the downstream signaling pathway used by the drug to evoke its response. It can be argued that if such an abnormality occurs in neurons, impaired PLA2-dependent signaling could result in altered glutamateric and dopaminergic transmission in such a way as to produce or exacerbate psychotic symptoms.

    "The complimentary finding of increased PLA2 activity in schizophrenia may be an attempt to overcome the signaling block.

    "It is suggested that intervention aimed at increasing the activity of PLA2-dependent signaling systems may be therapeutically useful in the treatment of the illness."

    I understand them to say that there is a metabolic defect processing niacin, and if it occurs in nerve cells, it could produce or exacerbate psychiatric symptoms, and finding a treatment to address this could be useful.


    Ross B. Phospholipid and eicosanoid signaling disturbances in schizophrenia. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2003 Dec, 69(6):407-12.

    This at least suggests the possibility of a connection between niacin metabolism and schizophrenia.


    A 1995 paper from Russia (Parkhomets et al, 1995) states:

    "Participation of nicotinic acid and its derivates in the functioning of nervous system is considered basing on the data from literature. It is supposed that the favourable therapeutic effects of nicotinamide, nicotinic acid and their active biological form--NAD are realized due to the mechanisms of their functioning in the nervous system, for treating schizophrenia, epilepsy and other diseases of the nervous system."


    Parkhomets P, Kuchmerovskaia T, Donchenko G, Chichkovskaia G, Klimenko A. [role of nicotinic acid and its derivatives in disorders of nervous system function]. Ukr Biokhim Zh. 1995 Jul-Aug, 67(4):3-11.

    This paper appears to say that niacin is effective for treating schizophrenia.


    One name keeps coming up in the papers which say that niacin does not work. The name is T. A. Ban. I wish I knew whether or not this person was funded by a drug company wishing to discredit the idea.


    Thanks again for making me aware of this, John. I appreciate it.

    On Oct 12, 2004 at 11:29 pm ba wrote:

    . . . . .

    The History of the Psychopharmacology of Schizophrenia (1997)
    Heinz E Lehmann, Professor Emeritus, McGill Univ.
    Thomas A Ban, Professor Emeritus, Vanderbilt Univ.

    A search for TA Ban/Thomas Ban shows studies funded by at least foreign pharmas, and an ongoing interest in drugs and lots of coauthors. No doubt he has blessed the world with numerous open minded, scientifically scrupulous disciples.

    Often at well known universities, professors have summer jobs and consultancies for several hundred $/hr in various industries. But rewards can vary with many forms of support and gratification.

    Many reasons are possible for gratuitous opposition: from saving face after an erroneous initial position, wanting to be the leader of the BANd, etc. Someone should ask Drs Hoffer and Ban to cite their inital social and professional contacts at their start for posterity's history of ideas and discovery.

    On Oct 17, 2004 at 1:56 pm Admin2 wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thanks for your comment.

    I find it unusual for T. A. Ban to repeatedly write papers saying that niacin is not effective for schizophrenia.

    He reported negative findings in 1974 -- and possibly before -- then again in 1975, 1977, 1978, 1981, 1985, and again in 2001.

    Most of the time researchers report that something does not work and move on. They don't usually write paper after paper after paper saying "It doesn't work. It doesn't work. It doesn't work."

    As I said previously, I can't help but wonder if his research was funded by a drug company, or if for some reason, he might have personal dislike Dr. Hoffer.

    On Feb 16, 2007 at 2:11 pm Todd wrote:

    . . . . .

    It wouldn't suprise me if the reason B3 works is because Niacin is eventually converted into NADH. Perhaps NADH plays a role in adenochrome, but I don't know how. I keep reading that NADH causes production of adenochrome, which makes no sense as NADH is a reducing agent and adenochrome is an oxidized product.

    FTR, NAD or NADH can combat symptoms of psychosis on the order of days, while niacin can take months.


    On Feb 16, 2007 at 2:42 pm Admin2 wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thanks for the info. I appreciate it.

    On Apr 29, 2007 at 3:42 pm Todd wrote:

    . . . . .


    In response to the idea that the 1973 report disproves niacin therapy, Hoffer rips ban and the '73 report a new one.

    There must be over 100 errors and misleading statements in the 1973 report (which was referenced by schizophrenia.com and John).

    On Aug 09, 2010 at 7:20 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thank you very much for this link.

    I was not aware of this report by Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD.

    Good stuff. Thanks.

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