Niacin And Depression Research Paper

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Dr. Joseph Mercola writes:

"Dr. Andrew Saul's new book, Niacin: The Real Story is co-written with Abram Hoffer M.D., Ph.D., who published over 600 reports and articles as well as 30 books. Dr. Hoffer's early work led to the use of niacin for schizophrenia and as an cholesterol treatment and successfully treated many thousands of patients with high doses of niacin. The authors present some very compelling evidence to support treating most psychotic disorders as a vitamin B3 deficiency. Considering it is very inexpensive and has virtually no dangerous side effects, niacin would certainly be worth a consideration for anyone who has a family member with this mental health challenge. I highly recommend picking up this book and learning more about its use."


by Abram Hoffer, Andrew W. Saul, and Harold D. Foster. 

The United States Patent Office delayed issuing a patent on the Wright brothers’ airplane for five years because it broke accepted scientific principles. This is actually true. And so is this: Vitamin B-3, niacin, is scientifically proven to be effective against psychosis, and yet the medical profession has delayed endorsing it.  Not for five years, but for fifty. 

In 1952, Abram Hoffer, PhD, MD, had just completed his psychiatry residency. What’s more, he had proven, with the very first double-blind, placebo-controlled studies in the history of psychiatry, that vitamin B-3 could cure schizophrenia. You would think that psychiatrists everywhere would have beaten down a path to Saskatchewan to replicate the findings of this young Director of Psychiatric Research.

You’d think so. But no. 

For everyone “knows” that vitamins do not cure “real” diseases.

Dr. Hoffer consistently said otherwise. His central point has been this: Illness, including mental illness, is not caused by drug deficiency. But much illness, especially mental illness, may be seen to be caused by a vitamin dependency. This makes sense, and has stood up to clinical trial again and again. If you do not believe this, Niacin: The Real Story will provide you with the references to prove it. And remember that it was Dr. Hoffer who started off those clinical studies in the first place. In 1952.

But the truth will out eventually. Here is an example of how niacin can really help: One patient, a bona fide, properly-diagnosed, utterly-incurable, State-hospitalized schizophrenic patient, would not see niacin work in the hospital, of course. No, the patient was a fellow whose parents were desperate enough try anything, even nutrition. Perhaps this was because their son was so unmanageably violent that he was kicked out of the asylum and sent to live with them. On a good day, his Mom and Dad somehow got him to take 3,000 milligrams of niacin and 10,000 mg of vitamin C. Formally a hyperactive insomniac, he responded by sleeping for 18 hours the first night and becoming surprisingly normal within days. It was an astounding improvement.  

Another one of niacin's properties is its ability to reduce harmful cholesterol levels in the bloodstream. Dr. Hoffer explains: "Niacin is the best substance for elevating high density lipoprotein cholesterol (the "good cholesterol) and so decreases the ratio of the total cholesterol over high density cholesterol." 

Yet another feature of niacin is that it dilates blood vessels and creates a sensation of warmth, called a "niacin flush."  This is often accompanied with a blushing of the skin. It is this "flush" or sensation of heat that so many people are confused about.Dr. Hoffer writes: "With larger initial doses, the flush is more pronounced and lasts longer," says Dr. Hoffer. "But with each additional dose, the intensity of the flush decreases and in most patients becomes a minor nuisance rather than an irritant. Niacin should always be taken immediately after finishing ones meal." 

Niacin is a vitamin, not a drug. It is a nutrient that everyone needs each day. Different people in different circumstances require different amounts of niacin. Says Dr. Hoffer: "A person's "upper limit is that amount which causes nausea, and, if not reduced, vomiting. The dose should never be allowed to remain at this upper limit. The usual dose range is 3,000 to 9,000 milligrams daily divided into three doses, but occasionally some patients may need more. The toxic dose for dogs is about 5,000 milligrams per 2.2 pounds (1 kilogram) body weight. We do not know the toxic dose for humans since niacin has never killed anyone."

And what about that "niacin flush"?

"Most people flush at the beginning and gradually get adapted to it unless they stop for a few days and then resume it. A few cannot ever get used to it, and they take the no-flush preparations. But the intensity of the flush is very variable. Generally people who need it the most flush the least. That includes arthritics, schizophrenics, and elderly people with cardiovascular problems. Some schizophrenics do not flush until they get well and then they do. But the presence of the flush or its intensity can not be uniquely used measure the need as there are too many variables such as food in the stomach, whether the drink with it is hot or cold, the kind of food, other medication. Antipsychotics reduce the intensity of the flush as do aspirin and antihistamines.”

Here are some more "flush" facts: 

1) As mentioned above, the more ill you are, the more niacin you can hold without flushing. In other words, if you need it, you physiologically soak up a lot of niacin. Where does it all go? Well, a good bit of it goes into making nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide, or NAD. NAD is just about the most important coenzyme in your body.  It is made from niacin, as its name implies.

2) Niacin is also works in your body as an antihistamine. Many persons showing psychotic behavior suffer from cerebral allergies. They need more niacin in order to cope with eating inappropriate foods. They also need to stop eating those inappropriate foods, chief among which are the ones they may crave the most: junk food and sugar.

3) There is a chemical found in quantity in the bodies of schizophrenic persons. It is an indole called adrenochrome. Adrenochrome (which is oxidized adrenalin) has an almost LSD-like effect on the body. That might well explain their behavior. Niacin serves to reduce the body’s production of this toxic material. 

In Niacin: The Real Story, Dr. Hoffer clearly presents the practical details of niacin treatment. Inevitable physician skepticism, and questions about niacin's proven safety and effectiveness, are thoroughly addressed in this book. This is NOT a biochemistry textbook, however. Let's be honest: to most of us, that is a relief. But when even a basic working knowledge of niacin can profoundly change so many patients for the better, this vitamin becomes very interesting very quickly.

Dr. Hoffer treated thousands and thousands of such patients for over half a century. He saw medical fads come and go. What he focused on is what he’s always seen: very sick people get well on vitamin B-3. Niacin: The Real Story is Dr. Hoffer's final, ultimate work. In it, he tells you, in detail, exactly how to use it to get results.


Niacin: The Real Story Table of Contents 

Introduction: Why Should You Read This Book?
Chapter 1. What Is Niacin?
Chapter 2. How Niacin Therapy Began
Chapter 3. How Niacin Works, and Why We Need More of It
Chapter 4. How to Take Niacin
Chapter 5. Safety of Niacin
Chapter 6. Pandeficiency Disease
Chapter 7. Reversing Arthritis with Niacinamide: The Pioneering Work of William Kaufman, M.D., Ph.D.
Chapter 8. Children’s Learning and Behavioral Disorders
Chapter 9. Mental Illness
Chapter 10. Cardiovascular Disease
Chapter 11. Other Clinical Conditions That Respond to Niacin
Appendix: The Introduction of Niacin as the First Successful Treatment for Cholesterol Control, by William B. Parsons, Jr.

For Further Reading
About the Authors


Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

For ordering information, Click Here .


What is niacin?

Niacin — also known as vitamin B-3 — helps break down nutrients into energy. It’s one of the many B vitamins. Vitamin B-3 helps maintain all of the body’s cells and is essential for your metabolism.

It also:

Niacin and depression

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by intense feelings of sadness and hopelessness that may interfere with your daily life. Some people living with depression claim that vitamin B-3 has helped with it. Some say it reduces feelings of sadness and hopelessness, and others say it made their depression completely go away.

There’s a wide variety of causes and treatments for depression. However, according to scientific research, there’s currentlyno evidence that niacin can be used to treat depression.

There’s some proof, however, that people with depression may be deficient in B vitamins. If you’re experiencing depression, you should discuss taking supplements or eating foods that have niacin in them with your doctor.


Niacin deficiency

Not getting enough B vitamins every day can cause many physical and mental consequences.

The most common and least severe side effects of niacin deficiency include:

Severe niacin deficiency can cause a potentially fatal disease called pellagra. If left untreated, it can cause:

The treatment for vitamin B-3 deficiency is taking more B-3. This can be done through diet or by taking pills. The recommended daily intake for most peopleis about 20 milligrams (mg).

Serotonin deficiency

Two of the most common brain chemicals involved with depression are dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals, called neurotransmitters, regulate mood. Serotonin deficiency can lead to depression. This is why antidepressants known as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) are so effective at treating depression.

Serotonin is created by an amino acid called tryptophan. Niacin is part of the metabolizing process of forming serotonin from tryptophan. Therefore, niacin deficiency can directly impact mood by affecting your production of serotonin.


Supplementing with niacin

Niacin supplements are available as over-the-counter pills. You can also boost your vitamin B-3 intake by eating different foods.

You can get more vitamin B-3 in your diet by eating some of the following foods:

It’s generally better to supplement niacin from foods than from pills because there’s virtually no risk of overdose or liver damage from the niacin sources in food.


The cure for vitamin B-3 deficiency might hover around the 20 mg mark, but when it comes to treatments for serious depression, a much higher dose is sometimes needed.

According to online testimonials, people with severe depression who respond to niacin therapy tend to benefit from a much higher dose, from anywhere between 1,000 to 3,000 mg. According to the 2008 nutrition documentary, Food Matters, one woman saw her depression symptoms reversed with a daily dose of 11,500 mg.

There’s not enough scientific research to support these claims, or give an accurate dosage. If you decide to experiment with niacin supplements, it’s important to start small and increase the dose over time. Talk with your doctor before you begin experimenting, as everyone reacts differently to niacin. There are side effects and dangers if you use too much of this vitamin.


Dangers and side effects of niacin

Always consult your doctor before experimenting with niacin or other supplements, especially with large doses. Niacin has the potential tolower blood pressure, which can be dangerous to some people.

People who use niacin should also be aware that high doses of sustained release tablets can result in serious liver damage. Signs of liver damage include:

Niacin flush

One common reaction to too much vitamin B-3 is called the niacin flush. This reaction causes the skin to turn red and feel hot, or as if it’s burning. Niacin flush isn’t dangerous.

This reaction typically happens at doses higher than 1,000 mg, but can also occur after taking only 50 mg.



There still isn’t enough research to determine if vitamin B-3 is a good treatment for depression. Some personal stories, however, do support the idea that the vitamin can eliminate symptoms of depression.

If you and your doctors choose to experiment with niacin, be careful and watch for signs of liver damage or low blood pressure.


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