I recently read a book called Niacin: the Real Story while I was on detox in Portugal. We were taking Niacin four times a day to dilate blood vessels (and so speed up the elimination of toxins from the bloodstream). In addition, we were told, it would push blood deep into underactive tissue so it could be repaired with vital nutrients. ‘It also stabilises blood sugar and repairs DNA’ said our detox manual.
Niacin (vitamin B3) is tiny – it’s smaller than even the simplest sugar – just 14 atoms. Yet small is beautiful in this case and it plays a role in over 500 reactions in the body. It seems that a whole host of diseases can be caused, or exacerbated, by having too little niacin. So – rather obviously – a whole host of diseases can be cured or improved by supplementing niacin.
What kind of diseases? Well – cardiovascular disease, of course. Niacin can help tonify blood vessels and can lower levels of harmful cholesterol. However it’s also been shown to be hugely helpful in cases of arthritis, Parkinson’s, migraine and, goes without saying, pellagra (a condition caused by total or extreme niacin deficiency).
What really smacked me between the eyes was the way it can cure (yes, cure) schizophrenia. Back in the early 1950s a medical doctor, psychiatrist and bio-chemist, Dr Abram Hoffer, started researching niacin. By 1954 he performed the first double-blind, placebo-controlled (ie gold standard) nutrition studies in the history of psychiatry. Dr Hoffer was head of psychiatric research for a Canadian province and he made one important observation – people with schizophrenia had very similar symptoms to people with pellagra. He also observed that when niacin was added to flour (it’s used as a flour improver), about half the people in mental health institutions recovered enough to go home. But what about those who didn’t get better? He started treating them with niacin. Not just small doses but hugely high doses – up to 3,000 milligrams a day. Crazy? Well…he cured schizophrenia in about 80 percent of cases.
Impressive? You bet. Standard drug therapy doesn’t achieve that. But guess what happened next? The American Psychiatric Association blackballed him.
Why? Hazard a guess. How much does niacin cost? Can you patent it?
The research is compelling and I find it pretty shocking that it’s not more widely known. It also seems likely that niacin can help in more generalised depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and bipolar. The book also suggests it’s a gentler and more effective solution for hyperactivity and ADHD in children than that chemical cosh Ritalin.
What else? Oh yes, it can be a huge boon for anyone wanting to kick alcohol. The book even gives a prescription for people who want to knock booze on the head which goes as follows:
10,000 mg vitamin C
3,000 mg Niacin (taken through the day in divided doses)
2-3,000 mg L-Glutamine
2-3 tablespoons of Lecithin
200-400mcg Chromium polynicotinate
A high-potency multi-vitamin and mineral (containing 400mg magnesium)
Interesting, huh? Anyhow, please don’t take my word for it. But if you suffer from any of the conditions mentioned, it might be worth checking it out.