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Linus Pauling, a two-time Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist, coined the term orthomolecular to define the use of finely tuned amounts of substances such as vitamins to prevent and treat disease. Pauling's initial paper in the 1960s spoke of orthomolecular psychiatry, and practitioners still are exploring specific mental health applications. Other uses range from HIV and cancer treatment to the extension of life. Many aspects of orthomolecular medicine are not integrated with traditional medicine, though Pauling's emphasis on the health benefits of vitamin C continues to influence mainstream practice.

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1. The basic principle behind orthomolecular medicine

Orthomolecular medicine aims to restore optimum functioning in the body by supplying substances believed to be out of balance or deficient. These substances may be vitamins, minerals, trace elements, or amino acids. The theory maintains that individuals can ingest some of these corrective supplements at high doses. This is a controversial assumption in traditional medicine. As with many kinds of alternative medicine, the debate about outcomes is ongoing. That said, numerous journals are publishing related papers in the area of aging.

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