Purificacion Lahoz Verzosa
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Purificacion Lahoz-Verzosa is the first physician outside North America to learn and practice orthomolecular medicine. For more than 12 years in her clinic in Quezon City, she has applied the principles first established in North America and advanced by Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling. Orthomolecular medicine represents a major advance in the treatment of mental and degenerative diseases by providing the optimum molecular environment for the mind, especially the optimum concentration of substances normally present in the body. The discovery of megavitamins and trace minerals in the treatment of mental illness and other degenerative diseases found their way in May 1974 to the Philippines through Dr. Verzosa’s pioneering efforts.
Early life and education
Doctora Puring, to her friends and admirers, is the compleat Filipina---the unquestioned mistress of her home and mother to a large brood of eight children, five girls and three boys. She was born on September 27, 1914 in Vigan, Ilocos Sur, and married her hometown sweetheart, Engr. Candelario Villanueva Verzosa, right after she earned her medical degree from the University of the Philippines in 1938. She went back to school in 1951 to pursue an M.A. in Social Work Administration from the Philippine Women’s University. While her children were studying, she took a part-time teaching job for fifteen years in an exclusive school for girls (St. Theresa’s College), where she also served as school physician. For more than thirty years, Dr. Verzosa was content to living a life of domestic obscurity.
It was, however, in the early 1970s, when one of her daughters, Angelica (Aca), very talented and artistic, who graduated from St. Theresa’s College, magna cum laude, became ill, that Dr. Verzosa was drawn into this field of medical practice. Freed from family obligations after her youngest child, Emmeline, graduated from college in 1974, this sixty-year old woman took giant steps in advancing the pioneering efforts of Drs. Linus Pauling, Roger Williams, and Abram Hoffer in orthomolecular psychiatry. Together with a group of her colleagues, she attempted to organize a Schizophrenia Anonymous Group of 20 persons meeting once a week at her private clinic in Quezon City.
In March 1975, she founded the Philippine Schizophrenia Foundation, which was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission on August 17, 1977, with four objectives: (1) to facilitate preventive psychiatry through a better understanding of the biochemical nature of mental illnesses and the role of nutrition in their treatment; (2) to pursue continuing research in the treatment of schizophrenia with the use of megavitamins; (3) to use orthomolecular methods in the treatment of drug addicts and alcoholics; and (4) to arouse the interest of government and nongovernment sectors on the importance of megavitamins for orthomolecular treatment.
Between 1977 to 1986, Dr. Verzosa attended 14 international conferences in the United States and Canada and became a member of five international bodies: the Academy of Orthomolecular Psychiatry, the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, the Society of Freedom of Choice for the Treatment of Cancer, the Huxley Institute for Biosocial Research, and the California Orthomolecular Medical Society.
Lacking collegial support, both moral and financial, the Philippine Schizophrenia Foundation was eventually dissolved in 1979 when the National Science and Development Board withheld its recognition. Undaunted, Dr. Verzosa continued her orthomolecular practice. Her article entitled “The Detoxification Supplementation Therapy: a shortcut to the recovery of the mental and degenerative diseases," appeared in the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry (1980, vol. 9, pp.271-83). In January 1981, she was voted a Fellow of the Academy of Orthomolecular Medicine. She was 72 years old when New Day Publisher’s published her first book, The Right Molecule: a Practitioner’s View of Orthomolecular Medicine, which is a testimony to her abiding faith in the eventual acceptance by her colleagues of the tenets of this field of medical practice.