The Story of Orthomolecular Medicine


In the fall of 1965, Dr. Wendell Belfield, veterinarian, drew 2000 milligrams of sodium ascorbate (buffered Vitamin C) into a hypodermic syringe and injected it intravenously into a dog infected with the canine distemper virus. This one procedure was the beginning of orthomolecular medicine in a veterinary practice. “Orthomolecular medicine” is the preservation of health and the treatment of disease by the provision of the optimum molecular constitution of the body, especially the optimum concentrations of substances that are normally present in the human body and are required for life. This is a new branch of medicine established by the late Linus Pauling, Ph.D. — a two time Nobel Prize-winner.

Since this early beginning, Dr. Belfield has dedicated his professional life to improve therapies in his small animal practice. Unfortunately, there were few commercially available vitamin/mineral formulas that would adequately serve his needs. Through the process of trial and error, Dr. Belfield has developed the necessary combinations of nutrients that are indicated for specific disease processes.

There is a tendency by many, in and out of the healing sciences, to trivialize vitamins and minerals beyond the treatment and prevention of deficiency diseases. Dr. Belfield has made a giant step beyond this archaic perception by administering nutrients in gram amounts that will treat, prevent, and control conditions other than deficiency diseases. The present day conception by most misinformed individuals is that “a vitamin is a vitamin” and there are no differences. To obtain optimum efficacy from a vitamin/mineral compound, there are six essential considerations:



3. Source


5. Form

6. Method of extraction from raw sources

Vitamin/mineral compounds formulated for humans administered to pets can be less effective than those formulated specifically for pets.

The U.S. government requires only a listing of ingredients and something called a “guaranteed analysis” on product labels. Important information that makes a product efficacious — such as ingredient qualities, sources, and compatibilities are not required to be listed. Therefore, the label information does not offer the necessary information for a consumer to select the most efficacious products.

Dr. Belfield’s endeavors were not well received by either the veterinary profession nor some pet fanciers. Desperate people do desperate things however, like contacting Dr. Belfield’s veterinary hospital when conventional veterinary protocols have failed; these individuals, because of their successes through nutritional protocols, have become strong supporters and have encouraged others to become involved in orthomolecular medicine.

In recent years, scores of veterinarians have shown interest in this new aspect of veterinary medicine but have not had the literature resources for information.  This void has now been filled through the exciting textbook, Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine, published by Mosby.  Dr. Belfield is one of several contributing authors.  His chapter deals with the prevention, treatment, and control of diseases where conventional treatment protocols have not succeeded.

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD): Truth Denied

Wendell O. Belfield, D.V.M.

“Canine hip dysplasia is on the rise”:Clinician’s brief” (10/2011)

As early as 1945, there were publications in the Journal of the North American Veterinarian, describing Canine Hip Dysplasia(CHD). It was at this time, Dr. G.B. Schnelle wrote of his observations, the condition was “predominantly in wire-haired terriers and English setters, to be most frequently affected,” and in 1947, Dr. W.N. Konde wrote of his observations of CHD in German Shepherds. Dr. Schnelle theorized the condition to be caused by a recessive gene and recommended that “the young of both sexes in affective families be castrated to prevent further inherent transmission.” Dr. Schnelle, a radiologist was considered an authority, had the attention of the profession though other observers did not have the same heredity conclusion. Though there was no scientific evidence of heredity by Dr. Schnelle, only a theory, those following his concept adhered to his heredity dialog. It became the accepted practice, by the profession and breeders, those dogs with the condition, as recommended by Dr. Schnelle, were neutered some euthanized. Unlike Dr. Schnelle, Dr. Konde offered no predisposing conditions for the cause of CHD.

“Signs of the Times”
To Better understand the present “Heredity Concept,” it is most important to regress
in time when veterinary medicine, at best, would have been considered primitive in comparison to today’s veterinary standards.

During the first half of the twentieth century, the focus in veterinary medicine was in large animal medicine, farm and food producing stock. Also during this period, the advances in veterinary medicine were limited to Western Europe where American veterinary educators and researchers embarked for additional and advanced training. Many of the textbooks employed into the curricula of the then ten veterinary teaching institutions, in the US, originated in Europe and translated into English from those non English speaking countries. These textbooks and overseas training of our educators helped advance our methods for approaching new and different treatments protocols.

Veterinary research, in the US, did not exist and the one veterinary journal (The North American Veterinarian) contained papers, presented, for publication, were predominately, from veterinary practitioners discussing their practice experiences. These published practitioners were often looked upon as “authorities” in their subject matter and often depended upon for information to be shared. So as it was with Dr. Schnelle with his observations into canine hip dysplasia. Dr. Schnelle’s area of interest and expertise was radiology, in fact wrote one of the first veterinary textbooks on the subject. His observations and heredity conclusions, though never proven, were included in the first edition of Canine Medicine which became the primary textbook in veterinary teaching curricula and is continued in textbooks, now, in the twenty-first century.

The True Cause of CHD

For more than two decades, the heredity theory went unchallenged though the heredity concept along with selective breeding had no effect on the prevention of CHD. In March, 1968 two veterinary practitioners, Drs. John W. Bordens and Herbert Hardwick, published their clinical studies with conclusive scientific evidence to prove their findings, “New Observations on the Diagnosis and Cause of Hip Dysplasia” published in Veterinary Medicine & Small Animal Clinician. These clinicians developed a method for palpating the hip joints of four week old pups to determine those pups with the potential for developing canine hip dysplasia. To prove their findings, the petineus tendon at the femoral attachment on one leg was surgically excised the other remained intact. When radiographed, months later, the coxofemoral joint of the severed tendon was normal, the tendon not severed on the other joint, the head of the femur was subluxated indicating CHD had occurred. The recorded pathological findings were “loose-fitting joints, articular surface wear, increased joint fluid containing increased neutrophils, and increased tension of the pectineus muscle in relation to the other muscles of the hip” which indicated the pectineus muscle was directly involved in CHD “It was determined via necropsy (autopsy) on 154 dogs which palpation had indicated were afflicted with hip dysplasia”. To determine the exact pathology of the pectineus muscle, biopsies from the effected dogs were forwarded for histopathological examination by George H. Cardinet III, D.V.M., PhD., Kansas State University School of Veterinary Medicine who’s findings included Myopathy (atrophy) due to spinal or renal disease. Because the pectineus muscle extends from the anterior border of the pubis to the middle of the medial border of the femur and does not develop proportionately to the growth of the femur resulting in the femoral head separating from the acetabulum, a subluxation. Their findings indicated hip dysplasia to be of both hips. This has been the only definitive evidence of the true cause for CHD. These findings by Bordens and Hardwick is the only scientific clinical observation until the present, unfortunately this study has never been discussed or debated. Presently, the veterinary educators and researchers mandate that prior to accepting a concept or protocol there must be scientific proof, then why has this scientific evidence been rejected in preference to the erroneous hereditary theory an archaic theory of the 1940’s? It seems “When a failed theory is repeated often enough, it is accepted as truth.”

By addressing the problem of pectineal atrophy, the author has had success in the prevention of CHD via a biochemical protocol discussed in his paper “Chronic Subclinical Scurvy and Canine Hip Dysplasia” Belfield,W.O., Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician, p. 1339-1400-1401-1403, 1976) a nutritional supplemental protocol initiated at birth for optimization of collagen synthesis. As a result of the Bordens and Hardwick clinical study, the author applied the surgical procedure to adolescent and adult CHD canines with extreme success. Excision of the pectineus tendon prior to its attachment to the femur afforded instant relief from the symptoms associated with CHD. Belfield, W.O.,“The Dysplastic Dog Can Be Helped,” Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician, p. 883-884-885-886 , September, 1971.


The Results of the heredity theory has been one of despair, frustration, and heartbreak for dog owners dealing with CHD, breeders having to discontinue breeding, and many dogs having to pay with their lives via euthanasia. Dr. Schnelle has made a significant contribution to the canine world by his observations into CHD sixty-six years ago, but, because of the 1940’s time frame, he had limited information about biochemistry, pectineus atrophy, collagen and glucosamine synthesis, oxidation, free radicals and antioxidants which limited his scope for a more definitive conclusion to the cause of the condition. With all due respect, Dr. Schnelle was not a small animal practitioner nor was he an orthopedist or pathologist which added to his limitations. Drs. Bordens and Hardwick obviously recognized, as practitioners, they were limited as pathologist and took the clinical study to the next level by enlisting the help from who was an authority in the field of macro and micro pathology.

Drs. Bordens and Hardwick, in their clinical study, met all of the criteria essential for a successful scientific research:

  1. Developed a positive diagnostic procedure for CHD
  2. Study included 154 subjects
  3. Determined CHD to be bilateral
  4. Identified the involvement of the pectineus muscle
  5. Histopathology: atrophy of the pectineus muscle
  6. Described macroscopically and microscopically the pathology of the dysplastic hips
  7. Each subject had its own controls, the severed pectineus versus the intact pectineus


Dr. Schnelle, nor the present proponents of his theory, have explained the action of the alleged gene/genes, how and when it affects the coxofemoral joint. The clinical studies of Drs. Bordens and Hardwick with 154 subjects, controls and histopathological evidence have proven, without any doubt, that canine hip dysplasia is a biochemical phenomenon that can be prevented. More than a decade has been completed in this new millennium and the CHD problem has yet to be solved by the “veterinary experts” who are clinging to the erroneous archaic heredity theory. Each year hundreds of veterinary graduates are departing their respective teaching institutions where they were “spoon fed” a failed theory which they, in turn, will spread to others. Ignoring proven scientific evidence, the “Heredity Theory” will be “frozen in time” from the last millennium, the last century, the 1940’s.

Since there have not been reductions in instances of CHD via “selective breeding and OFA confirmations, it is obvious this procedure has failed for the past sixty plus years. There has been positive results, in preventing CHD, by incorporating nutritional dietary protocols into daily rations that proves the condition to be biochemical, not hereditary.

This publication has been presented to offer additional information, to the general public, in order to have enough knowledge of the history and circumstances of canine hip dysplasia and to open a dialog for discussions and debates with the veterinary educators and researchers about changing the present course for solving this crippling disease.

In these times when genes are being isolated and identified, it should be a simple matter of applying this technology to determine the presence of those alleged genes causing CHD.

The Diagnosis and Cause of Hip Dysplasia

Dr. Belfield’s Credentials

belfieldDr. Belfield, now retired, was in private practice, in California, for more than three decades, and developed surgical procedures and nutritional treatment protocols to optimize pet health.  His pioneering clinical research into the use of vitamins and minerals to treat, prevent, and control disease processes in pets has been extensively tested in his own veterinary practice.  From that experience came the development of Orthomolecular Specialties line of unique animal nutritional formulas, made to human standards and sold by Dr. Belfield himself.

Degrees and Certifications

Doctor of Veterinary Medicine

Tuskegee University, 1954


International College of Applied Nutrition

Veterinary Licenses

State of California

State of Delaware

California Community College Instructor Credential

Consultant, Linus Pauling Institute for Science and Medicine

Advisor, Natura Pet Products


How To Have A Healthier Dog

with Martin Zucker, 1981

The Very Healthy Cat Book

with Martin Zucker, 1983

Complementary and Alternative Veterinary Medicine: Contributing Author, 1997


Dr. Belfield’s developments in orthomolecular and veterinary medicine have been published in several journals and magazines, including:

Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician: Vitamin C in the Treatment of the Canine and Feline Distemper Complex, 1967

Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician: The Use of Insulin in Open Wound Healing, 1970

Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician: The Dysplastic Dog Can Be Helped, 1971

Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician: Partial Spay (Hysterectomy), 1972

Veterinary Medicine/ Small Animal Clinician: Canine Orchiopexy, 1975

Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine: Megascorbic Prophylaxis and Megascorbic Therapy: A New Orthomolecular Modality in Veterinary Medicine, 1975

Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine: An Orthomolecular Approach to Feline Leukemia Prevention and Control, 1975

Veterinary Medicine/Small Animal Clinician: Chronic Subclinical Scurvy and Canine Hip Dysplasia, 1976


The Toxicity Myth

World Congress on the 50th Anniversary of the Discovery of Vitamin C, 1978

An Orthomolecular Approach to Feline Prevention and Control, Annual Orthomolecular Medical Society Seminar,1982

Articles about Dr. Belfield’s work have appeared in many consumer publications including:

Malaysian Small Animal Veterinary Association

18th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference

16th &17th August 2008

Bangi, Putrajaya


Outdoor Life

The National Enquirer

San Jose Mercury News

San Francisco Chronicle

Sacramento Bee

Let’s Live (US)

Let’s Live (Japan)

Awards and Recognition

30 Year Award, Tuskegee University

Nature Prestige Award

Commendation: Community Classroom, Mayor of San Jose, CA

Letter of Recognition:

Marcus A. Conant, M.D.

Director of AIDS Research Center

University of California School of Medicine at San Francisco, CA

Letter of Recognition:

T.D.Braden, D.V.M., MS

Head of Orthopedics

School of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University

Malaysian Small Animal Veterinary Association

18th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference

16th &17th August 2008

Bangi, Putrajaya