Did you know that almost all creatures manufacture their own vitamin C? It’s only humans, guinea pigs, some monkeys and certain species of bats that cannot do this and need to obtain their vitamin C from the diet. Read on to discover the longstanding controversy surrounding Vitamin C and you’ll realise it may be much easier if, like other animals, we produced our own!
Earlier this year I attended a lecture by Dr Thomas Levy about reports of high doses of Vitamin C apparently curing a whole host of diseases. Whilst finding this interesting, I dismissed it from being of any clinical relevance to me because these cases used intravenous Vitamin C (which is not something that nutritionists do), the people concerned were so ill that they were in hospital, and my clients would probably consider me wildly eccentric if I recommended they started popping Vitamin C tablets every couple of hours! However, upon recently looking through my notes, I think there are some fascinating reports of success dating back almost a century. Also, a recent study carried out by the University of Iowa, reported in the journal Cancer Cell came to my attention, which involved giving large doses of Vitamin C to patients with lung cancer and brain cancer (1, 2). It seems that at last there is some serious focus on that which was started by the pioneers of Vitamin C therapy many decades ago.
Let’s look back to where this all began
It seems the pioneer was Dr Claus W Jungeblut (1897-1976) who first published a report in 1935 about using vitamin C to cure people of polio. Around the same time was Dr Frederick R Klenner (1907-1984) who wrote many papers reporting successfully treating people suffering from a wide range of diseases with these massive doses of Vitamin C, such as polio, multiple sclerosis, pneumonia, hepatitis, chickenpox, measles, mumps, diphtheria, scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, tetanus and cancer. His work inspired others: Dr Irwin Stone (1907-1984), Dr Linus Pauling (1901-1994) and Dr Robert Cathcart (1932-2007) and there is plenty of literature about these three gentlemen and their success with high dose Vitamin C. If it is the case that this vitamin can cure so many ills, why has medical science not jumped on it? Well, it appears there has been a great deal of controversy around this research.
More recent papers often begin with statements such as “Ever since Linus Pauling published his studies, the effects of vitamin C have been surrounded by contradictory results (3)” or “The use of vitamin C against different diseases has been controversially and emotionally discussed since Linus Pauling published his cancer studies (4)” So, what is all this about? The contradictory results may be due to the type of vitamin C used, e.g. intravenous or oral, which have different rates of absorption, and the variations in dosage used between one trial and another which has made it difficult to make comparisons (5). While others flatly dismissed it as nonsense.
But there may be more to it …
So much has been written about it over the years it does seem to warrant more attention. A Canadian report by L. John Hoffer and colleagues (2015) says that “Despite its biological and clinical plausibility, with only rare exceptions it is ignored by conventional cancer investigators and funding agencies (6)”. They go on to say “The present state of cancer chemotherapy is unsatisfactory. New cancer drugs continue to be developed and approved on the basis of marginal improvements in survival at an unsustainably high financial cost (6)”. As regards more funding for trials involving Vitamin C, it has been suggested that “the lack of financial reward and tainted association with alternative medicine could dissuade conventional investigators and funding agencies from seriously considering this approach (6)”. Yes, this may be an issue! Lack of financial reward for pharmaceutical companies who are often the ones funding the research. And, sadly, the divide between mainstream and alternative/complementary medicine.
More recent findings
In addition to the study reported in Cancer Cell, other recent studies have also reported positive findings:
An article in the Journal of Translational Medicine (2012) found that high dose intravenous Vitamin C reduced inflammation in cancer patients which led to reduction in tumour growth and improved prognosis (7).
A Chinese study from 2016 reported that their “data suggests that high-dose vitamin C inhibits tumor cell proliferation (5)”.
A 2017 study from the University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand, said that “Accumulating evidence indicates that vitamin C can exhibit analgesic properties in some clinical conditions, thus potentially mitigating suffering and improving patient quality of life (8)”. They went on to say “Vitamin C is cost effective and appears to be a safe and effective adjunctive therapy for specific pain relief (8)”.
With regard to sepsis (septicaemia), a report in the journal Critical Care printed in 2014 commented on “a positive … survival rate in patients with severe sepsis. Supplementation of vitamin C in patients … suffering sepsis therefore seems to be highly recommendable (4)”.
The research I mentioned at the start, as reported in Cancer Cell, involved giving vitamin C to improve the outcome of standard cancer treatments; chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Since these treatments in themselves create toxicity that the sick person also has to recover from, it would be interesting to see some research to find what vitamin C alone can do against cancer cells.
That’s not all …
Take a look at a YouTube video of a New Zealand farmer who received high dose vitamin C when he contracted Swine Flu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=twUVWv0fpRc Vitamin C: the miracle Swine Flu cure (60 Minutes Living)
Hmm … watch this space!
- 1. Schoenfeld JD et al., (2017) O2- and H2O2-mediated disruption of Fe metabolism causes the differential susceptibility of NSCLC and GBM cancer cells to pharmacological ascorbate. Cancer Cell, 31: 487-500
- 2. IHCAN magazine, (Integrative Healthcare and Applied Nutrition) May 2017. ihcan-mag.com
- 3. Figueroa-Méndez R., and Rivas-Arancibia S. (2015) Vitamin C in health and disease: its role in the metabolism of cells and redox state in the brain. Frontiers in Physiology, 6: 397
- 4. Rodemeister S and Biesalski HK (2014) There’s life in the old dog yet: vitamin C as a therapeutic option in endothelial dysfunction. Critical Care, 18:461.
- 5. Wang G., Yin T., Wang Y. (2016) In vitro and in vivo assessment of high‑dose vitamin C against murine tumors. Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine, 12: 3058-3062
- 6. Hoffer, L.J., Robitaille, L., Zakarian, R., Melnychuk, D., Kavan, P., Agulnik, J., Cohen, V., Small, D., Miller Jr., WH., (2015) High-Dose Intravenous Vitamin C Combined with Cytotoxic Chemotherapy in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Phase I-II Clinical Trial. PLOSONE|DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0120228 April 7, 2015
- 7. Mikirova N., Casciari J., Rogers A., Taylor P. (2012) Effect of high dose intravenous vitamin C on inflammation in cancer patients. Journal of Translational Medicine, 10:189
- 8. Carr AC., and McCall C. (2017) The role of vitamin C in the treatment of pain: new insights. Journal of Translational Medicine, 15: 77
Sebastian J. Padayatty, SJ., Sun, AY., Chen, Q., Espey, MG., Drisko, J., Levine, M ( 2010) Vitamin C: Intravenous Use by Complementary and Alternative Medicine Practitioners and Adverse Effects. PLoS ONE, www.plosone.org 1 July 2010, Volume 5, Issue 7, e11414
https://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm HTML Revised 20 November, 2013. Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C. The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., abbreviated, summarized and annotated by Lendon H. Smith, M.D. Adapted from Vitamin C as a Fundamental Medicine: Abstracts of Dr. Frederick R. Klenner’s published and unpublished work.