The Use of Vitamin C as an Antibiotic
Reidsville, North Carolina
VITAMIN C—the foundation of the oxidation redux system now through greater dosage
reveals its outstanding qualities as a non-toxic antibiotic.
On the 11th of December 1621 Edward Winslow, 1 one of the Pilgrim Fathers, writing to a friend in England who was about to make the trip to the new world gave this advice:—“Bring juice of lemons; and take it fasting. It is of good use.” Three hundred and eleven years later, 1932, and also in December, Waugh and King 2 found that this “important” lemon juice contained a six carbon chain acid which is now known as vitamin C. Ascorbic acid is related to the hexuronic acids which in turn are derivatives of the simple sugars (Youmans 1941 3). The value of this vitamin as an essential factor for life is universally known and accepted. The importance of vitamin C as an antibiotic and as the pre-cursor of antibody formation lack scientific appreciation because of its simplicity, and because of the reluctance on the part of the medical profession to employ it in massive doses administered like other antibiotics—around the clock. Allergy has become a major problem since the advent of the mold-derived drugs. Hippocrates did declare that the highest duty of medicine to be to get the patient well. He further declared that, of several remedies physicians should choose the least sensational.
This 60-Minutes segment is the story of Alan Smith, a New Zealand farmer who recovers fully from a near fatal case of swine flu by the intravenous administration of Vitamin C.
Alan Smith at the podium introduces Dr. Thomas Levy:
Dr. Linus Pauling on Intravenous Administration of Vitamin C
Pauling's work on vitamin C in his later years generated much controversy. He was first introduced to the concept of high-dose vitamin C by biochemist Irwin Stone in 1966. After becoming convinced of its worth, Pauling took 3 grams of vitamin C every day to prevent colds. Excited by his own perceived results, he researched the clinical literature and published Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970. He began a long clinical collaboration with the British cancer surgeon Ewan Cameron in 1971 on the use of intravenous and oral vitamin C as cancer therapy for terminal patients. Cameron and Pauling wrote many technical papers and a popular book, Cancer and Vitamin C, that discussed their observations. Pauling made vitamin C popular with the public and eventually published two studies of a group of 100 allegedly terminal patients that claimed vitamin C increased survival by as much as four times compared to untreated patients.
A re-evaluation of the claims in 1982 found that the patient groups were not actually comparable, with the vitamin C group being less sick on entry to the study, and judged to be "terminal" much earlier than the comparison group. Later clinical trials conducted by the Mayo Clinic also concluded that high-dose (10,000 mg) vitamin C was no better than placebo at treating cancer and that there was no benefit to high-dose vitamin C. The failure of the clinical trials to demonstrate any benefit resulted in the conclusion that vitamin C was not effective in treating cancer; the medical establishment concluded that his claims that vitamin C could prevent colds or treat cancer were quackery. Pauling denounced the conclusions of these studies and handling of the final study as "fraud and deliberate misrepresentation", and criticized the studies for using oral, rather than intravenous vitamin C (which was the dosing method used for the first ten days of Pauling's original study). Pauling also criticised the Mayo clinic studies because the controls were taking vitamin C during the trial, and because the duration of the treatment with vitamin C was short; Pauling advocated continued high-dose vitamin C for the rest of the cancer patient's life whereas the Mayo clinic patients in the second trial were treated with vitamin C for a median of 2.5 months. The results were publicly debated at length with considerable acrimony between Pauling and Cameron, and Moertel (the lead author of the Mayo Clinic studies), with accusations of misconduct and scientific incompetence on both sides.
Ultimately the negative findings of the Mayo Clinic studies ended general interest in vitamin C as a treatment for cancer. Despite this, Pauling continued to promote vitamin C for treating cancer and the common cold, working with The Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential to use vitamin C in the treatment of brain-injured children. He later collaborated with the Canadian physician Abram Hoffer on a micronutrient regime, including high-dose vitamin C, as adjunctive cancer therapy. A 2009 review also noted differences between the studies, such as the Mayo clinic not using intravenous Vitamin C, and suggested further studies into the role of vitamin C when given intravenously. Results from most clinical trials suggest that modest vitamin C supplementation alone or with other nutrients offers no benefit in the prevention of cancer.