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Immune Response

Immune Response


"Some physicians would stand by and see their patients die 
  rather than use ascorbic acid. 

"Vitamin C should be given to the patient
  while the doctors ponder the diagnosis.

  (Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.)

 Like a country veterinarian, I drove my red '78 Ford pickup along a vacant road to a client's rural home out near Pavillion, New York. Driving along in the middle of nowhere (and even in New York State there are still such places) to a house call was not my usual routine, but on a sunny spring day like this, it was a taste of the life of James Herriot.

 I pulled up the long driveway to the cedar-shingled house where my appointment was scheduled.  Going to the side door, I met the father and mother, who showed me into the dining area, where I met a perfectly normal looking nine-year-old boy.  He was blond, fair-skinned and a bit skinny.  His name was Charles. 

 Charles had practically no immune system to speak of. His mother told the tale:

 "He's been in and out of Children's Hospital, again and again. He's home, he gets a sniffle, then he clogs up and can't breathe, then it's pneumonia, then he's back to the hospital. This happens every few weeks, over and over again, and has been going on for years. The doctors said there is nothing they can do except give him antibiotics. They said his immune system isn't working. They do not know why. They are out of ideas, and we are at our wits end over this." She really did look wrung out.

 "What can you do?" asked the father, politely but just barely so.  He looked like his nerves were frayed, too.  I paused for a moment to collect a thought.

 "Does he take vitamins?" I asked

 "A multiple vitamin, nearly every day," the mother answered. "Sometimes I give him some vitamin C, but it hasn't helped."

 "Maybe his body needs more of it," I said, taking the plunge. "There are 50 years of scientific literature on successful vitamin C megadose therapy.  Much of it comes from the two dozen or so published papers of Frederick Robert Klenner, MD, of Reidsville, North Carolina."

 "How much did he use?" the father said.

 "A whole lot; more than you'd ever imagine giving to a nine-year-old. Klenner used somewhere between 350 and 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per kilogram body-weight per day."

 "We've given Charlie 500 milligrams sometimes," said his mother.

 "Dr. Klenner gave that amount or more per kilogram patient body weight per day," I explained.  "A kilogram is 2.2 pounds.  What do you weigh, Charlie?"

 "75 pounds, I think," Charlie said. "Maybe a little less."

 "All right, that's about, oh, 33 kilograms or so. Dr. Klenner would have given you somewhere between 11,000 and 30,000 milligrams."

 "A day?" said his mother.


 "That seems like an awful lot of vitamin C," said his father.  "How safe is it?"

 "Klenner was a very competent doctor, who practiced for some 35 years. He wrote that 'Vitamin C is the safest and most effective substance available to the physician.'  Robert F. Cathcart, MD, out in San Diego, California gives as much as 200 thousand milligrams."

 "A day?" repeated the mother.

 "Yes," I said. 

 "Well, nothing else has done him any good," said the father.  All the doctors do is tell us to stick him in a steamy shower when he can't breathe, and we have to keep him there all night sometimes. Then he gets bronchitis. Last time, it went to meningitis."

 "What do you think we should do, then, exactly?" asked his mother. She posed the question, all right, but didn't sound very optimistic.  It would be hard to blame her.

 "Since the doctors have tried all they know, maybe it is time to try something else.
You could start raising Charlie's daily vitamin C intake, and really take it up high if he starts to get sick."

 "How high?" asked the father.

 "If he gets sick?  At least 11,000 milligrams a day, maybe twice that. Enough so his symptoms stop."

 If John Dillinger had told J. Edgar Hoover that he'd never even been in a bank, you could not have gotten a more skeptical look than the one I got then.

 "All right, thank you," said the father.

 I left with my fee and without much confidence in this one.

 It was only days later that I got a call at about 10 AM. It was Charlie's mother, and she was not happy.

 "It's started again," she said. "It's started again. Charlie is sneezing and he's coughing and he's gasping and we've just put him in the shower.  What am I supposed to do again?"

 I went over the protocol once more: give Charlie as much vitamin C as he could hold, at least 11,000 milligrams before the day was over.

 "OK," she said. "This had better work."

 That's what I was thinking, too.

 At about 6 PM I got another call.

 "I can't believe it," came the voice of Charlie's mother. "I cannot believe it. He's actually getting better.  He's getting better!"

 She told me that Charlie's symptoms had gone away during the afternoon. He'd had around 12,000 to 14,000 milligrams of vitamin C that day. No medicines. No more showers. No hospital visit.

 "No kidding!" I said.  "That's really great."

 "Now what?" said the mother.

 "As a preventive, continue to keep his vitamin C level high each day, maybe 4,000 milligrams or even more. Dr. Klenner said that children can take their age in grams (thousands of milligrams) of C each day, as a maintenance dose. My own kids seemed to do fine with around half that.  The exact amount will be the amount that keeps Charlie well. Remember that we don't take the amount of C that we think we should take; we take the amount of C that does the job. My corny little jingle is, 'Take enough C to be symptom free, whatever that amount might be."' 

 "So when he's sick, give him enough to get him well, and when he's well, give him enough to keep him that way?"

 "Right," I replied.

 "That seems too simple to be the answer," said his mother.

 "The hospital tried everything else, true?" I reminded her.


 "And what worked?"

 "The vitamin C is the only thing that's worked," she said. "Normally he'd be in the hospital by now. There must be something to this."

 There is. And for such a good idea, the spread of this knowledge has been exceptionally slow.  Furthermore, for such a useful therapy, medical-political hindrance has been unbelievably high. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the case of Dr. Linus Pauling.

 Linus Pauling, PhD is one of history's great chemists, and his textbooks and huge output of scientific papers continue to foreshadow generations of research. Pauling is the only person, ever, to win two unshared Nobel prizes. The first, normally enough, was for pioneering work into the detailed nature of chemical bonds. The second was for peace, after it was eventually appreciated that Pauling's position against atmospheric nuclear weapons testing was the correct one.  Neither of these awards prepared the world for what was to follow: Pauling suggested that vitamin C might be effective against the common cold. It would be difficult to imagine that the practical medical applications of ascorbic acid would cause more of a ruckus than Pauling's complete overhaul of our knowledge of chemistry, or the vicious blacklisting that Pauling got from the US government when he opposed nuclear testing.  But it is true none the less.

 Pauling reviewed several dozen supposedly open-and-thoroughly shut papers that concluded that vitamin C was, after careful trial, unsuccessful at slowing, stopping or preventing the common cold.  He found that the researchers had failed to interpret their own work fairly, or even accurately.  In virtually every instance, Pauling found that the effect of vitamin C was, at the very least, statistically significant.  Again and again, the authors of the studies had written biased opinions and passed them off as valid summaries of their work. 

 These authors were simply wrong: science repeatedly demonstrates vitamin C is indeed an effective anti-viral. You can, if you like, confirm this with a trip to the library. In addition to Pauling and Klenner, you might investigate the work of Robert F. Cathcart III, MD; William J. McCormick, MD; Dr. Irwin Stone; and Emanual Cheraskin, MD. They managed to get their work published; can you manage to locate it? And would you care for a hint? 

 Okay: Do not rely on a computer search into a medical or nutritional data base. It probably will not uncover the authors I cite. Why? Because what gets indexed is what is selected to be indexed. Who controls such selection? Whoever generates the index, that's who, and editors generally include what conventional medical doctrine approves of and what they agree with. In the same way that you will not find too many versions of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare in a dirty book store, you are unlikely to easily locate favorable megavitamin research papers at your library. Sad, but true: too many of my students have come back to me, whining that they can't find my references. Look folks, if I can, you can.

 You will need to shun the "assistance" of the American Medical Association, the Food and Drug Administration, the American Dietetic Association, and other incumbent power groups with highly politicized agendas. Do your own search the old fashioned way: by author, and by hand.  Possibly you can interest a librarian in helping you. I'm even going to cave in and provide several good reference lists in this website.  A number of the sources I provide are "old" (that is, often dating from the 1950s, and 60s and 70s) and are sometimes from smaller, lesser known, or regional journals.  Nevertheless, the truth is out there.

 If it is, then why is it so obscured? Why don't we know and see and hear more of it? Simple: it is vastly easier to get an anti-vitamin study published than a pro-vitamin study. Not only that, when you expose an anti-vitamin study as flawed, strong forces are at work to keep your criticism from ever being published.  Ask Oliver Stone's question from JFK: who stands to benefit most? The medical, dietetic, and pharmaceutical cartel, that's who.

 Let me show you.  Countless news shows, newspapers, and textbooks have proclaimed that vitamin C in megadoses does no good, and in fact does harm.  Here are two of the most widely known, but completely false, "facts" about vitamin C.

Vitamin Myth #1:  "Your body doesn't absorb extra vitamin C.  All you get from taking vitamin supplements is expensive urine."

 Urine is what is left over after your kidneys purify your blood. If your urine contains extra vitamin C, that vitamin C was in your blood. If the vitamin was in your blood, you absorbed it just fine. Think about that.

 You can swallow a marble (but please don't) and find it in the toilet bowl a couple of days later. That is because your food tube, or alimentary canal, is essentially just a hollow 25-foot hose connecting your mouth to your anus. That swallowed marble is "in" your body geographically, but it is not in your body the way your blood is.  If you stick your finger through the hole of a donut, you might say your finger is "inside" the donut, but it is not in the donut the way the flour and sugar are, right?  We can turn you upside down and shake you, and you'll probably barf up your most recent meal, maybe even that marble.  Your blood won't come out of you, though. If something is in your blood, it is really in you, fully and utterly absorbed.

 Standing at the base of the Hoover Dam looking up, you cannot tell how much water is behind it.  However, by observing the overflow spillway, you can tell: if the spillway is dry and dusty, full of tumbleweeds, and foxes are making their dens their, there has been a drought for some time, and the water level in the dam must be low.  If enough water is pouring down the spillway for white-water rafting, the dam must be full. Wasting indicates fullness, just as a cup overflowing is truly a full cup. Urine spillage of vitamin C indicates that you have some to waste, then and there. It does not indicate bodily saturation; bowel tolerance (loose stool) indicates saturation. One takes just enough C to stay just below that level.

 It is the absence of water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C in urine that indicates vitamin deficiency.  If your body excretes vitamins in your urine, that is a sign that you are well nourished and have nutrients to spare. It is easier to put a twenty in the Salvation Army pot at Christmas time if you have a few grand to spend shopping. So many Americans are credit-card shoppers and deficit spenders. We are also deficit eaters, trying to obtain a ridiculously low US RDA of vitamins from a selection of nutritionally wimpy foods that cannot really meet any of our vitamin or mineral needs abundantly. Vitamin supplements are a solution, not a problem. 

Vitamin Myth #2:  "Vitamin C causes kidney stones."

 First of all, I have never seen any scientific evidence to back up that statement.  I've had literally hundreds of students and health practitioners looking for years for any controlled study demonstrating a vitamin C caused kidney stone and so far I have received... nearly one... submission.  That's a jocular way of saying "none."

 I bet if I show you a picture of a unicorn, you will easily recognize it. Everybody has heard about unicorns. You can describe one in detail. You could probably draw a unicorn. You can see one in your mind right now. Yet unicorns do not exist. They are imaginary, without substance or proof. Just like a vitamin C kidney stone. The vitamin C-kidney-stone myth is the best known non-fact in non-existence. Every medical doctor has heard of one, and none of them has ever seen one. 

   If you haven't been on the inside, it is hard to believe that a vitamin can start a scientific civil war. Pauling has been there, and what you uncover when you join him is that it's more real than any other conspiracy theory that you've ever heard about. (So where is Oliver Stone when we need him?) Pauling speaks from much experience as he discusses this in his exceptionally interesting book, How to Live Longer and Feel Better. This work, and Lendon Smith's Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C (which is about that Dr. Klenner fellow, mentioned earlier) are surely the twentieth century's ultimate treatises on megavitamin-C therapy "quackery."

 The problem remains that a highly distinguished Stanford University professor lost a reputation he worked 50 years to make within days of the publication of his book that started all the hoopla, Vitamin C and the Common Cold. What did he do? Pauling primarily publicized the work of physicians like Dr. Klenner, a crime against humanity if there ever was one. What did Klenner do? He healed the sick, and wrote down what did it.

 I read both Klenner and Pauling. And then I needed them myself, badly. Because I seem to have this little problem with pneumonia.

 The first time I had viral pneumonia, I was sick as a dog. My wife had bronchitis at the same time. We looked so awful that my father took us both to the doctor.  The doctor saw her first, and prescribed Erythromycin, an antibiotic. Then it was my turn. He gave me Erythromycin, too.

 "But isn't that useless against a virus?" I asked him.

 "Yes. It's for the secondary bacterial infection that often follows the viral infection," he told me. "There's not much we can do about the virus except have you rest in bed."

 So I did, knocked silly by codeine cough medicine. For two, perhaps three days, I was in La-la Land, not knowing or caring if I ate or not, or if it was day of night.  I could barely tell if I was asleep or awake. 

 Nice vacation though it was, neither the codeine nor the erythromycin really cured the pneumonia. The body did, and it took something less than two weeks for me to recover.

 The next time I got pneumonia, I did it my way (well, their way) and followed the Klenner/Pauling protocol: take enough vitamin C to get well, no matter how much it may be. This initially makes a lot more sense if you are really, really sick. Pneumonia sets that part up effectively enough.

 So there I was, coughing without a pause with a fever of nearly 104, playing Scrabble. I literally emptied a bottle of 1 gram (1,000 mg) tablets onto the table, lined them up two by two, and took 2,000 milligrams of vitamin C every six minutes. In three hours, that amounts to 60,000 milligrams.  And three hours is what it took to lower my fever three degrees and stop my cough completely.

 Remember, this are just anecdotes.

YOU CAN READ TWO OF THE BEST BOOKS ON VITAMIN C THERAPY FOR FREE. Dr. Klenner's Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C is now posted in its entirety at
The complete text of Irwin Stone's book The Healing Factor is now posted for free reading at

Copyright C 2003 and prior years Andrew W. Saul.

Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )

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Andrew W. Saul


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