"Be sure you are right, then go ahead." (Davy Crockett)
The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 3, No 20) September 5, 2003 "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A."
Written and copyright 2003 by Andrew Saul, PhD, of http://www.doctoryourself.com , a free online library of over 350 natural healing articles with nearly 4,000 scientific references.
IT WAS A BIG SOCIETY LUNCHEON and I was speaking to a large roomful of elderly folks on the benefits of natural healing. Apparently they'd really loved my talk: lots of bifocaled eye contact and positive nods from many a gray-haired head. So after I'd finished my presentation, I invited those that wished to come up if they had a question or two. The response to this quite normal offer was catastrophic. The grannys stormed the stage. They were all over me. They actually stole my lecture notes right off the podium. Really. It was like being an orthomolecular rock star. I guess I'm lucky my clothes stayed on.
But this natural lifestyle stuff really works, and people can instinctively sense it. Then they try it; they feel better; they tell others. That's the fun part. I recently received a couple of delightful phone calls. One was from a lady, now 88, who said that she's been following the natural foods and supplements way for nearly 30 years. She'd previously had an assortment of health problems, until she totally reformed her diet and started taking vitamins. Now, she said, "I take no medicines at all, and I feel wonderful." Another lady, now 93, phoned and said that, way back in 1970, her husband had a severe heart attack and his prospects were not great. Dr. Evan Shute placed him on 1,600 IU of vitamin E, daily. Did it work? Looks like it might have: her husband is now 92, and still takes 1,200 IU every day. A third of a century on megadoses of vitamin E, and no side effects but success.
Shh! Don't let word of this get out! Do NOT read the articles about megadoses of vitamin E that a site search from the main page of the http://www.doctoryourself.com website will bring up! WARNING: Doing so may be helpful to your health. If you are healthy, and if your family and friends get wind of what you are doing, it could undermine our medical and pharmaceutical industries!
Of course, if you are bound and determined to get well and stay well, well then, I guess you'll likely want to go ahead and email me your story at doctoryourself.com/contact.html .
I love this job.
MEGADOSES OF VITAMIN C: A GREAT IDEA BUT NOT A NEW ONE
(This paper originally was published as "The Pioneering Work of William J. McCormick, MD" in my column, Taking the Cure, appearing in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2003, p 93-96. It is reprinted here with permission.)
Darwin had a far easier time with the acceptance of evolution than orthomolecular physicians have had gaining acceptance of the therapeutic use of ascorbic acid.
It takes vitamin C to make collagen and strong connective tissue. That fact is in every nutrition textbook ever written. It has also been shown that vitamin C supplementation enhances collagen synthesis. (1) And does so rapidly, too. (2) But few know that, some 50 years ago, it was Toronto physician William J. McCormick, M.D., who pioneered the idea that poor collagen formation, due to vitamin C deficiency, was a principal cause of diverse conditions ranging from stretch marks to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
In 1948, Dr. McCormick (3) wrote:
"[T]hese disfiguring subdermal lesions, which for centuries were regarded as a natural sequence of pregnancy, are the result of increased fragility of the involved abdominal connective tissue, secondary to deficiency of vitamin C."
The strength of a brick wall is not truly in the bricks, for a stack of bricks can easily be pushed apart. Collagen is the "mortar" that binds your cells together, just as mortar binds bricks together. If collagen is abundant and strong, body cells hold together well. It is possible to see how this property would prevent stretch marks.
It is a logical but large step to propose that, if cells stick together, tumors would have a tough time spreading through them. Irwin Stone (4) credited McCormick with taking that very step:
"In cancer, the maintenance of collagen synthesis at optimal levels, may provide such tough and strong tissue ground substance around any growing cancer cells so that they would be firmly anchored and could not break away and metastasize."
This simple theory would be the foundation for Linus Pauling and Ewan Cameron's decision to employ large doses of vitamin C to fight cancer. After all, if cancer cells are going to try to metastasize, it makes sense to provide abundant vitamin C to strengthen collagen to keep them from doing so.
Dr. McCormick was among the first to comment that persons with cancer typically have exceptionally low levels of vitamin C in their tissues, a deficiency of approximately 4,500 mg. This could help explain why a cancer patient's collagen is generally not tough enough to be able to prevent cancer from spreading.
McCormick also thought that the symptoms of classic vitamin C deficiency disease, scurvy, closely resemble the symptoms of some types of leukemia and other forms cancer. Today, although scurvy is generally considered to be virtually extinct, cancer is all too prevalent. If the signs of development of cancer and scurvy are similar, could they be fundamentally the same disease under different names? In his 1962 paper "Have We Forgotten the Lesson of Scurvy" (5) Dr. McCormick writes:
"As long ago as 1609, Martini cited by (scurvy research pioneer Dr. James) Lind stated that scurvy is nearly allied to the plague, as it occasions carbuncles, buboes and cancer. In an effort to clarify this relationship we published two papers (6,7) in which we advanced the hypothesis that deficiency of vitamin C, by bringing about disintegration of epithelial and connective tissue relationships, owing to liquefaction of the intercellular cement substance collagen) and disintegration of the connective tissue of the basement membrane, results in breakdown of orderly cellular arrangement, thus acting as a prelude to cancer."
He also cites this obscure but interesting reference in the 1905 edition of Northnagel's Encyclopedia of Practical Medicine (8) which describes the scorbutic aspects of acute lymphatic leukemia: "The most striking clinical symptoms of this disease are the hemorrhages and their sequelae. . . Every touch produces hemmorhage, making a condition completely identical with that of scurvy."
Dr. McCormick's conclusion is that
"Our major effort (against cancer) should be directed toward prevention of the cause of the cellular disarrangement - collagenous breakdown of epithelial and subepithelial connective tissues - as manifested in open sores or fissures that fail to heal readily, and unusual or easily produced hemorrhage. Such lesions may be early warning signs of future cancer. They likewise are early signs of scurvy." (p. 10)
If our civilization is suffering from a scurvy epidemic under the current name of cancer, then the symptoms, progress and results of the two diseases may have a common cause (vitamin C deficiency) and a common treatment: vitamin C in large quantity. If this is even partially true, then all cancer patients should receive large doses of ascorbic acid as a matter of routine.
As scorbutic gum tissue spontaneously hemorrhages, so also a scorbutic artery can literally "bleed" into itself. McCormick, over twenty years before Linus Pauling, reviewed the nutritional causes of heart disease and noted that four out of five coronary cases in hospital show vitamin C deficiency. In one paper (9) he wrote that, as early as 1941,
"Paterson (10) called attention to the low vitamin-C status of coronary thrombosis cases. He found that 81 per cent of such cases in hospital practice had a subnormal blood-plasma level as compared to 55.8 per cent in a corresponding group of general public ward patients. He attributes the precipitation of thrombosis to a prior subintimal capillary hemorrhage at the site of the lesion, which he has verified at autopsy. He regards this hemorrhagic prelude as due to C-avitaminosis and suggests that patients with this disease be assured of an adequate intake of this vitamin."
And while the exact meaning of the word "adequate" has been at the heart of nutrition controversy ever since, supplementation with even a moderate quantity of vitamin C has been shown to prevent disease and save lives. Just 500 mg daily results in a 42 percent lower risk of death from heart disease and a 35 percent lower risk of death from any cause. (11)
VITAMIN C AS ANTIBIOTIC AND ANTIVIRAL
Dr. McCormick proposed vitamin C deficiency as the essential cause of, and an effective cure for, numerous communicable illnesses. In "The Changing Incidence and Mortality of Infectious Disease in Relation to Changed Trends in Nutrition" (12) McCormick cited mortality tables as early as 1840, and suggested that tuberculosis, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, rheumatic fever and typhoid fever are primarily due to inadequate dietary vitamin C. It remains as novel an idea today as it was nearly 60 years ago to say that disease trends in history might be understood as waves of lack of vitamin C intake.
Dr. McCormick considered vitamin C to be the pivotal therapeutic nutrient "by reason of its chemical action as a reducing agent, and sometimes as an oxidizing agent, vitamin C is also a specific antagonist of chemical and bacterial toxins." Furthermore, in "Ascorbic Acid as a Chemotherapeutic Agent" (13) he stated:
"Vitamin C is known to play an essential part in the oxidation- reduction system of tissue respiration and to contribute to the development of antibodies and the neutralization of toxins in the building of natural immunity to infectious diseases. There is a very potent chemotherapeutic action of ascorbic acid when given in massive repeated doses, 500 to 1,000 mg. (hourly), preferably intravenously or intramuscularly. When thus administered the effect in acute infectious processes is favorably comparable to that of the sulfonamides or the mycelial antibiotics, but with the great advantage of complete freedom from toxic or allergic reactions." (p. 151)
There is considerable evidence that vitamin C in large, frequent doses can cure what are usually called infectious diseases. To establish that these diseases are actually vitamin C deficiency diseases, we should be able to prevent them by regular, abundant supply of the vitamin. This is exactly what can be done, McCormick said:
"Once the acute febrile or toxic stage of an infectious disease is brought under control by massive ascorbic acid administration, a relatively small maintenance dose of the vitamin will be adequate in most cases to prevent relapses, just as in fire protection small chemical extinguishers may be adequate to prevent fires in their incipiency, whereas when large fires have developed, water from large high-pressure fire hoses becomes necessary." (p. 152)
Along with his contemporary, Frederick R. Klenner, M.D., McCormick was an early advocate of using vitamin C as an antiviral and an antibiotic. Klenner would go on to use much larger quantities (350-700 mg per kg body weight per day). In the 1950's, even McCormick's relatively modest four or five daily 1,000-2,000 mg doses were perceived as astronomically high, and something to be feared.
In some minds, this remains the case today.
Ever since Linus Pauling began publicizing the value of megadoses of vitamin C in the early 1970's, it has been a cornerstone of medical mythology that vitamin C can cause kidney stones. The accusation is false. (14) Everybody has heard about unicorns and 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 physician has heard of one, but not one of them has ever seen one. That is because they simply do not exist.
As Dr Abram Hoffer has said, "Contrary to popular medical belief, vitamin C does not cause kidney stones; at least it never has so far. Maybe in it will in the next 1000 years."
Writers often pass by the fact that Dr. McCormick actually advocated vitamin C to prevent and cure the formation of some kidney stones as far back as 1946 (15), when he wrote:
"I have observed that a cloudy urine, heavy with phosphates and epithelium, is generally associated with a low vitamin C status. . . and that as soon as corrective administration of the vitamin effects a normal ascorbic acid (vitamin C) level the crystalline and organic sediment disappears like magic from the urine. I have found that this change can usually be brought about in a matter of hours by large doses of the vitamin, 500 to 2,000 mg, oral or parenteral." (p. 411)
In what might be seen as a display of almost too much therapeutic versatility, Dr. McCormick affirmed that calculi in other parts of the body could be cleared up by plenty of vitamin C, including stones in the biliary tract, the pancreas, tonsils, appendix, mammary glands, uterus, ovaries, prostate and "even the calcareous deposits in arteriosclerosis." He said that calcareous deposits in the eye "may be cleared away in a few days by correction of vitamin C status, and I find also that dental calculus (tartar on the teeth), which lays the foundation for so much dental havoc, can be quickly suppressed and prevented by an adequate intake of vitamin C."
Odd though this final statement may seem, "there appears to be a very real correlation between vitamin C state (as a possible nonmechanical contributor) and debris irrespective of tooth cleansing habits," wrote Professor of Oral Medicine Emanuel Cheraskin, M.D., D.M.D., in 1993. (16) Dr. Cheraskin cited a clinical trial that "reported a resolution of materia alba, calculus, and stain when 500 mg of ascorbic acid was daily administered for 90 days."
Fifty years ago, McCormick (17) wrote:
"The writer has found, in clinical and laboratory research, that the smoking of one cigarette neutralizes in the body approximately 25 mg of ascorbic acid, or the equivalent of the vitamin C content of one average-size orange. On this basis, the ability of the heavy smoker to maintain normal vitamin C status from dietary sources is obviously questionable, and this alone may account for the prevalence of vitamin C deficiency in our modern adult population."
This was quite a statement in 1954, at a time when physicians were literally endorsing their favorite cigarette in magazines and on television commercials.
No doubt it is purely coincidental that calculii, cigarettes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, connective tissue, and collagen all have the letter "C" in common. William J. McCormick's lifetime of work helped establish that these words also have a vitamin in common. Dr. McCormick fought vitamin C deficiency wherever his clinical experience found it. His early use of gram-sized doses to combat what then and now are usually regarded as non- deficiency-related illnesses set the stage for today's 100,000 mg/day antiviral/anticancer vitamin C IV's. For such a good idea, the spread of this knowledge to date has been exceptionally slow. Without McCormick's published work, it might never have spread at all.
(All 17 footnoted references for this paper are posted in their entirety at http://www.doctoryourself.com/mccormick.html )
Locating William J. McCormick's papers is now somewhat easier than it used to be because a number of them have been posted on the Internet. at http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate/ .
READERS SAY (Here's a letter from a teacher I received back in December of 1988. It a beautiful example of how Dr. Hoffer's niacin protocol can profoundly help people.)
"I'm writing to thank you for changing my life. You may remember that I was in despair: I thought I'd have to quit my job, and most days were pretty miserable for me. The niacin changed everything. It enables me to enjoy my teaching once more, to be able to relate to the students and anyone else, to think and communicate clearly, and just to be a "normal" person.
"Like you said, it's not perfect, but the improvement has been incredibly great. I also take the other vitamins and follow the other suggestions you made to me, but the niacin is at the heart of it all. If only I had called you years ago. But at least I was able to get help when things were at their worst.
"Thank you again. Your knowledge has meant everything to me.
"Sincerely, "L. S."
The knowledge is, of course, not mine. Lots of niacin dosage information is posted at the http://www.doctoryourself.com website, and a search from the top of the main page for "Hoffer" or for "niacin" will bring it all forward quickly and easily.
THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK: There are 72 feet of nerves and 9 feet of blood vessels for every square inch of your skin. Each individual cell in your body contains 6 feet of DNA, which, if unraveled, would stretch 11 billion miles. If there were ever an argument for large vitamin doses, this is it.
VITAMIN C, INFECTIOUS DISEASES, AND TOXINS
The effectiveness and safety of megadose vitamin C therapy should, by now, be yesterday's news. Yet I never cease to be amazed at the number of persons who remain unaware that vitamin C is the best broad-spectrum antibiotic, antihistamine, antitoxic and antiviral substance there is. Equally surprising is the ease with which some people, most of the medical profession, and virtually all of the media have been convinced that, somehow, vitamin C is not only ineffective but is also downright dangerous.
Therefore I am always glad to find yet another impeccably qualified physician who publishes to set things straight. Thomas E. Levy, a practicing physician for 25 years, is a board-certified internist and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is also an attorney. What's more, he's a really fine writer. Dr. Levy's new book, Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable has immediately made my most select list of absolutely required reading.
That list is rather short, and here's why. When you pick up a health or nutrition book and need to know really fast if it is any good or not, just look for these three key words: Klenner, Stone, and Pauling. If a book has negative things to say about Linus Pauling, you are not likely to find a fair hearing for vitamins. Irwin Stone, the biochemist who first put Dr. Pauling onto vitamin C, is the author of The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease (1972). Pauling cites Stone thirteen times in his landmark How to Live Longer and Feel Better (1986), a recommendation if there ever was one. But the key figure, chest specialist and ascorbic acid megadose pioneer Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. is usually omitted entirely from most orthodox nutrition, health or medical texts. To me, that is tantamount to deleting all the Shakespeare from an English Lit course. The importance of Klenner's clinical observations showing vitamin C's power against infectious and chronic disease is extraordinary. Dr. Levy intends that you become familiar with Klenner's work, and Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins accomplishes this purpose with distinction.
Without hedging, Dr. Levy explains why, even in his subtitle, he uses the word "cure" as boldly as Dr. Klenner ever did:
"It is completely appropriate to use the term "cure" when, in fact, the evidence demonstrates that a given medical condition has clearly and repeatedly been cured by a specific therapy. . . Avoiding the use of a term such as "cure" when it is absolutely appropriate does as much harm as using it inappropriately. Not realizing the incredible ability of vitamin C to cure a given infectious disease just perpetuates the usage of so many other needlessly applied toxic drugs and clinical protocols. If the shoe fits, wear it, and if the treatment works, proclaim it." (p 15)
And this is precisely what Dr. Levy does.
"Properly dosed vitamin C will reliably and quickly cure nearly all cases of acute polio and acute hepatitis. Polio babies are completely well in less than a week and hepatitis patients are sick for only a few days, not several months." (p 19)
Knowing full well how the medical profession will react to such statements, Dr. Levy writes:
"Unquestioning faith in the "established" medical knowledge is so deeply ingrained that many doctors simply will not even consider reading something that comes from sources that they do not consider worthy of producing new medical concepts. And if they do...they quickly dismiss it as just being ridiculous if it conflicts with too many of the concepts that most of their colleagues and textbooks embrace." (p 22)
Aside from personally conducing their own mostly pre-Medline journal search, the primary way patients (and through them, their physicians) have been exposed to Dr. Klenner's work has been through Lendon Smith's 68-page Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C. (Vitamin C as a Fundamental Medicine: Abstracts of Dr. Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.'s Published and Unpublished Work. (1988) Tacoma, WA: Life Sciences Press. ISBN 0-943685-01-X. Renamed in 1991: Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C: The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. ISBN 0-943685-13-3.)
My college students' avoidance response when I trot out "old" megavitamin studies is nothing compared to the sheer hostility I have received from academic colleagues. Once one of my undergraduates submitted a paper in another class discussing some 20 fairly old medical references she had found on vitamin C as a cure for polio. That course's instructor told me privately that the student's work was absurd, and he literally described her a "dial tone." I recall a nutritional presentation I made to a hospital staff. All was going well until I mentioned using vitamin C as an antibiotic, as Dr. Klenner did. The mood changed quickly. And how many of us have heard this old saw: "If vitamin C was so good, every doctor would be prescribing it!"
Acceptance is not helped by the fact that most of Dr. Klenner's papers were published between 25 and 55 years ago. Says Dr. Levy:
"Many physicians have outright disdain for any medical literature that is more than a few years old. It almost seems that even the best scientific data is considered to have a "shelf life," and . . . will never be appreciated unless a "modern" researcher decides to repeat the study and "rediscover" the information." (p 27)
And when such modern "reproductions" are done, they commonly use far too little vitamin C:
"I could find no mainstream medical researcher who has performed ANY clinical studies on ANY infectious disease with vitamin C does that approached those used by Klenner. Using a small enough dose of any therapeutic agent will demonstrate little or no effect on an infection or disease process. Klenner would often use daily doses of vitamin C on a patient that would be as much as 10,000 times more than the daily doses used in some of the many clinical studies in the literature." (p 28-29)
Because there are few families that will not be affected by serious infectious illness, the individual topics Dr. Levy addresses (in Chapter 2, constituting 130 pages) are especially important. These include measles, mumps, viral encephalitis, herpes, mononucleosis, viral pneumonia, chickenpox, Ebola, and of course influenza. He has included a fairly lengthy section on AIDS. Rabies is an intriguing entry, even to those already willing to concede that vitamin C is an effective antiviral.
Non-viral diseases discussed include diphtheria, tuberculosis (in considerable detail), strep, brucellosis, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, trichinosis, and the always-controversial subjects of tetanus and pertussis. Not unexpectedly, Dr. Levy seems to incline towards the non-traditional viewpoint on vaccination, although since the book lacks an index, his statements on this specific subject take a moment to locate. As vitamin C is such a good antibiotic and antiviral, a deemphasis on vaccination can be seen to make sense.
Ascorbic acid, that Swiss Army knife among nutrients, has been unjustly dismissed in part because of the implausibility of such very great utility. A human body of tens of trillions of cells operates thousands of biochemical reactions on less than a dozen vitamins. Is it so very surprising that one nutrient would have so many benefits?
"The Ultimate Antidote" (Chapter 3, 103 pages) considers vitamin C as an antitoxin. This chapter will, as Mark Twain put it, gratify some and astonish the rest. The effects of alcohol, the barbiturates, carbon monoxide, cyanide, aflatoxin, a variety of environmental poisons including pesticides, even acetaminophen poisoning in cats, mushroom poisoning, and snake venoms are all shown to respond to vitamin C megadose therapy. Mercury, lead, and the effects of radiation receive special and really eye-opening attention.
If there is a greater calling than healing the sick, it is teaching people how to do it themselves. Abram Hoffer and Lendon H. Smith are perhaps the two foremost examples of physician- authors who have focused on directly instructing their readers how to use megavitamins correctly and directly. I think Dr. Levy is another of these natural born teachers, and this may be most apparent in the book's section of "Practical Suggestions" (Chapter 5). General readers, having just learned that high oral doses of ascorbate are effective for self-medication, will appreciate receiving the benefits of Dr. Levy's professional experience. Physician readers will especially welcome his injection instructions. I would like to see this important chapter greatly expanded.
A book this good deserves a more eye-catching, upscale cover to attract bookshelf attention and get to those who most need it. I hope the next edition will also add some visual aids. Opponents to medical use of vitamin C will almost certainly demand expansion of Chapter 4 ("The Safety of High Doses of Vitamin C") to include more negative studies and more commentary on possible negative effects of massive doses of ascorbate. Dr. Levy does in fact devote considerable attention to hemochromatosis, immune system concerns, G6PD deficiency, allegations of DNA damage and kidney stone formation, the rebound effect, and vitamin C's prooxidant characteristics. I doubt if any chapter of any length would satisfy vitamin therapy's harshest critics. Furthermore, they can always find abundant (if mostly unfounded) ammunition in practically any medical or nutrition textbook in print. In Levy's book, there is a welcome emphasis on the positive side of vitamin C megadoses, and that is their power to cure the sick.
Cure is by far the best word there is in medicine. It would seem that you cannot spell "cure" without "C." I do not think Dr. Klenner would dispute that. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Dr. Klenner would wholeheartedly approve of Dr. Levy stating this (p 36):
"The three most important considerations in effective vitamin C therapy are "dose, dose, and dose. If you don't take enough, you won't get the desired effects. Period!"
Dr. Levy's book presents clear evidence that vitamin C cures disease. It contains over 1,200 scientific references, presented chapter by chapter. It does not mince words. It is disease specific. It is dose specific. It is practical. It is readable. It is excellent.
Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable, by Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D. http://www.tomlevymd.com [Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Corporation. 2002. www.Xlibris.com 1-888-795-4274. 451 pages. ISBN: 1-4010-6964-9 (Hardcover); 1-4010-6963-0 (Softcover)]
(This review was originally was published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2003, pages 117-118. It is reprinted here with permission.)
DIAGNOSTIC DEPARTMENT: THE NAME GAME Arachibutyrophobia is the technical name for the fear of having peanut butter stick to the roof of your mouth.
And remember this about kleptomania: If you've got it, you can always take something for it.
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