"A lot of people go through life trying to prove that the things that are good for them are wrong." (Ward Cleaver to his son, Beaver)
The DOCTOR YOURSELF NEWSLETTER (Vol. 4, No. 10, April 23, 2004) "Free of charge, free of advertising, and free of the A.M.A."
Written and copyright 2004 by Andrew Saul, PhD, of http://www.doctoryourself.com , which welcomes a million visitors annually. Commercial use of the website or the contents of this Newsletter is strictly prohibited.
SAFETY OF VITAMINS
If you have been told that vitamins are harmful, this issue of the Newsletter is for you.
The number one side effect of vitamins is failure to take enough of them. Vitamins are extraordinarily safe substances.
As a contributing editor to a medical journal (the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine http://www.orthomed.org), I have learned that it is easier for most researchers to get a negative vitamin study published than to get a positive one published. As with the evening news, where the policy is usually "If it bleeds, it leads," the scare story sells. Same with vitamin articles: the shock-story gets the front page.
There is some strong economic inertia at work. Successful vitamin therapy is a triple threat to the medical cartel. It threatens physicians because they know practically nothing about it, and it represents real competition. It threatens the pharmaceutical industry because vitamins cannot be patented to be sold at huge profits. It threatens dietitians because the fallaciousness of their food-groups-always, supplements- never dogma will be exposed. In all three cases, it is the very success of vitamin therapy that is cause for such alarm.
The only sure way to quash the popularization of vitamin therapy is to try to discredit it by claiming it to be dangerous. This is the world's oldest way to stop progress: just declare it fraud. Condemnation without investigation. And, if you can, attack the person, not the idea. If you dislike the singer, you'll never hear the song. A really bright dictator doesn't have to burn books; just getting people to not want to bother to read them is sufficient.
So right up front, these important reminders:
There are over 106,000 deaths from pharmaceutical drugs each year in the USA, even when prescribed correctly and taken as prescribed. (Lucian Leape, Error in medicine. Journal of the American Medical Association, 1994, 272:23, p 1851. Also: Leape LL. Institute of Medicine medical error figures are not exaggerated. JAMA. 2000 Jul 5;284(1):95- 7.)
In addition, there are an estimated 150,000 more people killed by other aspects of medical care, including botched and unnecessary surgeries (12,000); hospital-caused infections (80,000); medication errors (7,000); and other medical mistakes (20,000). That makes a total of a staggering quarter of a million deaths caused by the medical profession. Per year. Just in the USA. This makes medical care one of the chief causes of death in the country. (Starfield, B. JAMA. 2000 (July 26): 284, 4)
There is not even one death per year from vitamin supplements. (American Association of Poison Control Centers' Toxic Exposure Surveillance System)
Therefore, as Abram Hoffer, M.D., says: "Attacks on the safely of vitamins are really attacks on the efficacy of vitamins."
In this issue, I am going to focus on the safety of large doses of vitamin C.
VITAMIN C AND CONCEPTION
READERS ASK: "I've read on your pregnancy page (http://www.doctoryourself.com/pregnancy_lactation.html) that Dr. Frederick R. Klenner gave pregnant women 4,000 mg of vitamin c in first trimester. I have taken 6,000 to 12,000 mg of vitamin C (as ascorbic acid) for 6 days during weeks 4 and 5, and am concerned about birth defects. Some women-websites talk about vitamin C being used as an abortifacient. Any input would be greatly appreciated as I am concerned of the health of my embryo/fetus."
It is simply incredible what people have been told about vitamins, isn't it?
One area of theoretical concern might over acidity. Vitamin C is most frequently supplemented as ascorbic acid. Ascorbic acid is a weak acid, having about the same pH as an orange. Ascorbic acid is weaker than vinegar or even Coca-Cola. I do not see any great amount of published panic over ladies that consume these items. Lemons are more acidic than ascorbic acid. Some commercial lemons are properly known to science as Citrus medica. Since medieval times, "lymons" have been known and prized for their ability to ensure healthy pregnancies and easier deliveries.
This brings us to the second consideration, that of ascorbic acid's biological effects on the developing baby. Far from being an abortifacient, vitamin C in fact helps hold a healthy pregnancy right from the start. From the passage you referred to:
"F. R. Klenner, M.D. gave large doses to over 300 pregnant women and reported virtually no complications in any of the pregnancies or deliveries (Irwin Stone, The Healing Factor, Chapter 28). Indeed, the hospital nurses around Reidsville, N.C. noted that the infants who were healthiest and happiest were the "Vitamin C babies."
"Specifically, Klenner gave: (1) 4,000 mg each day during the first trimester (first three months of pregnancy) (2) 6,000 mg each day during the second trimester (3) 8,000 to 10,000 mg each day during the third trimester Some women got 15,000 mg daily during the third trimester.
"Results? There were NO miscarriages in this entire group of 300 women." (http://www.doctoryourself.com/pregnancy_lactation.html)
That would make ascorbic acid one singularly lousy abortifacient, don't you think?
Lendon Smith, M.D., said, "Vitamin C is our best defense and everyone should be on this one even before birth. Three thousand mgs daily for the pregnant woman is a start. The baby should get 100 mg per day per month of age. (The six month old would get 600 mg, the year-old gets a thousand mgs daily, the two year-old would get 2,000 mgs., etc.) A daily dose of 2,000 to 5,000 mg would be prudent for a lifetime." http://www.smithsez.com/AlivearticleonCancer.html
Not only that, but vitamin C also helps with conception. As I have written at my website (http://www.doctoryourself.com/fertility.html) :
"Try having the man take megadoses of vitamin C for a few weeks prior. At least 6,000 milligrams a day, and as much as 20,000 mg/day guarantees very high sperm production. Divide the dose throughout the day for maximum effect. And that effect is what, exactly? More sperm, stronger sperm, and better swimming sperm all occurred, at even lower daily C doses, in a University of Texas study. Gentlemen, take more C and you'll make vast quantities of superlative spermatozoa. You think this won't work? Have I shown you my baby pictures?"
It was Dr. Klenner's experience, with the hundreds of babies that he delivered, that vitamin C was not only safe but especially beneficial in early pregnancy.
Klenner gave "booster" injections of vitamin C to 80% of the women upon admission to the hospital for childbirth. The results? Wonderful, indeed:
First, labor was shorter and less painful. My children's mother, with her 2 1/2 and 1 3/4 hour labor times, can confirm this.
Second, stretch marks were seldom to be seen. (I can vouch for this; after all, I was there.)
Third, there were no toxic manifestations and no cardiac distress And, there were NO postpartum hemorrhages at all. (Stone, p. 191).
This is exceptionally significant. For centuries, postpartum hemorrhage was a leading cause of death in childbed. (Postpartum infection was another, usually caused by doctors that did not wash their hands. This rejection of the teachings of Dr. Ignaz Semmelweis and other "quacks" is discussed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/quackquack.html .)
Hemorrhage very often occurs in scorbutic (vitamin C deficient) patients. (http://www.doctoryourself.com/mccormick.html) Klenner-sized doses of vitamin C prevent hemorrhage and saves women's lives. One way it may do this is by strengthening the walls of blood vessels. Believe it or not, the press tried to make that out to be a problem, claiming that vitamin C's "thickening" of artery walls would reduce blood flow. It does not. (http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_factoids.html)
And finally, here what I consider to be a definitive statement from the Journal of the American Medical Association:
"Harmful effects have been mistakenly attributed to vitamin C, including hypoglycemia, rebound scurvy, infertility, mutagenesis, and destruction of vitamin B(12). Health professionals should recognize that vitamin C does not produce these effects." [M. Levine, et al, JAMA, April 21, 1999. Vol 281, No 15, p 1419]
Vitamin C does not cause birth defects, nor infertility. (It does not cause kidney stones, either. http://www.doctoryourself.com/kidney.html)
What vitamin C does do is deliver healthier babies.
(My reviews of the Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C are posted at http://www.doctoryourself.com/vitaminc.html and at http://www.doctoryourself.com/smith1.html, which follows below. I do not sell the book nor do I provide referrals to those who might; try either an internet search or ask your public librarian to get a copy through interlibrary loan.)
For more about Dr. Klenner's use of megavitamin vitamin C therapy: http://www.doctoryourself.com/klennerpaper.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/klenner_table.html
LENDON SMITH, M.D., AND KLENNER'S CLINICAL GUIDE TO THE USE OF VITAMIN C
I raised my children into adulthood without their ever requiring a single dose of an antibiotic, and I have Dr. Frederick R. Klenner and Dr. Lendon H. Smith to thank for it. A student came up to me one day after lecture and placed a slim paperback into my hands, saying "You have to read this!" The little book was Lendon Smith's Vitamin C as a Fundamental Medicine, since retitled Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C: The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. It is a digest of Dr. Klenner's 27 published and unpublished medical papers, some dating from the 1940's, which had been collected, summarized and annotated by Dr. Smith into a mere 57 pages of astounding reading. Since much of Klenner's work was published in regional medical journals, his articles previously had been hard to come by. (It is now easier; many full text papers by Dr. Klenner and other megavitamin C physicians are posted for free reading at (http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate)
The antibiotic and antiviral effects of megadoses of vitamin C have been largely unappreciated by the health professions. Dr. Klenner's 40 years of experience successfully treating pneumonia, herpes, mononucleosis, hepatitis, multiple sclerosis, childhood illnesses, fevers, encephalitis, polio, and over 20 other diseases... all with vitamin C... is even less well known to the general public. Patients and orthodox physicians typically are amazed when they learn that Klenner employed 350 to 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C per day, per kilogram patient body weight. One can only speculate how much suffering might have been avoided if doctors in the 1950's had listened to this man.
If Frederick R. Klenner was one of the most innovative physicians of all time, Lendon Smith was perhaps among the most courageous, as he was one of the first to unambiguously support high-dose vitamin regimens for children. Such a position did not endear Smith to every one of his fellow members of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and it is therefore further to his credit that he boldly stepped forward and, in the best traditions of Linus Pauling, took orthomolecular therapy directly to the people. In this he was particularly successful, achieving renown by way of his newsletter (The Facts) and his many popular books, articles, videos and primetime television appearances. He appeared on The Tonight Show sixty-two times, an exposure such as orthomolecular medicine has rarely seen. Even Dr. Pauling never won an Emmy award. Dr. Smith did.
The man who would become nationally known as "The Children's Doctor" received his M.D. in 1946 from the University of Oregon Medical School. He served as Captain in the U. S. Army Medical Corps, 1947- 1949, went on to a pediatric residency at St. Louis Children's Hospital and completed it at Portland's Doernbecker Memorial Hospital in 1951. In 1955, Smith became Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Oregon Medical Hospital. He would practice pediatrics for 35 years before retiring in 1987 to lecture, to write, and to continue to help make "megavitamin" a household word.
And yet it was not until over 20 years of medical practice that Dr. Smith first began to use megavitamin therapy. A patient "wanted me to give her a vitamin shot," he writes of an alcoholic woman from 1973. "I had never done such a useless thing in my professional life, and I was a little embarrassed to think that she considered me to be the kind of doctor who would do that sort of thing." (Feed Yourself Right, 1983, xiii-xiv)
"That sort of thing" consisted of an intramuscular injection of 0.5 cc of B- complex, which, Smith reported, proved successful enough such that "she walked past three bars and didn't have to go in." This was the beginning of his evolution from conventional pediatrician to orthomolecular spokesperson.
It is a remarkable transformation. His first book, The Children's Doctor (1969) contains only three mentions of vitamins, and two are negative. There is a powerful trend to be seen in Smith's next fifteen books. As he learned about nutritional prevention and megavitamin therapy, he began to discuss it. In Feed Your Kids Right (1979), Smith briefly recommends up to 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C during illness. In Foods for Healthy Kids (1981), he now recommends vitamin C to bowel tolerance levels. But even his relatively mild statements, such as "Eat no sugar" and "Stress increases the need for vitamin B and C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc" can be a walk on the wild side for what I term pharmophilic (drug-loving) physicians. And Smith's Feed Yourself Right recommendations for B-complex and vitamin C injections, self- administered by the patient twice a week for three weeks (p 61), are not calculated to dodge controversy. Nor did they.
Dr. Smith couldn't have cared less about his critics. By 1979, he was a New York Times bestselling author, and by 1983 an advocate of four-day water fasts, 1,000 microgram injections of B-12, and megavitamins for kids. There were no RDA-level vitamin recommendations to be found in a Lendon Smith book. He was an outspoken critic of junk food. Two of his trademark phrases were, "People tend to eat the food to which they are sensitive. If you love something, it is probably bad for you."
In 1981's Foods for Healthy Kids, Smith was confidently in favor of fluoridation: "There is no doubt that it works; fluoridation is not a Communist plot." (p 51). Twenty years later, writing at his website, www.Smithsez.com, he appears less convinced, having written, "If we continue to eat store-bought food, we will have store-bought teeth." What's more, he turned very cautious about routine vaccination. "The best advice I can give to parents is to forgo the shots, but make sure that the children in your care have a superior immune system. This requires a sugarless diet without processed foods (and) an intake of vitamin C of about 1,000 milligrams per day for each year of life up to 5,000 mgs at age five." (http://www.mercola.com/2000/nov/5/victory_over_sids.htm)
These are long evolutionary steps for a pediatrician who, 32 years earlier, wrote of vitamin C: "Excess is a waste and will not prevent colds." (The Children's Doctor, p. 217) Had he held to such incorrect but politically safe beliefs, Smith might have avoided being compelled to stop practicing medicine in 1987, under pressure from insurance companies and his state's Board of Medical Examiners. Nonetheless, for fourteen more years, he would speak out in favor of megavitamin therapy. In this, he did the job second to none.
The popularization of orthomolecular medicine by courageous physicians such as Dr. Smith has enabled the benefits of nutritional therapy to reach families with sick little kids at 3 AM. Smith's exceptional visibility has done a great deal to educate and encourage fathers and mothers to use vitamins to prevent and cure illness. For this, Lendon Smith ranks as one of the most influential pediatricians of our time, and one of the true pioneers of orthomolecular medicine.
Smith L, ed. Clinical guide to the use of vitamin C: The clinical experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. Tacoma, WA: Life Sciences Press, 1988.
Dr. Lendon Smith's bibliography is published at http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_lsmith.html .
THE HEALING FACTOR, by Irwin Stone (My review, from http://www.doctoryourself.com/morebooks.html)
It was Irwin Stone who first put Linus Pauling onto vitamin C. Stone thinks we humans have inherited a genetic trait to need but not manufacture the vitamin. More important to most readers, he tells how many diseases have responded very well to high-dose vitamin C treatment. This book contains over fifty pages of scientific references, making it required reading for you and your doctor. Yet it is doubtful that many skeptics have been as thorough as Stone has in checking vitamin C literature. Most readers will want to begin on page 59, and learn about cures of infections, (bacterial and viral), allergies, asthma, eye diseases, ulcers, poisoning, and the effects of smoking. Vitamin C's role in treating cancer, heart disease, diabetes, fractures, shock, wounds and pregnancy complications is also included. The information on tetanus and glaucoma is especially interesting. This is a unique and incredibly valuable book. While well organized, it does lack an index. The reader can, however, easily find major disease topics listed by chapter. A glossary is provided. (258 pp, paper)
Stone I. The healing factor: vitamin C against disease. Perigree Books (Putnam Publishing Group), 1982. ISBN 0-399-50764-7
Some chapters from The Healing Factor are posted for free reading at one of my favorite websites, The Vitamin C Foundation (http://www.vitamincfoundation.org/healing.html). Another chapter is posted at (http://yost.com/health/stone-healing- factor/chapter27.html)
Other books I recommend are reviewed at http://www.doctoryourself.com/bestbooks.html and http://www.doctoryourself.com/morebooks.html A search by topic at my website will bring up more for you.
Here is the story of a woman who took vitamin C to saturation (bowel tolerance) during her pregnancy to deal with a viral infection: (http://www.doctoryourself.com/vitaminc2.html)
And here is the story of a youngster with a serious chronic immune deficiency problem helped by megavitamin C:
Like a country veterinarian, I drove my old red Ford pickup along a vacant road to a client's rural home out near Pavilion, 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, M.D., 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." (http://www.doctoryourself.com/klenner_table.html)
"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, M.D., out in 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 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 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.
Wrote Dr. Klenner: "Some physicians would stand by and see their patients die rather than use ascorbic acid."
You might therefore be particularly interested in investigating the work of the following physician. authors who have written favorably on megadose vitamin C therapy:
Robert F. Cathcart III, M.D. http://www.orthomed.com http://www.doctoryourself.com/cathcart_thirdface.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/titration.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_cathcart.html
Abram Hoffer, M.D., Ph.D. http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_factoids.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_editorial.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_cancer_2.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/cancer_hoffer.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/hoffer_vitc_can.html
Ewan Cameron, M.D.: http://www.doctoryourself.com/cameron.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_cameron.html
Thomas Levy, M.D.: http://www.doctoryourself.com/levy.html
William J. McCormick, M.D.: http://www.doctoryourself.com/mccormick.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/mccormick1951.html http://www.seanet.com/~alexs/ascorbate
Hugh D. Riordan, M.D.: http://www.brightspot.org/cresearch/index.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/riordan1.html http://www.doctoryourself.com/biblio_riordan.html
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE DETAILS OF VITAMIN C THERAPY: Please do a search at http://www.doctoryourself.com for "vitamin C saturation" or "vitamin C bowel tolerance."
I also suggest you visit some of the vitamin C-related links on my Links page: (http://www.doctoryourself.com/links.html)
It will be time very well spent.
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