Vitamins Against Disease:

Not A New Idea

Vitamins vs Disease



  In this article we will review some long-overlooked research papers supporting vitamin therapies for curing disease.

  There is nothing new about vitamin treatments, as I wish to demonstrate by including these decades-old studies. Still, this information may be news to you, and almost certainly will be news to most physicians. Let's begin at the end, so to speak, and consider a paper that was published in the Journal of the American College of Proctology before the second world war entitled "Vitamins and Their Relationship to Deficiency Diseases of the Alimentary Tract." The author of this undated article, Edward A. Johnston, M.D., says that vitamin deficiencies are usually multiple deficiencies, which show up over a long period of time. "These deficiencies occur despite a balanced diet," says Dr. Johnston, "the balance of which is usually determined by older knowledge of nutrition, and influenced by conditions in commercial preparation and preservation." This is what “health nuts” have been saying for years: we eat a lopsided diet of way too many processed, cooked, devitalized foods and we are not going to get our vitamins from any balanced collection of such imbalanced foods.

   What does deficiency of this or that vitamin result in? Dr. Johnston says that "Vitamin A deficiency, by its action of increasing epithelial irritability and infectibility, can be an important factor in the cause of ulcers" and that "other instances of vitamin A deficiency, are often found in conjunction with infections of the intestinal tract, are infections of the eyes, tonsils, sinuses, lungs, buccal and lingual mucosa, and the skin." The eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, or the allergist, may be a professional whose job can be eliminated. Do your part to put them out of work by being sure you get plentiful vitamin A. Fruits, salads, vegetables, and multiple vitamin preparations will contain "A."

 As to the B-vitamins, the paper states: "Vitamin B deficiency can be considered an important factor in the cause of hemorrhoids... The enlarged flabby colon and esophagus are due to deficiency of B by its resulting loss of muscle tonicity, partial failure of elimination, with obstipation as the end result." Loss of bowel action and the resulting constipation caused by B-vitamin deficiency was also discussed by Dr. Louis Gross in 1924 in the Journal of Pathology and Bacteriology in his paper, "The Effects of Vitamin Deficient Diets on Rats, With Special Reference to the Motor Functions of the Intestinal Tract In Vivo and In Vitro." Dr. Gross noted that B-vitamin deficiency also produces damage to kidneys, spleen, pancreas, testes, ovaries and liver. Since so many persons have health problems centered in these areas, we may reasonably suspect population wide vitamin B deficiency. Naturopathic authorities suspect exactly this. B-vitamins are lost rapidly by the body when it is under stress. Since most of us are indeed under stress, B-vitamin deficiency is almost assured without supplementation. Dr. Johnston says: 

“Cancer having a particular affinity for the rectal and intestinal tract may be caused by a systemic deficiency, lowering the resistance to a point where the degenerative process begins. Vitamin deficiencies may be a factor worthy of consideration in infections, degenerations, and malignancies...The diet should contain quantities of fresh vegetables, eaten as nearly in the natural state as possible and few refined foods should be allowed in the regimen. Concentrates of the vitamins are a valuable aid in correcting the acute stage in which the patient is  found when symptoms develop...I have had very good results in a number of patients on a group vitamin concentrate tablet with all the vitamins present. This is effective and is not too expensive to the patient. It behooves every medical man to study and observe the merits of vitamin therapy.” (p. 48)

 Here is a doctor who researches vitamins, tries vitamins, and cures with vitamins. Here's a doctor who prescribes whole, raw, natural foods, and discourages refined foods. Yet there are so few medical doctors who hear what he's saying, and fewer still who try the effective, natural approach with their patients. This is another reason why you have to be your own doctor: to make sure you and your family have the advantage of such knowledge, you may have to apply it yourself. Then you decide.

 B-complex vitamins and heart disease are discussed in a 1934 paper entitled "Maintenance Nutrition in the Pigeon and its Relation to Heart Block" by Cyril W. Carter of Oxford University. The graphs shown are particularly interesting.  B-vitamin deficiency seems to actually cause heart trouble, because B-vitamins actually cured it.  In one case, an eight-week long heart block was cured in four days with B-vitamins; this was with a person, not a pigeon. The same white rice, white flour diet that made experimental pigeons sick also makes people sick. Whole grain foods (and not just naturally titled, dark colored white flour breads and cereals) can reverse illnesses and prevent illnesses.

 Ever since Dr. Linus Pauling began publicizing the value of megadoses of vitamin C in the early 1970's, there has been a persistent undertone of medical suspicion that vitamin C might cause kidney stones. It does not. Kidney stones (what doctors call "renal calculi") can be cured by vitamin C, says Dr. William J. McCormick, M.D., of Toronto, Canada. One among his many excellent papers appeared way back in 1946 in Medical Record, stating the following:

“I have observed that a cloudy urine, heavy with phosphates and epithelium, is generally associated with a low vitamin C status, as determined by titration with dichlorophenal-indophenol (Hoffmann-LaRoche); 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)

 This sediment or crystalline matter in the urine is what makes up kidney stones. Please also note that 500 to 2,000 mg is much more than the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C of 60 mg/day. The U.S. RDA is not enough vitamin C. Dr. McCormick clearly indicates the need for large quantities of this vitamin, not just a daily drink of orange juice.

 In what might be seen as a display of almost too much therapeutic versatility, Dr. McCormick also found that calcareous deposits of the eye and cornea "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." 

 With vitamin C, "adequate" means abundant. Americans do not get abundant amounts of any vitamin  in their fast-food, convenience food, sugar-laden, meat-and-starch, over-cooked diet. They certainly do not get much, if any, vitamin C. Dr. McCormick believed, and not alone, that nine out of ten people in this country are vitamin C deficient.  In a 1954 paper, "Intervertebral-Disc Lesions: A New Etiological Concept" printed in Archives of Pediatrics, Dr. McCormick says: 

“It would seem almost unbelievable that in this day and age, when fresh fruits and vegetables are so plentiful, any of our population should be found deficient in vitamin C; but during the last fifteen years of the writer's practice as a nutritionist, more than 5,000 qualitative chemical tests for vitamin C status in clinical cases have been made, and less than ten percent of adult subjects have been found to be at optimal level in this respect. 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.” (p. 32-33)

 Note that Dr. McCormick said this in 1954, at a time when physicians were literally endorsing cigarettes in magazines and on TV commercials.

 It is important to keep in mind that non-smokers are subjected to cigarette smoke also, in homes and public places, and that air pollutants and stress also cause the body to lose quantities of vitamin C.

 Can this widespread deficiency of vitamin C be behind more than just kidney stones? Dr. McCormick says yes, for he thinks that calculi in other parts of the body can be cleared up by plenty of vitamin C, including those in the biliary tract (gallstones), the pancreas, tonsils, appendix, mammary glands, uterus, ovaries, prostate and "even the calcareous deposits in arteriosclerosis." Think of the surgery that could be avoided here.

 This is just the beginning.  In his series of papers, Dr. McCormick further demonstrated that vitamin C deficiency is the essential cause of numerous communicable illnesses. Let's consider "The Changing Incidence and Mortality of Infectious Disease in Relation to Changed Trends in Nutrition" from Medical Record, September 1947. Citing mortality tables as early as 1840, it is shown that tuberculosis, pneumonia, diphtheria, scarlet fever, whooping cough, rheumatic fever, typhoid fever and more are due to vitamin C deficiency brought about by poor nutrition. It is shown in graphs that the mortality rate for these diseases decreased over the years regardless of immunization, inoculation or medication. The rate of decline in death rate for almost every disease cited was about as fast before immunization as it was after immunization. Public health records show that by the time inoculations became available, few people were dying of these diseases anyway. Dr. Howard H. Hillemann (1960) drew similar conclusions in "The Illusion of American Health and Longevity" published in Clinical Physiology. He showed that polio was already almost eliminated before polio vaccine was available.

 Vitamin C seems to be especially important. Perhaps we can see a lack of vitamin C as the basic cause of kidney stones and such, but what of plentiful supply of vitamin C as the basic cure for the named infectious diseases? Can we say that disease trends in history might be understood as waves of lack of, or waves of abundant intake of vitamin C? Apparently we can.

 Dr. McCormick explains vitamin C's properties and says that "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" (McCormick, 1952) he states:

"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 increasing evidence that vitamin C in large, frequent doses can effect cure of what are usually called infectious diseases. To establish that these diseases are actually vitamin C deficiency diseases, though, we should be able to prevent them by regular, abundant supply of the vitamin. This is exactly what can be done. Dr. McCormick states:

"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)

 Here is an excellent example of preventive health care, and very powerful prevention at that, by using a vitamin. Vitamin C isn't just for colds any more. We're talking here of nothing less than the cure and prevention of serious illness with a vitamin that anyone can buy and take on their own.

 And we're not going to stop there. We're going to take on the biggest killers of modern times: heart disease and cancer. Can they be conquered? Consider this summary of  facts brought out by Dr. McCormick in the papers cited above, and from "Coronary Thrombosis: A New Concept of Mechanism and Etiology" (McCormick, 1957):

1.) Four out of five coronary cases in hospitals show vitamin C deficiency.

2.) Cancer patients have vitamin C deficiency averaging 4,500 mg.

3.) Smoking is known to predispose a body for cancer and heart disease; smoking is also known to rob the body of its vitamin C. 

4.) The symptoms of classic vitamin C deficiency disease, called scurvy, are identical with the symptoms of  some types of leukemia and other forms cancer. 

 Scurvy is generally supposed to be extinct. Yet cancer is all too prevalent today, and the signs in development of cancer and scurvy are similar. Can they be the same disease under different names? In "Have We Forgotten the Lesson of Scurvy" (1962), Dr. McCormick reviews the literature in this regard:

"As long ago as 1609, Martini cited by (scurvy research pioneer) 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 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."  (p. 5)

After citing the work of eleven more researchers, Dr. McCormick says:

"Our major effort 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)

He also cites a description of leukemia from a 1905 edition of Northnagel's Encyclopedia of Practical Medicine which, curiously enough, equated leukemia and scurvy.

 In short, we may be a nation suffering from a scurvy epidemic under the current name of cancer. The symptoms, progress and results of the two diseases are the same: the cause is the same (vitamin C deficiency); the treatment of each is the same: vitamin C in large quantity. If all this is true, then cancer patients should get better when treated with large doses of "C."

 They do. Dr. Linus Pauling (1976, 1986), Nobel prize-winning chemist, researcher, and author collaborated with cancer surgeon Ewan Cameron, M.D. (1973, 1993) in directing the treatment of patients with very great quantities of vitamin C with very great results. An undated letter in my possession from the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine says:

"Our work on nutrition and cancer, in collaboration with Vale of Leven Hospital in Scotland, is showing significant promise. We recently reported that daily ingestion of 10 grams (10,000 mg.) or more of vitamin C extends and improves the quality of life of  patients with terminal cancer. These studies, published in the October, 1976 issue of The Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences, are based on a comparison of 100 patients with advanced cancer who received 10 grams of sodium ascorbate (vitamin C) per day - and 1,000 other patients, ten matched controls for each of the ascorbate-treated patients (same kind of cancer, same age, same sex).  The 1,000 control patients were given  the same treatment as the ascorbate-treated patients except they did not receive vitamin C. The ascorbate-treated patients have lived, on the average, over five times as long as the matched control patients. Although all 1,000 controls have died, thirteen of the 100 ascorbate-treated patients are still alive and seem to be free of the disease."

 Thirteen out of one hundred may not seem like a staggering number, but that would have been 130 out of a thousand, or 130,000 out of a million. Also bear in mind that Ivan Illich says in Medical Nemesis (1977) that there is no significant increase in survival rate for most cancer patients with conventional medical or surgical treatment. The five year survival rate for most cancer patients is unaffected by any medical therapy; it is the same whether they are treated or not.  With vitamin C, we appear to have what may be, statistically, the most effective known cure for cancer. "Dr. Pauling believes that the death rate from cancer in the United States can fall from twenty per cent of all deaths to only two percent," says the Institute.

 What vitamin researchers seem to keep finding is that if a deficiency of one or more vitamins causes a disease, the plentiful administration of that same vitamin or vitamins will cure the disease. That makes sense. More important, this theory is proven by its clinical success. Surely that's the best part of any research: when it works, when people get well.

 One of the functions of vitamin C, in addition to keeping your cells together, is to maximize "the oxygen-carrying capacity of red (blood) cells so the heart is called upon to do much less work," says Dr. Royal Lee in the  undated pamphlet "Clinical Nutrition: Food vs. Drugs."  It is interesting that vitamin E has a similar effect: it increases oxygen availability to the heart. If that's true, one might expect vitamin E deficiency to cause heart trouble. Evidently it does, and "122 independent reports have been published in the world's medical journals in support of vitamin E" according to an uncredited article in Popular Science Digest... from 1953!

 Wilfrid and Evan Shute, both medical doctors, with Dr. Arthur Vogelsang, traced a national vitamin E deficiency back to the turn of the century when the milling of flour and consumption of this and other refined foods increased greatly. They saw an increase of heart disease parallel the increase of refined foods. In Coronet there appeared an article by J. D. Ratcliff (1948) entitled "For Heart Disease: Vitamin E" that described this work.

"The Shutes and Vogelsang note that heart disease is almost unknown among primitive peoples - until they start eating civilized man's food. Further, they emphasize that in 1910 - before our national diet had become too refined - heart disease was the fourth cause of death instead of the first as it is today (1948); and that the rate of heart deaths is up 250 per cent in this period." (p. 31)

 The Shutes described this phenomenon in their books, particularly in Vitamin E for Ailing and Healthy Hearts (1969). The more refined, de-natured foods eaten, the more heart disease. And what is refined out? Among other things, the vitamin E that helps keep the heart prospering, and you alive.

 Since the 1940's, cardiovascular disease has continued to be our biggest killer disease. But also since then, certain doctors have treated tens of thousands of coronary patients with vitamin E. Drs. Wilfrid and Evan Shute have personally supervised vitamin E therapy for over 30,000 heart patients, making them the world's most experienced cardiologists. You would think that the medical profession would be most enthusiastic about their success with vitamin therapy.

 That has not been the case. The Canadian, British, and American Medical Associations have not voiced serious support for vitamin E against heart disease. Why not? "The Fight Over Vitamin E" (Hutton, 1953) discusses the early stages of the controversy in detail. The article also expands on vitamin E's therapeutic uses:

"The Shutes' theory about vitamin E is this: it is not specifically a heart medication... The chief effect of  vitamin E is to reduce the amount of oxygen which the cells and tissues of the body and its organs require for efficient, healthy functioning.  Heart diseases happen to be the most dramatic example of the result of vitamin E deprivation, and vitamin E's effect, simply stated, is to condition the tissues involved so that they are able to function normally, or at any rate to survive, on the greatly reduced amount of oxygen available to them when a coronary clot cuts down the oxygen-bearing blood supply reaching them. The Shutes' and other investigators claim it is effective in a wide variety of other conditions: burns, wounds, radiation damage, gangrene, ulceration, phlebitis... diabetes and its complications, nephritis, eye diseases, psychoses, post-surgical shock, plastic surgery and post-poliomyelitis." (p. 4)

 Much controversy comes out of the wide application that these scientists claim for vitamin E. However: A nutritional substance that cures many ills is a substance whose deficiency causes many ills. This is the case with any vitamin deficiency: the deficiency of one vitamin may show up as many different disease symptoms. One person lacking in vitamin E may develop arteriosclerosis; another may develop diabetic gangrene; another might just have poor skin; another might drop dead of heart attack. This is because a vitamin is important for the entire organism, in all its organs and functions. No vitamin works just in or for the heart or any one sector. Each vitamin is essential to total body health, and all the vitamins collectively are needed for freedom from disease.

Copyright  C  2004 and prior years Andrew W. Saul. Revisions copyright 2020.

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 )



Andrew W. Saul


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