It is utter common knowledge that vitamin C is beneficial in case of a cold, or the flu. However, it is probably not known to which extent this is the case; furthermore, in times of universal deceit, the most obvious, self-evident truths are the ones that deserve the most repeating.
First, let us introduce Linus Pauling. He is one of only 4 people to have ever been awarded 2 Nobel prizes (his scientific Nobel is in chemistry, and was awarded in 1954). Of these, he is the only person to have been awarded two unshared Nobel Prizes, and one of two people to be awarded Nobel Prizes in different fields (the other being Marie Curie).
Linus Pauling was also Member of the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Davy Medal, the National Medal of Science, the Lomonosov Gold Medal, the Priestley Medal, among many other distinctions.
In other words, Dr. Pauling is no crackpot theorist. Indeed he is once of the most distinguished scientists and researchers of the 20th century.
Unbeknown to most, Dr. Pauling has spent a large part of his life studying the effects of what he called “megavitamin therapy”. More specifically, he studied the health benefits of megadosing on vitamin C. He wrote a large number of papers and books, the most famous being Vitamin C and the Common Cold (1970), How to Live Longer and Feel Better (1987), and Cancer and Vitamin C (1993).
For this work, Dr. Pauling was viciously attacked by all the Thomas Diafoirus of this world, who invested a disproportionate amount of resources trying to disprove his research. To this day, Dr. Pauling’s findings remain very controversial. The fact vitamin C is impossible to patent, that it is extremely cheap to produce, and that pharmaceutical corporations employ the most lobbyists in government, all contribute to reducing the signal-to-noise ratio regarding the actual benefits of vitamin C.
To those who enjoy a bit of heterodoxy, Dr. Pauling’s life’s work on vitamin C can be boiled down to this: humans have the very rare trait of being unable to produce vitamin C endogenously. He maintains that the loss of vitamin C synthesis first arose as a molecular disease, because of a genetic mutation that resulted in the loss of the biochemical capacity to make the vitamin; because diets of the primate ancestors of humans consisted of high levels of vitamin C from plant sources, the loss of that biochemical mechanism was not harmful and may have even been beneficial. He argues, however, that the subsequent shift to a high-meat, lower-plant diet resulted in widespread vitamin C deficiency.
Dr. Pauling thus claims that the generally recommended daily intake of vitamin C is largely insufficient, and that his research supports the fact that human beings should ingest 2 grams or more of vitamin C per day for optimum health. He furthermore states that dose can be adjusted upwards in case of affliction, up to bowel tolerance. In his view, vitamin C is especially effective against the common cold (i.e. coronaviruses and rhinoviruses mostly), influenza, and other infectious diseases. Because it acts extremely favorably to the immune system, it is effective against a large swaths of other afflictions too.
Here are two quotes from Dr. Pauling’s 1987 book How do Live Longer and Feel Better:
Vitamin C has value in preventing and treating not only the common cold and influenza but also other viral diseases and various bacterial infections. Its main mechanism of action is through strengthening the immune system, as was discussed in Chapter 12. It may also have a direct antiviral effect, in some way inactivating the virus. There are very few drugs that are effective against viral infections, so that the value of the indicated antiviral action of vitamin C is especially great.
I have been astonished, as have other people, that in the last quarter of the twentieth century a single substance would be recognized to be helpful no matter what disease a person is suffering from. The reason that vitamin C is such a substance is that by its involvement in many biochemical reactions in the human body it makes the body’s natural defenses more powerful, and it is these natural defenses that provide most of our resistance to disease. Our bodies can fight disease effectively only when we have in our organs and body fluids enough vitamin C to enable our natural protective mechanisms to operate effectively. The amount required is, of course, much larger than the amount that has been recommended by the authorities in medicine and nutrition in the past.
Vitamin C and COVID-19
It is obviously too soon to formally establish a correlation between vitamin C megadosing and COVID-19 morbidity. However, given the research by Dr. Pauling (and his successors) on its effects to prevent and heal from coronaviruses infections, one might presuppose there is one.
That probably explains why some researchers, which we could call the most pragmatic (or most subservient to their patients’ interests), have chosen to administer or recommend vitamin C to patients afflicted by this year’s infamous coronavirus.
We present below a selection of such cases, and leave it up to our readers to decide whether they prove to be a relevant sample.
First, please consider this 1999 study (archive 1, archive 2), and excerpts from the abstract below.
Objective: To study the effect of megadose Vitamin C in preventing and relieving cold and flu symptoms in a test group compared with a control group.
Subjects: A total of 463 students ranging in age from 18 to 32 years made up the control group. A total of 252 students ranging in age from 18 to 30 years made up the experimental or test group.
Method: Investigators tracked the number of reports of cold and flu symptoms among the 1991 test population of the facility compared with the reports of like symptoms among the 1990 control population. Those in the control population reporting symptoms were treated with pain relievers and decongestants, whereas those in the test population reporting symptoms were treated with hourly doses of 1000 mg of Vitamin C for the first 6 hours and then 3 times daily thereafter. Those not reporting symptoms in the test group were also administered 1000-mg doses 3 times daily.
Results: Overall, reported flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased 85% compared with the control group after the administration of megadose Vitamin C.
Second, see consider this report by Andrew W. Saul, editor at Orthomolecular.org (archive 1, archive 2).
Intravenous vitamin C is already being employed in China against COVID-19 coronavirus. I am receiving regular updates because I am part of the Medical and Scientific Advisory Board to the International Intravenous Vitamin C China Epidemic Medical Support Team. Its director is Richard Z. Cheng, MD, PhD; associate director is Hong Zhang, PhD. Among other team members are Qi Chen, PhD (Associate Professor, Kansas University Medical School); Jeanne Drisko, MD (Professor, University of Kansas Medical School); Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD; and Atsuo Yanagisawa, MD, PhD. (Professor, Kyorin University, Tokyo).
OMNS Chinese edition editor Dr. Richard Cheng is reporting from China about the first approved study of 12,000 to 24,000 mg/day of vitamin C by IV. The doctor also specifically calls for immediate use of vitamin C for prevention of coronavirus (COVID-19).
On Feb 21, 2020, announcement has been made of a third research trial now approved for intravenous vitamin C for COVID-19.
Dr. Cheng, who is a US board-certified specialist in anti-aging medicine, adds: “Vitamin C is very promising for prevention, and especially important to treat dying patients when there is no better treatment. Over 2,000 people have died of the COVID-19 outbreak and yet I have not seen or heard large dose intravenous vitamin C being used in any of the cases. The current sole focus on vaccine and specific antiviral drugs for epidemics is misplaced.”
Early and sufficiently large doses of intravenous vitamin C are critical. Vitamin C is not only a prototypical antioxidant, but also involved in virus killing and prevention of viral replication. The significance of large dose intravenous vitamin C is not just at antiviral level. It is acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) that kills most people from coronaviral pandemics (SARS, MERS and now NCP). ARDS is a common final pathway leading to death.
A number of similar reports from the same website are similarly interesting. One (archive), two (archive), three (archive), four (archive), five (archive).
Here is yet another video from the same Chinese doctor.
Third, consider this report that New York hospitals are treating coronavirus patients with vitamin C (archive 1, archive 2).
Seriously sick coronavirus patients in New York state’s largest hospital system are being given massive doses of vitamin C — based on promising reports that it’s helped people in hard-hit China, The Post has learned.
Dr. Andrew G. Weber, a pulmonologist and critical-care specialist affiliated with two Northwell Health facilities on Long Island, said his intensive-care patients with the coronavirus immediately receive 1,500 milligrams of intravenous vitamin C.
Identical amounts of the powerful antioxidant are then readministered three or four times a day, he said.
Each dose is more than 16 times the National Institutes of Health’s daily recommended dietary allowance of vitamin C, which is just 90 milligrams for adult men and 75 milligrams for adult women.
The regimen is based on experimental treatments administered to people with the coronavirus in Shanghai, China, Weber said.
The patients who received vitamin C did significantly better than those who did not get vitamin C,” he said.
“It helps a tremendous amount, but it is not highlighted because it’s not a sexy drug.”
Congruent reports can be found here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), here (archive), here (archive) and here (archive).
And finally, we ask one question: given everything we presented above, and the authoritativeness of the authors cited, why are articles like this one, in supposedly reputable scientific vulgarization magazines, not ubiquitously considered quackery and disinformation? We believe some of our future posts will contribute to the answer.