In the media today, a recently published paper in the medical Journal, Chest, was heralded as a breakthrough in medicine. Almost all patients presenting to the intensive care unit with the diagnosis of sepsis (organ collapse secondary to infection), treated with IV Vitamin C, B vitamins and low doses of hydrocortisone survived! Usually 30-40% of patients die of the 3rd most common cause of death in the USA.
Historically, there is ample evidence shown for a few therapies that mimic this profound effect on sepsis, and all of them are more than 50 years old. The most famous proponent for the use of Vitamin C has been Linus Pauling, who died in 1994.
Linus Pauling’s claim, that he knew a cure for infections, heart disease and cancer, was greeted with ridicule. His remarkable health claims concerned the substance we know as vitamin C. Now, ten years after his death on 19th August 1994, his revolutionary ideas are finally on the way to vindication. Given his history, it should not surprise us if Pauling was right all along. He was, after all, the leading chemist of the last century and, arguably, the greatest ever American scientist. He remains the only person to have won two, unshared Nobel Prizes, the first for Chemistry (1954) and the second for peace (1962). In addition to being one of the greatest scientists ever, he was a renowned humanitarian.
By the time of his death, the medical establishment had branded Pauling a quack, because he advocated the use of high doses of vitamin C to treat many diseases. Irwin Stone first introduced Pauling to vitamin C, and explained that it wasn’t really a vitamin at all, but an essential substance we could no longer manufacture in our bodies. Most animals make their own vitamin C, in large amounts. In humans, the gene for this ability has mutated and no longer works properly.
In addition to Vitamin C, there were extensive studies done in the turn of the 20th century, through the 1940’s, on the use of treating blood with ultraviolet light on survival in sepsis. Lastly, we have intravenous preparations of silver that can now be tested for patients with severe infections.
I am very happy to see an observational study in 50 patients get this type of attention, since now, hospitals will finally stock Vitamin C in their formularies!! No where in pharmaceutical trials are positive effects, such as the one highlighted today in the media, seen. This is because, like ozone, Vitamin C has effects on the entire biosystem, allowing the body to buffer the huge load of inflammation, to kill organisms and to support detoxification mechanisms. No “drug” can do all this, and this is why my colleagues in academia have such a hard time wrapping their minds on the huge effects these interventions have.
Whether you are a patient with sepsis in the ICU, or on the opposite side of the spectrum, someone who wants to practice anti-aging protocols, the world is opening up to ideas that you have already thought through.
I think today is a big move in the right direction. If hand washing practices, which took 40 years to adopt in the 19th century, are any indication of slow progress, we will use today’s media attention to Vitamin C as one of the many turning points in a more rational and progressive form of medicine.
Ahvie Herskowitz, M.D.