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The controversy between pharmaceutical drugs and supplements is ever present in global society, especially now, in the media during the current Covid-19 virus. One of the most important, yet, provocative supplements is vitamin C. While historically, its positive benefits have long been known, during the last decades the push for pharmaceutical drugs, instead of supplements like vitamin C, has created a heated debate against this, and other very affordable supplements. The majority of primates, including humans, guinea pigs, some birds and fish do not make vitamin C, however, most mammals are able to synthesize it in their liver or kidneys. The result of this genetic mutation in humans, therefore, requires vitamin C to be consumed through dietary sources. Clinical studies indicate that vitamin C neither increases nor reduces the occurrence of kidney stones, it also has no mutagenic effect with up to 5000mg per day .
During the era that was known as the Age of Sail, vitamin C deficiency was recognized and referred to as “scurvy”, a disease that was an extremely common affliction amongst sailors. The major signs of scurvy included swollen and bleeding gums, tooth loss, and delays in wound healing. Scurvy was the leading cause of death to sailors during the 16th to 18th centuries . Even though scurvy was referenced in the late 1400’s, it has taken hundreds of years to fully understand the importance of vitamin C, and its necessary and positive impact on human health. In more recent times there have been notable figures who advanced the scientific knowledge of vitamin C. One such person was Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, a Nobel Prize winner for his work in Physiology and Medicine, who isolated vitamin C in 1928, which subsequently led to the treatment and prevention of scurvy .
Like Nobel Prize winner Szent-Gyorgyi, decades later, two-time Nobel Prize winner, Dr. Linus Pauling, an American theoretical physical chemist, was the only person to have ever won two unshared Nobel Prizes. His first prize (1954) was awarded for research into the nature of the chemical bond and its use in elucidating molecular structure; the second (1962) recognized his efforts to ban the testing of nuclear weapons. His contributions to science and humanity earned him the title of one of the 20 greatest scientists of all time, by New Scientist, and the 16th most important scientist in history. Later in his career, Pauling became interested in “Orthomolecular” medicine, a term he coined, and defined as medicine that treats and prevents diseases, by utilizing optimal amounts of substances natural to the body. He developed a keen interest in vitamin C, researched and published the best seller, “Vitamin C and the Common Cold (1970)”, which introduced taking mega doses of vitamin C to help fight the common cold and other diseases .
A scientific paper titled, “Supplemental ascorbate in the supportive treatment of cancer: Prolongation of survival times in terminal human cancer* (vitamin C)” by Cameron and Pauling (1976), found that cancer patients were considerably deficient in ascorbic acid. Their clinical study presented 100 terminally ill cancer patients who were given ascorbate as part of their treatment protocol. The controls consisted of 1000 similarly treated patients, who did not receive ascorbate in their protocol. The patients who were on ascorbate survived more than 4.2 times longer, than the controls. They noted that this simple and safe treatment, was of great value to terminally ill cancer patients .
Intravenous (IV) vitamin C has been used in various
therapeutic protocols to treat cancer since the 1970’s. Like Pauling
had discovered, those whose cancers were most destructive, were
also most deficient in vitamin C. Current clinical trials are showing
that vitamin C reduces the negative effects of chemotherapy.
When mega doses of vitamin C, in addition to anticancer therapies
are used, tumor growth is inhibited in models of pancreatic, liver,
prostate, ovarian cancer, sarcoma and malignant mesothelioma.
It was observed that vitamin C provides valuable positive effects
through more than one mechanism, some are linked to the
metabolism of transformed cells, and others may involve direct
interactions with specific drugs .
Harris et al. investigated the survival among women with
breast cancer, the most commonly diagnosed cancer of women
globally. They found that various supplementation is widespread
amongst breast cancer survivors, with vitamin C being the most
frequently consumed. In their meta-analysis, they observed
that the consumption of vitamin C had a statistically significant
correlation with a decreased risk of total death, and breast cancerspecific
death . A study by Lv et al.  examined the effects of
vitamin C on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and liver cancer
cells in 613HCC patients, who had liver resection as their first
treatment. In vitro and in vivo experiments revealed that clinically
achievable concentrations of vitamin C provoked cell death in liver
cancer cells and preferentially destroyed liver cancer stem cells.
Therefore, this evidenced based study supports vitamin
C as a novel therapy for HCC treatment . The side effects
caused by conventional treatments for cancers such as surgery,
chemotherapy, and radiation can in themselves be devastating to
the patient. More recently, research is focusing on cancer stem
cells and how they impact the beginning of tumors, progression,
metastasis, drug resistance, and recurring disease. Traditional
cancer treatments are shown to fail when cancer stem cells
are not targeted, but also show the toxic effects to normal cells
caused by those treatments. Ascorbic acid/vitamin C is a powerful
antioxidant, and is a cofactor for several biosynthetic and gene
regulatory enzymes and is critical for a healthy immune system.
Studies are showing that using a combination therapy that
includes vitamin C, should be utilized in cancer treatment plans
Using vitamin C to treat viruses is also not a novel idea, in fact
a scientific paper published in 1935, found that extremely small
amounts of vitamin C had the ability to inactivate diphtheria
toxins in vitro and in vivo. Because of these revolutionary findings,
a study was conducted to see what the results would be on the
poliomyelitis virus. The study used 30 rhesus monkeys and 5
controls by injecting them with the Aycock passage virus strain,
0.1cc. Of the supernatant of a centrifuged 10% poliomyelitis cord
suspension and vitamin C. The controls received the same amount
of virus mixed with saline or distilled water.
The doses of vitamin C varied from as much as 100mg. to
as little as 0.05mg. The quantities were obtained by progressive
dilutions with distilled water of a freshly prepared 5% solution of
vitamin C, the respective doses always contained in a volume of 1cc.
The same method was utilized in preparing the control mixtures
for both the test subjects and controls. The injected monkeys
were vigilantly monitored for 1 month and the symptoms were
noted. This experiment concluded that multiple paralytic doses
of poliomyelitis virus, in combination with very small amounts
of vitamin C, were rendered non-infectious, as established by
intracerebral injection of such mixtures into rhesus monkeys .
Several mosquito transmitted viruses have been successfully
treated using high doses of IV vitamin C. For example, Gonzalez et
al.  presented a case report on a 54-year-old Hispanic female
who had Zika like symptoms. Some of the symptoms may include
mild headaches, fever, joint pain, malaise, and conjunctivitis.
These symptoms are also similar to dengue and chikungunya.
While oral doses of vitamin C do not have the same ability to
reach high blood levels, IV vitamin C is shown to produce clear
clinical and pharmacological benefits, from 30 to 70 times higher
than orally, which appears necessary in treating viruses. Due to
the antiviral and antioxidant properties of vitamin C, after their
patient was tested for Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase
(G6PD), IV vitamin C was administered by increasing the doses
from 25g and upping the dose by 25g a day for three consecutive
days, reaching 75g on the third day.
Within 24 hours the symptoms had substantially improved
and by the third day were gone. From this case it was established
that IV vitamin C should be investigated further, as a possible
treatment for acute viral infections . Marcial-Vega et al. 
used IV vitamin C from 25-50 grams with a 3cc of a 3% hydrogen
peroxide solution on 56 patients with the chikungunya viral
infection. Using a Verbal Numerical Rating Scale-11, immediately
before and after treatment. The mean Pain Score before treatment
was at 8 and dropped to 2 after treatment for 60% of the patients,
with 5 patients reporting 0 pain after the treatment, with no
observed adverse reactions in any patient .
Hemila  reported on a new coronavirus in 2003, as the
causative factor of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).
At that time there was no known treatment for SARS. Based on
the available research it was known that vitamin C was beneficial
to the immune system, by reducing viral respiratory infections,
and may support pneumonia patients. Noting that under certain
circumstances that it may assist in reducing lower respiratory tract
infections, and deserved further investigation . According to
Fowler et al. , their case presented the first report of virusinduced
acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) caused by an
enterovirus/rhinovirus respiratory infection that used high dose
IV vitamin C as a treatment.
From their clinical experience using IV vitamin C to treat
acute sepsis, they used the same intervention for a 20-year-old,
previously healthy female who had gotten enterovirus/rhinovirus
that quickly became ARDS. They reported in treating sepsis
that high doses of IV vitamin C not only reduced multiple organ injury, but also inflammatory biomarker levels. After a 12-day
hospital stay and a follow-up visit one month later, the patient
was completely recovered without lung damage, suggesting larger
trials utilizing IV vitamin C should be conducted to treat ARDS
COVID-19, was first reported in Wuhan, China. ARDS is a main
component of COVID that can be deadly due to cellular injury and
organ failure. Studies have shown that high-dose oral vitamin C
guards against viral infections. IV vitamin C, as well as high oral
doses of vitamin C have presented without serious side effects.
Fifty moderate to severe COVID -19 patients received high-dose
IV vitamin C in China. Doses fluctuated from 10g and 20g per day,
administered over an 8-10 hour-period, with high-doses of vitamin
C being given to critical patients. All of the patient’s oxygenation
index improved and all were eventually cured and released. An
expert panel from NIH, stated that high-dose of vitamin C is a safe
and effective treatment, without serious side effects. Due to its
known safety record, and since it is readily available, vitamin C,
as well as other antioxidants may mitigate COVID-19 associated
Boretti et al.  reported on the efficacy of IV vitamin C to
treat the COVID-19 virus, because of the current controversy of
using antiviral treatments that were developed for other diseases,
to treat this new virus. Shanghai, as well as other medical doctors
in China are now treating COVID patients with IV vitamin C, and
are having positive results. COVID viruses increase oxidative
stress and tax the immune system, which can lead to ARDS and
death. They reported that over 300 clinical and scientific studies
found vitamin C to be beneficial to treat sepsis and septic shock.
Other studies have shown positive outcomes using vitamin
C to treat viruses, such as poliovirus, Venezuelan equine
encephalitis, human lymph tropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), human
immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and rabies virus, in addition to
demonstrating activity against influenza and herpes virus. Due
to acute lung infections that may develop with COVID-19, clinical
studies are showing that a timely intervention with mega dose
vitamin C improves the outcome of COVID-19. They recommend
continued studies on this therapy .
The diagnosis of any disease, especially cancer, is overwhelming
to not only the person who receives this distressing information,
but also to their family and friends. With exorbitant health care
costs, both old and new research is proving that vitamin C, does
in fact have a place as an important, inexpensive therapy that can
potentially be a lifesaving treatment. When the work of Cameron
and Pauling was dismissed, what was barely mentioned in the
scientific literature was that the form of vitamin C administered
by them, was IV vitamin C in conjunction with oral vitamin C,
when the Mayo Clinic trial supposedly replicated the same study,
they only used oral doses, that were administered for only 2.5
months, while Pauling and Cameron’s trials treated the patients
for the entire study period or up to 12 years .
Padayatty et al.  analyzed both the Mayo Clinic study and
Pauling’s study, and found that the Mayo Clinic’s oral doses would
have produced peak plasma concentrations of less than 200
μM, while Pauling’s intravenous dose would have peak plasma
concentrations of nearly 6mM, more than 25 times higher .
While vitamin C is generally considered safe, there are certain
ethnicities, such as those from African, Asian, and Mediterranean
descent who may have G6PD deficiency that can be harmed with
high doses of vitamin C. This hereditary X-linked disorder affects at
least 329 million people globally. Even though most G6PD patients
may be asymptomatic during their lifetime, it is important when
treating the above-mentioned ethnicities that screening is done as
to avoid any potential contraindication to the patient .
The research on the safety and efficacy on various forms
of vitamin C over the last 80 plus years, is widely established.
Currently, there are clinical trials and case studies taking place
on vitamin C mega dose’s, as a single therapy or in conjunction
with other therapies around the globe. Essentially, all of these
studies are proving that mega dose vitamin C is highly beneficial
by enhancing the quality of life for the patient and mitigating
the toxic effects of chemotherapy, shortening cold symptoms,
and treating viruses with promising results. What the research
is showing, even with COVID-19, is that vitamin C is a safe and
effective treatment and is readily available to treat patients from
COVID to cancer.