Recent columns have discussed the history of vitamin C supplementation, time-proven uses of vitamin C and recent vitamin C research. Many ask whether high dose use of vitamin C supplements reduces health risks. We wanted to get to the bottom of high dose use of vitamin C with an expert in the field. This month we examine some of the uses of oral high-dosage vitamin C with Dr. Andrew W. Saul.
Dr. Saul has been an orthomolecular medical writer and lecturer for 41 years. Dr. Saul has taught clinical nutrition at New York Chiropractic College and postgraduate continuing education programs. He was also on the faculty of the State University of New York for nine years. Two of those years were spent teaching for the university in both women’s and men’s penitentiaries.
Dr. Saul is editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service and has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles. His bestselling book “Doctor Yourself” has been translated into eight languages. He has written a dozen other books, four as co-author with Abram Hoffer, MD. Dr. Saul’s educational website is www.DoctorYourself.com, the largest peer-reviewed, non-commercial natural healing resource on the Internet. He is a board member of the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine and the Japanese College of Intravenous Therapy. Saul was inducted into the Orthomolecular Medicine Hall of Fame in 2013. He is featured in the documentaries “FoodMatters” and “That Vitamin Movie” (www.thatvitaminmovie.com).
Our Interview on High Dose Vitamin C with Dr. Saul
Passwater: Before we chat about high-dose vitamin C and major diseases, is the current Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C the optimal intake for optimal health?
Saul: No. RDA intake is optimal for disease. Such low levels guarantee sickness.
Passwater: At a lecture at the Riordan Clinic on IVC and major diseases, you mentioned that you gave your children a gram of vitamin C for each year of age (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5Bgdqsorg0). How did that work out?
Saul: It worked very well. My children were raised without requiring a single dose of any antibiotic or antihistamine. Dr. Frederick Robert Klenner advised that amount and he was right about 1,000 mg/day per year of age; far more when they are sick. With my young family, high-dose vitamin C worked so well that we never even met our children’s pediatricians. We were driving along a main street in our home city and my wife said, “Look: isn’t that our pediatric group’s office building over there?” And by golly it was. We literally had never been there. Would have if we needed to, but we didn’t need to. The trick is not refusing to go to the doctor; the trick is doing what it takes so you do not need to go. Dr. Klenner, Dr. Linus Pauling, Dr. Abram Hoffer and Dr. Robert F. Cathcart were my guiding lights. They all said the same thing: give your kids a whole lot of vitamin C; give doses high enough to get them well and keep them well.
Passwater: In 1939, Dr. Albert Szent-Györgyi suggested the optimal amount of vitamin C might be above 1,000 mg (one gram) per day. In 1949, Dr. G. Bourne suggested the RDA should be above 1,000 mg (1). In 1972, vitamin C researcher and chemist Irwin Stone suggested that a better indication of human requirements for vitamin C should be based on comparison to the amount naturally produced by most animals (2). So what are the numbers we should be looking for?
Saul: Animals make a lot of vitamin C, in the neighborhood of 2,000 to 12,000 mg (2 – 12 grams) per day per human body weight equivalent. They make considerably more when they are ill. A sick goat might make the human equivalent of 50,000 mg/day (50 grams per day). Not all animals make C. We don’t, of course, nor can gorillas, monkeys, chimps and other primates. Guinea pigs cannot make their own C, either. The U.S. RDA for vitamin C for humans is less than 10% of the same U.S. government’s vitamin C standards for guinea pigs. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that a guinea pig’s vitamin C requirement is about 15 mg per day (3). An adult guinea pig weighs a bit over two pounds. An average human adult weighs over 180 lbs (4). In 2002, the average weight for men in the United States was 191 pounds and for women was 164 pounds. Few would dispute that these weights have gone up in the last 15 years.
Passwater: Dr. Robert Cathcart suggested that our need for vitamin C varies from day to day according to stresses on the body. He also suggested that “bowel tolerance” was a good indicator of current individual needs. What is the reasoning behind his recommendations?
Saul: Success, that’s what. You do not give the amount of vitamin C you think ought to work. You give the amount that does work. You cannot win an argument with your body. Dr. Klenner said, “Don’t send a boy to do a man’s job.” Dr. Cathcart’s work underscored this.
Passwater: What exactly is meant by “titrating to bowel tolerance”? Isn’t this widely misunderstood? Many people think this means until diarrhea.
Saul: Nobody wants diarrhea. Cathcart taught that the indicator of vitamin C saturation is loose stool. Not diarrhea, but slightly loose stool. Or flatulence, or a rumble in the bowels. These are signs to back off your dose. Illness symptoms are signals to increase your dose. You aspire to be between the two, adjusting the dose continually, as your own body indicates. For 40 years now, I have been saying, ”Take enough C to be symptom free, whatever that amount may be.” There is no technology to master; no apparatus to buy; no profit for pharmaceutical companies. This technique made my family’s healthcare largely independent of the medical system. Yes, my kids got annual physicals at school. And they saw their dentist. That was about it. If someone in our house sneezed even once, you could hear this from every corner of our home: “Take C!”
Passwater: The Recommended Dietary Allowances for nutrients have been developed to give guidance for nutritional adequacy. They have changed over the years as their purpose has changed, but they do not represent the needs for optimal health. This will be discussed in another column in this series. The RDA for vitamin C is currently 90 milligrams for healthy adults. When I published “Supernutrition: Megavitamin Therapy” in 1975, the RDA for vitamin C was 45 mg. Later it was raised to 60 mg, then in 2000 it was increased to 90 mg. (Please see Table 1.) Dr. Saul, are daily intakes in the thousands of milligrams safe?
Saul: Yes, but most people still don’t know it. And without articles like this, the evident media blackout on megadose vitamin C safety will likely continue. This is partly due to the government’s establishing a silly “Tolerable Upper Level” for vitamin C of 2,000 mg/day. That has been abbreviated and morphed into “Safe Upper Limit.” Few hospitals or universities will want to even try tens of thousands of milligrams of C if they have to get approval and funding over the “UL” hurdle.
In That Vitamin Movie, (www.thatvitaminmovie.com) you can see me onscreen taking 16,000 mg of vitamin C at one time. That has generated a bit of comment, believe me. But to those aghast at that dose, let me let you in on the backstory. That was actually “take 2.” So it was 32,000 mg of C at one dose. Now don’t try this at home: I was feeling under the weather with all the stress of schedules and location filming. I did not get to saturation, but I didn’t get sick, either. If I had been rested and healthy, I could not possibly have held all that C. The point is, I could and I did. Let’s see if they put THAT on the evening news.
Passwater: When Dr. Linus Pauling was reviewing my 1975 book, “Supernutrition: Megavitamin Revolution,” he chided me for my recommendation of 4,000 mg of vitamin C daily in at least two divided doses. Not because it was too high — but because it was too low. I responded, “Linus, I agree that more would be better, but on a practical basis, I find people say it’s inconvenient for them to take that much. They felt that it was either too inconvenient to take that many pills or inconvenient to mix powder with juice.” He understood my point and went on to widely recommend my book and write a statement that was not only on the cover, but put on a special green band around the book. As shown in Figure 1, the green band said:
“Supernutrition is an important book, for it brings to attention many facts about nutrition that are not generally known and, for the most part, not accepted by physicians and nutritional authorities.
I am sure that health can be improved significantly by the proper amounts of vitamins and nutrients – and by a decrease in consumption of sugar and some other substances. Reliable information about these matters is presented in Supernutrition.”
Dr. Saul, do you have any suggestions for helping people take megadoses of vitamin C?
1) Divide the dose up throughout the whole day. Vitamin C, being water-soluble and continually needed, works better that way.
2) With all between-meal doses, drink plenty of water or have a small (and nutritious!) snack with each dose. This will buffer the C and help keep the tummy happy.
3) You do not take the amount of vitamin C that you think you should take; you take the amount that gets the job done. The sicker you are, the more vitamin C you will hold. That amount is unknown to me, to your doctor, or even to you . . . until you start taking the C and see how much it takes to get better.
Passwater: The reason I ask about how to take large doses of vitamin C is that it can protect against many diseases and actually cure several major diseases … if one takes enough. Taking only a few milligrams won’t do the job any more than a few hundred units of an antibiotic will cure a severe infection or a grain of aspirin will cure a headache.
Saul: Linus Pauling was right. Think big: grams, not milligrams. It is all about dose. If you are sick, your body wants, and will hold, and will respond to, almost unbelievably high doses of C.
Passwater: It has been shown that adequate vitamin C is an effective antiviral. This goes back way before interest in the common cold, all the way back to 1935 or so. Why has this been ignored? What was known and what happened to vitamin C as an effective treatment for polio?
Saul: Columbia University professor Claus Jungeblut, M.D, published a series of papers showing vitamin C to be effective against polio. They appeared in the Journal of Experimental Medicine starting in 1935. Those intrigued by this statement can read my paper about Dr. Jungeblut’s pioneering work at http://www.doctoryourself.com/jungeblut.html. Dr. Jungeblut said, “Vitamin C can truthfully be designated as the antitoxic and antiviral vitamin.” (5)
Passwater: Polio was the great health fear when I was growing up. Daily headlines screamed about new cases of polio. Photos of children in iron lung machines often accompanied the headlines. Community swimming pools were closed. Parents kept their kids out of large crowds. Fortunately, our neighborhood kids played outside in the fresh air and open spaces all day long and swam in a fresh water creek. Yet, the cures of Drs. Jungeblut and Fred Klenner which were without fail, IV vitamin C, were ignored. Why? What motives were at play?
Polio occurred primarily in cities during the summer months. At its peak, polio would paralyze or kill over half a million people worldwide yearly. The 1952 polio epidemic was the worst in our history, but polio (poliomyelitis) had been around for a long time. British physician Michael Underwood provides the first clinical description of the disease in 1789. In 1840, Dr. Jacob Heine described the clinical features of polio including its involvement of the spinal cord. In 1894, the first outbreak of polio in epidemic form in the U.S. occurred in Vermont, with 132 cases. In 1908, Drs. Karl Landsteiner and Erwin Popper discovered the poliovirus by proving it was not a bacterium that caused the paralysis, but a much smaller entity—a virus.
From 1949-1953, Dr. Klenner published his clinical results with IV vitamin C in the treatment of polio, but no large clinical trials were ever performed. (6-9)
What other viral diseases have been cured by oral high-dose vitamin C?
Saul: Measles, mumps, viral encephalitis, herpes, mononucleosis, viral pneumonia, acute hepatitis, chickenpox, Ebola, and of course, influenza have reportedly been treated with high dose vitamin C. Virtually all viral illness is curable with adequately enormous quantities of vitamin C. Over time, as his experience as a physician continued, Dr. Cathcart actually stopped using viral disease names. He just called this viral illness a 60-gram (60,000 mg) cold and that one a 150-gram (150,000 mg) cold. Treatment was based on the amount of C that cured the illness. That is medical brilliance.
Passwater: Are there non-viral diseases that can be cured or measurably improved by oral high-dose vitamin C?
Saul: Yes. Diphtheria, tuberculosis, strep, brucellosis, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, trichinosis, tetanus and pertussis. And this is not the whole list.
I raised my children all the way into college and they never had a single dose of any antibiotic or antihistamine or antiviral drugs, not once, not ever. We used vitamin C instead. Now I get to see my grandchildren taking lots of vitamin C. I love it. We do this because it is safe and it works. To help people look into this further, Dr. Steve Hickey and I wrote Vitamin C: The Real Story. I also urge people to watch videos of Dr. Cathcart, Dr. Thomas Levy, and Dr. Suzanne Humphries. These are all medical doctors, board-certified in orthopedics, cardiology and nephrology respectively. My father always said, “When you want to know, ask the organ grinder, not the monkey.
Passwater: Fortunately, exciting clinical studies are showing that IV vitamin C at high doses are safe and effective in diseases such as sepsis and cancer. We will be discussing this research in upcoming columns. Once again Dr. Saul, we thank you for your information and guidance. Readers can find more help on Dr. Saul’s website at www.doctoryourself.com. WF
1. Bourne, G. H. Vitamin C and Immunity. Brit. J. of Nutr. 2, 346-356, (1949).
2. Stone, Irwin. The Healing Factor: Vitamin C against disease. Grosset & Dunlap. NY (1972)
3. U.S. Department of Agriculture Animal Care Resource Guide, Animal Care, 12.4.2 http://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/
4. National Center for Health Statistics. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/04news/americans.htm
5. Saul, A.W. Taking the cure: Claus Washington Jungeblut, M.D.: Polio pioneer; ascorbate advocate. J Orthomolecular Med, 2006. Vol 21, No 2. http://www.doctoryourself.com/jungeblut.html
6. Klenner, F.R. (July 1949). “The treatment of poliomyelitis and other virus diseases with vitamin C”. South Med Surg. 111 (7): 209–14. PMID 18147027
7. Klenner, F.R. (1951). “Massive doses of vitamin C and the virus diseases”. South Med Surg. 113 (4): 101–7. PMID 14855098
8. Klenner, F.R. (1952). “The vitamin and massage treatment for acute poliomyelitis”. South Med Surg. 114 (8): 194–7. PMID 12984224
9. Klenner, F.R. (1953). “The Use of Vitamin C as an Antibiotic”. J. Appl. Nutr. 6: 274–8.
Dr. Richard Passwater is the author of more than 45 books and 500 articles on nutrition. Dr. Passwater has been WholeFoods Magazine’s science editor and author of this column since 1984. More information is available on his Web site, www.drpasswater.com.
NOTE: The statements presented in this article should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of a medical professional before adding a dietary supplement to (or removing one from) your daily regimen. The opinions expressed in bylined articles are not necessarily those of the publisher.
Published in WholeFoods Magazine January 2018