Alternative Medicine

Alternative Medicine

 

VITAMIN C

First of all, I am not a trained biochemist or an expert in the field of nutritional therapies. However, I am acquainted with the works of many extraordinary people in those fields whose work has been largely ignored for many years by mainstream medicine. In my own work in the field of neurofeedback, many colleagues and I know what it is to be almost systematically ignored, merely because we are trespassing on a larger establishment’s marketplace. My hope is to help create a healthy, mutually supportive -coalition between modern and alternative medicine for the purpose of formulating synergistic treatment regimens that (unfortunately) are not possible in the present climate of economically driven territoriality.

The following is a relatively brief introduction to the remarkable effect of vitamin C on disease –including some of the scientific research and theoretical grounding behind its use. The focus is primarily on heart disease and cancer because that is what most people seem to die from these days –either directly or indirectly. So it is a natural place to begin. But its effects are strikingly far reaching. I would expect you not to take my word (or anyone’s word) on any of the following -but simply to use it as a foundation for further inquiry. I have had more than a few friends whose excessive scientific “skepticism” (a.k.a. cynicism) ushered them quietly into the graveyard. Enough already. So go forward with optimism and seek out your own version of the truth. Per aspera ad astra -JP

CANCER and the politics behind Vitamin C

The first study in which vitamin C was given to cancer patients was carried out in the 1970s, by Dr. Linus Pauling and Dr. Ewan Cameron, a cancer specialist in Scotland. They gave 100 terminally ill cancer patients 10 grams (10,000mg) of vitamin C each day and compared their outcome with 1000 cancer patients given conventional therapy. The survival rate was five times higher in those taking vitamin C. By 1978, while all of the 1000 ‘control patients’ had died, 13 of the 100 vitamin C patients were still alive, with 12 apparently free from cancer. If one were to extrapolate these results to 1000 terminal cancer patients, they would imply that 130 of the 1000 would be alive with 120 having experienced full remissions. Even those who did not survive typically live 5 times longer than the controls. This, utilizing only 10 grams (10,000 mgs). Subsequent reports have indicated that the need for vitamin C increases greatly when the body is being challenged by something as stressful as advanced cancer. A number of MDs are reporting that the lives of 60 to 70 % of terminal cancer patients are being saved by using amounts between 40 and 70 grams (H. Riordan, 2005).

Other studies have confirmed Pauling and Cameron’s findings. Dr Murata and Dr Morishige of Saga University in Japan showed that cancer patients on 5–30g of vitamin C lived six times longer than those on 4g or less. Those patients suffering from cancer of the uterus lived 15 times longer on vitamin C therapy (Murata, et al 1982). This was also confirmed by the late Dr. Abram Hoffer in Canada, who found that patients on high doses of vitamin C survived, on average, ten times longer.

However, Pauling and Cameron’s findings were discredited, due largely to a supposed ‘replication’ of their study by the Mayo Clinic in the US. This, despite major differences between the original trial and that of the Mayo Clinic. The terminal patients in the original trial kept taking vitamin C every day for an indefinite period while those in the Mayo Clinic trial stopped after an average of 75 days. However, by then, the medical establishment as a whole had labeled mega-dose vitamin C as quackery. Many have speculated that this short term study may have been a deliberate attempt to bury the Pauling -Cameron study.

Nevertheless, Charles Moertel of the Mayo Institute announced that the study had reaffirmed his earlier assertion that vitamin C was useless in cancer treatment. Upon reading the report though, Pauling deduced that Moertel hadn’t actually examined Ewan Cameron’s papers at all, the very studies he was supposed to be replicating (Holford, 2010). Among other deviations, the amount of vitamin C used in the Mayo trials was lower than in Cameron’s studies, the amount of time that patients had been given vitamin C was shorter (again… 75 days as opposed to indefinitely) and patients were given vitamin C orally instead of intravenously. Both Pauling and Cameron publicly branded the Mayo report as “fraudulent” and angrily decried the patently false assertion that Moertel had “closely replicated” their work (Holford. 2010). And yet, the Mayo study is almost systematically quoted by medical authorities when maligning Pauling and Cameron’s work.

As a result, the Linus Pauling Institute suffered financial hardships as public opinion turned against the Institute and many people stopped donating. Research money tends to find its way around organizations that take controversial stances on any health related issues. In order to survive, the LPI modified the recommended vitamin C daily amounts in order to me more in line with the FDA/RDA. This move helped to restore the flow of research money.

Pauling and Cameron also gave the vitamin C intravenously at first, unlike the Mayo studies. Studies at the USA National Institutes of Health concluded that it was only possible to achieve the high blood levels of vitamin C necessary to kill cancer cells by giving it intravenously (Padayatti, et al. 2004). But new research shows that it is possible to achieve these high blood levels by giving a combination of two forms of vitamin C by mouth –the “ordinary” water-soluble vitamin plus a new, liposomal (oil-based) form (Hickey, et al., 2008)]. The two forms appear to be absorbed in different ways resulting in much higher levels. This study showed that using high doses (20-36G/day) of the liposomal form of vitamin C alone could achieve levels of 300-400uM/L (micro-mole per liter). Combining the two forms enabled the researchers to obtain levels of 400-600uM/L. Other studies have shown (in vitro) that a level of 400uM/L will kill about 50% of cancer cells in 1 hour [Chen, et. al. 2005)].

CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE

Vitamin C is important in managing cholesterol metabolism and preventing atherosclerosis. Cholesterol and lipoprotein build-up in artery walls (known as plaques) is actually the body's natural response to damaged arterial tissue, as opposed to the common notion of resulting from high dietary cholesterol. Adequate levels of vitamin C ensure healthy collagen maintenance -needed for arterial wall integrity. As such, plaques becomes unnecessary and do not form. In addition, vitamin C increases the release of arterial cholesterol and facilitates its transfer out of the blood. Vitamin C also increases levels of HDL (good cholesterol) and lowers triglyceride levels -very important factors in cardiac health. Research shows that vitamin C can help dilate blood vessels and lower blood pressure in cases of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerotic plaques are comprised of cholesterol, calcium and other substances whose formation has the purpose of protecting areas of injury. It serves as a natural band aide to protect the wound to the inner wall of the artery -brought about by a weakening or loss of embedded collagen. It is similar to scab formation when the skin is injured. It is also important to note that arterial deposits are not randomly distributed in the circulatory system. They tend to form around the areas of greatest mechanical stress related to the heart’s pumping action. Thus the areas of greatest collagen weakness would lead to the most severe blockages.

VITAMIN C AND COLLAGEN

In addition to the well-established anti-oxidative effects of vitamin C on the endothelium wall (the inside cellular lining of the blood vessels), vitamin C
helps in the formation of critical collagens responsible for keeping the vascular system pliable and healthy. In the blood vessels, collagen forms an integral part of the sub-endothelial connective tissue -just below the endothelium, along with the external elastic lamina (helping to maintain blood vessel strength and flexibility).

Collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. It forms the matrix of skin, bones, teeth, blood vessels, eyes, heart and –essentially, everything that is us! When it is combined with elastin and carbohydrate related molecules, a connective tissue network forms. Collagen forms the network that literally holds us together.

Collagen is a complex molecule, the production of which occurs in several stages. The amino acids glycine and proline are the two key components. When they are exposed to vitamin C, they form a compound called pro-collagen. The presence of vitamin C results in an eight-fold increase in the synthesis of collagen. As such, vitamin C functions as a catalyst.

It is actually interesting to note that prisoners who have suffered long term vitamin C deficiency have wide spread fatty deposits in their arteries. Extreme vitamin C deficits result in bleeding of the tissues of the mouth (known as scurvy). This is directly related to the disintegration of collagen. There are of course subtler gradations of this deficit (subclinical scurvy if you will) that manifest more slowly -but are no less lethal.

Animals and Vitamin C

Interestingly enough, animals -particularly mammalian predators, do not get cardiovascular diseases. Bears, cats, tigers, and lions, etc. can be saturated with fat and cholesterol and atherosclerotic plaques do not develop. The reason for this is that these animals manufacture vitamin C in their livers (approximately 15 grams or 15,000 mgs per 160 lbs of body weight). Guinea pigs, fruit bats, gorillas and humans do not have this ability and must therefore rely on external sources for their vitamin C. (The typical daily intake for humans is around 60 mg.) One of the reasons guinea pigs are used so often in biological experiments is that they are very similar to humans in their development of cardiovascular disease and cancer (i.e. it is rampant). They too share the inability to make vitamin C in the liver or kidney. (Baylor University Medical Center .Apr 200 13(2) 139-143)

Heart disease and cancer are very rare in most animals. Cancer, overall, is very infrequent in animals -much less common than in humans, (C. Meteyer -National Wildlife Health Center, Madison, Wis). In the past 34 years, the center has examined over 100,000 wild animals. Only 22 had tumors, and cancer killed only a handful of them—a death rate about 5,000 times lower than that of human beings.

Dogs (through forced cross-breeding and inbreeding, now have a diminished C production capability 18 mg/lb = 900 mg for a 50 pound dog). Cancer has become much more frequent in dogs than in their ancestor –the wolf). Such unnatural breeding practices can reinforce genetic weaknesses and cancel genetic assets.

LONGEVITY and Telomeres

Telomeres are protective protein caps on the ends of chromatids (DNA strands). Their purpose is to serve as a buffer that protects the genetic material from deterioration and prevents unwanted fusions with other chromosomes. With each replication, the telomeres are shortened. It is thought that this truncation of the telomere plays a critically important role in aging –i.e. as the telomere shortens, chromosomes become more vulnerable to damage from free radicals and cross linking with other chromatids, thus placing a limit on the number of times a cell can divide (The Hayflick limit). Research has shown that this age-dependent telomere shortening can be slowed by 52-62 % in human vascular endothelial cells through the addition of vitamin C. (Furomoto, L., et. al. 1998). This suggests that oxidation from free radical exposure plays a central role in the deterioration rate of telomeres.

Telomere lengths and cell division rates can vary a great deal from one species to another. So it is not realistic to think of animal life spans in terms of years but rather, in the relationship between the time it takes to reach full physical maturity (a maturational epoch) and the overall life span.  Below is a chart listing various animal life spans in terms of the ratio of their respective maturational epoch to the typical lifespan. Notice that this ratio is much higher in those animals that manufacture saturation doses of vitamin C in their livers when compared to those that do not.

 

 

 

Animal –endogenous vitamin C

Physical Maturity

Lifespan

Ratio of LS/PM

Goat

2.5 yrs

18

7

Bear -griz

4

32

8

Bear -polar

4

25

6

Bear -panda

5

35

7

horse

4

30

7

lion

3

25

8

tiger

3

23

7-8

buffalo

4

30

7-8

wolf

1

7

7

elephant

12

70

6

whale

12

70

6

Non endogenous vitamin C

Guinea pig

1.2

5

4

human

18

75

4

gorilla

10

40

4

chimp

14

60

4

 

Note: There is likely a great deal of vitamin C production differences within any given species. As such, there is some variability from one animal to another. The above represent the mean lifespans.

It is true that humans and animals are different in many ways and scientists advise that extrapolations from animals to humans should be done with care. That is certainly true. But animal tissue: muscle, connective, organ, skin, bone, etc. is made from the same organic compounds as humans and is therefore vulnerable to the same laws of oxidation and tissue destruction. So if vitamin C reduces the fallout effect of such free radical damage in animals, it will almost certainly have the same effect in humans.


The above graph gives a simple illustration of the possible rates of entropic decay due to cellular oxidation and DNA damage of the “normal” lifespan verses that achieved with vitamin C augmentation. The “normal” trajectory represents an almost exponential cascade of damage upon damage -decline. The C augmented decline is more linear due to the disruption of the free radical –driven, oxidation-cascade. The death threshold represents the point at which the body can no longer sustain life due to the aggregation of cellular chaos. Linus Pauling has described human diseases –particularly heart disease, as a form of subclinical scurvy.

This is just a brief overview of vitamin C and its vast potential as a cure or preventative measure for disease and a likely potentiator for extended life span. So the question most people ask is “If it is so great why isn’t modern medicine using it?” A good question. Traditional medicine’s stance is beginning to change. At present there are over 20 medical clinics that utilize IV vitamin C for cancer in Southern California. But it has not been embraced by the medical establishment as a whole. The reason for this is fairly simple. Academic research is largely funded by the drug and pharmaceutical industry. Vitamin C is a naturally occurring nutrient and as such, there is no financial incentive to fund large scale –long term trials. You cannot patent a vitamin any more then you can patent a tree. So its use is confined mostly to small scale self- sustaining clinics. Hopefully, this will soon change and vitamin C will be given its due credit.

Reference

(Baylor University Medical Center .Apr 2000, 13(2) 139-143)

Chen Q, Espey MG, Krishna MC, Mitchell JB, Corpe CP, Buettner GR, Shacter E, Levine M. Pharmacologic ascorbic acid concentrations selectively kill cancer cells: action as a pro-drug to deliver hydrogen peroxide to tissues Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2005;102(38):13604

Fonorow, O.R., Chronic Scurvy: The suppression of real nature, cause and cure for heart disease, (2005) http://vitamincfoundation.org/suppress.htm

Furumoto K1, Inoue E, Nagao N, Hiyama E, Miwa N. Age-dependent telomere shortening is slowed down by enrichment of intracellular vitamin C via suppression of oxidative stress. Life Sci. 1998;63(11):935-48.

Ginter E. Marginal vitamin C deficiency, lipid metabolism and atherosclerosis. Lipid research 1973;16:162-220.

Hickey S, Roberts HJ, Miller NJ. Pharmacokinetics of oral vitamin C. J Nutr Env Med 2008; 17(3): 169-177.

Murata, A., Morishige, F. and Yamaguchi, H. (1982) Prolongation of survival times of terminal cancer patients by administration of large doses of ascorbate. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research Suppl., 23, 1982, p. 103-113. Also in Hanck, A., ed. (1982) Vitamin C: New Clinical Applications. Bern: Huber, 103-113.

Padayatty SJ, Sun H, Wang Y, et al. Vitamin C pharmacokinetics: implications for oral and intravenous use. Ann Intern Med. 2004;140(7):533-537.

Rath, M., Pauling, L. Solution of the puzzle of human casrdiovscular disease: Its primary cause is ascorbate acid deficiency, leading to deposition of lipoprotein (a) and fibrinogen/ fibrin in the vascular wall. Journal of Orthomolecular Med. 1991;6: 125-134.

Hugh Riordan "In Extremis: First Aid for Advanced Cancer", 2005

Patrick Holford “The Truth About Vitamin C and Cancer”, 2010

Patrick Holford with Liz Efiong “Say No to Cancer”, 2012