By James Wilson, DC, ND, PhD
Vitamin C has long been recognized as vital to the defense against colds and flu and immune system support. In fact, vitamin C is one of the most versatile vitamins, offering benefits to many functions in the human body. Here are just some of the clinical applications of vitamin C.
Clinical Applications of Vitamin C
- Anti-aging: vitamin C helps repair damage to the mitochondria of cells
- Cardiovascular: facilitates iron absorption, prevents abnormal blood clotting, helps prevent ischemic disease, decreases systolic pressure, and improves congestive heart failure
- Cellular health: stimulates apoptosis, inhibits chromosome damage
- Digestive health: improves constipation, helps prevent gallstones, helps improve pancreatitis
- Eyesight/vision: helps to prevent macular degeneration, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, eye inflammation, and retinopathy
- Women’s health: helps with infertility, cervical dysplasia, menorrhaghia, and menopausal hot flashes
- Hepatic: helps prevent cirrhosis and hepatitis, inhibits oxidative damage to liver
- Immune system: helps to counteract many types of bacterial & viral diseases, helps to prevent the common cold, and alleviates allergies and hay fever
- Men’s health: helps with infertility, improves sperm quality, motility and viability
- Metabolic health: helps reduce insulin requirements in diabetics, helps prevent insulin resistance, helps prevent fatigue (facilitates production of thyroxine), increases athletic performance, accelerates weight loss in obesity
- Oral health: helps prevent gingivitis, bleeding gums, and loose teeth
- Musculoskeletal health: counters erosion of cartilage occurring during osteoarthritis, alleviates pain and inflammation in gout, helps prevent osteoporosis and fractures, alleviates muscle pain and cramps
- Nervous system health: helps to counter the negative effects of stress, as the adrenal glands contain the highest concentration of Vitamin C of any part of the body (for the manufacture of adrenal hormones)
- Respiratory health: helps to counteract sinusitis, pharyngitis, pneumonia, pleurisy, bronchitis, COPD, and viral and bacterial infections in the upper and lower respiratory tract
- Skin health: improves skin health (due to its role in collagen production), helps prevent and treat boils, speeds burn healing/sunburn, accelerates the healing of wounds after injury or surgery, useful in psoriasis, acne rosacea, stretch marks, and wrinkles
Vitamin C and Heart Disease
Heart disease is the umbrella term for any disease of the heart and circulatory system. This includes, but is not limited to: stroke, coronary heart disease, cardiomyopathy (the weakening of the heart muscle), myocardial infarction, arrhythmia, atherosclerosis, arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, angina pectoris, embolism, heart murmurs and hypertensive heart disease (caused by high blood pressure).
As far back as the 1940s, doctors have been questioning the true nature of heart disease. J.C. Paterson, a Canadian pathologist, first suggested that the problem could be a result of vitamin C deficiency: a type of long-term, low-level, stealth scurvy. Since then, other doctors researching in the area, such as Linus Pauling and C.A. Clemetson, have seconded this theory. Dr Matthias Rath, an understudy of Pauling’s, writes:
“Animals don’t get heart attacks because they produce vitamin C in their bodies, which protects their blood vessel walls. In humans, unable to produce vitamin C (a condition known as hypoascorbemia), dietary vitamin deficiency weakens these walls. Cardiovascular disease is an early form of scurvy. Clinical studies document that optimum daily intakes of vitamins and other essential nutrients halt and reverse coronary heart disease naturally. The single most important difference between the metabolism of human beings and most other living species is the dramatic difference in the body pool of vitamin C. The body reservoir of vitamin C in people is on average 10 to 100 times lower than the vitamin C levels in animals.” 8
Scurvy occurs when the collagen matrix in the body begins to break down. With heart disease, the scurvy process is much slower, sometimes taking years to develop. As Dr. Rath reports, vitamin C is essential to produce collagen and elastin, the elastic, fibrous materials which knit the walls of arteries and blood vessels together. Collagen fibers are a lot like the steel girders you see when builders are erecting a new skyscraper.
Each fiber has been calculated to be far tougher and stronger than an iron wire of comparable width. Collagen cells form the structure for arteries, organs and skin, so a chronic vitamin C deficiency sees the commencement of a collapse in the arterial walls, necessitating a healing process in the form of lipoprotein(a) fats, which the body attempts to use to bond the thousands of tiny breaches in the arterial walls.
These lipoproteins are nature’s perfect bandage. They are extremely sticky and form the atherosclerotic deposits associated with advanced forms of heart disease. Cardiovascular medicine tends to focus its attention on vilifying the lipoproteins’ LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol content as one of the primary causes of heart disease, when it is in fact the healing (survival response) precursor brought on by a chronic vitamin C deficiency.
Today, the drug industry has predictably mobilized a multi-billion dollar business of anti-cholesterol drugs, which have wrought devastating results in cardiac patients, necessitating a further $20 billion drug program to combat all the side-effects.9
Coronary arteries sustain the most stress, since they are the primary roadways for blood being pumped by the heart. The need for ongoing repairs of the leaky artery walls produces an overcompensation of repair materials, such as cholesterol, triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL) produced in the liver, which lead to infarctions as this plaque builds up. Other areas, such as arteries in the legs, are also affected. Varicose veins often develop as a result of this ongoing healing process.
On this topic, Dr Rath comments:
“The main cause of atherosclerotic deposits is the biological weakness of the artery walls caused by chronic vitamin deficiency [malnutrition]. The atherosclerotic deposits are the consequence of this chronic weakness; they develop as a compensatory stabilizing cast of nature to strengthen these weakened blood vessel walls.” 11
Vitamin C and Infectious Diseases
The fact is, those with a robust immune system and clean and detoxified body tend to not suffer from infectious diseases. Chief causes of a depressed immune system will be lack of nutritious food, dehydration, vitamin D deficiency, food allergies, a constant intake of refined sugar and sugary drinks, and stress, which depletes vitamin C reserves in the body. Low levels of vitamin D are thought to be why we get most colds and flu in the winter. Optimizing your patient’s diet and D3 (calcidiol) serum levels, plus ensuring good levels of C in the system, are the three best factors for avoiding these problems.14
Dr Thomas Levy cites more than 1,200 studies in which vitamin C was used to treat infectious diseases successfully.15 These included whooping cough, hepatitis, polio, common colds, influenza, ebola, herpes and pneumonia. Up until the 1950s, there was considerable interest in the pharmaceutical properties of vitamin C, but with the introduction of antibiotics, economics took over.
Klenner postulated that vitamin C worked as a broad-spectrum antibiotic, activated the immune system and “proceeds to take up the protein coats being manufactured by the virus nucleic acid, thus preventing the assembly of new virus units.”15 If the cell dies and breaks down, vitamin C prevents these new particles from becoming virus cells. Vitamin C also strips away the protective protein armor of the virus cell, allowing the white blood cells to attack it.
So versatile is vitamin C that forward-thinking physicians should be engaging their patient’s cooperation in tanking up for all occasions. The older you are, the better. Ascorbate therapy works by oxidizing and removing free radicals, preventing the replication of viral cells, preventing oxidative cell stress, promoting the immune system by the production of antibodies and white blood cells, and strengthening the body against secondary infections that can kill.
As a note, in this article when I say vitamin C I am referring to ascorbic acid. The term ascorbic acid refers to Vitamin C in its purest form, not bound to any other compound. I state this because ascorbic acid is often seen as the best form of oral vitamin C supplementation, and ascorbic acid is the form used in most clinical studies demonstrating the therapeutic effectiveness of vitamin C.
Original blog by Dr. James Wilson can be found here.
James L. Wilson, DC, ND, PhD, received his Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from the University of Arizona, with minors in Immunology, Microbiology, Pharmacology and Toxicology, and research in Cellular Immunology. His doctorates in Chiropractic Medicine and Naturopathic Medicine are from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and the Ontario College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM).
As one of the 14 founding members of CCNM, now the largest Naturopathic College in the world, Dr. Wilson has long been on the forefront of alternative medicine. For over twenty-five years, he was in private practice in Canada and the United States. In 1998, Dr. Wilson coined the term ‘adrenal fatigue’ to identify below optimal adrenal function resulting from stress and distinguish it from Addison’s disease.
With a researcher’s grasp of science and a clinician’s understanding of its human impact, Dr. Wilson has helped many physicians understand the physiology behind and treatment of various health conditions. He is acknowledged as an expert on alternative medicine, especially in the area of stress and adrenal function. Dr. Wilson is a respected and sought after lecturer and consultant in the medical and alternative healthcare communities in the United States and abroad.
- Dawson E B, Evans D R, Harris W A, Teter M C, McGanity W J “The effect of ascorbic acid supplementation on the blood lead levels of smokers”, J Am Coll Nutr. 1999 Apr;18(2):166-170
- Interestingly, the main ingredients in the pine needles and bark offered to Cartier’s sailors by the Indians are contained in a number of beneficial antioxidant products available today
- Griffin, G E, World Without Cancer, op. cit. p.54
- Boon, N A, Colledge N R, Walker B R and Hunter J A Davidson’s Principles & Practice of Medicine, 20th ed., Churchill Livingstone, 2006
- “Chronic Disease Overview”, www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/overview_text.htm.
- Rath, M, Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks… op cit. p.10
- Sellman, S Hormone Heresy, Get Well Int’l, Inc. 1998.
- Rath, Matthias, Why Animals Don’t Get Heart Attacks… op. cit. p.23
- Rath, Matthias, Why Animals…. op. cit. p.57
- Food Matters documentary, www.credence.org; see also www.vitamincfoundation.org/vitcancer.shtml; http://orthomolecular.org/library/ivccancerpt.shtml
- dailymail.co.uk/health/article-362137/Vitamin-C-jab-combat-cancer .html; see also Daily Mail, 5th August 2008 and 19th August 2008
- Day, P The Essential Guide to Vitamin D, Credence, 2010; see also Day, P The ABC’s of Disease, Credence, 2010, “Common Cold and Flu” Levy T E Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases and Toxins, Xlibris, Philadelphia, 2002
- Klenner F Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C – www.seanet.com/~alexs/ ascorbate/198x/smith-lh-clinical_guide_1988.htm