High Dose Vitamin C: Treating Colds, Cancer, and More

High Dose Vitamin C: Treating Colds, Cancer, and More

High Dose Vitamin C: Treating Colds, Cancer, and More

We've all been told to take extra Vitamin C to help cure the common cold but I had never heard of megadose Vitamin C or using it for treating cancer. A few years ago, a friend sent me a link on Youtube, a story about a man on death's doorstep whose family insisted on trying high dose Vitamin C before pulling him off life support. It worked - he came out of his coma and his condition improved.

Last year, when I started having problems with my teeth, I was familiar with the concept so decided to give it a try. I was desperate for an alternative to expensive dentistry and had nothing to lose. I figured, it's inexpensive, has few possible side effects, and there are so many success stories online! After trying it, I became another one of these success stories. I used sodium ascorbate to eliminate stomach upset and/or diarrhea. It helped with a variety of dental problems, including periodontal disease, bleeding gums, etc. Read more about my natural dental protocol here.

Where It All Started

Linus Pauling (a two-time Nobel Prize winner and one of the most important scientists in history) first began promoting the idea of high vitamin C doses. This concept was first brought to his attention in 1966 by biochemist Irwin Stone. Stone theorized that much higher doses of Vitamin C were needed to maintain human health than was recommended and taking 4 to 10 grams daily (compared to the recommended 45mg) would greatly increase your health and longevity. Unfortunately, the medical establishment found megavitamin therapy to be "unsubstantiated" due to poorly designed scientific studies and this theory was largely disregarded by the medical and scientific communities until the 1990s.

High Vitamin C in Contemporary Medicine

To this day, I found it very difficult to find any well-designed studies due to a lack of agreement as to what constitutes “megadose”. Most scientists and doctors consider double the recommended daily dose as “high dose or mega”. The World Health Organization sets the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C as 45mg per day. Consequently, a mega dose could be considered anything over 100mg, whereas Linus Pauling and his colleagues considered optimum intake for health for Vitamin C to be 2300mg. Proponents of orthomolecular medicine (the term coined for high dose vitamin treatment) have set their RDA for megadose treatment at 10,000mg or more!

When sifting through pages of research papers on Vitamin C, most studies used 1 gram or less, which is equivalent to 1000mg and well below Pauling's RDA. This is one of the major reasons there is a lack of evidence for the use of vitamin C for treating health problems like cancer, tumours, heart disease, and colds like Pauling proposed. Another is the method of administration - oral versus intravenous (blood concentration is key and oral administration of vitamin C is not effective enough). Finally, most of the papers written are reviews of studies that have been done by others over many years, many of which are poorly designed and have little consistency. A 2010 review of 33 years of research on Vitamin C to treat cancer stated ”we have to conclude that we still do not know whether Vitamin C has any clinically significant antitumor activity. Nor do we know which histological types of cancer, if any, are susceptible to this agent. Finally, we don’t know what the recommended dose of Vitamin C is, if there is indeed such a dose, that can produce an anti-tumor response.”

There are few, if any, megadose studies using more than 1000gm of vitamin C. This is why I decided to rely on the success stories of other individuals, rather than waiting for science to figure it out! So when you hear from news agencies, TV and doctors that Vitamin C is ineffective, take it with a grain of salt. Always look at the evidence presented to see:

    • How much vitamin C was actually administered

    • How large the study was

    • Whether it was done on humans, animals or petri dish

    • How was it administered (oral or intravenous)

    • Over what time period

    • Who qualified to be included in the study

Just because a study has been cited or reviewed doesn’t necessarily make it a fair or good study. An example of two natural products that have fallen victim to this kind of study/news reports are Comfrey and Citronella. Both are banned in Canada from being used in various ways due to poor science and bad interpretation.

References and Further Reading:

The Pauling Blog (by The Oregon State University Libraries Special Collections & Archives Research Centre)

Linus Pauling Institute / Oregon State University - Spring Summer 2017 Newsletter (page 8) 

WHO Vitamin and Mineral Requirements in Human Nutrition - 2nd edition

Vitamin C and cancer: what can we conclude--1,609 patients and 33 years later? - Cabanillas, F (2010).  Puerto Rico Health Sciences Journal

Tumor cells have decreased ability to metabolize H2O2: Implications for pharmacological ascorbate in cancer therapy - Claire M. Doskey, Visarut Buranasudja, Brett A. Wagner, Justin G. Wilkes, Juan Du, Joseph J. Cullen, Garry R. Buettner. Redox Biology, 2016;

Wound healing: Nutritional support for wound healing - DJ MacKay, AL Miller - Alternative medicine review, 2003 - go.galegroup.com

Vitamin C as a cancer treatment: state of the science and recommendations for research - C Tamayo, MA Richardson - Alternative therapies in health …, 2003 - search.proquest.com

Antiviral and immunomodulatory activities of ascorbic acid - RJ Jariwalla, S Harakeh - Subcellular biochemistry, 1996 - researchgate.net

The effectiveness of oral nutritional supplementation in the healing of pressure ulcers - C Prez-Portabella Maristany… - … of wound care, 2004 - magonlinelibrary.com The effect of vitamin-C containing neutraceutical on periodontal wound healing as an adjunct to non-surgical or surgical periodontal treatment - YR Baek, JW Park, JM Lee… - … of Periodontology, 2009 - synapse.koreamed.org

Therapeutic effects of alpha lipoic acid and vitamin C on alveolar bone resorption after experimental periodontitis in rats: a biochemical, histochemical, and stereologic study - Akman S1, Canakci V, Kara A, Tozoglu U, Arabaci T, Dagsuyu IM. Periodontol. 2013 May;84(5):666-74. doi: 10.1902/jop.2012.120252. Epub 2012 Jun 15.

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