Dr Frederick Klenner MD – Massive Doses of Vitamin C and the Virus Diseases



Massive Doses of Vitamin C and the Virus Diseases

Reidsville, North
Carolina

Presented in the Fifty-second Annual Meeting
of the Tri-State Medical Association
of the Carolinas and Virginia, held at Columbia, February 19th
and 20th, 1951.


From Southern Medicine & Surgery, Volume
103, Number 4, April, 1951, pp. 101-107

(The Action of Vitamin C)

It has been reported that one of the mold-derived drugs, in
addition to being a good antibiotic, is a super-vitamin.
Conversely, we argue that vitamin C, besides being an essential
vitamin, is a super-antibiotic. Vitamin C in vitro, if
maintained at body temperature, inactivates certain toxins at
an unbelievable rate. Five parts per thousand of vitamin C with
toxins and appropriate controls, incubated at 37°C. for 48
hours showed when tested on mice the minimal lethal dose for
the control tubes to be 1/16,000 c.c., while that from the
mixture of vitamin C and toxin was only 1/1,000 of a c.c.
(Klegler, Guggenheim; Warburg, 1938). In this study the loss of
vitamin C in toxin broth and ordinary broth controls followed a
constant pattern; the loss, however, was always greater in the
toxin broth tube. The difference between the rate of
disappearance of vitamin C in toxin and ordinary broth was more
striking the greater the concentration of vitamin C. It is,
therefore, reasonable to conclude that the degree of
neutralization in a virus infection will be in proportion to
the concentration of the vitamin and the length of time in
which it is employed.

Since it has long been known that the virus organism
resembles more the toxins and ferments than the common animate
causes of disease, it would seem plausible that the
detoxication effected by vitamin C is produced by a direct
combination of the vitamin with the toxin and/or virus, this
followed by the oxidation of the new compound which destroys
both the virus and/or toxin and the vitamin. This destruction
of the virus by oxidation has been concurred in by many
investigators. Since vitamin C is an integral part of the
oxidation-reduction system of the body, its function in the
role of an antibiotic becomes intelligible. To appreciate the
antagonistic properties of vitamin C against the virus organism
and the chemical ferments of exotoxin-producing
microörganisms, one must forget its present academic
status as a factor essential for life. A cow is valuable to the
farmer not only for her ability to produce milk, but also as a
source of organic fertilizer. Vitamin C, likewise, is
important, not only as a detoxifying agent, as a catalyst
aiding cellular respiration by acting as a hydrogen transport,
as a catalyst in the assimilation of iron, and as a conservator
of collagen fibers and bundles in tissues of mesenchymal
origin; but, also, because of its function as a reducing agent
or the precursor of such a substance. In this latter capacity
it fulfills the requirements of an antibiotic. A striking
phenomenon of vitamin C is the similarity of response, whether
to correct pathologic processes due to a deficiency of this
compound, acting as a vitamin; or to destroy the ferments of
microörganisms, acting as an antibiotic.

Within a few hours after institution of adequate vitamin C
therapy to correct an avitaminosis, histological evidence of
bone improvement is obtainable Fibroblasts begin to form normal
connective tissue and capillary buds are invading hemorrhagic
areas (Youmans, 1941). Similar is its dramatic antibiotic
action, the rule being clear evidence of clinical response
within a few hours.

The purpose of this paper is to present clinical proof of
such action for this vitamin.


(Case Histories I)

Case 1 is one of premeasles in a ten-months-old baby.
The term “premeasles” is adopted to express the
syndrome of fever, redness of eyes and throat, catarrh,
spasmodic bronchial cough and Koplik spots. Vitamin C, 65 mgm.
per Kg. of body weight, was injected intramuscularly every four
hours. The fever dropped from 105 to 97.6° F. within 12
hours. All symptoms showed marked clearing. This sudden drop in
the fever was thought to be explainable on one of three
grounds: 1) Common night drop. 2 ) Due to the antibiotic action
of vitamin C. 3) Even if the vitamin C administration had been
continued, possibly a moderate rise would have occurred in the
late afternoon of the second day, granting a highly virulent
organism and a poorly resisting host. To determine which of
these deductions was valid, vitamin C was discontinued for a
period of eight hours. At this point the rectal temperature was
back up to 103.4. Vitamin C therapy was resumed and instead of
the expected 8 p.m. climb, the temperature was down to 99.2 (R)
eight hours later. The vitamin C injections were continued, the
baby made an uneventful recovery and was discharged 60 hours
following admission. No measles rash developed. Eighteen months
have elapsed since this illness and the child has not had
clinical measles. This is not due to the establishment of
active immunity but to the lack of a second exposure.

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Case 2 confirms the previous case. This case is that
of a 22-months-old infant with symptoms identical with that
just described. The same medication was followed; the same
clinical course followed. Under parental pressure the child was
discharged from the hospital within 36 hours, apparently well.
Four days later the child’s brother and sister broke out
with measles, which ran the usual course, having received no
specific therapy. Seven days later the 22-months child broke
out with measles. This time vitamin C was not given. The case
was judged as modified.

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The response as observed in measles was characteristic for
vitamin C versus virus infections. Two cases of virus
pneumonia complicated by encephalitis were so unusual that case
histories are given.

Case 3 is that of a colored woman, aged 28, with
history (given by a relative) of chills and fever and chest and
head cold for 14 days, severe headache for three days. In
stupor when first seen, eye lids closed, a white foam at the
mouth which she periodically tried to spit out. Temperature by
axilla 106.8 Dehydration was much in evidence, breath sounds
diminished to absent, tactile fremitus increased over the
entire right lung. The sulfa drugs, penicillin and streptomycin
with supportive treatment had been exhausted. Four grams of
vitamin C was given intravenously along with 1000 c.c. of 5 per
cent dextrose in saline solution. Temperature dropped to 100
(Ax.) within 11 hours. Four hours later, vitamin C was resumed
— every two to three hours, in dosage of 2 to 4 grams
depending upon the response. After 72 hours the patient was
awake, sitting up in bed and taking fluids freely by mouth.
There was no fever at this time, nor for the remainder of the
time in hospital. Vitamin C was continued for a period of two
weeks; the frequency was cut to every 12 hours, two grams at a
dose. An interesting complication was deafness; her speech gave
a, loud, monotonous, bell-sound effect. It was debated whether
this was the result of the streptomycin or to the encephalitis.
Prostigmin 1:2000, 1 c.c., and vitamin B1, 200 mgm.,
were given IM twice daily. On the tenth day of treatment the
hearing suddenly returned to normal. The x-ray picture of the
right lung was one of almost complete consolidation- Although
the patient was clinically well of her pneumonia, after 72
hours, the x-ray picture was not completely clear until 90 days
later.

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This phenomenon of Nature clearing the debris after killing
out the virus organism was observed in five other cases. The
time required was in direct proportion to the degree of
pulmonary involvement. There is nothing new about this
procedure; Nature merely duplicating a stage in the
metamorphosis of the frog in getting rid of its tadpole
tail.

Case 4, that of a white baby 19 months old, bothered
with a little cold for two weeks, not very sick until the last
24 hours, in which the baby had been “running a high
fever that could not be broken with aspirin.” Clonic
convulsive seizures of the right arm and leg began 12 hours
before admission. An undernourished infant, lying rigid in its
mother’s arms, skin cold to touch, color cadaver-like,
eyes closed, grade -2 mucopurulent nasal discharge, throat red.
The temperature was 103.8 (R). Breath and heart sounds
practically inaudible. Areas of skin over the back presented an
appearance similar to that seen in rigor mortis.

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Vitamin C, 1000 mg. was given IM, repeated every four to six
hours. At the first injection the baby did not move and the
sensation was like that of sticking an orange. To give rapid
external heat, mustard plasters were applied to the anterior
and posterior chest in a mixture of one part mustard to three
parts flour. A croup teat was set up, the vapor carrying
compound tincture benzoin; 50 c.c. of 5 per cent dextrose in
saline was given under the skin in the scapular areas. Two
hours after the first injection of vitamin C the baby drink 240
c.c. of orange juice, the first food of any type taken by the
baby in 24 hours. This was repeated 1½ hours
later. At this time there was total paralysis of the right arm
and leg. Twelve hours after admission the baby moved its right
leg and one hour later grasped a bottle of orange juice with
both hands. From this point on the recovery was uneventful. Of
secondary importance is the laboratory report of Ascaris
lumbricoides ova and hemoglobin 55 per cent.

Cases 5 and 6 are of pulmonary virus infection, (a)
in a boy of 14 years, and (b) in a man of 58 years. In the case
of the boy the fever curve was of the type showing a fast
response to heavy vitamin C injections. The WBC was 4,300,
urine sugar ++. Twenty-six grams of vitamin C was given IV to
this patient in a 44-hour period.

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In the case of the man, Case 6, the fever decline was
after a modified step-ladder fashion. In this instance the
amount of vitamin C injected was less than half of the
recommended dose. The WBC was 5,850, admission urine sugar +++.
Thirty-one grams of vitamin C was injected intravenously over a
period of 60 hours. It is to be noted that the same amount of
vitamin C (2 grams every four hours) was given to the boy and
to the man, disregarding the factor of body weight. Had the man
received four or five grams every four hours, or two grams
every two hours, his hospital course would probably have
followed the same pattern as that of the boy. A point of great
interest was that at subsequent examinations the urine was
consistently negative for sugar. The course in these cases
emphasizes the necessity of administering massive doses of
vitamin C at frequent, regular intervals so as to maintain the
proper level of this antibiotic in the tissues.

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(Administration of Vitamin C)

The amount of vitamin C for optimal effect will vary greatly
with the individual. The type of the disease and the degree of
toxemia are important guides in determining the dosage.
Although the usual dose of vitamin C is calculated on the basis
of 65 mgm. per Kg. of body weight, and given every two to four
hours by needle, under certain conditions larger single
injections can be used to good advantage. Vitamin C given to a
child with measles, mumps or chickenpox will abort or modify
the attack, depending upon the intensity of the treatment. If
the activity of the pathogen is stopped, the development of
active immunity will be interrupted. In handling these
particular childhood diseases, when uncomplicated, the
treatment should be aimed at modification of the infection as
the plan of choice. To accomplish this end vitamin C should be
increased to 250 mgm. per Kg. of body weight, and the injection
given intramuscularly. It will be necessary, at times, to
repeat with half of this amount eight hours later. The vitamin
was given in a concentration of 500 mg. per c.c. of solution.
Pain was slight and lasted only a few minutes. Procaine, 0.5 to
2 per cent, instilled from a second syringe into the gluteal
muscle through a placed needle just before giving the vitamin
might solve this problem. The itch of measles and of
chickenpox, the occasional vomiting of these illnesses, and the
pain of mumps were fully controlled within one hour, when 250
mg./Kg body weight was used. Instead of repeating waves of
macules in chickenpox, and the usual seven to nine days
required for crusting, following the heavy modifying injection
no new eruptions appeared and crusting was present within six
hours. Further clinical studies may prove that the routine use
of the higher dose (250 mg./Kg. body wt.) replacing the usual
(65 mg./Kg. body wt.) is indicated in all virus infections and
the results produced may be even more dramatic.


(Vitamin C and Poliomyelitis)

The greatest value of vitamin C in virus infections does not
rest with these lesser kinds of diseases, some of which, e.g.
measles, can be modified or prevented by the proper use of
immune globulin. The value above all others is its positive
action against the virus causing poliomyelitis. A report of
this usage was published in the official journal of this
association in 1949. Many physicians refuse to employ vitamin C
in the amounts suggested, simply because it is counter to their
fixed ideas of what is reasonable; but it is not against their
reason to try some new product being advertised by an alert
drug firm. It is difficult for me to reconcile these two
attitudes. On the other hand, many physicians who have been
willing to try vitamin C against the virus of poliomyelitis
have obtained the same striking results as we reported. Scores
of letters from practitioners here in the United States and in
Canada could be presented in evidence. In some instances
doctors have cured their own children of poliomyelitis by
giving vitamin C and in other cases doctors themselves have
been cured.

In poliomyelitis vitamin C performs three important
functions: 1) It destroys the virus; 2) acting as the
dehydrator and diuretic of first choice, it removes the edema
fluid from the brain and the cord; 3) it preserves the lining
of the central canal and maintains more regular spacing and
less crowding of the ependymal cells (Altman). The pressure
within the bony vault of the central nervous system resulting
from the inflammatory process excited by the virus, acts as a
haemostat to cut off the blood supply to the anterior horn
cells. This compression of their vessels denies to the horn
cells the essentials for function, for life even.


(Case Histories II)

It is of more than academic interest to review the findings
of McCormick in 50 confirmed cases of poliomyelitis in
and around Toronto, Canada, during the epidemic of 1949. This
report is that children of families eating brown bread who came
down with poliomyelitis did not develop paralysis; whereas in
those families eating white bread many of the children having
poliomyelitis did develop paralysis. The point here is that
brown bread has 28 times more vitamin B1 than does
white bread. Obviously, then, the paralysis which complicates
acute poliomyelitis appears to be due to a B1
avitaminosis. Vitamin C by removing edema fluid relieves from
pressure these vessels that supply nutriment to the horn cells,
thus allowing the normal complement of vitamin B1 to
reach these cells.

In December, 1949, a 5-year-old white girl, was brought to
my office with paralysis of both lower extremities of
4½ days’ duration. The child had been ill
for 12 days. There was complete flaccid paralysis of the right
leg, 85 per cent paralysis of the left leg. Pain was directed
to the knee and to the lumbar back. In hospital the diagnosis
of poliomyelitis was confirmed by four consulting physicians.
Spinal fluid cells were 82. No medication of any type was given
exclusive of vitamin C. Massage was started immediately. The
rationale of using early massage had two bases: 1) In the
course of general practice patients would give a history of
having had poliomyelitis when a child and that their mother
rubbed the paralyzed member day and night until function
returned. 2) That paralyzed muscle was in profound shock and
“artificial respiration” would maintain proper
metabolism during the emergency phase. To the first injection
of vitamin C there was definite response. After 96 hours the
child was moving both legs. The flexion was slow and
deliberate. She was discharged from the hospital at this time,
vitamin C being continued by mouth — 1000 mg. every two
hours with fruit juice for seven days. On the 11th day of
treatment the child was walking about the house, but her gait
was slow and her posture was poor, being bent forward. Vitamin
C was discontinued and vitamin B1 started — 10
mg. before meals and bed hour. Carbonated drinks were
encouraged for their sugar content and mild stimulating action.
Nineteen days after starting treatment there was complete
return of sensory and motor function which has persisted to
this date.

A boy of eight years was brought to my office with a history
of having had “flu” for a week, and four days
previously having developed photophobia, conjunctivitis, sore
throat, nausea, vomiting and a back-of-the-eyes type headache
of such intensity that adult doses of aspirin had no effect.
The boy was either rubbing his neck on the left side or holding
his head between his hands, begging for something to relieve
his pain. The fever was 104.4 (Ax.). He was tender in the
lumbar region and he had a drawing sensation referred to the
hamstring attachments at the knee. Two grams of vitamin C was
given IV while in the office. He was then sent to the local
hospital where he received promptly a second injection of 2
grams of the vitamin, after which it was given every four
hours. Six hours after commencing therapy the neck pain was
gone, the headache completely relieved, he could tolerate the
ceiling light, his eyes were dry and the redness clearing.
Nausea and vomiting had disappeared, the fever was down to
100.6 (Ax.), and he was sitting up in bed in a jovial mood
while he drank a carbonated beverage. He was discharged from
the hospital after receiving 26 grams of the vitamin in a
48-hour period, clinically well. Vitamin C was continued by
mouth, 1500 m.g. every two hours with fruit juice for one week,
then change was made to vitamin B1, 25 mg. before
meals and bed hour. Vitamin B1 in these cases should
be continued for a period of no less than three months as nerve
tissue is slow in recovering from damage.

In using vitamin C as an antibiotic minor complications were occasionally seen. These
fall into six groups:

  1. Diarrhea in two cases. In each instance the preparation
    contained sodium bisulfate. The enteritis cleared on giving
    a preparation of vitamin C not containing this salt.
  2. Induration in 42 cases — seen either immediately
    following the injection (allergy), or delayed. In the
    latter it was found that the injections were being given
    too close the surface. Applications of warm magnesium
    sulfate as a compress gave prompt relief of the pain and
    swelling. In two of these cases fluctuation ensued and
    healing was effected by surgical drainage and the
    application of compresses. The impression in these two
    cases was that a vein had been opened by the needle. The
    exudate was dark and both the slide and culture studies
    were negative for bacteria.
  3. Endothelial irritation in three cases. Acute pain
    radiated from the site of the injection to the shoulder. In
    each instance the concentration of the vitamin was one gram
    to each 5 c.c. solution and the amount given exceeded two
    grams. After slowing the rate of injection this reaction
    did not occur.
  4. Venous thrombosis in one case. The concentration was
    500 mg. per c.c. solution; the total dose 5 cc. Compressing
    relieved the pain. The pathology was very similar to that
    following the use of 50 per cent dextrose solution.
  5. Syncope — In maximum doses given IV a sensation
    of fainting and dyspnea occurred seven times. Five of these
    patients were over 55 years of age. The disagreeable
    symptoms were relieved by slowing the speed of the
    injections.
  6. Rash — In three cases a pin-point dermatitis
    occurred, limited to the face and upper third of the torso,
    identical to that seen in infants taking orange juice. This
    did not necessitate discontinuance of therapy and cleared
    spontaneously several days after vitamin C was
    stopped.

Calcium, in vivo, duplicates the chemical behavior of
vitamin C in many respects. Calcium gluconate and calcium
lexulinate were used in conjunction with vitamin C therapy in a
small series of pulmonary virus infections and in mild cases of
influenza. There was a definite synergistic response. Patients
witch colds derived most benefit from this combined treatment.
Because of its action on cardiac muscle, the use of calcium was
limited to adults and the amount injected to two grams per day.
One gram administered IV at moderate speed will so slow the
heart as in many cases to produce syncope. If the concentration
becomes great enough cardiac arrest in a tonically contracted
state might result. It is, however, quite possible that, with
the proper ionic balance of calcium and vitamin C in the same
solution, larger amounts could be given without side effects.
The massive dose schedule limits the usefulness of the calcium
ion in virus diseases to that of an adjuvant only.


(Of Vitamin C and
Hyperglycemia/Diabetes)

In all of the cases of virus infection reviewed in this
study one laboratory finding stood out as of great
significance. On admission to the hospital the first routine
urine examination showed some degree of glycosuria. The pattern
of the qualitative Benedict’s reaction was constant
enough to postulate that the higher the reading the more severe
was the pathology. Repeat urine sugar studies following vitamin
C therapy revealed complete clearing. This was true even though
fruit juices were forced to tolerance. This finding confirmed
the knowledge that interference with the normal physiology of
the adrenal glands, either by the toxins produced by
microörganisms or by surgery, has a profound influence on
metabolism, especially of the carbohydrates. Adrenalin in the
blood stream causes hyperglycemia with resulting glycosuria.
Adrenalin acts either by stimulation of the sympathetic nervous
system or directly via the blood. This action of adrenalin is
via the blood only, because the effect, as demonstrated in
experimental animals, is still realized after destruction of
the cord and sympathetic plexuses and degeneration of the
peripheral post-ganglionic fibers (Evans, 1930). The glycosuria
found in these cases was not due to a lowering of the threshold
for sugar excretion by the kidney, paralleling a phloridzin
diabetes, since the carbohydrate mechanism was associated with
a hyperglycemia (Zuelzer, 1901, Metzger, 1902, Paten, 1903).
Likewise there was no evidence of kidney damage. Albumin was
reported negative and the microscopic examination showed no
cells or casts. Apparently this is a condition of artificial
diabetes mellitus, which would suggest the answer for the
diabetic who loses ability to maintain sugar-insulin balance
when embarrassed with an acute infection.

The story of a 7-year-old boy may have a lesson. He has been
known to be diabetic since the age of four years. Any incident
of infection in this lad produced an alarming interference of
his sugar-insulin-diet equilibrium. Recently he contracted
measles, and as the disease process developed toward its height
the urine sugar curve swung sharply upward. From an occasional
dose of 5 units regular insulin his requirement rose to 30
units regular insulin, three times each day, while still
running a 3- or 4-plus Benedict’s test. (Other forms of
insulin proved by trial to be too dangerous.) At the peak of
his infection vitamin C was started in a modifying dose of one
gram every four hours. His general condition soon improved and
in the course of several days he returned to his usual
diet-insulin schedule and his usual urine sugar. In patients
with diabetes, vitamin C should be discontinued just as soon as
the temperature returns to normal. Prolonged use of vitamin C
might prove undesirable due to its dehydrating and diuretic
powers.

The pathologic process at work here is only compatible with
abnormal amounts of adrenalin in the blood stream. It is not a
response to an emotional stimulus to the adrenal medulla, since
free adrenalin in the circulating blood has a transitory
action, being so rapidly oxidized that none gets into the
urine. This suggested that the regulator of the adrenalin
mechanism had been removed, so that a constant supply of
adrenalin would be present in the blood, making possible a
concentration sufficiently high to cause constant
vasoconstriction. Ritzmarm (1909) found that adrenalin affected
carbohydrate metabolism only when this vasoconstriction phase
existed. This finding was concurred in by Lusk (1914), who
further concluded that this action on blood vessels caused
asphyxia of the tissues which tended to increase the acidity of
the blood and the tissues. This superimposed acidity further
promotes the production of adrenalin hyperglycemia (Peters and
Geyelin, 1917). McDannell and Underhill (1919), studying these
phenomena in rabbits, found that slight hyperglycemia could be
controlled by the administration of sodium carbonate.

The rationale of forcing fruit juices in the old treatment
of colds was based on this theory as postulated by Holey et al.
(1936) that a highly alkaline urine would have lower amounts of
vitamin C than a highly acid urine; the alkaline ash from the
organic acids serving to retain the vitamin C in the blood and
tissues where Nature had assigned it to guard against the many
enemies of the body — the toxins and ferments of
bacteria. As a result of avitaminosis C, liver glycogen is
mobilized — glycogenolysis; and further storing of sugar
in the liver is prevented — glycogenesis (Mackenzie,
1917). To further enhance the hyperglycemia this
vasoconstriction brings about a decrease in the pancreatic
secretions by lessening the amount of blood passing through the
gland (Mann and McLachlan, 1917).

That the adrenal glands and vitamin C are closely allied in
the defense of the body has been proven by experimentation and
by autopsy. In normal persons any excess of vitamin C is
excreted in the urine. In persons suffering with an acute
infection, particularly a virus infection, vitamin C is not
only absent from the urine but is also missing from the blood
serum. This is true even when moderate amounts are given
intravenously. These observations on serum were made with a
Klett-Summerson photoelectric colorimeter using the method
described by Mindlin and Butler. The observations on the urine
were conducted according to the instructions of Goldsmith and
Ellenger. Horde and Benjamin (1934-35) found the vitamin C
fraction of the adrenal glands greatly reduced in monkeys
killed or paralyzed by the virus of poliomyelitis. Yavorsky,
Almoden and King (1934) reported identical findings in humans
having died of various infectious agents.


(Vitamin C in Virus Diseases)

This gives us an important concept of the value of vitamin C
in virus diseases. The explanation for the absence of vitamin C
in the infectious states is that this agent joins with the
toxin and/or virus to form a new compound which is then
destroyed by oxidation. Since the body is dependent on food for
vitamin C to meet its daily needs, it is obvious that the body
tissues would soon be depleted, and we would expect to find
evidence of a prescorbutic state in patients who had
hypovitaminosis C. In patients seriously ill with a virus
invader, the added strain on the capillaries by the application
of a tourniquet, even for a few seconds, produced petechial
hemorrhages at the site of constriction. Since not all patients
thus demonstrated this capillary weakness, all patients ill
with a virus infection were investigated by the aid of a
petechiomcter. Increased capillary fragility was found to exist
in all cases, and the number of petechiae as expressed in
centimeters of mercury followed the urine sugar findings. This
deficiency syndrome was reversed as the glycosuria cleared,
indicating that both were responsive to a proper plasma level
for vitamin C.

At this same time the anaerobic conditions in the tissues
will be relieved by the catalytic action of vitamin C acting as
a gas transport to aid this cellular respiration. The abnormal
acidity of the blood and tissues will be removed and abnormal
amounts of free adrenalin will disappear from the blood stream.
Following this .the constriction of the blood vessels will
cease, allowing the liver and pancreatic tissue to return to
normal function. Continuance of frequent injections of properly
calculated doses of vitamin C will restore the normal
physiology of the body. This is not all of the story.

Lojkin (1937), studying the various phases of the
inactivation of crystalline tobacco mosaic virus by L-ascorbic
acid, suggested that the action was not due to reduced vitamin
C nor to the irreversibly oxidized dehydroascorbic acid. Lojkin
felt that it was due to a specific intermediate product which
is formed in the course of the catalytic auto-oxidation of
vitamin C, an action stimulated by the presence of copper ions.
This intermediate product must be a peroxide because a peroxide
is formed during copper-catalyzed oxidation of vitamin C. This
peroxide is decomposed as rapidly as it is formed (Barrow, De
Meio, Klemperer, 1935-36). Lyman and associates (1937)
confirmed the peroxide theory by observing that the oxygen
uptake, beyond that calculated for the reaction ascorbic acid
to dehydroascorbic acid, was not due to further oxidation of
dehydroascorbic acid to an irreversible oxidation product,
because treatment of the oxidized solution with hydrogen
sulfide gave complete recovery of the ascorbic acid. These men
also found that copper catalysis accelerates not only the
reversible oxidation of vitamin C, but also further oxidation
of dehydroascorbic acid. This action of the copper ion
elucidates the findings that vitamin C in massive, frequent
doses works better in the body than in a laboratory test
tube.

Hippocrates declared the highest duty of medicine to be to
get the patient well. He further declared that, of several
remedies physicians should choose the least sensational.
Vitamin C would seem to meet both these requirements.


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