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Vitamin C - Last Interview With Dr. Pauling
Michael Lam, MD, MPH
pouring over hundreds of scientific articles on Vitamin C for many years,
there is little doubt in my mind that Vitamin C works well in reducing oxidative
stress. From cancer to cardiovascular disease, Vitamin C has its curative
Dr. Linus Pauling is a two time Nobel Laureate. He spend
25 years researching Vitamin C. This is his last interview before death
at the age of 93. Dr. Pauling attributed the last 18 years of his life to
Vitamin C supplementation. He is called the Father of Vitamin C
This is a must-read
for anyone interested in anti-aging health and longevity.
Q: Now you are recommending Vitamin C and lysine for the
treatment of cardiovascular disease.
How exactly does lysine help to prevent cardiovascular disease?
Many investigators contributed to showing that lipoprotein A is what is
deposited in plaques, not just LDL, but lipoprotein A. If you have more
than 20mg/dI in your blood it begins depositing plaques and atherosclerosis
so the question then is what causes lipoprotein A to stick to the wall of
the artery and cause these plaques?
Well countless biochemists and other chemists are pretty smart people and
they discovered what it is in the wall of the artery that causes lipoprotein
A to get stuck to the wall of the artery and form atherosclerotic plaques
and ultimately lead to heart disease, strokes and peripheral arterial disease.
The answer is there is a particular amino acid in a protein in the wall
of the artery - lysine, which is one of the twenty amino acids that binds
the lipoprotein A and causes atherosclerotic plaques to develop. I think
it is a very important discovery.
Well, now, if you know that there are residues of lysine, lysyl residues,
that hold the lipoprotein A to the wall of the artery and cause hardening
of the arteries, then any chemist, any physical chemist would say at once
that the thing to do is to prevent that by puffing the amino acid lysine
in the blood to greater extent than is normally.
Of course you get lysine normally in your food. Meat in particular contains
a good bit of lysine.
And you need lysine to be alive, it is an essential amino acid, you have
to get about a gram a day to keep in protein balance, but you can take lysine,
pure lysine, a perfectly non toxic substance in food, as 500 mg tablets
and that puts extra lysine molecules in the blood.They enter into competition with the lysyl residues
on the wall of artery and accordingly count to prevent the lipoproteinA
from being deposited or even will work to pull it loose and destroy the
Q: Do you think the treatment of lysine and Vitamin C can
reverse the atherosclerotic process?
think so. Yes. Now I've got to the point where I think we can get almost
complete control of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes by
the proper use of Vitamin C and lysine.
It can prevent cardiovascular disease and even cure it.
If you are at risk of heart disease, or if there is a history of heart disease
in your family, if your father or other members of the family died of a
heart attack or stroke or whatever, or if you have a mild heart attack yourself
then you had better be taking Vitamin C and lysine.
Q When you published 'Vitamin C and the Common Cold' what
did you expect that to do to medical thinking?
When my book was published near the end of 1970, I thought the medical profession
and ordinary people would be pleased. They would be pleased that they no
longer were suffering the miseries of the common cold and related diseases
and the physicians would be pleased in that they were no longer bothered
by patients with the common cold for which they didn't have any very good
treatment anyway, but could concentrate on more serious illnesses.
So I was astonished at the reception that I got when the Professor of Medicine
at Mount Sinai College of Medicine wrote to me complaining about my statement
that Vitamin C, three grams a day would provide considerable protection
against the common cold.
I checked the medical literature to find what evidence there was at that
time. I found four controlled trials, recently well conducted trials, involving
what I would describe now as rather small amounts of Vitamin C per day of
between 200 mg and a 1,000 mg per day. I think that the best one of these
four early trials was done by Dr Ritzel, the physician for the school system
in Basle, Switzerland.
He gave 270 schoolboys at a winter ski camp either a gram of Vitamin C per
day, in a capsule or a placebo. It was a randomized double-blind, controlled
trial and with each boy the nurse made sure that the boys swallowed the
capsule so that he didn't have the trouble that other investigators have
of the boys, boys especially, not swallowing the capsule.
Instead, trading them back and forth so that you, the investigators, didn't
know which one had received the Vitamin C and which the placebo.
The result was 63 per cent less illness with the common cold for the boys
who received the Vitamin C compared to those who received the placebo.
Well, this was a very good trial.
In a paper by a professor of medicine at the University of Helsinki, Finland
about Vitamin C and the common cold, he mentioned the publication of my
book and said that he had decided to check the medical literature to find
out how many studies had been carried out since 1970 on the effectiveness
of vitamin C against the common cold.
He decided that he would accept only studies in which at least 1 gram a
day of Vitamin C was given, some of the studies involved 2 grams, perhaps
one involved 3 grams a day but mostly they were 1 gram a day of Vitamin
C in which a placebo was given to half of the subjects and the studies that
were randomized and double-blind so that neither the physicians nor the
subjects knew which persons were getting the Vitamin C.
He found 38 clinical trials had been carried out since 1970 satisfying these
requirements. 37 of the 38 trials lead to the conclusion that Vitamin C
had a protective effect greater than the placebo and a number of these,
a dozen of these clinical trials had high statistical significance at 99.9
per cent confidence level and that the result wasn't just a statistical
fluctuation, a chance result.
There is no doubt now that Vitamin C in large doses has value against the
My recommendation is not 1 gram a day,
or 2 grams a day of Vitamin C but at the first sign of a cold, take a gram
of vitamin C or 2 grams and then an hour later, if the symptoms still exist
- if you're still sneezing, or your nose is running or feel shivery, take
another 1 or 2 grams of Vitamin C. Keep doing that until you forget because the symptoms have gone
away and this will stop a cold in almost every person who follows the regimen.
Q: What do you feel about the major criticism that anything
over 100mg of Vitamin C is a waste of money and goes down the drain because
It's eliminated by the body?
The evidence shows that this is just not true. I myself, twenty years ago
or more, read this statement, probably made by Fred Stare, professor then
at Harvard School of Public Health, and I decided to check.
I was taking 10 grams per day of Vitamin C. I collected my urine for 24
hours and analyzed it myself for the Vitamin C content.
Instead of nearly 10,000 mg being eliminated
in the urine, 9850 mg, I found only 1,500 mg, 15 per cent of the dose that
I was taking during this trial, so the statement just is not true.
Of course, some of the ingested ascorbate remains in the intestinal contents
and doesn't get into the blood stream. It may be as much as a third.
Some evidence indicates that perhaps as much as a third remains in the intestinal
contents. Well, this does good, protecting the lower bowel against cancer
by destroying carcinogens that are present in the fecal material and also
does good because of the laxative effect of bringing water into the bowel
so that the volume of the waste material is larger.
There's also a smaller surface area which helps speed up the process of
elimination of this material. The rest of it, two thirds perhaps 6.5 grams
when I was taking 10 grams a day, gets into the blood stream but only 1.5
grams is eliminated in the urine.
So we can ask what happens to the other 5 grams? The answer I'm sure, in
fact we have direct experimental evidence for it, is that Vitamin C is rapidly
converted into other substances, oxidation products and these other substances,
these oxidation products have been shown to have greater value against cancer
than Vitamin C itself.
So if you take large doses of Vitamin C you produce large amounts of these
other substances, the value of which is still under investigation. We have
been studying it for fifteen years.
Q: Why has your work on nutrients been countered? Is It
ignorance, is It prestige, is It money interests? Why Is It being suppressed?
Well I have thought about that a great deal. Most scientists in general
have accepted my idea and ideas of other pioneers. Of course I took over
my ideas mainly from Irwin Stone and other early investigators of Vitamin
C. So scientists have said usually "Well Linus Pauling has been right
so often in the past, he's probably right about this too".
But then an ordinary physician, has the duty of dividing his time and energy
for the proper care of his patients. He doesn't have time to read the literature,
the scientific and medical literature, and think about a question such as
whether there is something new and significant that has been discovered.
He has to rely on medical and nutritional authorities and I blame them for
having been lazy and biased, and not really willing to keep up with new
But why are they biased?
Well I decided, 40 or 50 years ago, that when they were trying to understand
the action of drugs and also of nutrients, they realized that you give a
drug in the amount as large as possible so that its toxicity does not kill
a patient in the hope that it will save the patient's life. And there are
certain drugs that have great value in protecting against certain diseases.
There is no doubt that these drugs have great value. Doctors and investigators
have worked hard to determine what the proper dose of a drug is. Now with
vitamin C for example, I am sure they said we know what Vitamin C does.
It keeps people from dying from scurvy and investigators have studied human
beings enough to know how much Vitamin C they need to give in order to prevent
the development of scurvy.
It isn't much, just a little pinch each day so they say we know the answer
with vitamins just as with drugs. And the answers are the RDAs, 60 mg a
day of vitamin C to prevent scurvy, and 2mg of a day of thiamin, vitamin
B1, to prevent beriberi and so on. What they did not do was to ask this
question: here is a substance which has no known toxicity, which can
be taken in 1000 times the RDA, the amount that stops people developing
scurvy, without causing harm to a person.
Is there a possibility that very large doses of Vitamin
C and the B vitamins and Vitamin A, beta carotene and Vitamin E, would have
much additional value in improving the health of the people?
Twenty five years ago, when I became interested in vitamins, it was just
that question that interested me. I looked in the medical and nutritional
literature to find out how much Vitamin C a person should take in order
to be in the best health, perhaps to control diseases other than scurvy.
I couldn't find anything and the result, of course, is for 25 years I have
devoted much of my life and time and energy trying to find the answer to
the. question - how much of these very powerful and important substances
should we take to be in the best of health?
Q: How would you compare your vision of orthomolecular
medicine and conventional medicine?
One of my colleagues in the field of orthomolecular medicine invented the
word 'toximolecular' medicine to describe conventional medicine and this
seems to me to be good in that conventional medical practice relies heavily
on drugs, all of which essentially are toxic substances.
It's hard for me to think of an example
of a drug that is like the vitamins in having nearly zero toxicity. With
aspirin, some patients with severe arthritis are advised by the physician
to take as much as 10 grams of aspirin a day and it's my memory that the
LD50, the amount that would kill 50 per cent of patients, is 28 grams of
aspirin and that's why many people commit suicide by taking an overdose,
a whole bottle full aspirin tablets. So I think that's a good description
of conventional medicine.
I'm not against drugs when they are properly used and have said so over
and over again.
We advocate for every patient with cancer taking high doses of Vitamin C
as an adjunct to appropriate conventional therapy and I agree with Dr Cameron
that surgery - he was a surgeon - surgery is often the best treatment for
a malignant condition if the malignant tumor can be removed and sometimes,
for a few kinds of cancer, chemotherapy is known to have much value and,
for some kinds, high energy radiation has value even though chemotherapy
and high energy radiation have pretty serious side effects, are damaging
to the body as a whole, nevertheless, the benefit may outweigh the disadvantages.
Q: How do you decide how much Vitamin C Is right for you
and, If you take 3 grams should It be split throughout the day?
In my opinion adults should be taking at least 2
grams a day. There is much evidence about increased health with
2 grams a day, and of course even more with 4 or 6 grams a day. Even an
extra 60mg had been shown to add value in cutting down the death rate from
heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Now my feeling is as people grow
older they ought to be increasing their Vitamin C and perhaps they should
follow the policy that I have followed of increasing the intake.
can be either one chunk, one dose in the
morning, or even better three doses throughout the day, increasing
the intake until a laxative effect is observed, speeding up the rate of
elimination of waste material from the bowel. So my suggestion is every
person who wants to have the best of health should increase the intake of
Vitamin C to somewhat less than the amount that causes significant looseness
of the bowel.
Q: How do you think your opponents will remember you?
Molecular biologists will of course remember me as one of the founders of
molecular biology, and chemists in general will remember me as one of the
founders of modern chemistry, changing it from a pretty descriptive to a
far more rational sort of science, and physicians will remember me as having
been at least in part, responsible for the revolution in medicine in which
there is a great improvement in human health and in control of disease through
the use of Vitamin C and other vitamins. This will include my opponents,
although the opponents may have died off by that time.
Excerpts from interviews with Tony Edwards for QED BBC Television, and with
Patrick Holford at the Power of Prevention conference.
Message from Dr. Lam
I hope you have enjoyed reading this article. If you have areas you don't understand,
or if you have a specific health concern, feel free to write to me by
About The Author
Michael Lam, M.D., M.P.H., A.B.A.A.M., is a western trained physician specializing in nutritional and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Lam received his Bachelor of Science degree from Oregon State University, and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the Loma Linda University School of Medicine in California. He also holds a Master’s degree in Public Health. He is board certified by the American Board of Anti-Aging Medicine where he has also served as a board examiner. Dr. Lam is a pioneer in using nontoxic, natural compounds to promote the healing of many age-related degenerative conditions. He utilizes optimum blends of nutritional supplementation that manipulate food, vitamins, natural hormones, herbs, enzymes, and minerals into specific protocols to rejuvenate cellular function.
Dr. Lam was first to coin the term, ovarian-adrenal-thyroid (OAT) hormone axis, and to describe its imbalances. He was first to scientifically tie in Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) as part of the overall neuroendocrine stress response continuum of the body. He systematized the clinical significance and coined the various phases of Adrenal Exhaustion. He has written five books: Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome - Reclaim Your Energy and Vitality with Clinically Proven Natural Programs, The Five Proven Secrets to Longevity, Beating Cancer with Natural Medicine (Free PDF version), How to Stay Young and Live Longer, and Estrogen Dominance. In 2001, Dr. Lam established www.DrLam.com as a free, educational website on evidence-based alternative medicine for the public and for health professionals. It featured the world’s most comprehensive library on AFS. Provided free as a public service, he has answered countless questions through the website on alternative health and AFS. His personal, telephone-based nutritional coaching services have enabled many around the world to regain control of their health using natural therapies.
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