Q: If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and could only take one nutritional or herbal substance with you, what would you choose?
A: Without a doubt, the substance I choose is essential to immune function. Humans don’t produce this vital substance, and our adrenal glands require massive amounts of it when under stress. We can get enough from our diet to prevent scurvy, but we need to ingest much more to allow for optimal tissue repair, and graceful ageing. Can you guess? It’s Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, or for you chemistry buffs, C6-H8-O6. I mention the chemical structure because the resemblance to glucose, which is the end product of food digestion, allows a glimpse into the significance of Vitamin C. The process of digestion breaks down all the macronutrients (carbs, fats and proteins) to glucose, ultimately, because glucose is the micro-unit of fuel used by the mitochondria to produce the main energy driver for all living things: ATP (adenosine triphosphate) — which is for your body like the gas in your car — makes it go! The structure of glucose is C6-H12-O6 — 4 more hydrogen atoms than Vitamin C. Weirdly, humans lack the enzyme which cleaves the final hydrogen away from glucose, and unlike almost all other mammals, humans cannot convert glucose to Vitamin C. Most all other mammals (except monkeys and guinea pigs), when stressed, injured or diseased, massively convert glucose to Vitamin C for the purposes of adrenal support, tissue repair and white blood cell (phagocyte) effectiveness in “chomping” pathogenic microbes. Because humans cannot produce Vitamin C, we must eat it. Relatively small doses are needed for our day to day needs (maybe as low as the RDA of 65mg) so that we don’t get scurvy. Scurvy is a nasty disease which causes bleeding gums, easy bruising, and profound depression, which caused many thousands of British sailors to die in the days when Britannia ruled the seas. It is reasonable to speculate that the fall of the British Empire was in large part due to the demise of its once formidable navy. By the time the British government realized that giving sailors a daily ration of a lemon or a lime, it was too late. Too many men had died of the full blown expression of scurvy.
Scurvy is a type of inflammation, where damage is happening too fast for the limitations of our natural repair mechanisms. Many modern diseases fulminate under the ravages of inflammation. Examples include auto-immune diseases (where the immune system goes haywire because of the toxic burden of an increasingly chemical and plastic planet) or diseases caused by superbugs created by antibiotic resistance. The way Vitamin C works to hasten the resolution of much human suffering, from the common cold, to treating cancer, to amazingly healing third degree burns, is by donating high energy electrons to neutralize the “free radicals” which are the harbingers of tissue damage, and ageing, at a microscopic level.
For those interested in deep Vitamin C research, look for publications on the subject by Linus Pauling PhD, Irwin Stone PhD and Robert Cathcart MD. http://web.archive.org/web/20130302070632/http://www.orthomed.com/
Cathcart provides good evidence that the sicker or more toxic a person is, the more Vitamin C they can absorb without getting loose stools. When you are healthy, eating a high fiber, high veggie diet, and pooping happily every day, your body is less stressed and your Vitamin C requirements relax. High doses (above 4-5 grams daily) of Vitamin C given to a healthy person typically produce looser stools. However, if the immune system is ramped up to combat illness or injury, digestion is not prioritized. When a person is ill, or requires additional nutrition for tissue repair, what sounds like enormous amounts (up to 100 grams, not milligrams) of Vitamin C can be absorbed within a 24 hour period. This strategy is to be commended over any number of other more toxic, more expensive and less effective methods used in emergency rooms and cancer clinics every day. Contrary to popular belief, Vitamin C does not cause kidney stones, unless you are a dialysis patient, in which case the possibility of kidney stones with high levels of any nutrient (calcium, oxalic acid, nitrogen, etc) will increase. There are no known adverse interactions with Vitamin C and any drug or other natural medicine.
Vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen. All tissue in the body is made of collagen. Vitamin C is essential for the production of norepinephrine, which can be thought of as a souped-up version of epinephrine, the neuro-hormone which triggers the responses to protect (‘fight or flight”) against danger. Vitamin C is found in the body in high concentrations in the lymphocytes (white blood cells) and adrenal glands. Vitamin C requirements increase significantly under all forms of physical, mental and emotional stress. Reams of published research attests to the healing properties of Vitamin C in human diseases too numerous to list here, but including asthma, atherosclerosis, all types of cancer, diabetes, high triglycerides, Parkinson’s disease, pre-eclampsia, and ulcers (gastric and decubitus). Most research concurs that Vitamin C significantly reduces death rates from all causes. People with the highest levels of tissue ascorbic acid have half the risk of premature death (before age 65). (Lancet, March 2001). Unfortunately, a large proportion of conventionally trained healthcare personnel remain ideologically incapable of comprehending research that does not favor pharmaceutical approaches to “healthcare.” Peruse the resources I have suggested here, and decide for yourself.
Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits and in berries. The highest berry source is the Acerola “cherry.” It takes about 25 “cherries” to get 2000 mg (2 grams) of Vitamin C. A 6 ounce glass of fresh orange juice contains less than 100 mg of Vitamin C — more or less the RDA. When taken from food sources, fresh is best because the Vic C levels rapidly diminish within a few hours of being exposed to the air. Vegetables relatively high in Vitamin C include broccoli, peppers, potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Most commercial Vitamin C is derived from corn (no DNA is involved, so GMO is not an issue) but can also be found derived from sago palm, or tapioca (cassava). Many commercial brands of Vitamin C add bioflavonoids, which is a great idea because they increase nutritional value, and increase absorption of the ascorbic acid.
I prefer Vitamin C powder made in a lab under controlled methodology because it is much more stable with a nearly indefinite shelf life, and is inexpensive. I have worked up to taking about 5 grams (5000 mg) of Vitamin C daily. If I were to fall ill, I would take more, until stools become loose. I advise using a “buffered” Vitamin C — all that means is that alkalinizing minerals (usually calcium and magnesium) are put in with the ascorbic acid to render the blend pH neutral. A buffered C is easier on the stomach, and absorbs better when taken orally. For those who are really ill, and massive doses of Vitamin C are required, the intravenous method is more effective.