Dynamic flow: resolving the vitamin C controversy
28 Jun 2004
Source: Medical New Today
“The dynamic flow model is the most important result in the history of vitamin C”
The Vitamin C Foundation
Ten years after the death of Linus Pauling, a new scientific model validates his ideas and resolves the vitamin C controversy. It explains how vitamin C can prevent, treat or cure the major diseases of modern times.
This year is the tenth anniversary of the death of Linus Pauling. Pauling was one of the greatest scientists who ever lived: a colossus of chemistry. In his early years, he revolutionised chemistry before moving on to biology and medicine.
He was the only person ever to win two unshared Nobel Prizes and gained many respected awards for medical science. Maurice Wilkins, who shared with Crick and Watson the Nobel Prize for discovering the structure of DNA, called him “god-like, superhuman”.
Then something went wrong: the medical establishment branded Pauling a quack and a charlatan. His crime was to publish a book on vitamin C and the common cold.
This challenge by the medical authorities stimulated Pauling into action. He responded with a series of scientific papers and books, in which he explained that vitamin C cured everything from heart disease to cancer.
The medical experts closed ranks. They performed some preliminary experiments, which appeared to show that vitamin C had little effect on the common cold and no effect on cancer. As far as the medical establishment was concerned, these experiments proved the case against Pauling.
As a result, conventional experts began to disparage vitamin supplements in favour of fruits and vegetables.
As Pauling’s tenth anniversary approached, Drs Steve Hickey and Hilary Roberts decided to reconsider this controversial vitamin. If Pauling was wrong then, by now, the evidence should be relatively easy to uncover. Perhaps they could find out where he and other scientists making wild claims for vitamin C had gone astray. After an exhaustive review of the literature, they published their findings, in the book “Ascorbate: The Science of Vitamin C”.
The book describes the history of vitamin C research, starting with James Lind’s classic 1747 experiment on scurvy: a turning point in the application of science to medicine. Hickey and Roberts use this simple experiment to illustrate how science works. By separating real science from pseudo-science, they show that the medical establishment has come to value pathological science more highly than solid, replicable experiments.
Conventional medicine has called for proof of the benefits of vitamin C. Those making such demands seem to have forgotten that there is no such thing as proof in science: science works by showing that ideas are wrong. Innovation can always be stifled with a claim that there is no scientific proof, no matter how strong the evidence.
However, if the claims for vitamin C are correct, it might replace many lucrative and expensive medications. As they researched the book, Hickey and Roberts began to wonder if Pauling’s offence had been to discuss openly the properties of a substance that threatens the profitability of medicine.
Using basic scientific principles, the book shows that the research underlying the establishment disdain of vitamin supplementation is misleading and flawed.
The common recommendation, that supplements are redundant for people who consume five daily portions of fruit and vegetables, is based on a misinterpretation of the research. Indeed, over the last half a century, medicine’s failure to understand how the body uses the vitamin has hindered progress.
The prevailing consensus seemed to be that the only effect of vitamin C in human beings is to prevent scurvy.
This book re-evaluates the evidence and introduces a new understanding for the action of vitamin C, the dynamic flow model. In the light of the new model, the controversy is resolved. According to this idea, humans need a constant, dynamic flow of ascorbate through the body. Different forms of physical stress, damage or infections cause free radicals to attack body tissues. If sufficient vitamin C is available at the time, it quenches the damage, by donating electrons to neutralise the free radicals. If not, the free radicals wreak havoc with the molecules of our bodies.
In evolutionary terms, humans are odd, as they are one of the few animals unable to make their own vitamin C. Most animals and plants need and produce large amounts of ascorbate, as and when they need it, to counteract oxidation damage.
The reason a cat does not get heart disease, despite living on a diet high in meat and cholesterol, is that cats make their own vitamin C. Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant which humans are unable to produce: if they do not get it in their diet, they die. Unlike cats, people die of heart attacks because they suffer chronic, low-level scurvy.
Based on the evidence presented in this book, Dr Hickey has demanded that the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), governments and the Linus Pauling Institute urgently revise their suggested recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C. The dynamic flow model indicates that, for good health, an optimal strategy is to take repeated doses of vitamin C throughout the day: say, a gram with every meal.
The difference between nutritional supplementation and therapeutic use of ascorbate is huge. The book describes an updated regimen for prevention and treatment of heart disease, called antioxidant network therapy; this needs testing experimentally, as a matter of urgency. The authors also explain the scientific basis of ascorbate treatments for cancer, which offer hope of a cure in many cases.
At first sight, the claims for vitamin C in heart disease, infection and cancer appear astonishing. However, Hickey and Roberts have shown that the claimed benefits demand serious consideration, as they have a scientific basis.
Evidence that heart attacks are a result of scurvy has existed for over 50 years. Researchers also showed, over 30 years ago, that high levels of ascorbate kill cancer cells. The failure of the medical establishment to perform critical follow-up experiments has probably resulted in much suffering and countless deaths.
For this reason, the book lists the experiments that are essential to restore respectability to the scientific evaluation of vitamin C. If science confirms even one of these ideas, people will understand why Linus Pauling was prepared to stake his scientific reputation on ascorbate.
As Dr Hickey says, “If this book doesn’t shock you, you haven’t understood it”.