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Letters to the Editor Issue 91

by Letters(more info)

listed in letters to the editor, originally published in issue 91 - August 2003

Scandalous Mercury in Vaccinations

The public have a right to know as soon as possible about the presence of a mercury derivative used as a preservative in the DTP (Diptheria, tetanus & pertussus) which is routinely injected into the bloodstreams of our babies at 2,3 and 4 months.

The ‘safe’ limit of mercury laid down by the FSA is 0.1 micrograms for neonates yet with each vaccination a baby receives 4.26 micrograms.  This is nothing short of scandalous.

In 1999 in the US, mercury was removed from the vaccinations. Poisoning by mercury can give rise to neurological problems such as stammering, attention deficit disorder and autism.

In this country autism has risen to epidemic proportions – 60 in 10000 or 1 in 166 and yet there is still no programme to investigate this problem.

In Scotland parents can now choose between vaccinations with or without mercury. Not so in England and Wales.

Kath Morrell
Ref: File on 4 (Radio4) 24.06.03

Reflexology: Foot Massage Not Suitable Placebo

I have just been reading the research pages of the Jan 2003 edition (Issue 84) and read with delight your Editorial comment under the reflexology research by Williamson. Foot massage is not a suitable placebo control for Reflexology as it has been shown to have a specific effect. I have copies of papers that show that even five minutes foot massage has an effect on pain perception and it has been tested in other areas too. Placebos are supposed to have no therapeutic effect –  so why does the academic world insist on using this particular one for Reflexology? Perhaps they simply do not want to show it works?

The Association of Reflexologists are currently setting up a pilot study in a major hospital and I have insisted that the clinicians run a waiting list control will be used alongside the foot massage placebo (which they will not drop!). It’s hard work and small steps – but ‘fair’ trials will happen eventually.

Keep up the good work
Tracey Smith, Research and Development officer
Association of Reflexologists

Government Defeat on Vitamin Limits

The UK Government suffered a humiliating defeat last night when it was defeated in a vote triggered by the campaign run by Consumers for Health Choice to seek a better deal for the UK under the terms of the Food Supplements Directive.

BBC 1st July 2003
A European Union Directive that critics said would see hundreds of vitamin pills taken off sale in the UK should be blocked, says the House of Lords.

Peers defeated the government by 132 to 79 as they urged ministers to revoke the new Directive, which harmonizes European rules on vitamin sales. The defeat came despite a government minister warning that failing to implement the measure would be a ‘serious breach’ of the UK’s treaty obligations.

The vote will not stop the UK implementing the Food Supplements Directive, which is due to come into force in 2005. The Tories claimed the plans, which include putting limits on recommended daily dosage, were a syndrome of ‘a nanny state’.

Health food manufacturers say the proposals will make them foot significant bills – but the European Commission says their predictions are wrong. The rising demand for health food products in recent years is shown by the industry’s total annual turnover, which is estimated to be £860m.

The Food Standards Agency last month warned that people who take large doses of vitamins risk permanently damaging their health.

The European Commission proposed the new Directive, which was approved by the European Parliament last year, partly to combat problems with trade barriers. It is due to be implemented by the end of July this year and would establish lists of vitamins and minerals which could be used in food supplements.

Ahead of Monday’s debate, Conservative’s shadow health minister Earl Howe criticized the concessions the government made in the Directive deal. “The result of this is that some hundreds of popular products will no longer be available on the shelves of Holland & Barrett and elsewhere,” said Lord Howe.

“For six years they have pretended that this would not happen – now they admit that it will, and that the EU rules that we are being forced to adopt will run completely counter to this country’s approach on such matters, which has always been to licence products for sale provided they are safe. “In other words, the right of consumers to exercise choice in buying health foods is to be curtailed drastically, all in the cause of European harmonisation.”

His motion urged simpler rules to be used in regulations and for them to be based on ‘sound science’. But Health Minister Lord Warner said: “Simply engaging in Brussels bashing on this Directive is not going to help British consumers and industry.

“The Directive has been agreed and we are obliged to implement it.”Holland and Barrett are among retailers saying the changes will mean the UK and other ‘liberal markets’ losing out. It says manufacturers face significant costs if the Directive goes through as they will have to reformulate many of their supplements.

A European Commission spokeswoman told BBC News Online the campaign against the Directive in the UK was very distorted. “The reality is that none of the food supplements will be banned,” she said. “All the figures put forward by the food stores are just wrong.”

‘Best deal possible’
“Under the Directive, pills would be assessed on safety grounds, which was in consumers’ interest,” the spokeswoman said. No supplement manufacturers would be put out of business by the changes, she added.

A spokeswoman from the Food Standards Agency said the government would take care to ensure the maximum limits allowed in pills were based on scientific risk assessments. “While the Directive does not deliver all that we wanted, we do feel it is the best thing that could be achieved,” she said.

The Directive did allow EU states to continue, in some cases up until 2010, with forms of vitamins and minerals which were not on the new list, she added.

Christopher J Whitehouse
Tel: 020 7222 4179; Fax: 020 7222 4192;

Further Information

Irresponsible Conclusions Reached By Researchers in The Lancet

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN) today reacted strongly to a meta-analysis on vitamin E and beta-carotene appearing in the June 14 issue of The Lancet, calling the study’s conclusions “irresponsible, overinterpreted, and old news disguised as something new for publicity purposes.”

The meta-analysis, conducted by researchers from the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, provided overgeneralized interpretations of previously published clinical trials on vitamin E and beta-carotene and their effect on heart health.

According to John Hathcock, PhD, CRN’s vice president, scientific and international affairs, “This meta-analysis hasn’t told us anything we didn’t already know. But that didn’t stop the researchers from making sweeping statements that are not justifiable based on the studies they reviewed. For example, they discount the potential benefit of vitamin E for heart disease based largely on their review of secondary intervention trials on subjects with established heart disease. But what many researchers refer to as the ‘antioxidant hypothesis’ is the belief that antioxidants may be effective in decreasing the risk of heart disease if consumed before the atherosclerosis develops.”

CRN also pointed out that the researchers suggest that beta-carotene supplementation should be discouraged, even though none of the beta-carotene studies included in the article suggest a risk to non-smokers. The evidence for a small but statistically significant risk with high-dose beta-carotene is derived entirely from two clinical trials in smokers and in others at high risk of heart disease. In both of those trials, the increased risk occurred primarily in people who smoked, and as a result it is generally recommended that smokers should not use high-dose beta-carotene.

“It is nothing short of irresponsible for the researchers to suggest that research on vitamin E and beta-carotene be stopped,” said Dr Hathcock. “In fact, the researchers admit that their analysis ‘does not disprove’ the antioxidant hypothesis. They even outline a variety of approaches that could be taken in further studies. It would be a major disservice to the public health to stop research on antioxidants in relation to heart disease.”

“In contrast to the assertion of the authors, this meta-analysis is not the last word on the benefits of vitamin E and beta-carotene,” said Dr Hathcock. “It appears they are simply trying to make headlines by taking old news and adding drastic and unjustified recommendations.”

Vitamin E is a safe and effective antioxidant and an essential nutrient required for maintenance of health. It has potential benefits for vision, Alzheimer’s disease, counteracting free radicals to play a role in fighting cancers, and reducing the risk of coronary disease. Beta-carotene is a safe and effective form of vitamin A, which like all vitamins, is essential to health and to life itself. Scientists consider it desirable for part of the vitamin A activity in the diet or in a multivitamin to be derived from beta-carotene. Experts at The Linus Pauling Institute Conference on Diet and Optimum Health, a recent conference on antioxidants, emphasized the need for more research to identify optimal intakes of antioxidant nutrients for health promotion and disease prevention.

The Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), founded in 1973, is a Washington, DC-based trade association representing dietary supplement industry ingredient suppliers and manufacturers. CRN members adhere to a strong code of ethics, comply with dosage limits and manufacture dietary supplements to high quality standards under good manufacturing practices.

Judy Blatman, Council for Responsible Nutrition
Tel: 001-202-204-7962
Source: Christine Doyle


Countdown to New Food Supplement Rules

Regulations implementing the EU Directive on food supplements have now been laid before Parliament, and are due to come into force on 1 August 2003, confirms the law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner this week.

The regulations will define the term ‘food supplement’, and will introduce a positive list of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that will be permitted for use in the EU. They will also impose mandatory packaging and labelling requirements.

Supplements not included in the positive list may still be sold in the EU until 2010, and food supplement manufacturers and importers have until July 2005 to apply to have additional substances included on the positive list.

This is done by submitting a dossier containing detailed scientific data supporting the inclusion of a particular substance on the positive list.

According to Berwin Leighton Paisner  [] to date, only 12 dossiers have been compiled, despite the limited number of substances presently included on the positive list. 

Full details about the new regulations can be found on the UK Health and Executive website

EU Directive – Against the Wishes of Consumers and Parliament

There is a mass of information, in your journal and in other publications in the field of complementary medicine, pointing to a strong likelihood that the range of vitamins, minerals and related preparations available to ordinary consumers is likely to be drastically reduced, in both the range and strength of these supplements. As you and others have pointed out, this will occur as a result of new European regulations that will within a few years be imposed on UK consumers regardless of the wishes of Parliament, or of the millions of consumers who find such supplements a considerable boon to the maintenance or restoration of their health.

As a society we seem to be like wild creatures staring at approaching car lights, worried but paralyzed and unable to take avoidance action. To list a few of the underlying factors:

•    In 1998 the Government, on the basis of a recommendation by its Committee on Toxicity, attempted to impose a maximum level of 10mg B6 on a supplement that is used by vast numbers of women at levels from 25 to 200 mg, for PMT and other hormonal conditions. The committee’s recommendation was based mainly on a single, much questioned research study, published in an obscure journal, claiming temporary peripheral nerve damage as a result of regular high dose intake of B6. As a result of a massive protest campaign, with what was reported as the largest flood of mail ever to reach the House of Commons, the Government withdrew that edict;

•    A most insightful article by Dr Helen Fullerton in your June 2003 issue summarised the continuing efforts by European and UK scientific bodies, mainly representative of medical interests, to bring about a drastic reduction in the range and strength of nutritional supplements to the level at which they will have little therapeutic or health maintenance value;

•    Dr Fullerton pointed to the remarkable contrast between the huge attention focused on unproven claims of toxicity resulting from these supplements – contrary to overwhelming research evidence on their safety and a long history of safe usage with all but the most recently developed supplements – while the fact that 10 to 20% of UK hospital patients suffer from adverse drug reactions (ADRs), with a great many fatalities each year, is given minimal publicity. If supplements caused just one-tenth of 1 per cent of the number of fatalities caused by medically-prescribed drugs each year, there would be banner headlines in every national paper;

•    Over the last few decades, as the volume of supplements used by UK consumers has increased, strongly supported by user reports – usually by word of mouth – of their efficacy, so too has the media campaign against these supplements grown each year. Every allegation made against a supplement, most of them unsupported, is blazoned to appear like a scandal threatening ordinary unaware consumers. The very few genuine reports of damaging supplement intake have turned out to be due to contamination from other ingredients, arising from a handful of small producers.

•    The role of various consumer organizations in this regard needs to be given more attention. Their allegations against the supplement manufacturers are firstly that their products have few or no positive health effects but many negative effects, and that these products are grossly over-priced. Yet manufacturers who do not also produce pharmaceutical drugs are tiny companies compared to the pharmaceutical giants whose vast profits are only questioned when they attempt to charge standard prices for supplying anti-retrovirals to Aids patients in developing countries. Why should the minnows be attacked so constantly? What are the motives of the consumerist critics? Why have they so consistently opposed what is probably the most exciting example of consumer action in recent history, namely the attempts to take control over one’s health?

•    It is interesting to note that the European regulators are now taking such a soft and accommodating line with herbs, to the extent that there are general expressions of appreciation for the considered and helpful European approach, following initial concern about how far the regulations would go in banning a wide range of herbs. Has this anything to do with the fact that in Germany, one of our key European partners, an estimated 90 per cent of the population take medically-prescribed and over-the-counter herbs? Good luck to them. It is a pity that UK consumers have not the same dedication to guarding their interests in having access to supplements.

No doubt others could add more background factors to the above list. There are organizations already in existence aiming to do something about the threat to our supplements, including the European Scientific Advisory Group (a successor to the Vitamin B6 Scientific Task Group) and the Health Freedom Movement, and one wishes them well. But to succeed, protest movements need strong focused action, as there was over the attempt to limit B6 to 10mg pills (a proposal which has again appeared within the proposed new European Directive).

The problem with opposing the new regulations is that they are so wide-ranging that they offer no clear targets. It is a brilliant strategy.

The European regulators and our own Government and scientific committees can point to concerns about a few supplements as ‘typical’ of the reasons for caution about thousands of other supplements whose safety has never been doubted. Winning the scientific argument on those few supplements (with limited evidence) is used as blanket justification for the wholesale control of supplements and reduction of their intakes to insignificant levels.

Perhaps the Health Freedom and other movements should consider identifying MPs and MEPs sympathetic to the use of supplements and aware of their importance, and encourage them to set up parliamentary groups at UK and European levels. The group’s brief would be to identify expert consultants such as the leaders of the European Scientific Advisory Group to advise them, and then summons the UK and European scientific committees responsible for these controlling measures to give evidence. The first question to every organization asked to appear should be: kindly provide evidence of all pharmaceutical or supplement manufacturer sources of personal and institutional research funding, investments in such companies and any other links with these two manufacturing groups, for each member of your organization’s controlling committee. Then the scientific questioning can follow as to the validity of the claims made against supplements.

The principle of public recognition of research and other financial backing for the members of these scientific committees would be no different from the BMJ and other prestigious journals’ requirements that authors should list all their competing interests when submitting articles for publication.

Dr Walter Barker, BSc, MA, PhD
Director, Early Childhood Development Centre.

Benefits of Antioxidant Vitamins to Cardiac Health

The Health Supplements Information Service (HSIS) would like to highlight the many clinical trials supporting the efficacy and use of antioxidant vitamins in cardiac health.

Antioxidant vitamins such as A and E are used by the body as protection against free radicals. These are molecules produced during normal metabolism, which can damage the body if they flourish in an uncontrolled way, as a result of illness, overexposure of toxins or the environment, or ageing. Antioxidants help neutralise the effects of free radicals that can cause cancer, heart disease and strokes, cataracts, immune deficiency, arthritis and premature ageing. Many studies also support the use of antioxidant vitamins in cardiac/cardiovascular health.

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an essential fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin, and is particularly important for the protection of cell membranes, as well as maintaining healthy skin, heart and circulation, nerves, muscles and red blood cells. However, this vital nutrient is only found in a few foods – many of which are high in fat – making it difficult to consume the necessary daily amount of vitamin E required.

Vitamin E plays an important role in cardiac health. One form of cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) is good for the human body. The other, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is not good. Studies have demonstrated that oxidized LDL cholesterol plays a critical role in the formation of arterial atherosclerotic plaques, thereby increasing the chances of heart attacks or strokes. Vitamin E, as a powerful antioxidant slows down, and in some instances, prevents this oxidation process, through neutralizing the free radicals that induce it. Examples of positive research showing the benefits of vitamin E in cardiac health include:

•    The Cambridge Heart Antioxidant Study – published in the Lancet, this report concluded that vitamin E doses of 400 to 800 IUs per day, in people with atherosclerosis, reduced the risk of heart attack by 77 per cent;

•    Another report – titled Multivitamin Use and Mortality in a Large Prospective Study – showed that out of over 1 million participants, those adults who used vitamin E, or other antioxidant vitamins, in combination with a daily multivitamin had a 15 per cent lower risk of dying from heart disease or stroke than those who did not take vitamins;

Beta-carotene – the precursor to vitamin A – is the best known of the groups of pigments, known as carotenoids, which are found in a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. The primary benefit of carotenoids lies in their antioxidant effect, and in addition, studies suggest that beta-carotene appears to aid in cardiovascular disease (CVD). Smokers, however, are advised to use beta-carotene supplements with caution.

Several studies have assessed the role of beta-carotene in CVD:

•    Blood levels of the antioxidant nutrients vitamins A, C, and E, and beta-carotene are reported to be lower in people with a history of heart attack, compared with healthy individuals;

•    The results from The Physicians Health Study (PHS) indicated apparent benefits of beta-carotene supplementation on subsequent vascular events among 333 men with prior angina or revascularization;

•    With regards to the safety of beta-carotene for long-term use, the PHS1 results indicated that beta-carotene supplementation (50mg on alternate days) had no significant harm on cancer or cardio-vascular disease during more than 12 years of treatment and follow-up. Commenting on research in the area of antioxidants and cardiovascular disease on behalf of HSIS, Ann Walker says: “Previous pre-clinical studies have shown that antioxidant supplementation before the development of vascular disease can actually prevent, stop, or slow down, the atherogenic process. Studies have also shown that antioxidant supplementation may significantly reduce mortality in both men and women;

“Although some recently publicised research concluded that antioxidant vitamins E and beta-carotene should not be encouraged in the regulation of cardiovascular disease, it should be noted that this particular study involved a review of predominantly secondary intervention trials, in which participants were already chronically ill. Furthermore, as concluded by the study investigators, the role of vitamin E in the primary prevention of CVD was not investigated thoroughly. The study design also ignores important parameters such as lifespan as an endpoint, in favour of mortality. There will obviously be mortality throughout a study period if you are starting with chronically ill individuals.

In summary, Ann adds, “vitamins, including antioxidants play a general preventative role with health, although they are not intended for use in the treatment of disease. Considerable research has shown that vitamins have many benefits when used in conjunction with other therapeutic agents.”

Source: Elwood Richard

Opposed to Forced Fluoridation

I am concerned that the government want health authorities to be able to force water companies to add fluoride in England and Wales after so-called ‘consultation’.

The fluoride used in water fluoridation is fluorosilicic acid, toxic waste from phosphate fertilizer factory chimneys. It’s more poisonous than lead and only slightly less poisonous than arsenic. The fluoride used in water isn’t pharmaceutical grade, and is registered as a poison under the 1972 Poisons Act.

Fluoride is wasteful and expensive as less than 1% of the water supply is drunk by children. Most water is used by industry and for washing and toilet flushing. So 99% of the fluoride is literally taxpayers’ money down the drain where it pollutes the environment!

Studies showed that fluoride can cause cancer and hip fractures. Fuoride can cause fluorosis – permanent white or brown ugly mottling of children’s teeth.

The World Health Organisation says no new fluoridation schemes should be started until total fluoride intake is measured. People receive fluoride from industrial pollution, pesticides, tranquillizers and other drugs. Many people’s body levels of fluoride are above WHO safety limits.

In Lanarkshire, a community dentist halved tooth decay, by a pact between parents, teachers and children for youngsters to reduce sweets and fizzy drinks, eat a healthier diet and clean their teeth correctly. Children need adequate calcium, magnesium and vitamin D. This benefits their general health too.

Health Minister Hazel Blears said that people who don’t want fluoride could use water filters and buy bottled water. But jug filters won’t remove fluoride – this needs a plumbed-in reverse osmosis unit costing hundreds of pounds or an expensive distillation unit. Bottled water is expensive, heavy to carry and creates masses of plastic waste. Bottled water would also have to be used for cooking because fluoride in water gets more concentrated when boiled.

Medication should be given individually according to a person’s age, weight, gender, general health and personal choice and not en-masse with no control over dosage received.

Further Information

The National Pure Water Association

Hormone Replacement Therapy Linked To Dementia In Women

Wassertheil-Smoller et al. Effect of Estrogen Plus Progestin on Stroke in Postmenopausal Women The Women’s Health Initiative: A Randomized Trial. JAMA 289:2673-2684. 2003.

The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) trial of oestrogen plus progestin was stopped early because of adverse effects, including an increased risk of stroke in the oestrogen plus progestin group.

Objective: To assess the effect of oestrogen plus progestin on ischaemic and haemorrhagic stroke and in subgroups, and to determine whether the effect of oestrogen plus progestin was modified by baseline levels of blood biomarkers.

Design: Multicentre double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial involving 16,608 women aged 50 through 79 years with an average follow-up of 5.6 years. Baseline levels of blood-based markers of inflam-mation, thrombosis, and lipid levels were measured in the first 140 centrally confirmed stroke cases and 513 controls.

Interventions: Participants received 0.625 mg/d of conjugated equine – oestrogen plus 2.5 mg/d of medroxyprogesterone acetate (n =3D 8506) or placebo (n =3D 8102).

Main Outcome Measures: Overall strokes and stroke subtype and severity were centrally adjudicated by stroke neurologists.

Results: One hundred fifty-one patients (1.8%) in the oestrogen plus progestin and 107 (1.3%) in the placebo groups had strokes. Overall 79.8% of strokes were ischaemic. For combined ischaemic and haemorrhagic strokes, the intention-to-treat hazard ratio (HR) for oestrogen plus progestin vs placebo was 1.31, with adjustment for adherence, the HR was 1.50. The HR for ischaemic stroke was 1.44 and for haemorrhagic stroke, 0.82. Point estimates of the HRs indicate that excess risk of all stroke was apparent in all age groups, in all categories of baseline stroke risk, and in women with and without hypertension, prior history of cardiovascular disease, use of hormones, statins, or aspirin. Other risk factors for stroke, including smoking, blood pressure, diabetes, lower use of vitamin C supplements, blood-based biomarkers of inflammation, higher white blood cell count, and higher hematocrit levels did not modify the effect of oestrogen plus progestin on stroke risk.

Conclusions: Oestrogen plus progestin increases the risk of ischaemic stroke in generally healthy postmenopausal women. Excess risk for all strokes attributed to oestrogen plus progestin appeared to be present in all subgroups of women examined.

In case anyone is not aware, the news broke today that the risks of hormone replacement therapy with oestrogen/progesterone for menopausal women far outweigh the benefits. My question is this: When will women ever learn? I am 55 years old. I am the generation whose mothers were told NOT to breastfeed. Most of us had our tonsillectomies by 5 years old. Our feet were measured for shoes in X-ray machines. Our fathers put DDT (a highly toxic insecticide) on the garden religiously and fed us the ‘beautiful’ vegetables.

We luckily did not begin receiving vaccines until we were about 10 years old. When we had our babies, our perineums were surgically cut (routine episiotomy) for our ‘benefit’. As teenagers, we were put on the first birth control pill (high dose) and many women stayed on it for years before the studies came out with the risks of cancer, stroke, and heart disease. When I was in my late 20s the caesarean epidemic began and continues to this day ‘to save babies’. Many women of my generation had tubal ligations which led to heavy periods (an important blood vessel was severed) and this led to hysterectomy (female castration). All of these malpractices of allopathic medicine have been widely reported in the press and physicians are very ashamed and sorry and now know better about all these things. HOWEVER, it doesn’t change the fact that the general health of the population and especially women has been severely harmed.

I have not been to a physician for 15 years. I had very heavy periods for about 4 years from age 46-50 and I set up my life so that I could rest more and I used herbs to relieve cramping. I have ‘hot flashes’ and I love them. I am not embarrassed in the least to be a menopausal woman. I love this stage of my life as much as I loved menstruating and bearing children. What else am I here on earth for in a woman’s body?

I’m not broken and I don’t need fixing. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings – so what? Maybe women in their 50s and 60s are SUPPOSED to be cranky, passionate and outrageous. Maybe if they were feeling those mood swings a little more they’d march on those big pharmaceutical firms that have made millions off their misery.

Wake up, women, allopathic medicine is making you sicker.
Gloria Lemay, Vancouver, BC

Further Information:

Vitamin C Touted To Fight SARS

Janice Mawhinney
Could high doses of vitamin C be an effective treatment for SARS?

Toronto physician Fred Hui elieves that administering vitamin C intravenously is a treatment worth trying.
The advantages: It’s cheap, available and relatively free of side effects.
The disadvantages: Nobody knows if it works. Nevertheless, Hui would like to see people who are quarantined taking vitamin C in high doses.

And he’d like to see people admitted to hospital for the pneumonia-like virus treated with the vitamin intravenously while also receiving the usual drugs for SARS.

Hui earned his MD at the University of Toronto in 1979, and has since studied traditional Chinese medicine in Beijing.

“I appeal to hospitals to try this for people who already have SARS,” says Hui. “I urge people who have come into contact with someone who has SARS to try it.”

Members of the public would also do well to build up their levels of vitamin C, he says.

Vitamin C is underused in orthodox medicine, Hui believes. He says it hasn’t been supported by research and promotion because it can’t be patented.

Hungarian biochemist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi first isolated vitamin C in 1928, and later won a Nobel prize for his discoveries.

American physician Linus Pauling, two-time Nobel prize winner, studied the vitamin’s importance to the immune system and suggested in 1970 that people taking higher doses than those officially recommended could prevent the common cold, or shorten its duration. The medical establishment reacted with strong opposition to his ideas, but the public was more receptive.

Vitamin C is a powerful natural antioxidant, an important ingredient for the synthesis of collagen, and essential for the production of white blood cells, antibodies and other disease-fighting elements. During illness, the body’s vitamin C levels are depleted.

Because SARS is a virus, Hui says, the effects of vitamin C should improve the body’s defences against it. And since it has a low cost, is universally accessible, and is easily tolerated by the body, there is nothing to lose in trying it as a treatment for SARS.

Vitamin C is water soluble, he notes, so the body excretes any excess and no toxicity accumulates. No dose of vitamin C high enough to be toxic has yet been discovered.

“This is one of the most harmless substances there is,” Hui states. “There used to be concern about kidney stones, but that was theoretical. It was never borne out in an actual case.”

The doses needed to be effective vary from individual to individual, he says, noting that smokers, elderly people, diabetics, chronic drinkers and people who are ill or are in high stress situations need higher doses. Pollution also increases the amount of vitamin C needed.

Hui says he believes everyone could benefit from at least one gram a day of vitamin C, and more for most people. The recommended daily allowance – the level needed to keep from getting scurvy – is 75 mg for adult men and 90 mg for women.

Hui says he routinely takes six grams of vitamin C a day, spread throughout the day. He also recommends high doses to relatives, friends and patients.

When someone takes a dose higher than the individual’s body needs, Hui says, the digestive system reacts by producing loose stools or diarrhoea. He recommends that people increase the dose until they experience loose stools, and then cut their vitamin C intake back by one measure to find the exact dose most useful to them at that time.

One possible nuisance side effect, particularly for those with sensitive stomachs, Hui warns, is an acidic stomach. To avoid this, he recommends taking the vitamin C with food, or taking it in a form buffered with minerals. Buffered vitamin C is available in tablets, capsules, or granules that can be mixed in a glass of water of juice.

The amounts of vitamin C Hui recommends are too high to be taken in food.

David Jenkins, professor of medicine and nutritional science at the University of Toronto and a physician at St. Michael’s Hospital, says he hadn’t heard of using high-dose vitamin C to fight SARS, but he finds the idea intriguing since some studies have found the vitamin effective with the common cold.

“The common cold is a coronavirus, and SARS is a coronavirus so they are the same viral type,” he observes. “In the absence of a vaccine, this sounds like an interesting approach.”

Jenkins doubts that the whole medical establishment will greet the idea with enthusiasm. “Many of my colleagues grumble even about following Linus Pauling up to 10 grams a day,” he says. “They’re worried about the acid load. And anyone who takes high doses of vitamin C and stops cold turkey can become deficient, even with normal intake. A gradual cutback is okay.”

He says he’s never heard of anyone taking doses as high as 100 or more grams a day as recommended by some proponents of the use of vitamin C for people with active SARS.

“That could lead to torrential diarrhoea,” he warns. “Anyone who tries this should only do it under medical supervision, and should use caution.’

Jenkins says he wouldn’t automatically throw cold water on the idea and his own position is one of cautious interest. “This is new stuff for many of us,” he adds. “That’s an awful lot of C.”

Humans are one of the few animal species, like other primates and guinea pigs, whose bodies can’t produce their own vitamin C, so need to get it through diet.

Hui says he has found intravenous vitamin C effective in his medical practice with patients who have viral illnesses.

“For people with infectious mononucleosis, instead of letting them take six months to recover, I give them a vitamin C drip and they recover within days,” he says.

“When a patient comes in with a bacterial infection, that calls for antibiotics. When the signs point to a virus, I recommend pumping up the oral vitamin C. A low dose just doesn’t have the right mechanisms to be effective. A high dose of vitamin C produces hydrogen peroxide, which kills germs.”

When Hui started speaking out about the benefits of high doses of vitamin C, he soon heard from the outspoken California physician Robert Cathcart, one of the leading authorities on the clinical use of this vitamin. Cathcart maintains that when vitamin C isn’t widely effective in cases of viral infections like SARS, it is because doses are not high enough.

“I can tell you that SARS will be cured by massive doses of intravenous sodium ascorbate (vitamin C),” he declares on his Web site. “What is not getting across, for whatever reason, is that the amount of intravenous sodium ascorbate necessary to take out SARS is truly massive, like perhaps 120 to 180 grams a day or more… Let us not fool around with phoney low doses that will not work.”

He complains that some people refer to doses such as four grams as megadoses. “For these purposes, four grams is ridiculously inadequate.”

Hui says it’s the right time for hospitals, quarantined people, and anyone concerned by the present public health situation, to try high dose vitamin C.

“This may be the key to winning the fight against SARS,” he says. And since it has a low cost, is universal.

Further Information
Source: Josef Hasslberger


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