History of Vitamin C Use

The Scourge of Sailors

Scurvy (chronic vitamin C deficiency) has been described in medical literature for thousands of years. James Lind (1716-1794) is famous for recommending that the British Navy should give sailors daily rations of citrus fruit – containing vitamin C – to prevent scurvy, which was common at the time on long sea voyages (Baron, 2009).

Humans are one of the few mammals that lack the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase which is essential for producing vitamin C. The symptoms of scurvy include bleeding gums and mucous membranes, loose teeth, paleness, bruising on the skin and poor wound healing. Untreated, scurvy is fatal.

Researching Effectiveness

In the 1940s Frederick Klenner was giving “megadoses” (i.e. doses of more than 1000 mg) of vitamin C to patients with conditions such as polio, herpes, chickenpox, influenza, measles, mumps and pneumonia. He used intravenous doses supplemented by additional oral doses in adults and intramuscular injections for young children (Klenner, 1949). In the 1970s, intravenous and oral vitamin C was used as a cancer therapy (Cameron & Pauling, 1976).

The next decade, Robert Cathcart published his observations on providing more than 9000 patients doses of up to 200g vitamin C per day. His patients included people with acute hepatitis, bacterial and viral infections, allergies, trauma, surgery, burns and back pain (Cathcart, 1981).

Standard Protocols

For more than 25 years, the team at the Riordan Clinic in Wichita, USA, have been refining a protocol for providing an adequate dose of vitamin C to patients with cancer by monitoring blood plasma concentrations (Gonzalez, et al., 2005; Riordan, et al., 2003). Our clinic has been following the Riordan protocol since 2003.