9,000 Cases of Healing with High-Dose Vitamin C

Healing with high-dose vitamin C

An abbreviated history of vitamin C therapy

In 1497, Vasco de Gama set sail from Portugal attempting to find a passage to the Indies by way of the Cape of Good Hope. He left Portugal with 160 men, and lost 100 of them to the vitamin C deficiency disease known as scurvy. It wasn’t until 1747 that British physician, James Lind showed that deadly scurvy could be cured with lemon and lime juice. It was this discovery that generated the nickname of “limeys” given to British sailors. At this time, and for a long time after, the misunderstanding prevailed that if there was no scurvy there was no vitamin C deficiency. All this dramatically changed in 1933 when Nobel laureate, Albert Szent-Györgyi, identified the mysterious healing plant compound and gave it the name “ascorbic acid.” The ensuing ability to produce pure crystals of ascorbic acid allowed doctors to explore the many benefits of high-dose vitamin C therapy. In 1938, and again in 1939, more than 600 medical research papers on ascorbic acid were published throughout the world. It became clear that scurvy was far from the only manifestation of a vitamin C deficiency. For more of this fascinating story read Irwin Stone’s The Healing Factor: “Vitamin C” Against Disease.

vitamin c ascorbate

Doctors begin using high-dose vitamin C

Soon after its discovery, physicians around the world began using low-dose vitamin C to treat the common cold and other disorders. The benefits seen from vitamin C therapy, however, dramatically improved when the American physician, Dr. F. R. Klenner began using high-dose vitamin C therapy. Dr. Klenner was the physician who most clearly documented the importance of dosage levels in ascorbic acid therapy. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Dr. Klenner carefully described his remarkable success in treating a variety of diseases with high-dose vitamin C, often given intravenously. The diseases he successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C included polio, pneumonia, mononucleosis, encephalitis, shingles, and many others.

Those interested in Dr. Klenner’s work are referred to a comprehensive review by Dr. Lendon Smith.

Even before Dr. Klenner, in 1944, US biochemist, Irwin Stone, elucidated the concept of “hypoascorbemia,’’ or low ascorbic acid and its negative health impacts. He explained that low ascorbate resulted from an ancient genetic mutation that left humans unable to manufacture their own ascorbic acid, a natural capacity most other animals enjoy. In 1972, Irwin Stone published, The Healing Factor: “Vitamin C” Against Disease, which remains even today the classic “must read” for those interested in the history and therapeutic potential of vitamin C. Linus Pauling was introduced to the value of vitamin C by Irwin Stone, and subsequently became a great advocate. He published his landmark book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970.

linus pauling vitamin c

(Dr. Pauling died at age 93 and the average life span for a white male born when he was born in 1901 was 47 years.)

9,000 Cases of Healing 

While Dr. Klenner and other early pioneers courageously and successfully used high-dose vitamin C as a powerful natural healing agent, the work I would like to highlight here is that of Dr. Robert Cathcart. Dr. Cathcart was a California physician who began his career in 1961. During his career as a clinician, Dr. Cathcart treated more than 20,000 patients with very large doses of vitamin C, sometimes more than 150,000 mg per day. He was the physician to introduce the system of taking vitamin C up to bowel tolerance, a method still followed today by doctors of functional medicine. As he reported in 1981, “. . .maximum relief of symptoms, . . . could be obtained by the oral doses just below the point causing diarrhea.”

By 1981, Dr. Cathcart had already treated more than 9,000 patients with large doses of vitamin C, finding that in adequate amounts vitamin C markedly altered the course of many diseases. What is particularly interesting is that Dr. Cathcart kept detailed records and published his findings detailing just how much vitamin C was needed to reach bowel tolerance in each particular disease he was treating. Dr. Cathcart went on to treat 20,000 patients over the course of his career with high-dose vitamin C, and as you will note by his data from his first 9,000 cases, high-dose vitamin C rationed throughout the day was the key to success.


Dr. Cathcart's Table of Usual Bowel Tolerance Doses




normal, well

4 – 15


mild cold

30 – 60

6 – 10

severe cold

60 – 100

8 – 15


100 – 150

8 – 15

ECHO, coxsackie virus

100 – 150

8 – 15


150 – 200+

12 – 18

viral pneumonia

150 – 200+

12 – 18

hay fever, asthma

15 – 25

4 – 8

burn, injury, surgery

25 – 150

6 – 15

anxiety, exercise, and other mild stresses

15 – 25

4 – 6


15 – 100

4 – 15

ankylosing spondylitis

15 – 100

4 – 15

rheumatoid arthritis

15 – 100

4 – 15

bacterial infections

30 – 200+

10 – 18


Even just glancing at Dr. Cathcart’s table, we see two important things:

1. Just how much vitamin C can be tolerated and beneficially used by the body in states of illness.

As Dr. Cathcart writes, “In 1970, I discovered the sicker a patient was, the more ascorbic acid he would tolerate by mouth before diarrhea was produced.”

2. Dr. Cathcart discovered that the dosing of vitamin C needed to be spread throughout the day.

Dosing throughout the day allows for greatest absorption and provides a constant flow of this essential antioxidant for healing.

Those interested in the science behind the bowel tolerance method of dosing vitamin C are referred to Dr. Cathcart’s 2005 article, Dynamic Flow: A New Model for Ascorbate. Indeed, today we know that the half-life of vitamin C can be very short within the body and that vitamin C dosing should occur throughout the day. Again, those who would like to learn more about the history and use of high-dose vitamin C therapy are referred to Irwin Stone’s book, The Healing Factor: “Vitamin C” Against Disease.

9000 cases of healing with vitamin c .