FOREWORD of Healing Factor Vitamin C against Disese
by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D., Ph.D.
My own interest in ascorbic acid centered around its role in vegetable respiration and defense mechanisms. All the same, I always had the feeling that not enough use was made of it for supporting human health. The reasons were rather complex. The medical profession itself took a very narrow and wrong view. Lack of ascorbic acid caused scurvy, so if there was no scurvy there was no lack of ascorbic acid. Nothing could be clearer than this. The only trouble was that scurvy is not a first symptom of lack but a final collapse, a premortal syndrome, and there is a very wide gap between scurvy and full health. But nobody knows what full health is! This could be found out by wide statistical studies, but there is no organization which could and would arrange such studies. Our society spends billions or trillions on killing and destruction but lacks the relatively modest means demanded to keep its own health and prime interest cared for. Full health, in my opinion, is the condition in which we feel best and show the greatest resistance to disease. This leads us into statistics which demand organization. But there is another, more individual difficulty. If you do not have sufficient vitamins and get a cold, and as a sequence pneumonia, your diagnosis will not be "lack of ascorbic acid" but "pneumonia." So you are waylaid immediately.
I think that mankind owes a serious thanks to Irwin Stone for having kept the problem alive and having called Linus Pauling's attention to it.
On my last visit to Sweden, I was told that the final evidence has been found that ascorbic acid is quite harmless. An insane person had the fixed idea that he needed ascorbic acid so he swallowed incredible amounts of it for a considerable period without ill effects. So, apart from very specific conditions, ascorbic acid cannot hurt you. It does not hurt your pocket either, since it is very cheap. It is used for spraying trees.
I also fully agree with Dr. Pauling's contention that individual needs for vitamin C vary within wide limits. Some may need high doses, others may be able to get along with less, but the trouble is that you do not know to which group you belong. The symptoms of lack may be very different. I remember my correspondence with a teacher in my earlier days who told me that he had an antisocial boy whom he was unable to deal with. He gave him ascorbic acid and the boy became one of his most easygoing, obedient pupils. Nor does wealth and rich food necessarily protect against lack of vitamins. I remember my contact with one of the wealthiest royal families of Europe where the young prince had constant temperature and had poor health. On administering vitamin C, the condition readily cleared up.
It gives me great satisfaction to see this book appear and I hope very much that its message will be understood.
- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -