review by Andrew Saul
Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable, by Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D.http://www.tomlevymd.com
[Philadelphia, PA: Xlibris Corporation. 2002.www.Xlibris.com 1-888-795-4274. 451 pages. ISBN: 1-4010-6964-9 (Hardcover); 1-4010-6963-0 (Softcover)]
The effectiveness and safety of megadose vitamin C therapy should, by now, be yesterday¡¯s news. Yet I never cease to be amazed at the number of persons who remain unaware that vitamin C is the best broad-spectrum antibiotic, antihistamine, antitoxic and antiviral substance there is. Equally surprising is the ease with which some people, most of the medical profession, and virtually all of the media have been convinced that, somehow, vitamin C is not only ineffective but is also downright dangerous.
Therefore I am always glad to find yet another impeccably qualified physician who publishes to set things straight. Thomas E. Levy, a practicing physician for 25 years, is a board-certified internist and a fellow of the American College of Cardiology. He is also an attorney. What¡¯s more, he¡¯s a really fine writer. Dr. Levy¡¯s new book, Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins: Curing the Incurable has immediately made my most select list of absolutely required reading.
That list is rather short, and here¡¯s why. When you pick up a health or nutrition book and need to know really fast if it is any good or not, just look for these three key words: Klenner, Stone, and Pauling. If a book has negative things to say about Linus Pauling, you are not likely to find a fair hearing for vitamins. Irwin Stone, the biochemist who first put Dr. Pauling onto vitamin C, is the author of The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease (1972). Pauling cites Stone thirteen times in his landmark How to Live Longer and Feel Better (1986), a recommendation if there ever was one. But the key figure, chest specialist and ascorbic acid megadose pioneer Frederick R. Klenner, M.D. is usually omitted entirely from most orthodox nutrition, health or medical texts. To me, that is tantamount to deleting all the Shakespeare from an English Lit course. The importance of Klenner¡¯s clinical observations showing vitamin C¡¯s power against infectious and chronic disease is extraordinary. Dr. Levy intends that you become familiar with Klenner¡¯s work, and Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins accomplishes this purpose with distinction.
Without hedging, Dr. Levy explains why, even in his subtitle, he uses the word "cure" as boldly as Dr. Klenner ever did:
"It is completely appropriate to use the term "cure" when, in fact, the evidence demonstrates that a given medical condition has clearly and repeatedly been cured by a specific therapy. . . Avoiding the use of a term such as "cure" when it is absolutely appropriate does as much harm as using it inappropriately. Not realizing the incredible ability of vitamin C to cure a given infectious disease just perpetuates the usage of so many other needlessly applied toxic drugs and clinical protocols. If the shoe fits, wear it, and if the treatment works, proclaim it." (p 15)
And this is precisely what Dr. Levy does.
"Properly dosed vitamin C will reliably and quickly cure nearly all cases of acute polio and acute hepatitis. Polio babies are completely well in less than a week and hepatitis patients are sick for only a few days, not several months." (p 19)
Knowing full well how the medical profession will react to such statements, Dr. Levy writes:
"Unquestioning faith in the "established" medical knowledge is so deeply ingrained that many doctors simply will not even consider reading something that comes from sources that they do not consider worthy of producing new medical concepts. And if they do¡they quickly dismiss it as just being ridiculous if it conflicts with too many of the concepts that most of their colleagues and textbooks embrace." (p 22)
Aside from personally conducing their own mostly pre-Medline journal search, the primary way patients (and through them, their physicians) have been exposed to Dr. Klenner¡¯s work has been through Lendon Smith¡¯s 68-page Clinical Guide to the Use of Vitamin C: The Clinical Experiences of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D.. (1988)
My college students¡¯ avoidance response when I trot out "old" megavitamin studies is nothing compared to the sheer hostility I have received from academic colleagues. Once one of my undergraduates submitted a paper in another class discussing some 20 fairly old medical references she had found on vitamin C as a cure for polio. That course¡¯s instructor told me privately that the student¡¯s work was absurd, and he literally described her a "dial tone." I recall a nutritional presentation I made to a hospital staff. All was going well until I mentioned using vitamin C as an antibiotic, as Dr. Klenner did. The mood changed quickly. And how many of us have heard this old saw: "If vitamin C was so good, every doctor would be prescribing it!"
Acceptance is not helped by the fact that most of Dr. Klenner¡¯s papers were published between 25 and 55 years ago. Says Dr. Levy:
"Many physicians have outright disdain for any medical literature that is more than a few years old. It almost seems that even the best scientific data is considered to have a "shelf life," and . . . will never be appreciated unless a "modern" researcher decides to repeat the study and "rediscover" the information." (p 27)
And when such modern "reproductions" are done, they commonly use far too little vitamin C:
"I could find no mainstream medical researcher who has performed ANY clinical studies on ANY infectious disease with vitamin C does that approached those used by Klenner. Using a small enough dose of any therapeutic agent will demonstrate little or no effect on an infection or disease process. Klenner would often use daily doses of vitamin C on a patient that would be as much as 10,000 times more than the daily doses used in some of the many clinical studies in the literature." (p 28-29)
Because there are few families that will not be affected by serious infectious illness, the individual topics Dr. Levy addresses (in Chapter 2, constituting 130 pages) are especially important. These include measles, mumps, viral encephalitis, herpes, mononucleosis, viral pneumonia, chickenpox, Ebola, and of course influenza. He has included a fairly lengthy section on AIDS. Rabies is an intriguing entry, even to those already willing to concede that vitamin C is an effective antiviral.
Non-viral diseases discussed include diphtheria, tuberculosis (in considerable detail), strep, brucellosis, typhoid, dysentery, malaria, trichinosis, and the always-controversial subjects of tetanus and pertussis. Not unexpectedly, Dr. Levy seems to incline towards the non-traditional viewpoint on vaccination, although since the book lacks an index, his statements on this specific subject take a moment to locate. As vitamin C is such a good antibiotic and antiviral, a deemphasis on vaccination can be seen to make sense.
Ascorbic acid, that Swiss Army knife among nutrients, has been unjustly dismissed in part because of the implausibility of such very great utility. A human body of tens of trillions of cells operates thousands of biochemical reactions on less than a dozen vitamins. Is it so very surprising that one nutrient would have so many benefits?
"The Ultimate Antidote" (Chapter 3, 103 pages) considers vitamin C as an antitoxin. This chapter will, as Mark Twain put it, gratify some and astonish the rest. The effects of alcohol, the barbiturates, carbon monoxide, cyanide, aflatoxin, a variety of environmental poisons including pesticides, even acetaminophen poisoning in cats, mushroom poisoning, and snake venoms are all shown to respond to vitamin C megadose therapy. Mercury, lead, and the effects of radiation receive special and really eye-opening attention.
If there is a greater calling than healing the sick, it is teaching people how to do it themselves. Abram Hoffer and Lendon H. Smith are perhaps the two foremost examples of physician-authors who have focused on directly instructing their readers how to use megavitamins correctly and directly. I think Dr. Levy is another of these natural born teachers, and this may be most apparent in the book¡¯s section of "Practical Suggestions" (Chapter 5). General readers, having just learned that high oral doses of ascorbate are effective for self-medication, will appreciate receiving the benefits of Dr. Levy¡¯s professional experience. Physician readers will especially welcome his injection instructions. I would like to see this important chapter greatly expanded.
A book this good deserves a more eye-catching, upscale cover to attract bookshelf attention and get to those who most need it. I hope the next edition will also add some visual aids. Opponents to medical use of vitamin C will almost certainly demand expansion of Chapter 4 ("The Safety of High Doses of Vitamin C") to include more negative studies and more commentary on possible negative effects of massive doses of ascorbate. Dr. Levy does in fact devote considerable attention to hemochromatosis, immune system concerns, G6PD deficiency, allegations of DNA damage and kidney stone formation, the rebound effect, and vitamin C¡¯s prooxidant characteristics. I doubt if any chapter of any length would satisfy vitamin therapy¡¯s harshest critics. Furthermore, they can always find abundant (if mostly unfounded) ammunition in practically any medical or nutrition textbook in print. In Levy¡¯s book, there is a welcome emphasis on the positive side of vitamin C megadoses, and that is their power to cure the sick.
Cure is by far the best word there is in medicine. It would seem that you cannot spell "cure" without "C." I do not think Dr. Klenner would dispute that. And there is no doubt whatsoever that Dr. Klenner would wholeheartedly approve of Dr. Levy stating this (p 36):
"The three most important considerations in effective vitamin C therapy are "dose, dose, and dose. If you don¡¯t take enough, you won¡¯t get the desired effects. Period!"
Dr. Levy¡¯s book presents clear evidence that vitamin C cures disease. It contains over 1,200 scientific references, presented chapter by chapter. It does not mince words. It is disease specific. It is dose specific. It is practical. It is readable. It is excellent.(This review was originally was published in the Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, Vol. 18, No. 2, 2003, p 117-118. It is reprinted here with permission.)