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Vitamin C: The Real Story: The Remarkable and Controversial Healing Factor Hardcover – October 23, 2015
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About the Author
In 1994, Pastor Steve Hickey and his wife, Kristen, moved from Kansas City to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, with the idea of starting an aggressive church-planting church. From that original vision, Church at the Gate today includes various ministries, campuses, and daughter churches. Steve's long-term vision is to continue his work in the church-planting movement in this nation and throughout the world. In addition to Momentum: God's Ever-Increasing Kingdom, Pastor Hickey authored Obtainable Destiny based on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus.
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The purpose of this book, I believe, is to convince me that vitamin C can do all the things the authors claim. That, in fact, is why I bought it and read it. They failed. Not because vitamin C can't do all those wonderful things. It probably can do many of them. The authors simply failed to prove it to me. I am convinced by data, not by claims.
Here are some examples of what the authors call data:
1) Page 26 - Frederick R. Klenner said, "In the past seven years [1941 - 1948], virus infections [poliomyelitis] have been treated and cured in a period of seventy-two hours by employment of massive frequent injections of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C."
2) Page 105 - "He [Dr. Cathcart] reported on a group of approximately ninety AIDS patients who took high doses of vitamin C independently; an additional twelve of his AIDS patients were described, six of whom received intravenous ascorbate. Dr. Cathcart reported a response proportionate to the amount of vitamin consumed."
3) Page 107 - "In 1975, Dr. Cathcart reported that, over a three-year period, he had treated more than 2000 patients with massive doses of vitamin C. He noted considerable beneficial effects in acute viral disease ..."
These statements are not data. I do not doubt the truth of these statements, but even if they are 100% true, they are neither data nor evidence. They don't prove anything to me. In number 1), "infections have been treated and cured" is not very convincing. Were the infections diagnosed by independent medical authorities and accepted as polio? How many were there? How severe were they? How does Klenner define cured, and what were the degrees of curing? What was the cure or recovery rate for other treatments for similar diagnoses? In number 2), "a response proportionate to the amount of vitamin consumed" leaves a tremendous amount of wiggle room for interpretation. In number 3), "considerable benefit" is similarly vague.
The authors did, however, do a better job of presenting data from one study on page 16:
"A research group led by Dr. Jonathon Gould in the 1950s conducted a placebo-controlled trial of vitamin C as a treatment for polio. About seventy children were treated in the study; half of the children were given vitamin C and the remainder a placebo. All the children given the vitamin C recovered. However, in the placebo group, approximately twenty percent had residual impairment."
The authors also present many anecdotes of individual experiences of medical practitioners. The problem with anecdotes is that the reader doesn't know if the story they are reading is the very best outcome out of a large number of cases and how many of the cases resulted in diminished or poor outcomes. In other words, anecdotes can leave the reader with the impression that vitamin C is a wonder cure, and they should expect miracles. Maybe vitamin C really is a wonder cure, and maybe it does work miracles, but life is rarely that simple. And anecdotes are usually chosen to show the best outcome possible.
Since the book presented so little data that was convincing to me, I spent some time on the internet to try to find some, starting first with the authors' endnotes. I quickly found the following paragraph, though it was not referenced by the authors of "Vitamin C: The Real Story."
"To investigate the effects of vitamin C on cancer patients' health-related quality of life, we prospectively studied 39 terminal cancer patients. All patients were given an intravenous administration of 10 g vitamin C twice with a 3-day interval and an oral intake of 4 g vitamin C daily for a week. And then we investigated demographic data and assessed changes in patients' quality of life after administration of vitamin C. Quality of life was assessed with EORTC QLQ-C30. In the global health/quality of life scale, health score improved from 36±18 to 55±16 after administration of vitamin C (p=0.001). In functional scale, the patients reported significantly higher scores for physical, role, emotional, and cognitive function after administration of vitamin C (p<0.05). In symptom scale, the patients reported significantly lower scores for fatigue, nausea/vomiting, pain, and appetite loss after administration of vitamin C (p<0.005). The other function and symptom scales were not significantly changed after administration of vitamin C." ("Changes of Terminal Cancer Patients' Health-related Quality of Life after High Dose Vitamin C Administration", Chang Hwan Yeom, Gyou Chul Jung, and Keun Jeong Song, J Korean Med Sci, v.22(1), Feb 2007)
This is data. Everything is defined: the sample set, diagnoses, doses, measures of success, statistics, outcomes. And one bonus of this study is that the doses were relatively small and for a short treatment period, so one can only wonder how much better the outcomes would have been with higher doses and longer durations.
I also found other relevant data that the authors failed to exhibit or even reference. I bought this book so I wouldn't have to do my own research. They failed me in that respect.
THE GOOD NEWS
What the authors did very well is to introduce me to a potentially important therapy that I previously thought of as just a nutrient. They clearly state the problems, the solutions, and many constraints on those solutions. The first five chapters do a very good job of presenting the scientific background of what vitamin C is and how it works. Chapter Five is a good presentation of the biochemistry of antioxidants. It would, however, benefit from some graphics. Likewise, Chapter One discusses what vitamin C is but never presents a graphic showing the structure of the molecule.
I applaud the authors for doing something unheard of in modern popular technical books--presenting data graphically. Basic Health Publications is clearly not a New York City mainstream publisher. The mainstream publishers have been convinced by their Park Avenue allies that modern American readers would be confused by graphical data and refuse to buy anything with a graph in it. Yet a graph is the only rational way to present such time-sequence data as they do in Chapter Three. Kudos for small publishers with expansive vision.
All in all, I was quite favorably impressed with the book--in spite of my ranting about their failure to show me the data.
The Remarkable and Controversial Story of Vitamin C
by Steve Hickey, PhD and Andrew Saul, PhD,
2008, Basic Health Publications Inc., CA, 192 pages [...]
A curious title. What could be remarkable or controversial about vitamin C? Thousands of children take Flintstone multis every day; don't they get enough vitamin C? Many adults take some C when they have a cold. Even without supplements, don't most people get enough vitamins and minerals in their fruits and veggies? Authors Hickey and Saul think we need to know the truth about vitamin C. Their fascinating book presents some truly remarkable vitamin C discoveries. They outline its health-maintaining functions, introduce its health-restoring capabilities and warn us about anti-vitamin-therapy factoids.
Steven Hickey, PhD and Andrew Saul, PhD present the real story clearly and carefully. Readers will gradually realize that the vitamin C story has two dimensions. On the bright side, scientific and medical researchers have documented decades of vitamin research, clinical progress and success. Vital amines, and other nutritional substances, are essential for health and useful for healing. Over the past 100 years, a succession of scientific researchers studied the biochemistry of vitamin C and learned that vital amines sustain metabolism. Minimal doses of vitamin C can heal scurvy however optimum doses of vitamin C have remarkable health-restoring capabilities. Researchers carried out clinical trials, detailed patient recoveries, corroborated findings and wrote journal articles and reference books. The vitamin C story also has a disturbing dark side. Rather than telling the truth, certain health professionals dismiss the vitamin C research and disparage the clinical progress reports. They ignore vitamin C's health-maintaining functions and dispute its health-restoring capabilities. The anti-vitamin-therapy skeptics use factoids to support their denials, as outlined in this book.
Like a Swiss-army knife, vitamin C has multiple capabilities. When we pick up a Swiss-army knife for the first time, we expect to find large and small blades but we may not inspect it carefully. In an emergency, we happily discover that a Swiss-army knife comes with a versatile set of built-in tools: a screwdriver, a tooth pick, a cork screw and a file. After these tiny tools save lives, the word gets out. Eventually the public learns that each Swiss army knife comes with life-saving tools. Consider the metabolic and healing capabilities of vitamins as tools for restoring health. In milligram doses, vitamin C enables essential metabolic pathways to sustain life. Small doses can heal scurvy. If taken in large enough doses when a patient has cancer or an infection or an overload of toxins, vitamin C can heal and restore health. The general public still does not know that vitamin C has a number of lifesaving capabilities. Meanwhile, certain experts, who should know better than to publish false information, scoff at vitamin C research, forget its biochemistry, ignore its metabolic functions and deny its therapeutic value. Why don't more scientific and medical professionals study the vitamin C research, review the clinical trials, interview recovered patients and learn that therapeutic doses of vitamin C really can restore health and save lives? Too busy. How can trusting patients know if our doctors understand and apply the healing capabilities of vitamin C or use false factoids to withhold vitamin treatments? Patients and families, caregivers and health professionals can read books and articles about vitamin C to learn the facts for ourselves.
Vitamin C: The Real Story teaches us that a hundred years after the discovery of vitamin C, mankind is still researching the biochemistry of essential nutrients and developing medical applications. We learn that vital amines, trace minerals, amino and fatty acids, hormones and many other nutrients are essential for sustaining life. Optimum doses can restore health. Orthomolecular health professionals know that regimens of vitamin C and other nutritional supplements, if given in the right doses, can help patients recover and live well. They routinely prescribe supplements and adjust the doses to suit each patient's diagnosis and biochemical individuality. Readers of this book will learn to distinguish the facts about vitamin C from the anti-C factoids. Patients can ask their doctors about vitamin research, optimal doses and patient recoveries. Readers are cautioned to take care with their health. Anyone who reads this book will learn useful facts about vitamin C and its clinical applications: therapeutic doses of vitamin C can restore health when taken as recommended by qualified medical professionals who understand biochemistry and know when to prescribe vitamin C as a complementary and restorative treatment.
review by Robert Sealey, BSc
author of 90-Day Plan for Finding Quality Care [...]