Virgiliu Gheorghe
Virgiliu Gheorghe
A well known medical researcher and biophysicist answers questions related to efficiency of Vitamin C in the prevention and treatment of Coronavirus as currently employed by the Chinese to successfully control its spread. This article has been translated from a Romanian site. See the full text below.

In the context of increasing preoccupation with Coronavirus, and a lot of confusing rumors, ActiveNews talks to well known medical researcher & biophysicist Virgiliu Gheorghe, on the topic of vitamin C.

vitamin c wuhan
Here's the ensuing dialogue:

Mr Gheorghe, there has been a media controversy regarding vitamin C as prevention and treatment of the new virus that so easily spreads through the population. What do you think is the mechanism behind it and how do you regard the effects of administering it?

First, I don't think it's a real controversy, but an unprecedented media attack which is apparently trying to keep people away from one of the strongest means of prevention of infectious disease and more. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant which can defend against many illnesses by strengthening the immune system and other molecular mechanism which have either been elucidated or are in the course of being. Since its discovery in the 50s there have been around 59,000 articles with vitamin C in the title, and it or its effects are mentioned in 3,000,000. I don't know many other medicines or vitamins that have received similar attention. Aspirin by comparison is mentioned in 1,200,000 studies.

Then what is the reason behind this attack and why is it currently lacking in treating patients?

Ever since its effects were discovered, mass media has always attacked vitamin C, and the only possible explanation is that it can genuinely help the population and replace many medications. Of course this would drive sales down for the pharma industry. There is an economic reason at stake. For example, Linus Pauling, the father of molecular biology, considered one of the greatest scientists of all time, with inventions and discoveries that changed biology, physics, chemistry and molecular biology — ever since he discovered the importance of vitamin C for human health has had to fight to promote it until he died. Most of the press antagonised him. He was denigrated, ostracised, when before papers were racing to interview him. He had two Nobel prizes, the only double Nobel prizes in history, for himself, not in a team with someone else. Know what Pauling was saying in 1990, at the age of 90? "People who take these vitamins in the optimal amount will live 25 to 35 years longer than the rest. Better yet, they will have less illness".

Some doctors have made claims in the press that vitamin c have considerable side effects and best to not consume it. What are these side effects and how much do we need to guard against them?

Did you know water has side effects too? If you drink in very large amounts it has a laxative effect, which is what they say about vitamin C. This is a side effect. Salt, a vital necessity for human health, can lead to water retention and other ill effects if consumed in large amounts. There is nothing without side effects in large amounts or not administered correctly. Vitamin C is one of the supplements — because it is not a medicine — with the smallest side effects of all known medication, even in very large doses, dozens of grams injectable every day. There are safe studies regarding administering vitamin C intravenously up to 1.5 grams per body weight kilogram, so upto 100 grams a day. The aside effects are minor. The only known caution against intravenous administration of very large doses is checking glucose 6-phosphate. It's an enzyme which in some people, especially men, can be low because of a mutated gene. In case of major deficiency, under 10%, you have to avoid large intravenous doses. No problems with oral administration.

There are no side effects to oral administration for up to 2/3 grams. The dose can be repeated every 4 hours, and this has been demonstrated in a study from 2004.

Despite that some doctors claim it can affect the stomach and other organs. How do you regard this?

Told you, it depends on the quality and amount of the vitamin. If it's not enteric-coated, so just ascorbic acid, it needs to be combined with sodium bicarbonate and it will lose its acidity, and that's only a consideration from 2, 3 grams upwards. If you take a tablet, crush , dissolve in a glass of water, add a splash sodium bicarbonate, you shouldn't have any problems. Or just take it during a meal, with the food. There are no adverse effects for 2 or 3 grams at a time. Only sensitive people have stomach side effects. If there are any, lower the dose and take smaller doses throughout the day. The body adapts. You can even consume 6 to 7 grams at once without side effects. Ill people won't have adverse effects because the vitamin is assimilated faster, the body needing it.

It was also claimed it can lead to kidney stones.

With administering large amounts on the long term you can have this problem. That means months, and large amounts means dozens of grams intravenously. It's a very rare phenomenon, and only for those who develop oxalate stones. But these people also develop them if they consume large amounts of meat, spinach or other oxalate high foods. But during a pandemic, the risk vs benefit is pro consumption of large dose vitamin C. Anyway when you take very large doses, especially intravenously, you have to consume more liquid than usual to ensure elimination. Halving time for vitamin C is about 2 hours, and in about 6 there is very little trace left in the blood.

How many grams a day do we have to consume a day to protect against infections, for a strong immunity?

People used to consume much more raw foods which brought higher content of vitamin C, thermal processing destroys it. For comparison, gorillas, whose biology is similar to humans, consume 5, 6 grams daily of vitamin C from their food. That's because like humans they lack an enzyme needed to organically synthesise vitamin C. A goat will synthesise 13 grams daily, and up to 100 grams daily during an infection. So that should give you an idea of the amounts needed for humans.

Linus Pauling, who I mentioned earlier, consumed 18 grams daily until the day he died. He lived 93 years, had prostate cancer for the last 20, and was still scientifically engaged in his last years of life. In a conversation with the president of the Food and Drug Administration, Linus Pauling plainly said it is a crime not to inform the population about the advantages of taking daily doses of vitamin C.

Then, what is the amount we can and should take daily in this season?

A 2013 review informs us that small doses aren't much use. This review looked at all the studies where less than 200mg per day was administered daily. The effect was from weak to negligible.

Quite the opposite with large doses: from 1 gram up, effects are proportionately better. In a review of studies on military personnel, it shows that vitamin C can prevent ordinary flu from 45% to 91%, in proportion to the amount taken, and rate of pneumonia in the vitamin C group falls to 80% to 100%, according to how much is consumed. A very strong effect.

In a study from 1999 on 432 students with ages ranging from 23 and 32 who were given 6 grams a day of vitamin C, a gram every hour, they had an 85% reduction in symptoms of the viruses they suffered with.

In average, daily consumption of minimum 6 grams of vitamin C is safe and recommended especially in flu season, but also throughout the year. One gram at a time, but even 2, 3 at a time, up to 6 times a day. A minimum of 3-6 grams a day is sufficient.

How do you see the effects of vitamin C on the Coronavirus ?

Corona is still a virus, so the effects should be similar. The surprising thing is that the effects of large doses of vitamin C in the case of Covid-19 are actually higher than other viruses, as evidence shows in China, Korea and Japan. There are three ongoing clinical studies in China on the effects of vitamin C in treating infections with Covid-19, and results are looking very good. The first one was posted on February 11th and it looks at the results of administering 24 daily grams intravenously, two perfusions of 12 grams each, via the infusomat. Results are very clear. Look at what one of the authors of the study is saying, who is collaborating with the government of China through this pandemic. His channel is here, and offers information on treating this virus with vitamin C.

In fact it looks like it was vitamin C that lead to stopping the epidemic in China. It made the Chinese government declare that vitamin C plays a very important role in combating the pandemic. On March the 1st, the Chinese Journal of Infectious Disease, hosted by the Medical Association of Shanghai, published "The expertise consensus regarding the total treatment of coronavirus in Shanghai 2019". This document is of extraordinary importance, as it concentrates the Chinese experience in combating the virus. In it, besides other medication like Hydroxychloroquine , they recommend 100-200mg of vitamin C of per kilo of body mass, intravenously, especially during the cytokine storm that happens in the body as a reaction to the virus. For prevention, dozens of tons of vitamin C have been made available to the population of Wuhan.
"In my hospital in Daegu, South Korea, all the patients and staff use oral vitamin C since last week. Some people had light fever, headaches and coughs, and those with symptoms received 30.000mg of vitamin C intravenously. Some were better in about 2 days, but with most, the symptoms disappeared after one perfusion." (Hyoungjoo Shin, MD)
There is a recording with a supposed doctor at the Matei Bals hospital, who insists on not taking vitamin C at all, as she claims it endangers patients' lives.

I also received the message, it went viral. First, I cannot believe that is a doctor, because not only doesn't she sound like it, but exhibits a medical and scientific level below a med school undergrad. She claims the human body does not recognise this virus. So, influenza or the former Coronavirus were? Or which virus is recognised by the human body before contact? Later, she claims children and teenagers below 18 yeas of age — these categories see the most minor effects from the virus, have non developed immunity, and that's why they do not get ill. So a low immunity response, she claims. While, she claims, people with strong immunity like adults and old people, have a stronger reaction because the immunity is stronger. So she recommends NOT taking vitamin C because it enhances immunity, thus endangering life. This type of nonsense should be publicly shamed. If it's true that this person is a doctor, then the College of Medics should take action.

It is self evident children and young people have much stronger immunity than old people, that's why old people get sicker more, and their life is endangered by any infection. Generally, strong immunity is a necessary condition to fight any infectious disease. So we do need vitamin C to prevent this disease.
"We must spread this message throughout the world: low or large dose vitamin C does not harm people and it one of the few, if not the only agent that can help in prevention and treatment of the infection with Covid-19. When possible, us, doctors and scientists, have to prioritise patients' life!" (Richard Z. Cheng, MD, PhD China)
But she claims the immune reaction is very strong, hence the strengthening of the immune system with vitamin C is very dangerous.

There is a pro inflammatory immune reaction, hence the confusion but what is needed is regulating immunity as opposed to suppressing it. That's because, besides pro inflammatory cytokines IL 2 and IL 6 there are also anti inflammatory cytokines. There are M 1 pro inflammatory macrophages and M 2 anti inflammatory macrophages or immune cells T reg which inhibit this pro inflammatory immune reaction. Vitamin C is, according to studies, a strong anti inflammatory, and via more mechanisms than one.

First, in a 2018 study it is shown that vitamin C decreases C-reactive protein which is especially high in the case of Covid-19, one of the main proinflammatory markers. It also inhibits COX2. This cytokine storm which is a result of the viral attack, which endangers human life, acts via free radicals. Well, vitamin C is a strong anti oxidant which neutralises these free radicals thus saving the patient's life. This was observed by the Chinese, which is why they recommend giving patients large amounts of vitamin C from the start.

On the other hand, the virus' multiplication doubled by the immune cells', requires an increase in Glycolysis. But vitamin C is an inhibitor of Glycolysis, hence it inhibits both the proliferation of immune cells — the mechanism behind the pro-inflammatory cytokine storm which destroys the lungs and other organs, but also of the virus itself.

Which supplements do you recommend for protection against this pandemic?

Firstly vitamin C, between 3 and 6 grams daily. The more, the better. Then, vitamin D minimum 2000 UI per day up to 5000 UI. Most people have a deficit in vitamin D, which exposes you to infections and other illnesses. Also important are the oligo-minerals selenium 100-200 ug daily and zinc 20 mg per day. Magnesium 400-1000 mg daily and vitamin E 400 UI daily. For those who want to read more on this, I recommend

I met a great American professor and doctor, the dean of one of the world's largest university, who consumed not just daily vitamin C and zinc but also clove, cinnamon and ginger tea every day. These are all very strong immune-stimulants and anti-infectious.

If you come in contact with many people or travel by plane, it is recommended to rinse your mouth with colloidal silver, itself a good antiviral agent. There is another very strong antiviral and anti-inflammatory agent, oleuropein, an extract from olive leaves.

To neutralise free radicals produced by the infection, which endanger human life, polyphenols are recommended, such as resveratrol and curcumin — they're both strong antioxidants, immune-modulators and anti-inflammatory.

I strongly believe that people who will consume at least a part of these, will spend time in the sun, and fresh air, wont' have serious problems with Covid-19, and if they do contact it, it will be a lighter form, which might not even be diagnosed since its symptoms not specific enough.

Finally, we'd like to ask, how do you see the dangers of this virus. Do you think it will lead to millions dead, like they anticipated in October in a New York health simulation by three American health experts?

No, I don't think so. It's an aggressive virus, but if it meets people with good immunity and is stopped from reaching old people with low immunity, or other risk people, then it won't have many victims. This, if it's treated not just with antiviral meds and Hydroxychloroquine, but also large doses of vitamin C and other strong anti oxidants like injectable glutathione which can protect against the cytokine storm.

Lastly, it's very important, pay as little attention as possible to TV and internet, because they will amplify panic and stress. Even lead to post traumatic stress, if not actually get ill. This stress is associated with a dramatic depression of the immune system and an inflammatory response, which is exactly what the virus needs to develop and bring down the body. So, those who will find peace amidst the developing insanity will absolutely benefit the most.