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From the Townsend Letter
June 2006

News Release
Vitamin C Prevents and Treats the Common Cold

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Overwhelming Evidence Shows That Vitamin C Prevents Common Colds and Reduces a Cold's Severity and Duration
Two-time Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling found that ascorbate (vitamin C) in a daily amount of 1,000 mg was repeatedly reported in double-blind controlled studies to decrease the incidence of colds by about 45% and the integrated morbidity (duration) by about 63%.1 Dr. Pauling, a strong proponent of using vitamin C to prevent and treat colds, wrote the definitive book on the subject.2 Dr. Pauling quoted chest specialist
Frederick R. Klenner, MD, who for 27 years had used ascorbic acid for the treatment of virus infections: "I have several hundred patients who have taken ten or more grams of vitamin C daily for three to 15 years. Ninety percent of these patients never have colds; the others need additional ascorbic acid (vitamin C)."3

In the years since Pauling and Klenner, research has reconfirmed that vitamin C is the safest, cheapest, and most effective way to fight the common cold.4 Gorton and Jarvis conducted a controlled study of 715 subjects to investigate the effect of mega dose vitamin C in preventing and relieving cold and flu symptoms. When the test group presented with symptoms, they were treated with hourly doses of 1,000 mg of vitamin C for the first six hours and then three times daily thereafter. Those not presenting any symptoms were given 1,000 mg dose of vitamin C three times a day. The results of this
study were that flu and cold symptoms in the test group decreased by 85% compared to the control group. The authors also mentioned that, "for more than 30 years, vitamin C in megadose quantities has been recognized as an effective agent against colds and flu."5

Even more recently, Van Straten and Josling found that subjects receiving a
vitamin C supplement for 60 days during winter had significantly fewer colds as compared to placebo. And if those subjects did get a cold, it was of shorter duration and less severe than those experienced by the placebo group. The authors concluded that vitamin C was effective.6

How to Stop a Cold
The best way to prevent a cold is to take plenty of vitamin C. Avoiding dietary refined sugar is also helpful.7 One popular preventive method is to take 1,000 mg of vitamin C every eight hours. If you feel a cold coming on, take 2,000 mg of vitamin C every waking hour and continue this dosage until the cold is gone.8 Many people successfully use even more frequent doses. If you arrive at bowel tolerance with vitamin C (loose stool), reduce the dosage somewhat. Taking large quantities of vitamin C lessens the duration of the cold and its symptoms. The higher the total daily dose, the better the result.

Why Vitamin C Works
Vitamin C strengthens connective tissue, increasing resistance to viral invasion. Vitamin C also strengthens the body's immune system, neutralizes free radicals, and kills viruses.9,10 These important functions of vitamin C work together to safely and effectively reduce the frequency, severity, and duration of a cold.

1. Pauling L. The significance of the evidence about ascorbic acid and the
common cold. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. November 1971:68 (11):678-2681. Available at:
2. Pauling L. Vitamin C and the Common Cold. W. H. Freeman, 1970.
3. Pauling L. Ascorbic acid and the common cold. Available at:
4. Hemila H. Vitamin c and the common cold. Br J Nutr. 1992 Jan;67(1):3-16.
5. Gorton HC and Jarvis K. The effectiveness of vitamin C in preventing and
relieving the symptoms of virus-induced respiratory infections. Journal of
Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics
. 1999; 22(8): 530-533.
6. Van Straten M and Josling P. Preventing the common cold with a vitamin C
supplement: a double-blind, placebo-controlled survey. Adv Ther. 2002
7. Ely JT. Ascorbic acid and some other modern analogs of the germ theory.
Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine.1999;14(3):143-56. Available at:
8. Cathcart RF. Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance, ascorbemia and
acute induced scurvy. Medical Hypotheses. 1981;7:1359-1376. Available at:
9. Klenner FR. Significance of high daily intake of ascorbic acid in
preventive medicine. Megascorbic Therapies: Vitamin C in Medicine. 1(1).
Available at:
10. Klenner FR. Clinical guide to the use of vitamin C. Available at:

What is Orthomolecular Medicine?
Linus Pauling defined orthomolecular medicine as "the treatment of disease
by the provision of the optimum molecular environment, especially the optimum concentrations of substances normally present in the human body." Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information, visit Take the Orthomolecular Quiz at

The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and
non-commercial informational resource.

Editorial Review Board
Abram Hoffer, MD, PhD
Harold D. Foster, PhD
Bradford Weeks, MD
Carolyn Dean, MD ND
Erik Paterson, MD
Thomas Levy, MD, JD
Steve Hickey, PhD

Andrew W. Saul, PhD, Editor


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