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How to Live Longer and Feel Better

Linus Pauling 


If I were to recommend just one health book, it would not be one of mine, but this one:


How to Live Longer and Feel Better

by Linus Pauling

Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press, 2006. 300 pages, plus index, notes and extensive bibliography.


Reviewed by Andrew W. Saul

Assistant Editor, Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine


My Dad always said that when you want to know something, talk to the organ-grinder, not the monkey. With that epithet in mind, may I suggest that you promptly borrow or buy a copy of Linus Pauling’s How to Live Longer and Feel Better, recently reissued in an updated 20th anniversary edition. Yes, this is THE Dr. Pauling: the man your chemistry teacher idolized and your family doctor tries hard to ignore. Why? Because Linus Pauling committed the cardinal sin of allopathic medicine: he, a medical outsider, dared to present, directly to the public, his insightful reviews of the scientific literature to demonstrate that high doses of vitamins cure real diseases. What’s more, Pauling reassessed many supposedly open-and-thoroughly shut “vitamins-are-useless” studies and explained how the researchers had skirted the fact that their data actually demonstrated that vitamin therapy did indeed have statistical value. Again and again, Pauling criticized study authors who failed to interpret their own work fairly, or even accurately, and had passed off biased opinions as valid conclusions from their work. 


When negative studies are revealed to actually be positive, organized medicine has egg on its beard. Hence, it has long been open season on Pauling, arguably the world’s most qualified, and certainly the world’s best known, critic of our scorbutic (vitamin C deficient) medical system. Pauling’s two unshared Nobel prizes (he is the only person in history with that distinction) are no protection from ignorant critics who slam vitamins without reading the research first.


Like me, for example. I first encountered Linus Pauling's Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1973 while I was a student at the Australian National University. In addition to being the actual author of my chemistry textbook, Pauling had also just visited our university. In the uni refectory (that's "campus dining hall" for you Yanks), I hereby confess that we privately made fun of Pauling. A physics student and I casually calculated on a serviette (that's a paper napkin, mate) that you'd have to do nothing but eat oranges all day if you wanted to consume the amount of vitamin C that Pauling recommended. Two Nobels or not, we thought he was past it, and we were not alone in our sophomoric view.


Some years later, now back in America and, quite suddenly, with two kids in diapers, I was reading all the Pauling papers and books I could get my hands on. Now, you see, I had become a man with an all-too-prosaic mission: to keep my two little kids healthy. Life for me has not been the same since, nor for my children. I raised them both all the way into college without a single dose of any antibiotic. I saw for myself that Pauling was right. Vitamins worked, for prevention and for cure.


It would be difficult to imagine that his advocacy of the practical medical application of vitamins would ultimately cause more of a ruckus than Pauling's previous overhaul of our knowledge of chemistry, or even the vicious blacklisting that Pauling got from the US government when he opposed nuclear testing. After bringing high-dose vitamin C therapy for colds and flu to the public’s attention in the early 1970s, Dr. Pauling had to spend quite a bit of time defending much-larger-than-RDA nutritional medicine from an abundant supply of under-informed critics. By 1986, when he first published How to Live Longer and Feel Better, he’d had a lot of practice.


Pauling had the rare gift for making the complex understandable, and his talent shows most clearly in this book. Distilling thirty pages of scientific references into logical, common-sense advice, he covers vitamins and cancer, heart disease, aging, infectious diseases, vitamin safety, toxicity and side effects, medicines, doctors' attitudes, nutrition history, vitamin biochemistry and a good deal more. And, with all that, he still finds time to clearly summarize as he goes, and to include some personal thoughts on attaining world peace. This is perhaps the strongest presentation ever written on the need for supplemental vitamins. The new edition benefits from added notes, an introduction outlining Pauling's career, and the welcome inclusion of cartoon illustrations previously dropped from the mass-market edition. There are many good reasons why a one-second Google search for Linus Pauling will bring up nearly a million responses. How to Live Longer and Feel Better is definitely one of the best. 



Andrew Saul is the author of the books FIRE YOUR DOCTOR! How to be Independently Healthy (reader reviews at ) and DOCTOR YOURSELF: Natural Healing that Works. (reviewed at )


Andrew W. Saul


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