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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, December 16, 2021

Ascorbate, not laughter, is what cured Norman Cousins

by Andrew W. Saul, Editor

OMNS (Dec. 16, 2021) Ask most people about the healing power of laughter and most will say, "Of course!" The first time the general public heard of it was in Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins' 1979 book Anatomy of an Illness. It is publisher-described as a "best-selling, groundbreaking classic by Norman Cousins on combating life-threatening illness through humor and patient participation in care. . . It started the revolution in patients working with their doctors and using humor to boost their bodies' capacity for healing." [1]

While Covid seems to have depleted healthcare of much of that revolution (and all of the humor), this famous book remains in print. It was even made into a television movie. [2]

With all that, one might think the medical profession would have, by now, paid more careful attention to what Cousins actually did to get well. The vital component of Cousins' recovery was extremely high doses of vitamin C, administered by intravenous infusion. [3] But it is positive attitude and humor that typically get the credit for his recovery from ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic, inflammatory arthritis.

Reversing this severe condition is not a matter of laughter. It is very important to highlight the rest of the story, the portion that is marginalized or deliberately excluded from most medical discussion.

Cousins' tells of his decision to use high doses of vitamin C:

"My hope was to start at ten grams (10,000 mg) and then increase the dose daily until we reached 25 grams. To know whether we were on the right track we took a sedimentation test before the first intravenous administration of ten grams of ascorbic acid. Four hours later, we took another sedimentation test. There was a drop of nine full points. Seldom had I known such elation. The ascorbic acid was working. . . The fever was receding, and the pulse was no longer racing. We stepped up the dosage. On the second day we went to 12.5 grams of ascorbic acid, on the third day, 15 grams, and so on until the end of the week, when we reached 25 grams . . . At the end of the eighth day I was able to move my thumbs without pain." (p 42-43)

And far from showcasing cooperation between doctor and patient, Cousins adds this:

"[A] woman telephoned two days later to say she had attempted to discuss the possible efficacy of ascorbate for her husband, only to have the doctor cut her short by chanting "quack, quack" and then describing the whole process as "b.s." The woman and her husband decided to discontinue the doctor's services, although he had been a longtime family friend."(p 132)

Orthopedic surgeon Robert F. Cathcart, M.D., has pointed out that it is not always necessary to have intravenous vitamin C provided that frequently spaced doses of oral vitamin C are employed. [4]

Whether intravenous or oral, the key with C is to use enough. There is no better summation than revisiting Cousins' own experience:

"On the second day we went to 12.5 grams of ascorbic acid, on the third day, 15 grams, and so on until the end of the week, when we reached 25 grams (25,000 mg). At the end of the eighth day I was able to move my thumbs without pain."

For 45 years now I have been recommending that a patient "take enough C to be symptom-free, whatever that amount may be." I stand by that statement.

(OMNS Editor-in-Chief Andrew W. Saul taught his first health education course in 1976. Since then he has written, co-authored or co-edited 26 books including four books with Abram Hoffer, MD. At the express request of Dr. Hoffer and Hugh Riordan, MD, Saul founded the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service in 2005.)




3. How to Get Intravenous Vitamin C Given to a Hospitalized Patient: A Checklist

4. Vitamin C, Titration to Bowel Tolerance, Anascorbemia, and Acute Induced Scurvy, by Robert F. Cathcart, M.D.

The Cathcart vitamin C paper is also posted in:
Portuguese: 1981 Titration Portuguese.pdf
Spanish: 1981 Titration Spanish.pdf

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Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor-In-Chief
Associate Editor: Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Editor, Japanese Edition: Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)
Editor, Chinese Edition: Richard Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. (USA)
Editor, French Edition: Vladimir Arianoff, M.D. (Belgium)
Editor, Norwegian Edition: Dag Viljen Poleszynski, Ph.D. (Norway)
Editor, Arabic Edition: Moustafa Kamel, R.Ph, P.G.C.M (Egypt)
Editor, Korean Edition: Hyoungjoo Shin, M.D. (South Korea)
Editor, Spanish Edition: Sonia Rita Rial, PhD (Argentina)
Contributing Editor: Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Assistant Editor: Helen Saul Case, M.S. (USA)
Technology Editor: Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA)
Associate Technology Editor: Robert C. Kennedy, M.S. (USA)
Legal Consultant: Jason M. Saul, JD (USA)

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