Vitamin C – A Possible Non-Prescription Option to Treat Heart Disease?

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 In line with the previous post on how sugar contributes to heart disease by causing inflammation in the arteries, there is yet another perspective on how to avoid and ultimately heal heart disease naturally – Vitamin C. Dr. Linus Pauling, American chemist, biochemist, and peace activist, was a huge proponent of high-dose vitamin C therapy to treat both cancer and heart disease. Dr. Pauling is one of only 4 people who have  been awarded more than 1 Nobel Prize – Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1954, and Nobel Peace Prize in 1962. 

The premise behind the Vitamin C theory of heart disease is this: chronic scurvy. We’ve all heard of sailors of long ago who brought citrus fruits along with them on their long sea voyages to avoid scurvy. Scurvy is a disease resulting from a vitamin c deficiency. The human body is unable to synthesize its own supply of vitamin c, so it needs to be supplemented through vitamin c-rich foods, and/or a vitamin supplement. Symptoms of scurvy include bleeding gums, fatigue, irritability, leg pain, easily-bruised skin, wounds that fail to heal, and more. These symptoms usually occur about 3 months after the person has been lacking enough vitamin c. Vitamin c is present in fresh fruits and vegetables, and in some meats. However, when foods are heavily processed and cooked, they lose most of this vitamin. So if your diet lacks fresh produce, you are setting yourself up for what is known as chronic scurvy. 

Vitamin c (aka L-ascorbic acid) is necessary for collagen production and iron absorption. It also reduces heavy metal toxicity, and removes free radicals, thus preventing cellular and DNA damage, as well as damage to arterial walls. Bleeding and possibly hemorrhage may result because of defective collagen formation.

Collagen is the main structural protein found in connective tissue. It is the main reinforcing agent on the inside of arterial walls. Because of the constant mechanical stress of the blood being forcefully pumped through arteries, arteries need to be very strong. If they are not, breakthrough bleeding could be deadly. Especially for those with high blood pressure, microscopic tears may result from excessive force, leading to scar tissue. This scar tissue is made of – you guessed it – collagen (and elastin, another type of structural protein). The body can make collagen without vitamin c, but it will not be strong. The strength of collage fibers comes from cross-linking of the fibers, and vitamin c is the nutrient responsible for this structure. In cases of vitamin c deficiency, the fibers will be weak and break easily.

The plaque formation in the arteries is actually a healing mechanism. Arterial plaque is formed from cholesterol, fats, calcium, and other substances. If the collagen fibers are weak, the plaque acts as an emergency protection to prevent the arteries from hemorrhaging. The function of the plaque is actually to save your life! The problem is that these plaque fragments can break off and form blood clots, which can block the artery, leading to a heart attack or stroke. But the premise behind vitamin c therapy is that if we provide sufficient amounts of vitamin c for the artery wall to be repaired, the plaques will no longer be needed and gradually dissolve.

There have been studies on high-dose vitamin c therapy for heart disease, but the pharmaceutical industry has a vested financial interest in its drug-based treatments, such as cholesterol-lowering medication, while the actual cause of heart disease is being overlooked. Although natural treatments have been shown to be promising, they have long been overshadowed in favor of more financially lucrative methods.

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Teresa is a California licensed acupuncturist in San Francisco, CA

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