I am going to tell you about one of the world's very best treatments for arteriosclerosis (aka hardening of the arteries via plaque deposits). The treatment doesn't involve drugs or surgery; it requires only commonly available nutritional supplements, and can substantially improve a person's condition inside of a month. This therapeutic treatment has been around for 50-60 years, has been effective in tens of thousands of cases, and was championed by Linus Pauling,1 who was a two-time recipient of the Nobel Prize in science.
The treatment involves supplements that cost less than $90 per month, and the only side-effect is that you become more resistant to colds and flu.
It is a mistake to think of arterial plaque deposits as heart disease itself. The plaque deposits lining the walls of arteries are a downstream effect of what begins as damage to artery walls. Under optimal conditions, this damage would be quickly repaired, because the major arteries – particularly coronary arteries – are under significant mechanical stress and having the blood "break through" a major artery wall could be almost immediately lethal.1
The arterial repair process revolves around the creation of new collagen and elastin fibers in the area of the damage. There is a package of nutrients necessary for the creation of these fibers, and almost all of those nutrients are usually available in sufficient quantity in a healthy body. However, one of those nutrients, vitamin C, is often in short supply.2
Vitamin C is involved in hydroxylation reactions and plays a critical cross-linking part in the creation of collagen fibers.21 The cross-linking is what gives the fibers most of their strength. It is possible for the body to make collagen in the absence of vitamin C, but the resulting collagen that lacks the cross-linking will be very weak and fall apart easily.
Vitamin C performs many functions. It is the body's major antioxidant, required by the adrenals for best response to stress, is a significant chelator of toxic heavy metals, and plays an important role in the immune system.4 Vitamin C is also required to produce collagen fibers, a key component of arterial self-repair.1 It is significant to point out that vitamin C is not stored in the body, nor does the human body produce vitamin C on its own.
Fortunately, however, vitamin C can be found in most foods. It is present in every fruit, vegetable, and even in meats. Vitamin C, however, is fragile and does not age well. The heat used in cooking temperatures easily degrades it.6 So, if most of your food is cooked, dried, preserved, processed, packaged, or canned, then it's likely you aren't getting enough vitamin C from your food, thus risking that you might not have enough vitamin C for crucial body functions (such as synthesizing collagen fibers).
When artery walls are damaged and vitamin C is in short supply, your body may not be able to fix the damage quickly, but the body has a "Plan B." Just like the Dutch boy who sticks his finger in the dike, your body will try to shore up the weak points in the artery walls until they can be repaired. The plaque deposits that heart disease patients are so afraid of are actually band-aids purposely placed at weak points of the arteries to prevent deadly breakthrough bleeding.1
The major problem with Plan B is that until very late stages in this disease process, there is no pain, and the person is usually totally unaware of any problem. So, instead of remediating the damage to the artery walls immediately by making sure vitamin C supplies are regular and adequate, more arterial damage accumulates. This results in more deposits, and, in places where the artery wall damage is more concentrated, thicker and thicker plaque deposits. Eventually the damage in a particular area of an artery may be so great that the body faces a difficult choice – either risk breakthrough bleeding at the point of the greatest arterial weakness or risk having a blood clot close off the artery entirely. When a person finally gets to this stage, a blood clot is often the last step to closing off the artery and bringing about a heart attack.
The plaque deposits are actively engaged in saving our lives – by preventing breakthrough bleeding. Because the fear and hysteria about heart disease is so pervasive, it is useful to point out that the plaque deposits and all their component parts, including cholesterol, lipoprotein(a), calcium (remember the dreaded "calcium score"), are NOT the enemy. The plaque deposits and all their component parts are where they are on purpose, not by accident. They are serving our purposes by keeping us alive. As long as we respond in a timely manner, plaque deposits and their components do not need to be attacked by vitamins or drugs, mechanically removed by balloon angioplasty, or circumvented using bypass surgery.
If we follow the logic of the "vitamin C" model of heart disease, all we need to do is simply repair the damage to our artery walls. Once we remove the purpose for their existence, these plaque deposits should fall apart and leave without requiring any further encouragement.
The vitamin C theory is still just a theory until we try to test it out on real people with the plaque-deposit blockages type of heart disease. So, the question becomes: what happens when we provide abundant quantities of the nutrients required to fix damaged areas of artery walls. The almost universal result is that, as the arterial damage heals, the plaque deposits are released from the artery wall. Eventually this disease condition can be substantially or even completely reversed.7
The unfortunate part of this previous statement is that, although there are mountains of anecdotal evidence that the vitamin C approach works, there are very few controlled scientifically designed studies that come to the same conclusion. In one study, in 1954, Canadian MD G. C. Willis showed that doses of 500 mg 3 times per day made very substantial improvements in the arterial blockages of heart patients.18
There is one other study that was designed to prove that chelation therapy does not work. The way that the study design was arranged to make chelation look impotent was to give both the test group AND the controls vitamin C and magnesium IV's, and then to look only at the additional benefits derived from using IV EDTA in the test group. The study "proved" that chelation didn't do much good, but what was left unstated in the summaries was that both arms of the study (test and control) improved their cardiovascular performance in a highly significant way (P < .001).19 Thus, what this study really "proved" was that IV vitamin C and magnesium are absolutely wonderful for cardiovascular function.
Why are the studies so few and far between? Heart disease is a huge industry, and does not appreciate competition from a common vitamin that can be produced for a handful of pennies per dose, does not require a prescription, and is effective both as a cure and as prevention. The National Institute of Health (NIH), and especially the FDA has found a comfortable niche operating as the Washington DC branch office of the pharmaceutical industry trade group. There have been other studies proposed to test the vitamin C theory of heart disease. The latest one was in 2002 put together by a group affiliated with the Vitamin C Foundation. It was rejected by the NIH.20
Of course, there is another category of studies, such as the Physicians' Health Study II, which examined the effect of vitamin C on heart disease and concluded that vitamin C has no positive effect on heart disease.22 This study was funded by pharmaceutical companies which stood to lose big profits if vitamin C gained respect as a heart disease treatment. The study used low doses (500 mg / day) of the worst kind of vitamin C (dl-ascorbic acid with tableting aids and excipients) and distributed the vitamin C once a year (remember that vitamin C does not age well because it is an unstable molecule).
Studies such as this don't really count as a test of the "vitamin C theory" because the vitamin C quality was poor and the dosages were so far below the recommended levels.
The following, in general terms, is the vitamin C treatment for arteriosclerosis. An optimal heart healthy formula also includes other supplements and nutrients. Here is an example of a full list of optimal supplementation with dosages and intended purposes.
Vitamin C – at least 6 grams per day. It is an antioxidant to limit further damage and create collagen fibers. In lower doses, mineral ascorbates may be a good choice here. However, in higher doses, the amount of mineral intake that comes along with the vitamin C needs to be accounted for. In some patients, vitamin C dosages may rise as high as 18 grams per day (Linus Pauling's daily dosage), and at high levels, the mineral dosages could cause problems/imbalances.
To get the best results here, I recommend Cardio-C from the Vitamin C Foundation. I use it myself. It contains the highest quality vitamin C that I have been able to find. It is a powder, easily absorbed and has no excipients.
The vitamin C portion of this is pure crystalline ascorbic acid. Some people may develop diarrhea from high doses of vitamin C, especially when they are taking pure ascorbic acid. The intestinal problems are usually avoided by dividing the dosage into about four or more smaller doses per day. Dividing the doses is a wise idea even if intestinal problems never occur, because vitamin C has a half-life of about 30 minutes in the blood,16 and taking the vitamin C several times per day gives you much better "coverage."
Rutin – 500 mg per day – Works with the vitamin C and makes the vitamin C last longer.8
L-Lysine – 6 grams per day – Used to build collagen fibers and also helps disintegrate plaque deposits as repairs are being made.9
L-Proline – 1 gram per day – Helps to disintegrate plaque deposits as repairs are being made.9
Vitamin E (should contain all 4 tocopherols and all 4 tocotrienols) – 400 to 800 mg / day – Fat-soluble antioxidant that relieves vitamin C of some antioxidant responsibilities so that the vitamin C can be used to create collagen fibers. Vitamin E is also a mild anticoagulant. The optimal vitamin E would have more Gamma Tocopherol than any of the other of the tocopherols because gamma tocopherol is the most important type of vitamin E for the prevention/treatment of heart disease.22
Magnesium (as citrate or chelated) – 400 mg / day – promotes healthy heart rhythm. Magnesium is also a mild anticoagulant.10
Co-Enzyme Q10 or Ubiquinol – 100+ mg per day – enables the heart to function at high energy levels. May be even more necessary because of high blood pressures that commonly accompany occlusive heart disease.11
Vitamin K – 100 micrograms (mcg) / day – Natural coagulant to balance the anticoagulant effect of magnesium and Vitamin E, making the blood-thinning effect of this formula neutral.
Zinc – About 20 mg per day – Used to repair tissues, and also balances the copper.13
Copper – 2 mg / day12 and Zinc –20 to 30 mg / day
Zinc and copper work in opposition. High zinc levels will depress copper, and high copper levels will depress zinc. Zinc is useful for the immune system and also for the repair of tissue (such as artery wall repairs).13 Overdoses of zinc will depress the immune system.
Copper is necessary for the production of collagen fibers3, and so is an essential part of artery wall repairs. Overdoses of copper usually result in nausea, digestive problems, and occasionally mania.
You might want to get your copper in a zinc/copper combination supplement so you don't get these two minerals out of balance. If you are a vegetarian, you might be deficient in zinc and much more prone to copper overdose. If you are a vegetarian, you might want to supplement zinc and rely on your diet for copper. If you have copper water pipes, then you probably don't need to supplement copper.
B Complex – use dosage on bottle. Vitamin B6, B12 and Folic acid are useful to reduce homocysteine levels, which is known to damage blood vessel walls.14
Add also a source of omega-3 fats (fish oil or flaxseed oil) somewhere between 1 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon per day depending upon your overall fat intake and body size. Highly unsaturated oils can be effective at quickly moving oxygen.23 The heart is one area where a lot of oxygen needs to be used. Make sure that the oils you use are fresh and refrigerated, because these highly unsaturated oils go rancid easily.15
In my clinic, we have a saying – "Heart disease is easier to treat than low-back pain." This treatment, when done correctly, works wonders.7 Out of all my heart disease patients, I have had only one who did not improve significantly, and that one patient did not use the recommended type of vitamin C. Another patient a couple of years ago completely reversed her heart disease completely in 2 months.
- Tower Laboratories Corporation, The Pauling Therapy Is It a Cure for Heart Disease?
- Supplements Store, Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Review
- Natural-Health-Information-Center.com, Copper, Essential to Zinc, Iron and Vitamin C Function
- Luzia Braun, Vitamin C and Your Adrenals glands
- Ronald L. Hoffman, Chelation
- Kristie Leong, M.D., Does Cooking Destroy Vitamin C?
- Owen Fonorow and Sally Snyder Jewell, Practicing Medicine Without A License, Lulu Press (Lulu.com), 2008, p. 145
- Weight Control Room, Rutin: Vitamin C's Best Friend
- Jim English and Hyla Cass, MD, Linus Pauling's Collagen Connection
- Wayne Martin, BS, ChE, Reducing Deaths From Hearts Attacks and Cancer
- Darrell M., Co-Q10 and L-Carnitine
- Laurie Warner, MA, CNC, Copper-Zinc Imbalance: Unrecognized Consequence of Plant-Based Diets and a Contributor to Chronic Fatigue.
- Wikipedia, Wound Healing
- Harvard School of Public Health – The Nutrition Source, Three of the B-Vitamins: Folate, Vitamin B6, and Vitamin B12
- Dr. Robert Jay Rowen, You Don't Have To Get Cancer
- New World Encyclopedia, Vitamin C
- Owen Fonorow and Sally Snyder Jewell, Practicing Medicine Without A License, Lulu Press (Lulu.com), 2008, p. 83-86
- G. C. Willis, MD; A. W. Light, MD; W. S. Gow, MD, Serial Arteriography in Atherosclerosis in Human Beings
- Fonorrow, Owen R., Vitamin C and Magnesium Used as Placebo in Chelation Study
- Vitamin C Foundation, Major Articles
- Pauling, Linus, How to Live Longer and Feel Better
- Physicians' Health Study web page
- Enig, Mary, Brian Peskin and Essential Amino Acids