Using High Doses of Vitamin C to Fight Chronic Fatigue (CFS/ME)

By on November 3, 2011 in General CFS, Nutrition, Treatments with 34 Comments

Vitamin C is a well know antiviral, and supporter of the immune system.  Most people know to dose up when cold season is upon us, but many people are pretty skeptical about taking it in high doses. 

I was advised by an orthomolecular doctor to take high doses of Vitamin C to help knock over any latent viruses in my system, as I had initially had the Ross River Virus.  I now read that Vitamin C can also help repair mitochondria that has been damaged by the viruses and thus help fight CFS/ME specifically.  Here’s a bit about high dose Vitamin C and my experience of taking it to fight CFS/ME.

Very Brief History

Linus Pauling, a chemist and biochemist, created much controversy when he published Vitamin C and the Common Cold in the 1970s, suggesting that high doses of Vitamin C could combat the common cold.

The Debate

There has been much debate on the subject ever since, but unfortunately there is still no scientific evidence of the value of taking high doses of Vitamin C to combat the common cold, there has however been confirmation that regular doses can significantly reduce the chance of catching a cold and somewhat reduce the duration of colds and here is a Vitamin C Overview by the Linus Pauling Institute.

However, there is still a school of thought out there that the high doses of Vitamin C have great merit for treating many ailments, including CFS/ME.  Other ailments that have been mentioned include some viruses, allergies, anxiety, stress, rheumatoid arthritis, hay fever, heart disease, gout, phencyclidine psychosis and burns.

I’ve noticed that many of the quoted studies involve set dosages, whereas if you refer to information from the for-side you’ll see they advocate that there is a need to build up to a bowel tolerance dosage to get the required results.

There are also concerns noted from the against-side that taking high doses of Vitamin C can cause the development of oxalate kidney stones.  This has been thrown out by physicians such as Dr Robert Cathcart who has treated many patients with high dose Vitamin C, and has found that the slight increase in acidity and flow of urine prompted by Vitamin C use causes the calcium salts associated with kidney stones to dissolve.  You can read more about kidney stones, bowel  tolerance levels and the types of Vitamin C in this great book by Dr Jacqueline Krohn, Dr Frances Taylor and Dr Erla Mae Larson.

My experience

Anyhow, I’m not going to debate it, I’m simply doing the treatment, following the plan and I’ve found that in combination with organic supplements, taking the high doses of Vitamin C has given me the best results for improving my symptoms out of all the treatments I’ve tried to date (you can find a list in my Turning Point post of what I’ve tried to date).

So this is how I have taken high doses of Vitamin C:

  • Acquired the best bulk deal of ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) that I could find (ended up getting it through a friend who gets it direct in 25kg lots from a pharmaceutical supplier);
  • Took an initial dose of one flat teaspoon (3 g) per day;
  • Mixed Vitamin C into my drinking water for the day;
  • Sipped drinking water throughout the day to spread the dosage out (Vitamin C is not produced by the body and excess is flushed out in urine so regular dosage is important);
  • Increased the dosage by 0.5 teaspoon (1.5g) on a weekly basis until I got to bowel tolerance level (diarrhea);
  • Knocked back the dosage 0.5 teaspoon and maintained that level.

As I started to increase the dosage I had some problems with acid reflux, my system was already pretty acid so it couldn’t tolerate much more.  So to overcome this problem I have since been mixing in another 0.5 – 1 teaspoons of bicarbonate soda into my drinking water with the Vitamin C mix.  This neutralize the acidity and makes it more pleasant to drink (Apparently 25-50% of Vitamin C dose in bicarb soda is a good measure to neutralize).

I use to mix in a very small amount of orange juice as well to make it more palatable, but now that I’m doing my Quit Sugar Challenge, I’ve swopped over to lemon juice as my flavoring, which is a wonderfully alkaline.

I’m now on 8 teaspoons a day in 2 Liters of water (24 grams/day).

I occasionally have problems with gas and at the beginning that was accompanied with pretty uncomfortable pains in the belly, but I would do the totally unladylike thing and lay on my bed bring my legs up to my chest and let it all out!  Ha.  Luckily that does ease off after a while and I don’t have much problem with it now, although I might use it as an excuse sometimes. LOL!  Apparently Candida organisms ferment the Vitamin C in the lower bowel, forming gas bubbles.

Storing Vitamin C

I have to buy it in bulk to get the discounted prices, you’ll find it is pretty expensive to buy the conventional way so its better if you get a couple of people together and get a large bulk deal.  I think it is about 25kg minimum to get the bulk discounts through pharmaceutical suppliers.

So to keep it all fresh and prevent it from getting affected by moisture I store it in a box in the bottom of my cupboard and I have made little sock bags filled with rice which I keep in each of the individual bags to absorb moisture

How I’m feeling

You can check out my Video Blog, basically since starting the Vitamin C and organic supplements I have significantly reduced my dizziness….and what a relief that has been!

If you give this a go, I would love to hear how you get on with it.

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There Are 34 Brilliant Comments

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  1. Wombat says:

    I would like to add to the erudite comments above.
    Having treated numerous patients over several decades and having been mentored by the grand daddies of Orthomolecular Medicine Linus Pauling, PhD and Abram Hoffer MD, PhD, I wish to point out emphatically that there is no more effective treatment regimen intended to eradicate viral presence in the body than megadoses of Vitamin C.

    As to the comment above regarding an alleged absence of scientific evidence for megavitamin C therapy, I object your honour. There is tons of evidence published in peer-reviewed journals and available to anyone who would look. Vitamin C is a very potent antioxidant useful in many illnesses. Starting with Dr. Frederick Klenner in the 1930’s, who prevented the death of a small child from a snakebite (Mocassin viper, Kansas) with huge iv doses of sodium ascorbate, there have been many lives saved and fortunes changed.Read Norman Cousins The Anatomy Of An Illness and ask a recovered viral meningitis patient saved from certain death.

    For the treatment of a cold, Vit C is not particularly effective although it tends to reduce its duration. It will make it much less likely to “catch” a cold if taken in optimal doses throughout the year.
    To abort a cold/flu/influenza, a much more efficacious and near fool-proof treatment is available. This is Vitamin D, a “vitamin” that acts like a hormone.
    This also involves megadosing and the effects are stunning. However, the treatment dose ought to be done under supervision, at least initially so, for anyone interested, perhaps they wish to obtain more information from myself through this website.

    Kidney stones are not caused by Vitamin C overdoses, a fact that has been proven many years ago. It does not prevent some doctors from keeping the myth alive.However, megadoses of Vit C for cancer treatment (30,000 – 100,000 mg per day) will overtax a severely diseased kidney.

    • Thank you so much for your words of wisdom Wombat. Feel free to email me links to some of those journals if they are available freely on the web. I can post them up for others to view. Many thanks

  2. Aric says:

    There may be some evidence that vitamin c can alleviate chronic fatigue symptoms. Today, I took 100mg diphenhydramine (* sleep aid *), 2000mg acetaminophen (* pain reliever *), 8000mg ascorbic acid tablets.

    I feel pretty good. I got a lot of sleep today. I don’t think it’s just the sleep, as I can sleep 14-16 hours and still feel tired. Maybe I have a flu of some sort. Or maybe the vitamin c is working.

    Who knows. I am going to try 5-10 grams a day for two weeks.

  3. Victor says:

    Good day,

    I have seen your video about vitamin c expierience and I liked it. I have been suffering from CFS for a long time and vitamin c was the almost one thing that helped me. I have read a lot of bad things about overdosage of it, but still try to take the most big dosage it is known safe. I have been taking 5g per day for one week and trying to get me on 10g per day in couple days. I do take capsules, which have durable action.
    My questions are: do you still take high dose of vitamin c ? How much do you take and how long time in the last period ?

    Thank you beforehand

    Victor

    P.S.: sorry for my english 🙂

    • Hi Victor, Yes I’m still taking the vitamin c each day. I take 17.5g (5 tsp) in 2 liters of water with 1tsp of bicarb soda. It helped me so much with my recovery that I’m holding onto it for the time being. I did knock it back a little, from 24g per day as I was still having some trouble with reflux. I find this level is now no problem for me. The only problem I have is that sometimes I am slack drinking my daily water and if I do that a couple of days in a row I notice a funny feeling in my teeth. This is because you shouldn’t stop the vitamin c quickly. The body gets use to a certain amount of vitamin c and if it is stopped suddenly then it can become vitamin c deficient. So I have to stay pretty vigilant with drinking my daily water.
      Sorry it took me a while to respond. Re the increasing from 5g to 10g be careful, take it slow. I only increased my dosage by 1.5g per week. Let me know how you are going.

      • Victor says:

        Dear Mel,

        thank you for your reply. I have been testing high dosage of vitamin C lately and take not the same dosage every day, but various. I have the following question:
        As I take vitamin C at high dosage, I got much more physical energy (I can stand and do something whole day), but my mental possibilities (reading, learning) get low. Is it normal ? Do you feel the same ?

        Thank you beforehand

        • Sorry Victor I missed your comment. I’d have to say that I noticed that the mental energy was a huge drain as well as the physical energy. I found having conversations with people very difficult and could really only cope with short bursts. For me the vitamin C seemed to knock the dizziness on the head for me which was my worse symptom. Once that was lifted I could do more of everything – but recovery was still very slow. I was on the vitamin c megadose for at least six months before I started to get a bit of life back into me and was able to start doing fun activities and spending more time socialising with friends.

          That is good that you are now able to stand and do something for much longer! But yes the reading and learning is pretty heavy going for me too and it has taken a while to build this up. I can’t say that it stood out as being longer for the mental recovery to come about over the physical, but I can say that they have both taken a fair bit of time.

          Lots of rests in between and getting out in the fresh air each day is how I manage my mental workload. Some days are good and others, well I just go easy on myself. I find mornings are best for tackling anything challenging grey matter wise!

          Best of luck Victor and thanks for writing in:)

  4. Gerry says:

    How did you deal with Bowel Tolerance and don’t you think that Liposomal Vitamin C would be better?

    • Hi Gerry,
      I’m sorry, I don’t know about Liposomal Vitamin C. Basically I just slowly increased my dosage until I reached bowel tolerance, then I knocked back my dosage slightly and then about a week later I started slowly increasing again. I did this for a little while until I felt I had reached my upper limit.

  5. Kate says:

    Briefly, I’ve got some kind of bacterial infection, only discovered in July/August 2012 when on heavy antibiotics from a leg infection. One, Clindamycin, cleared up 30-year anxiety/depression/foggy brain, etc., etc., in 4 days! 5 other drugs did not do the same (look up Marshall Protocol). I had to stop Clinda due to overdose rash—docs will overdose to make sure infection goes away—and symptoms returned with a vengence. I did a Vit C Flush to get a watery stool sample and now want to try high dose instead of more antibiotics. The flush happened at 69 grams! If I divide by 75%, I’d have to take 50 g/day to achieve antibiotic/antiviral measure. I can’t see being able to take that amount orally. *Liposomal Vit C (coats water-based C with oil, so it goes thru stomach and gets into tissues better. Google it on how to make yourself. Thanks for this site!

    • Wow Kate, that is a lot of vitamin c. I’d be really interested to hear how you go with it and particularly how you get hold of your vitamin c. I tend to go to compounding chemists and buy mine in kg lots, however I havn’t tried the Liposomal Vit C. How easy is it to get?

      • Kate says:

        Liposomal Vit C is expensive. Make your own. From: http://www.hawkeshealth.net/community/showthread.php?t=6456&page=1

        Home-Made Liposomal Vitamin C. You can find recipes on the web but they all call for using an ultrasonic jewelry cleaner which requires you to watch it constantly because the timer only goes to 2 minutes. I don’t have time or energy to baby sit a machine. In talking to a friend online about this, she told me she belonged to a group where someone proved a stick (immersion) blender gave the same results as the machine and requires very little effort. I have used this method to make liposomal glutathione and after less than a week, I do feel a difference. FYI: I accidentally bought buffered vitamin C powder and it will NOT go into a liposomal state. It looks OK for a little while, then separates. I even tried mixing it for 6 minutes but although not quite as bad, it still didn’t all stay mixed in. Make sure you buy pure ascorbic acid powder..
        With this method you get about 75% encapsulation vs 90% on the store bought stuff. Basically take a little more and you are still saving huge amounts of money.
        This makes about 14 oz of product.
        Vitamin C – 3 level tablespoons of soy lecithin (45cc). Make sure it is GMO free and organic if possible.
        1 level tablespoon ascorbic acid powder (15cc) – Dissolve the lecithin in 1 cup (240cc) warm, NOT HOT, water, preferably distilled. You can use cold water but it dissolves much faster if slightly warmed. If the water is hot, it will clump rather than dissolve.
        Dissolve the ascorbic acid in 1/2 cup warm water, preferably distilled.
        Pour both solutions together into a wide mouth mason jar or other container that can accommodate the stick blender.
        Blend until it forms a cloudy, homogeneous mixture in about 2 minutes.
        Refrigerate and you’re done. You will have to calculate the dose you are taking by the amount of Vitamin C in the product you use. For example, I bought a buffered powder that will give me 12 grams of Vitamin C in 14 oz of solution. When I make this I am going to add enough extra Vitamin C to make 1g/oz.

  6. Kate says:

    Forgot to add that you should “oil pull” with a good oil like coconut before consuming your Vit C so you don’t knock all the enamel off your teeth. Even when consuming liposomal Vit C there is still some unsecured C that will play havoc with enamel. Look up “oil pulling” on Google on other benefits of it as well.

  7. rmb60 says:

    From a 52 yo male with CFS for around 25 years, HOORAY to hear about megadoses of C for CFS…I keep the majority of my symptoms under control with average daily doses of 12,000 mg all the way upto 100,000 mgs….At that rate a 25 kg box lasts a year or so……At best Ive been able to reduce to 4,000 mg providing stress is kept to a bare minumum…..Ascorbic Acid with Bicarb is the difference between bed ridden contemplating mortality to being able to exercise midly with weights and working full time from home with breaks…..Sugar sure messes me up and I wish I could give it up and have seen good improvements if can maintain low sugar intake for a few days or more but I always go back to bad habits and suffer accordingly……Doctors are well meaning but Valium and anti-deps do not work except to keep you hopefully out of their hair since apparently there is not too much else they can. do…..www.vitamincfoundation.org may interest many of you here

    • Thanks heaps rmb60, great to hear someone else is getting the good results with vitamin c like myself. I am also similar with the sugar. I’m an addict and it keeps creeping back in if I’m not ontop of it. I’m going to see my naturopath this week about some strategies. I tend to use chromium, but there are many other things around. Cinnamon is meant to be good too. But for me I think I am going to need a decent food plan for the week that I stick to. I find that if I don’t get my six meals of protein a day (might just be a boiled egg) then I tend to end up reaching for the sugar, so getting and staying regular with my meals is my main strategy, but it is laziness that i constantly fight in this case, not fatigue!
      Thanks
      Mel

  8. Neall says:

    In my experience with megadoses of Vitamin C, at around 8 gms/day, spaced out over the day, my stools start to get soft, that is all. I notice that I am reaching bowel tolerance, and stop there or cut back to 7 gms/day. There is nothing dramatic about reaching bowel tolerance. Not even diarrhea if one climbs slowly. I was having difficulty walking my usual two miles/day, suffering with CFS, and with this amount of Vitamin C, begun again two weeks ago, it is no effort. I use calcium ascorbate tablets; I believe that they do not add to acidity. However, one should be eating lots of vegetables and a bit of fruit to help create an alkaline environment in the body, especially with any kind of health condition. (For example, the Wahls Protocol for MS calls for 9 cups of vegetables per day.)

    • Thanks Neall,
      I don’t know anything about the calcium ascorbate but I imagine they are quite alkaline and yes lots of fruit and veggies are great for reducing acidity. Re your bowel tolerance level, everyones level is different at different times depending on how much your body needs the vitamin c. I was on over 20gms/day for a long time. My initial bowel tolerance was around 24gms/day. I had to just keep increasing it until I got diarrhea and then I knocked it back. Soft stools are not bowel tolerance going by the advice I received. I did have to knock it back over time again (over 12 months later) when I noticed that I was getting diarrhea and that showed that my bowel tolerance had dropped.
      Best of luck Neall.
      Mel

  9. Greyson says:

    Hi Green Girl,
    Just looking for an update on your Vit C protocol.

    Are you still using the Vitamin C?

    Do you still think Vitamin C was a big part of your recovery?

    • Hi Greyson,
      Sorry for the delayed reply. Yes I think so. I’m not sure as I was certainly doing a combination of things, but since I started the vitamin c the dizziness really lifted. I have been off the vitamin c for the past 12 months and have been living a pretty normal life now for the past 3 years, but during the last 3 months I’ve had the flu twice and recovery seems to take longer than I think should be normal. So I’ve decided to go back onto the megadose again. It is hard to get support for this method by a doctor or naturopath as it is not a commonly agreed treatment method and my orthomolecular doctor who originally prescribed it to me unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago. So I’m getting a fair bit of resistance to the megadose option. Sure, response for ‘yes you should definitely be taking 1-3mg per day ongoing’ as our bodies don’t make vitamin c anymore (evolution)’ but nobody seems to understand the benefits of megadose like my original doctor did, however there are several doctors near me that provide intravenous vitamin c therapy at a high cost. I was convinced of its benefits way back and I’m going to give it another go, taking the increases slowly and see what my tolerance is again. My orthodoctor suggested that the more free radicals and mopping up that vitamin c was required to do meant that your tolerance would be higher. So I’ll see how I go doing it again.

  10. Roberto says:

    I have been taking intravenous Vitamin C, 50 grams per week, for the past month. I have started this regiment at the recommendation of my doctor. After years of trying absolutely everything for CFS, I finally seem to have found something that works. I had basically put my life on hold for the last 6 months trying to find out what the hell was wrong with me and how I could feel better. After ruling out cáncer, heart desease, viral infections, anemia and whatever else you may think of, we got to the conlcusion that I suffer from CFS.

    Anyway, I feel better tan I have in years or since I can remember. It also seems to give a boost to my metabolism and have noticed positive changes to my skin, including the dissappearance of liver spots.

  11. ed says:

    Hi Green Girl,
    Information provided here seems very useful. I have been taking Ascorbic acid 1 tea spoon a day and I find it beneficial for me. Where can I purchase 25kg ascorbic acid? Thank you.

  12. Alexm says:

    Thanks for sharing this is great. The only successful treatment I’ve found for my post viral chronic fatigue is olive leaf extract. It allows me to do a lot more than I could without it. Will try this to however.

  13. George says:

    I buy pharmaceutical grade Ascorbic Acid powder (Vit C) from tradeingredients.com. It’s a UK based supplier. Not sure if they ship overseas or not. Had very good service from them. Quality appears to be just as good as top brands sold in local health food store.
    I have had severe M. for 15 years.. Tried a huge number of things. Most only provided symptomatic relief. I once tried 50-100g oral ascorbic aicd per day. Had amazing results, all 30+ symptoms inc. energy and exercise tolerance dramatically improved. However my guts just couldn’t take it. After 4 days I had to stop it. Lost all my progress. Now looking into IV vit C, but concerned about the cost. Anyone know of a reputable provider in London UK please?

    • Hi George,
      Thanks so much for your post. Really great to hear about other people’s experience with the vitamin C. Have you tried increasing it slowly rather than in one big dose? I know it is still a bit difficult, thus why I mixed in the bicarb soda, but you could also try the calcium ascorbate as this is meant to be gentler on the stomach. Injections and IV are definitely the bomb but hard to find and afford. I did find a very lovely doctor in Brisbane who was able to provide Vitamin C injections for $25 a pop. Wow, that was great. Haven’t been able to find anyone like that on the Gold Coast, best one is a doctor who does IV for $200 a pop. Most of her patience are cancer patients. Let us know how you go. Thanks for your comment.

  14. Maria says:

    Hi green girl, thank you very much for the valuable information.

    • You are most welcome Maria! Thanks for the comment 🙂

      • Tony says:

        You are great. Thanks for the information. I hope you are doing well. I got the idea to take the vit C from my girlfriends brother who is a doctor from Korea. He runs a geriatric hospital and has experimented with Vit C with some success. He takes vit C himself. I have had some success with it and take it now.

  15. Craig says:

    You are ripping yourself off by not looking into lyposomal C. Go to http://www.livonlabs.com. It is a way to get the C to bypass the gut and all of that gas formation and concern for diarrhea and all of that. (It is coated in vegetable lecithin.) Each 1 gram pouch of lypospheric vitamin C has the effectiveness of 10 grams of non-coated C. Also, if you’ve never learned about why calcium ascorbate and sodium ascorbate are used in place of ascorbic acid, you really should read more on the internet. It is a way to buffer (neutralize) the acidity of ascorbic acid — a much better way to go — no acid stomach.

    • Thanks Craig. Appreciate your comment. I later found out about Lyposomal C many years later after going through recovery. It does sound like a good option but I haven’t checked it out fully yet. Thanks again.

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