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Saturday, January 4, 2014

Transverse Myelitis and Vitamin C

Transverse Myelitis and Vitamin C
This blog may be a bit technical, detailed (and even boring) for some. If this is true for you, please read the summary paragraph at the end. However, Vitamin Supplementation is an important topic for anyone with Transverse Myelitis, and you deserve to know ‘the truth’ (whatever that is).

As people suffering with all the myriad of symptoms from Transverse Myelitis, we are all looking for a miracle cure. So when I read the following, I immediately began to have fantasies about what I would be doing if I were not struggling so much every day.
“I had cured her of transverse myelitis years ago to the astonishment of the transverse myelitis experts and the University of California Medical Center in San Francisco with several weeks of sodium ascorbate intravenously.” (Dr. Robert Cathcart, III, MD (a sponsored site which pops up first if you Google ‘Vitamin C and Transverse Myelitis’).
This paper refers to an online publication of Dr. Lendon H. Smith, M.D. who published (http:// an online summary of the clinical work of Frederick R. Klenner, M.D who died in 1984. Klenner believed that Vitamin C (acts) “as an oxidizing agent massive amounts, i.e., 5-150 grams, intravenously, for certain pathological conditions, if allowed to run in rapidly (20 gauge needle), acts as a “Flash Oxidizer” and may correct the condition in minutes. It can be a reducing agent. It neutralized toxins, viruses and histamine. The more serious the condition, the more C is required. It appears that Vitamin C acts as a reducing agent, an oxidizing agent, an anti-clotting agent, an antihistamine, and as an anti-infective agent. He summarized the function of C in poliomyelitis as Virus destruction; Dehydrates the brain and the spinal cord safely; Supports and normalized the stressed adrenal glands; It preserves the lining of the central canal and maintains more regular spacing and less crowding of ependymal cells (surface cells of the spinal cord). Ascorbic acid enters all cells. It “proceeds to take up the protein coats being manufactured by the virus nucleic acid, thus preventing the assembly of new virus units.” Cells expand, rupture and die, but there (are) no virus particles available to enter and infect new cells. If a virus has invaded a cell, the Vitamin C contributes to its breakdown to adenosine deaminase, which converts adenosine to inosine. Purines are formed which are catabolized (broken down) and cannot be used to make more virus nucleic acid. Viral nucleic acid has a protein coat which protects this parasite as it rides the blood or lymph highway to gain specific cell entry.”
Polio, of course, is known to be caused by a virus. Unfortunately Transverse Myelitis can be caused by many things, but the cause is not frequently a virus (as far as we know at this stage). Klenner also believed that Vitamin C could be helpful in Multiple Sclerosis - as part of a complex regime of multiple vitamins. Its specific role was unclear, and modern medicine does not seem to be convinced of the benefits at this point.
So what do modern authorities on Transverse Myelitis say about Vitamin C. All of you should have downloaded the overview of Transverse Myelitis provided by the Transverse Myelitis Association ( It is very clear and helpful.
What does it say about Vitamin C? Very little. In the paragraph on pressure sores, beginning: “Skin breakdown occurs if the skin is exposed to pressure for a significant amount of time....” it is mentioned as a general support for healthy skin. Very important. But the article does not talk about vitamin C ‘cure’ or ‘recovery’. So does that mean it is not helpful?
One 1996 paper on a PubMed search of ‘Vitamin C and Myelitis’ studied 200 patients with tropical spastic paraparesis from infection with Human T-lymphotropic virus 1, a disease not caused by the virus itself but by alterations in the host's immune functions. It suggested high dosage ascorbic acid was helpful, but only in 4 of 20 patients. Does it help us? Probably not, if 16 of 20 were not improved. Other small studies prior to that have suggested Vitamin C may have immunosuppressive qualities.

The Overcoming Multiple Sclerosis Organisation ( suggests there is little evidence from large scale clinical trials that supplementation with Vitamin C has any benefit for a variety of different diseases. However, on the basis of meta-analytic studies, unlike the other antioxidants, vitamin C appears to be safe, even in large doses.

A book: “Current Therapy for Neurological Disease” by Johnson et al., 2006 (a copy can be downloaded in pdf format from the ‘Transverse Myelitis Folks’ Facebook page), there is reference to a couple of animal studies for familial neurological disorders, but little else.

In Summary
Vitamin C is certainly of importance in maintaining general health, and you should be able to get sufficient from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. If you have been advised to take Vitamin C supplements, then of course you can go ahead in the knowledge it will probably do you little harm in the short or long term. Does it have a specific use in Transverse Myelitis? Probably not. Dammit.

If you have experiences that prove my little search wrong, I would be delighted to hear from you. In particular, I am aware that naturopathic practitioners advise Vitamin C. If anyone can provide me with evidence for its use in Transverse Myelitis, I would be delighted to summarize it on this blog.

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