Copyright (c) 1997 "The Vitamin C Foundation "

From THE HEALING FACTOR by Irwin Stone



- National Health Federation Bulletin -




Against Disease


By Irwin Stone

With forewords by Nobel Prizewinners

Dr. Linus Pauling


Dr. Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


Vitamin C may save your life! A noted biochemist reveals for laymen the exciting research into ascorbic acid's powers against such deadly enemies as cancer, heart disease, strokes, mental illness, old age, diabetes, arthritis, kidney disease, hepatitis -- even cigarette smoking!

















After 40 years research, Irwin Stone unfolds his startling conclusion that an ancient genetic mutation has left the primate virtually alone among animals in not producing ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) in his own body. By treating it as a "minimum daily requirement" instead of the crucial enzyme it really is, we are living in a state of sub-clinical scurvy whose symptoms have been attributed to other ailments. The answer is to change our thinking about Vitamin C and consume enough to replenish this long-lost "healing factor." Stone illustrates, with massive documentation, Vitamin C's remarkable ability to fight disease, counteract the ill effects of pollution and prolong healthy life -- easily and inexpensively!

GD/Perigee Books

are published by

The Putnam Publishing Group

ISBN 0-399-50764-7





Against Disease

Irwin Stone

A GD/Perigee Book

Perigee Books

are published by

The Putnam Publishing Group

200 Madison Avenue

New York, New York 10016

Copyright © 1972 by Irwin Stone

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof,

may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

Published simultaneously in Canada by General Publishing

Co. Limited, Toronto.

Library of Congress Catalog Number: 72-77105

ISBN 0-399-50764-7

First Perigee printing, 1982

Printed in the United States of America

This book is dedicated to my wife, Barbara whose patience and collaboration over the years made it possible.



Linus Pauling

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


Introduction 1

Part I: Our Deadly Inheritance

1. The Beginnings of Life

2. From Fishes to Mammals

3. Our Ancestral Primate

4. The Evolution of Man

5. From Prehistory to the Eighteenth Century

6. The Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

7. Finding the Elusive Molecule

8. The Genetic Approach

9. Some Effects of Ascorbic Acid

10. "Correcting" Nature

Part II: Pathways to Research

11. Breaking the "Vitamin" Barrier

12. The Common Cold

13. Viral Infection

14. Bacterial Infection

15. Cancer

16. The Heart, Vascular System, and Strokes

17. Arthritis and Rheumatism

18. Aging

19. Allergies, Asthma, and Hay Fever

20. Eye Conditions

21. Ulcers

22. Kidneys and Bladder

23. Diabetes and Hypoglycemia

24. Chemical Stresses -- Poisons, Toxins

25. Physical Stresses

26. Pollution and Smoker's Scurvy

27. Wounds, Bone Fractures, and Shock

28. Pregnancy

29. Mental Disease

30. The Future

References Cited from the Medical Literature


The numerals set off in parenthesis in the text are intended to guide the reader to the appropriate medical citation listed at the end of the book.


by Linus Pauling, Ph.D.

Nobel Laureate

This is an important book -- important to laymen, and important to physicians and scientists interested in the health of people.

Irwin Stone deserves much credit for having marshalled the arguments that indicate that most human beings have been receiving amounts of ascorbic acid less than those required to put them in the best of health. It is his contention, and it is supported by much evidence, that most people in the world have a disease involving a deficient intake of ascorbic acid, a disease that he has named hypoascorbemia. This disease seems to be present because of an evolutionary accident that occurred many millions of years ago. Ancestors of human beings (and of their close present-day relatives, other primates) were living in an area where the natural foods available provided very large amounts of ascorbic acid (very large in comparison with the amounts usually ingested now and the amounts usually recommended now by physicians and other authorities on nutrition). A mutation occurred that removed from the mutant the ability to manufacture ascorbic acid within his own body. Circumstances were such that the mutant had an evolutionary advantage over the other members of the population, who were burdened with the machinery for manufacturing additional ascorbic acid. The result was that the part of the population burdened with this machinery gradually died out, leaving the mutants, who depended upon their food for an adequate supply of ascorbic acid.

As man has spread over the earth and increased in number, the supplies of ascorbic acid have decreased. It is possible that most people in the world receive only one or two percent of the amounts of ascorbic acid that would keep them in the best of health. The resulting hypoascorbemia may be responsible for many of the illnesses that plague mankind.

In this book, Irwin Stone summarizes the evidence. The publication of Irwin Stone's papers and of this book may ultimately result in a great improvement in the health of human beings everywhere, and a great decrease in the amount of suffering caused by disease.

- Linus Pauling -


by Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, M.D., Ph.D.

Nobel Laureate

My own interest in ascorbic acid centered around its role in vegetable respiration and defense mechanisms. All the same, I always had the feeling that not enough use was made of it for supporting human health. The reasons were rather complex. The medical profession itself took a very narrow and wrong view. Lack of ascorbic acid caused scurvy, so if there was no scurvy there was no lack of ascorbic acid. Nothing could be clearer than this. The only trouble was that scurvy is not a first symptom of lack but a final collapse, a premortal syndrome, and there is a very wide gap between scurvy and full health. But nobody knows what full health is! This could be found out by wide statistical studies, but there is no organization which could and would arrange such studies. Our society spends billions or trillions on killing and destruction but lacks the relatively modest means demanded to keep its own health and prime interest cared for. Full health, in my opinion, is the condition in which we feel best and show the greatest resistance to disease. This leads us into statistics which demand organization. But there is another, more individual difficulty. If you do not have sufficient vitamins and get a cold, and as a sequence pneumonia, your diagnosis will not be "lack of ascorbic acid" but "pneumonia." So you are waylaid immediately.

I think that mankind owes a serious thanks to Irwin Stone for having kept the problem alive and having called Linus Pauling's attention to it.

On my last visit to Sweden, I was told that the final evidence has been found that ascorbic acid is quite harmless. An insane person had the fixed idea that he needed ascorbic acid so he swallowed incredible amounts of it for a considerable period without ill effects. So, apart from very specific conditions, ascorbic acid cannot hurt you. It does not hurt your pocket either, since it is very cheap. It is used for spraying trees.

I also fully agree with Dr. Pauling's contention that individual needs for vitamin C vary within wide limits. Some may need high doses, others may be able to get along with less, but the trouble is that you do not know to which group you belong. The symptoms of lack may be very different. I remember my correspondence with a teacher in my earlier days who told me that he had an antisocial boy whom he was unable to deal with. He gave him ascorbic acid and the boy became one of his most easygoing, obedient pupils. Nor does wealth and rich food necessarily protect against lack of vitamins. I remember my contact with one of the wealthiest royal families of Europe where the young prince had constant temperature and had poor health. On administering vitamin C, the condition readily cleared up.

It gives me great satisfaction to see this book appear and I hope very much that its message will be understood.

- Albert Szent-Gyorgyi -


This book took many years to write and involved many people. Because of a nonexistent budget and the fact that much of the data was in foreign languages, good friends had to be relied upon to supply translations. Among these friends were Lotte and George Bernard, Helene Gottlieb, Dorothy Kramer, Irving Minton, Jutta Nigrin, Sal Scaturo, Tanya Ronger, and Natasha and Otmar Silberstein.

Invaluable help and advice on library work were supplied by Eliphal Streeter and Vera Mitchell Throckmorton. The medical library of the Statin Island Public Health Hospital and the reprint facilities of the National Library of Medicine and the Medical Research Library of Brooklyn were especially helpful.

In any radically new scientific concept, encouragement nd inspiration to carry on are difficult to come by. The author was fortunate in having men of scientific or medical stature such as Linus Pauling, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, Frederick R. Klenner, Abram Hoffer, William J. McCormick, Thomas A. Garrett, Walter A. Schnyder, Louis A. Wolfe, Alexander F. Knoll, Marvin D. Steinberg, Benjamin Kramer, and A. Herbert Mintz as pillars of strength. Miriam T. Malakoff and Martin Norris supplied editorial advice and encouragement. My wife Barbara, in the latter years, handled the bulk of the library research. To all these people and to many others who have contributed, go my deep gratitude and thanks. I trust that their efforts effectively contribute to better health for man.

Discovery consists in seeing what everybody else has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi


The purpose of this book is to correct an error in orientation which occurred in 1912, when ascorbic acid, twenty years before its actual discovery and synthesis, was designated as the trace nutrient, vitamin C. Thus, in the discussions in this book the terms "vitamin C" and "ascorbic acid" are identical, although the author prefers to use "ascorbic acid."

Scurvy, in 1912, was considered solely as a dietary disturbance. This hypothesis has been accepted practically unchallenged and has dominated scientific and medical thinking for the past sixty years. The purpose of this vitamin C hypothesis was to produce a rationale for the conquest of frank clinical scurvy. That it did and with much success, using minute doses of vitamin C. Frank clinical scurvy is now a rare disease in the developed countries because the amounts of ascorbic acid in certain foodstuffs are sufficient for its prevention. However, in the elimination of frank clinical scurvy, a more insidious condition, subclinical scurvy, remained; since it was less dramatic, it was glossed over and overlooked. Correction of subclinical scurvy needs more ascorbic acid than occurs naturally in our diet, requiring other non-dietary intakes. Subclinical scurvy is the basis for many of the ills of mankind.

Because of this uncritical acceptance of a misaligned nutritional hypothesis, the bulk of the clinical research on the use of ascorbic acid in the treatment of diseases other than scurvy has been more like exercises in home economics than in the therapy of the sequelae of a fatal, genetic liver-enzyme disease. One of the objects of this book is to take the human physiology of ascorbic acid out of the dead-end of nutrition and put it where it belongs, in medical genetics. In medical genetics, wide vistas of preventive medicine and therapy are opened up by the full correction of this human error of carbohydrate metabolism.

For the past sixty years a vast amount of medical data has been collected relating to the use of ascorbic acid in diseases other than scurvy, but only very little practical therapeutic information has developed pertaining to its successful use in these diseases. The reader may well ask what is the difference between data and information? This can be illustrated by the following example: the number 382,436 is just plain data, but 38-24-36, that is information.

The most probable reason for the paucity of definitive therapeutic ascorbic acid information in the therapy of diseases other than scurvy is related to the fact that the vitamin C-oriented investigators were trying to relieve a trace-vitamin dietary disturbance and never used doses large enough to be pharmacologically and therapeutically effective. The new genetic concepts currently correct this old, but now obvious, mistake by supplying a logical rationale for these larger, pharmacologically effective treatments.

If the research suggestions contained in this book are properly and conscientiously followed through, it is the hope of the author that future medical historians may consider this as a major breakthrough in medicine of the latter quarter of the twentieth century.

While many scientific and medical papers have appeared, the publication of Dr. Linus Pauling's book, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, in late 1970 was the first scientific book ever published in the new medical fields of megascorbic prophylaxis and megascorbic therapy, which are branches of orthomolecular medicine. Dr. Pauling's book paved the way for this volume.

Since the size of the daily intake of ascorbic acid is so important in the later discussions, the reader can refer to the following table of equivalents. The dosages are usually expressed in the metric system in milligrams or grams of ascorbic acid:

Common Measures Metric System Equivalents


1,000 1.0

1 ounce 28,350 28.35

1/2 teaspoonful* 1,500 to 2000 1.5 to 2

20 international units 1 0.001

*teaspoons vary in size


Against Disease


By Irwin Stone

Copyright (c) 1997 "The Vitamin C Foundation "




The first part of this book is a scientific detective story. The corpus delicti is a chemical molecule, and to collect the evidence in this case we have to cover billions of years in time and have to search in such odd places as frog kidneys, goat livers, and "cabbages and kings." The search will be rewarding because it will contribute to the understanding of this tremendously important molecule. The evidence we unearth will show that the lack of this molecule in humans has contributed to more deaths, sickness, and just plain misery than any other single factor in man's long history. when the molecule is finally discovered and assigned its rightful place in the scheme of things, and its potentialities for good are fully realized, undreamed-of vistas of exuberant health, freedom from disease, and long life will be opened up.

To start on the first leg of our journey, we will have to get into our Time Machine, set the dials, and go back 2.5 to 3 billion years. It will be necessary to seal ourselves completely in the Time Machine and carry a plentiful supply of oxygen because the atmosphere in those days was very different from what it is now. It will be hot and steamy, with little or no oxygen, and besides much water vapor, will contain notable quantities of gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, and ammonia. The hot seas will contain the products of the chemical experiments that Nature had been conducting for millions of years. If we are fortunate, we will arrive on the scene just as Nature was preparing to launch one of its most complicated and organized experiments -- the production of living matter. If we were to sample the hot sea and examine it with our most powerful electron microscope, we would find in this thin consomme' the culmination of these timeless chemical experiments in the form of a macromolecule having the property of being able to make exact duplicates of itself. The term "macromolecule" merely means a huge molecule which is formed out of a conglomeration of smaller unit molecules. The process of forming these huge molecules from the smaller units is called "polymerization," and is similar to building a brick wall (the macromolecule) from bricks (the smaller unit molecules). The "cement" holding the unit molecules together consists of various chemical and physical attractive forces of varying degrees of tenacity.

This self-reproducing macromolecule in this primordial soup might resemble some of our present-day viruses, but it had many important biochemical and biophysical problems to solve before it would begin to resemble some of the more primitive forms of life, such as bacteria, as we know them today. Nature had plenty of time to experiment and eventually came up with successful solutions to problems like heredity, enzyme formation, energy conservation, a protective covering for these naked macromolecules, and then cellular and multicellular organisms. The problem of heredity was solved so successfully by these early self-duplicating macromolecules that our present basis of heredity, the macromolecule DNA, is probably little changed from its original primordial form.

Enzyme formation was a problem that required an early solution if life was to continue evolving, since enzymes are the very foundation of the life process. An enzyme is a substance produced by a living organism which speeds up a specific chemical reaction. A chemical transformation that would require years to complete can be performed in moments by the mere presence of an enzyme. Enzymes are utilized by all living organisms to digest food, transform energy, synthesize tissues, and conduct nearly every biochemical reaction in the life process. The body contains thousands of enzymes.

Energy conservation and utilization was neatly solved in some of these early life forms by the development of photosynthesis: an enzymatic process which uses the energy of sunlight to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are used for food and structural purposes, and these primitive forms evolved into the vast species of the plant kingdom.

At some time early in the development of life, certain primitive organisms developed the enzymes needed to manufacture a unique substance that offered many solutions to the multiple biological problems of survival. This compound, ascorbic acid, is a relatively simple one compared to the many other huge, complicated molecules produced by living organisms. Because of its unique properties, however, it is somewhat unstable and transient, a fact that will complicate our later search for this substance.

We now know that ascorbic acid is a carbohydrate derivative containing six carbon atoms, six oxygen atoms, and eight hydrogen atoms and is closely related to the sugar, glucose (see Figure 1). Glucose is of almost universal occurrence in living organisms, where it is used as a prime source of energy. Ascorbic acid is produced enzymatically from this sugar in both plants and animals.

Figure 1

We can surmise that the production of ascorbic acid was an early accomplishment of the life process because of its wide distribution in nearly all present-day living organisms. It is produced in comparatively large amounts in the simplest plants and the most complex; it is synthesized in the most primitive animal species as well as in the most highly organized. Except possibly for a few microorganisms, those species of animals that cannot make their own ascorbic acid are the exceptions and require it in their food if they are to survive. Without it, life cannot exist. Because of its nearly universal presence in both plants and animals we can also assume that its production was well organized before the time when evolving life forms diverged along separate plant and animal lines.

This early development of the ascorbic acid synthesizing mechanisms probably arose from the need of these primitive living organisms to capture electrons from an environment with very low levels of oxygen. This process of scavenging for rare oxygen was a great advance for the survival and development of the organisms so equipped. It also may have triggered the development of the photo-synthetic process and sparked the tremendous development of plant life. This great increase in plant life, with its use of the energy of sunlight to produce oxygen and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, completely changed the chemical composition of the atmosphere, over a period of possibly a billion years, from oxygen-free air which would not support living animals a we know them to a life-giving oxygen supply approaching the composition of our present atmosphere.

The increase in the oxygen content of the atmosphere had other important consequences. In the upper reaches of the atmosphere, oxygen is changed by radiation into ozone, which is a more active form of oxygen. This layer of high-altitude ozone acts as a filter to remove the deadly ultraviolet rays from sunlight and makes life on land possible. This series of events, which occurred more than 600 million years ago, preceded the tremendous forward surge of life and the development of more complicated, multicellular organisms in post-Cambrian times, as is seen in the fossil record.

The only living organisms that survive to this day in a form that has not progressed or evolved much from the forms which existed in the earliest infra-Cambrian times are primitive single-cell organisms, such as bacteria, which do not make (and may not need ascorbic acid in their living environment. All plants or animals which have evolved into complex multicellular forms make or need ascorbic acid. Was ascorbic acid the stimulus for the evolution of multicellular organisms? if not the stimulus, it certainly increased the biochemical adaptability necessary for survival in changing and unfavorable environments.

Further evidence for the great antiquity of the ascorbic acid-synthesizing systems may be obtained from the science of embryology. During its rapid fetal development, the embryo passes through the various evolutionary stages that its species went through in time. This led nineteenth-century embryologists to coin the phrase, "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny," which is another way of saying the same thing. In fetal development, ascorbic acid can be detected very early, when the embryo is nothing more than a shapeless mass of cells. For instance, in the development of the chick embryo (which is convenient to work with), the chicken egg is devoid of ascorbic acid, but it can be detected in the early blastoderm stage of the growing embryo. At this stage the embryo is just a mass of cells in which no definite organs have as yet appeared, and it resembles the most primitive multicellular organisms -- both fossil and present living forms. In plants, also, the seeds have no ascorbic acid, but a soon as the plant embryo start to develop, ascorbic acid is immediately formed. Thus all the available evidence points to the great antiquity of the ascorbic acid-synthesizing systems in life on this planet.



Our Deadly Inheritance

Copyright (c) 1997 "The Vitamin C Foundation "