Excerpts from Vitamin C and the Common Cold by Linus Pauling

"The mechanism of its [vitamin C] effectiveness against viral infection, such as a common cold, is not yet known. I have, however, formulated the hypothesis (which has not yet been tested by experiment) that the effectiveness of ascorbic acid in providing protection against viral diseases results from its function in the synthesis and activity of interferon in preventing the entry of virus particles into the cells. The discovery of interferon was reported in 1957 by Isaacs and Lindenmann. It is a protein that is produced by cells infected by a virus and that has the property of spreading to neighboring cells and changing them in such a way as to enable them to resist infection. In this way the interferon ameliorates the disease." (p. 38) "First, for good health I recommend the regular ingestion of an adequate amount of ascorbic acid. I estimate that for many people 1 g [gram] to 2 g per day (1000 mg to 2000 mg per day) is approximately the optimum rate of ingestion. There is evidence that some people remain in very good health, including freedom from the common cold, year after year, through the ingestion of only 250 mg of ascorbic acid per day. The requirements of a few people for ascorbic acid may be expected to be even smaller. For some people optimum heath may require large amounts, up to 5 g per day or more." (p. 84) "It is wise to carry some 500-mg tablets of ascorbic acid with you at all times. At the first sign that a cold is developing, the first feeling of scratchiness of the throat, or presence of mucus in the nose, or muscle pain or general malaise, begin the treatment by swallowing one or two 500-mg tablets. Continue the treatment for several hours by taking an additional tablet or two tablets per hour." (p. 86) (Locked) More »

Light therapy for conditions other than seasonal affective disorder

There are several clues that light therapy might help people with Parkinson's disease. Experiments have shown that blocking melatonin might reduce the severity of the muscle rigidity that's characteristic of the disease — and light therapy seems to reduce melatonin levels. Light therapy may also help with the depression that besets people with Parkinson's. Australian researchers enrolled a dozen Parkinson's patients in a light therapy study. They exposed them to bright fluorescent light (1,000 to 1,500 lux) for an about hour each day shortly before they went to sleep. Then they assessed the effect of the treatment at regular intervals. Within two weeks they observed improvement in bradykinesia (slow movements) and rigidity. Tremors were not affected, but the researchers did document improvements in mood, sleep, and appetite. Light therapy also permitted the reduction of L-dopa and other medicines without a worsening of Parkinson's disease, according to the results published last year in a journal called Chronobiology International. (Locked) More »

References for “A SAD story: Seasonal affective disorder”

Axelsson J et al, "Seasonal affective disorders: relevance to Icelandic and Icelandic-Canadian evidence to etiologic hypotheses," The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry (March 2002), Vol. 47, pp. 153–58. Bhattacharjee Y, "Is Internal Timing Key to Mental Health," Science (Sept. 14 2007), pp 1488–1492. Golden RN et al, "The efficacy of light therapy in the treatment of mood disorders: A review and meta-analysis of the evidence," American Journal of Psychiatry (April 2005), Vol. 162, pp. 656–662. (Locked) More »

References for “Human growth hormone”

Chahal HS et al, "The endocrine system and ageing," Journal of Pathology (January 2007), Vol. 211. pp. 173–180. Corpas E et al, "Human growth hormone and human aging," Endocrine Reviews (1993), Vol.14, No.1, pp. 20–39. Lui H et al, "Systematic review: the safety and efficacy of growth hormone in the healthy elderly," Annals of Internal Medicine (Jan. 16, 2007), Vol. 146, No. 2, pp. 104–15. (Locked) More »

References for “In Brief: Getting well after Bell’s”

Sullivan F et al, "Early treatment with prednisolone or acyclovir in Bell's Palsy." New England Journal of Medicine (Oct. 18, 2007), Vol. 357, No. 16, pp. 1598–607. Gilden D et al, "Bell's Palsy—Is glucocorticoid treatment enough?" New England Journal of Medicine (Oct. 18, 2007), Vol. 357, No.16, pp.1653–55. Hato N et al, "Valacyclovir and prednisolone treatment for Bell's palsy: A multicenter, randomized, placebo-controlled study." Otology and Neurotology (Feb. 5, 2007), Vol. 28, pp. 408–413. (Locked) More »

References for “Vitamin E: Separate and unequal?”

Baliarsingh S et al, "The therapeutic impacts of tocotrienols in type 2 diabetic patients with hyperlipidemia," Atherosclerosis (October 2005), Vol. 182, No. 2, pp. 367–374. Chen CK et al, "Tocotrienol: The natural vitamin E to defend the nervous system?" Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (2004), Vol. 1031, pp. 127–142. Dietrich M et al, "Does gamma-tocopherol play a role in the primary prevention of heart disease and cancer? A review," Journal of the American College of Nutrition (August 2006), Vol. 25, No. 4, pp. 292–9. (Locked) More »

References for “Cold comfort”

Caruso TJ et al, "Treatment of naturally acquired common colds with zinc: A structured review," Clinical Infectious Diseases (September 2007), Vol. 45, pp. 569–574. Eby GA et al, "Reduction in duration of common colds by zinc gluconate lozenges in a double-blind study," Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy (January 1984), Vol. 25, No. 1, pp. 20–24. Schroeder K and Fahey T, "Systematic review of randomized controlled trials of over-the-counter medicines for acute cough in adults," BMJ (Feb. 9, 2002), Vol. 324, pp. 329–331. (Locked) More »

Cold comfort

There is still no cure for a cold, and cold medications have come under scrutiny and criticism. Some people may get better results taking separate medications for fever, cough, and congestion, rather than a combination product. (Locked) More »

Human growth hormone

Used by athletes to build muscle, human growth hormone may in fact make muscles bigger, but not necessarily stronger. HGH is also marketed as an anti-aging treatment, but there are no data about possible side effects from long-term use. (Locked) More »

A SAD story: Seasonal affective disorder

Seasonal affective disorder is thought to be caused by decreased exposure to sunlight during the winter months. Light therapy helps some people, and the FDA has approved the antidepressant bupropion for treatment as well. (Locked) More »

Vitamin E: Separate and unequal?

Expectations for vitamin E's ability to protect the body against illness and disease have not been met, but certain types of vitamin E may have more effective antioxidant properties than others. (Locked) More »

In Brief: Getting well after Bell's

Bell's palsy is the paralysis of one side of the face caused by inflammation of the facial nerve. Treatment with a steroidal anti-inflammatory medication usually eliminates the condition. (Locked) More »