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Rescuing your heart with vitamin C

Reading time: 13 minutes

Noted cardiologist Thomas Levy was not satisfied with the results he was getting with his heart patients—until he discovered the effects of vitamin C

Coronary heart disease (atherosclerosis) sends thousands of Americans to an early grave every year, millions more to emergency rooms and thousands of patients to a cardiac surgery suite every day (at an average cost of over $100,000).1 Although these facts are alarming, they’re not news.

In my view, all coronary arterial blockages have a solitary root cause. High triglycerides or fats in the blood? No. These are only indicators of disease risk since they play an important role in worsening arterial narrowings—but only after the disease has taken hold.

What about high cholesterol or high blood pressure? No. These, too, only worsen rather than initiate blockages. There are over 20 commonly accepted risk factors for this major killer, but none of them, individually or in combination, initiate coronary heart disease.2

It starts when the innermost protective lining (the intima) of the coronary arteries begins to come unglued. This lining is comprised of a single layer of cells that functions like ceramic tiles on a shower wall. And just like the cement and grout that hold the tiles in place, a gel-like substance (called ground substance) between and under the protective cells holds them on the arterial wall.

As long as the ground substance remains firm and healthy, these cells stay in place and the artery is protected from disease.3

When the ground substance becomes watery, however, open spaces between these lining cells appear, allowing plaque-building substances in the blood to enter more easily.4 The process of plaque formation, and the subsequent clogging of the artery, requires this initial change in the consistency of ground substance from gel-like to watery.

What causes the deterioration of the ground substance? A localized deficiency of vitamin C in the coronary arteries—called a focal scurvy. In contrast, a continuous and generous supply of vitamin C to the arterial linings keeps the ground substance in its healthy, gel-like state.5

That suggests the solitary root cause of all coronary arterial blockages is a vitamin C deficiency in these arteries.

Furthermore, vitamin C is required to form and maintain strong and resilient collagen. Since collagen is one of the main structural components of the arterial wall, a continuing deficiency of vitamin C is responsible for more than initiating arterial disease. It also results in an unrestrained buildup of plaque as the body attempts to fortify arteries continually weakened by a declining quantity of collagen and quality of arterial walls.

For decades, conventional medicine has addressed coronary heart disease by treating symptoms and attempting to limit risk factors without addressing, or even acknowledging, its root cause: a focal scurvy of the coronary arteries.

As a consequence, Americans spend billions of dollars every year on expensive drugs and even more expensive procedures that only retard the progression of this lethal disease. All the while, effective vitamin C supplementation would prevent the disease in many who do not already have it.

A thorough review of the scientific evidence indicates that coronary arteries with uninterrupted, abundant access to vitamin C would never develop artery-plugging plaques. If all of us maintained a C-rich environment in our coronary arteries, the massively lucrative heart disease industry would dry up overnight.

And for those who already have coronary heart disease, effective vitamin C protocols would halt the progression—and in many cases even dissolve—the proliferating, life-endangering plaque that clogs their arteries.

Causes of arterial vitamin C deficiency

Multiple factors contribute to vitamin C deficiency:

  • Normal, everyday toxic exposures
  • Ever-present pathogens (even when no infection exists)
  • Free radicals from normal metabolism
  • The many bodily processes that require vitamin C
  • Acute or chronic infections
  • Humans no longer synthesize their own vitamin C

Additionally, all of the accepted risk factors for coronary heart disease contribute to a vitamin C deficiency and/or are made worse by it.2

In addition to the universal C-depleting mechanisms listed above, certain factors especially deplete vitamin C in and around the heart. Disease-causing microbes and toxins from the mouth are the biggest drains on vitamin C stores in the body for most people. Poor dental health, mercury fillings, gum disease and root canals dump a continual flood of C-destroying toxins and pathogens into the blood.6

In fact, dangers of the mouth are often the primary source of the toxins and malicious microbes that initiate and fuel degenerative diseases such as cancer and heart disease.7

A primary example is the root canal (see “The heart-unhealthy root canal” below). All root canal–treated teeth are infected, and removing the tooth, nerves and supporting blood vessels eliminates not only discomfort but also the only route for the body’s immune system to fight the infection. It is a fatally flawed procedure that ensures a chronically infected tooth every time.

Prior to capping off the tooth, the dentist pushes a sterilizing agent into the freshly drilled canals. The disinfectant cannot reach about 3 miles of capillary-sized tubes in each tooth, so the infection and toxins remain and multiply. These teeth squirt C-depleting pathogens and toxins into nearby blood vessels with every chew.

The contaminated blood is then pumped back toward the heart through the veins and into the first arteries encountered: the coronaries.

As a result, vitamin C in the coronary arteries that should be keeping the ground substance and arterial collagen firm and healthy is completely spent as it tries to neutralize the onslaught of infectious microbes and toxins. This localized deficiency of vitamin C opens the door to atherosclerosis and the resultant buildup of plaque from the many well-known risk factors (see “Understanding the heart disease process” below).

The “temporary fix” of current therapies

Most cardiologists will admit that bypass surgeries, angioplasties and stent placements rarely result in a permanent solution. They know arterial blockages will continue to progress, often for three reasons:

  1. The source of vitamin C depletion is not treated.
  2. The amount of vitamin C ingested usually remains insufficient.
  3. The vitamin C does not penetrate well into the most deficient areas of the arteries.

Cures result when root causes are eliminated, not when symptoms are treated or suppressed. Just as putting a new pipe around an old blocked pipe under your kitchen sink will not clear the blockage, treating arterial blockages without addressing the underlying cause—low vitamin C in the coronary arteries—will never provide a permanent resolution. The blockages will continue to worsen.

Cholesterol and vitamin C deficiency

For decades, “traditional” medicine has promoted cholesterol as a primary villain in coronary heart disease. Granted, multiple trials have shown that a decrease in cholesterol levels decreases the incidence of arterial blockages and heart attack.8

But additional studies show that arterial blockages will start and grow with a vitamin C deficiency alone—in the total absence of cholesterol elevations.9 Other evidence shows that blood cholesterol levels increase with a vitamin C deficiency,10 and by the same token, excessive cholesterol depletes vitamin C.11

Research also shows that vitamin C supplementation lowers blood cholesterol—even with a high-cholesterol diet.12 And taking vitamin C protects arteries from plaque buildup, even in the presence of high serum cholesterol. These studies add further proof that vitamin C is essential for maintaining the health of the coronary arteries.

The buildup of cholesterol-containing plaque is simply part of the body’s response to a weakening of the arterial wall initiated by a lack of vitamin C. In the presence of a continuing deficiency, a progressive arterial breakdown triggers further formation of vessel-narrowing plaque.

High blood pressure and vitamin C deficiency

Although not assigned the primary role in the cause of coronary heart disease, high blood pressure is a significant risk factor in the development of arterial disease and is known to speed up the process.13

Additional studies show that vitamin C deficiency can cause and worsen high blood pressure.14 The reverse happens too: vitamin C supplementation lowers blood pressure of hypertensive patients.15

Research shows that sufficient vitamin C supplementation is required to maintain the optimal collagen content in blood vessels, and a good quantity of high-quality collagen is required to maintain arterial integrity when blood pressure is elevated—or even when it’s normal.16

High blood pressure is not something to ignore; it can be very dangerous when sustained over time. However, multiple studies show that adequate levels of vitamin C lower blood pressure and protect the coronary arteries from damage due to excessive pressure.

For instance, UK researchers gave 40 participants either an antioxidant cocktail with vitamin C or a placebo for eight weeks. After a two-week washout, the groups switched for another eight weeks. The antioxidant supplement reduced all participants’ systolic blood pressure, even if it wasn’t originally too high.17

Researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine recruited 39 patients who had hypertension but were otherwise healthy and gave them either 2 g vitamin C tablets or a placebo for 30 days. They found vitamin C alone lowered the blood pressure of hypertensive patients. 18

Chinese and Japanese researchers reviewed 18 previous studies and found “serum vitamin C has a significant inverse relation with both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure.”19

James M. May, a researcher at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, examined how vitamin C improves the function of the arterial lining. He concluded that supplementation is a viable way to enhance this function and to reverse “local scurvy” in blood vessels. 20

Cholesterol and triglyceride levels

One of cholesterol’s many functions in the body is to neutralize or inactivate toxins. As a result, cholesterol levels are routinely elevated in conditions of increased toxin exposure. Unfortunately, this important compensatory mechanism, left unchecked, can accelerate atherosclerosis as it infiltrates arterial walls.

A triglyceride, like cholesterol, is another lipid (fat or fat-like substance) that has been linked to heart disease. An elevated level of triglycerides in the blood is an independent risk factor tied to a greater chance of death by heart attack.21

Vitamin C greatly limits and can even prevent the negative impact of cholesterol and triglycerides on the development of atherosclerosis. Many studies are consistent with this finding.

Research has shown, for instance, the following:

  • A French researcher examined proteins produced by bacterial toxins that can cause direct cellular damage. He found that even small concentrations of cholesterol bind to them and deactivate them.22
  • A study at Central Microbiological Laboratories in Edinburgh found that cholesterol in the arterial walls binds to bacterial toxins, forming a complex that damages arteries.23
  • Researchers monitored Michigan residents from August 1968 to April 1970 and found increased toxic pesticide exposures correlated with increased cholesterol levels .24
  • Willis and a colleague examined human arteries during autopsy and found areas of vitamin C deficiency due to mechanical stress caused by illness, which damaged the ground substance and initiated cholesterol deposits in the vessel.25
  • Ginter and other colleagues gave 300 mg of daily vitamin C supplementation to people over age 40 with high cholesterol and a seasonal vitamin C deficiency. After 47 days, the vitamin C significantly decreased the participants’ cholesterol levels, especially in those with the highest levels at the start .26

C is for self-care

The importance of high-dose vitamin C in maintaining healthy arteries and preventing atherosclerosis cannot be underestimated. If humans still had the capacity to synthesize vitamin C in quantities commensurate with their need, this disease might be totally nonexistent.

Since most of us don’t have that ability, the only reasonable option is to supplement based on our changing needs. This requires regular evaluation of our disease state, the degree of our exposure to toxins, and the status of the various coronary heart disease risk factors known to further reduce vitamin C levels in the body.

The best vitamin C supplementation cannot be expected to prevent coronary heart disease when high daily toxin exposures are not also eliminated or severely curtailed.

Don’t expect “traditional” medicine to embrace and promote vitamin C, however. Shiploads of ego and unimaginable quantities of money stand behind maintaining established heart disease treatment methods. In fact, the resistance will grow until an educated populace forces change.

In the meantime, look for enlightened integrative specialists who understand that when it comes to the heart, this simple and plentiful vitamin is your best medicine.


The one who got away

After undergoing angioplasty, “Angie” (not her real name), a 62-year-old woman, had elevated cholesterol and extremely elevated Lp(a), or lipoprotein (a), a type of LDL that causes blockages, or plaques, to form in arteries.

An angiogram revealed a 75 percent blockage in the right coronary artery and 50 percent blockages in other arteries.

Angie had a family history of high cholesterol, high blood pressure and early heart disease death. Her father had died at age 43 from heart disease, as had three of his four siblings in their 20s and 30s. Angie’s brother had had bypass surgery at 59 and had died a week later.

Angie had been prescribed numerous cholesterol-lowering drugs, but either she couldn’t tolerate them or they weren’t working well. Since no drugs can lower Lp(a), she decided to try a more holistic approach: gugulipid, a standardized extract of the Commiphora muklul plant, which had some evidence of dissolving plaques.

Her practitioner added 6,000 mg intravenous vitamin C plus L-lysine and L-proline, two natural amino acids that detach thousands of deposits of Lp(a) from blood vessel walls.

After 19 months, a repeat angiogram revealed that the 75 percent blockage was reduced to 40 percent and the 50 percent blockages had disappeared altogether.1 A board-certified cardiologist verified the outcome and her significantly reduced heart disease.

This level of blockage reversal is considered impossible by “traditional” cardiac medicine. But as in Angie’s case, and in studies published over 50 years ago, the “arterial-plaque-buildup-is-irreversible” mantra is simply not true.2 Reversal of significant blockages is a realistic goal for many heart patients.


Understanding the heart disease process

For the vast majority of coronary heart disease victims, the process starts and progresses as follows:

  1. A localized vitamin C deficiency develops in the coronary arteries.
  2. Injury to the artery results from a breakdown in its protective lining as the ground substance becomes watery. The artery loses its ability to securely affix and seal the protective cells on the arterial wall.
  3. Plaque begins to form as calcium, cholesterol, fats and other substances in the blood penetrate the wall through the gaps in the ground substance. Sensing an evolving weakness in the artery, the body tries to patch, seal and fortify it. The body even synthesizes wads of collagen fibers over the arterial lining to strengthen the failing vessel.
  4. As all this compensatory activity continues, the arterial walls harden, thicken and begin to block the flow of blood through the vessel.
  5. If the C-deficiency is quickly and adequately addressed, the artery will heal and the blockages will shrink. If not, the blockages will grow and eventually endanger the life of the victim.

An all-out C-deficiency (general scurvy) can produce this disease-causing focal scurvy in the arteries. However, such patients often die long before arterial blockages become a problem.


The heart-unhealthy root canal

Weston Price, the famous dentist and integrative practitioner, found it nearly impossible to sterilize extracted root canal–treated teeth—even outside the body, using measures too extreme for a tooth in the mouth!

Dr Price extracted a root canal–treated tooth from a patient with a severe central nervous system disease. This tooth was consecutively placed under the skins of 31 rabbits. All the rabbits rapidly developed a similar disease and died.1

Over 5,000 extracted root canals were tested for potent toxins, and all had them. These toxins, and the infections that produce them, make root canals the body’s greatest vitamin C depleters.

Several years ago, a close friend of mine had a Y stent installed in his seriously occluded coronary arteries. Because he had continuing heart issues and the need for more stenting over a short period, I recommended removing his only root canal–treated tooth.

His supplementation regimen was one of the best I had ever seen, yet it was not until his root canal came out that his chest pains stopped and his blockages stopped their rapid progression. Only then could his high-quality supplements, which included 9 g of liposomal vitamin C per day, finally do their job.

At his five-year checkup, the cardiologists were flabbergasted that the stents were as “clean as the day they were placed!” I was pleased but not surprised. They were clean because the vitamin C deficiency in his arteries had finally been resolved.


How much to take

The vitamin C starting point for healthy adults is approximately 6,000 mg per day and grows in proportion to our level of toxic exposure and the intensity of challenges to the immune system. Meeting this need solely through food is not possible.

Studies also show that as dose size increases, the percentage of vitamin C that gets into the blood dramatically decreases. One study found that only around 19 mg of a 20 mg dose of water-soluble C made it into the bloodstream.

As the dose sizes increased, however, that amount dropped precipitously. 1 Projections from the study’s findings suggest that only 2,000 mg of a 12,000 mg dose will enter the bloodstream, 2 and delivering 3,000 mg of C into the bloodstream from a single ingested dose would be theoretically impossible.

Vitamin C (in all traditional tablets, capsules, liquids and chewable forms) is absorbed by the body through a limited number of portals in the intestinal wall. Only one molecule of ascorbate can pass through a given portal at a time.

When the portals are busy, any unabsorbed vitamin C will pass to the colon and accumulate there. This is why the quantity of regular vitamin C the body can assimilate is so restricted. It also explains why IV administration of vitamin C is superior to oral supplementation for acute infectious diseases and severe toxin exposures.

Bioavailability studies show that absorption improves when daily vitamin C supplementation is broken into several smaller doses throughout the day.

One way to discover your optimum dose is to establish your bowel tolerance for vitamin C. A large amount not absorbed in the small intestine causes a watery diarrhea, called a C-flush. The unabsorbed C reaches the colon and draws more water into the bowels than the intestines can handle.

Bowel tolerance vastly increases with a toxic or disease state. Robert Cathcart, MD, the noted vitamin C investigator, discovered in his treatment of HIV/AIDS patients that bowel tolerance frequently rose to 75–100 g per day—20 to 50 times that in healthy individuals. 3

Montly or even weekly, take spaced doses of vitamin C powder in water until the onset of diarrhea. At this point you can determine your baseline dose for the moment, while your bowels will benefit from a healthy cleanse.


Liposomal vitamin C

When phospholipids (composed mainly of fatty acids) are placed in an aqueous solution under special conditions, their unique molecular structure forces them to form microscopic bubbles. These tiny spheres, called liposomes, have double-layered membranes almost identical to the bilayer membranes that surround most cells in the body.

As liposomes are formed, they capture and enclose whatever was dissolved in the starting solution. Because of their fatty acid composition, they are not soluble in water and do not break down in the stomach.

Because of this composition—along with their infinitesimal size—liposomes can facilitate absorption of a large percentage of their encapsulated payloads before enzymes break down the lipids in the intestine. They slip through the intestinal wall without using the receptor sites. Liposomes penetrate cell walls in the same efficient manner.

These and other properties make them ideal for carrying vitamin C (and many other water-soluble nutrients) into the blood and into cells. A peer-reviewed study showed liposome-encapsulated vitamin C delivered roughly twice the maximum amount of vitamin C to the blood previously believed possible—even with spaced doses—of more “traditional” forms of oral vitamin C. 1

Because liposome-encapsulated vitamin C is considerably more bioavailable than all other oral forms, especially as dose sizes increase, here’s a rule of thumb for equivalent dosages:

1,000 mg liposomal = 3,000–4,000 mg powder

2,000 mg liposomal = 8,000–10,000 mg powder

3,000 mg liposomal = 12,000–18,000 mg powder

The total daily dosage should be at least as much as determined by the last bowel tolerance test with ordinary vitamin C.


Adapted from Primal Panacea by Dr Thomas E. Levy (MedFox Publishing)

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Main text 
  1. Circulation, 2010; 121: e46–e215
  2. Thomas E. Levy, Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases, and Toxins (MedFox Publishing, 2004)
  3. Anatomical Record, 1934; 60: 93–109; J Experimental Med, 1939; 69: 265–82
  4. Arch Pathol Lab Med, 1926; 1(1): 1–24; Biochemistry, 1968; 7(9): 3103–12; Arch Pathol, 1965; 80(4): 371–76
  5. Agressologie, 1983; 24(7): 317–19; Diabetes, 1991; 40(3): 371–76
  6. Am Heart J, 1999; 138(5 pt 2): S528–33; J Periodontol, 2000; 71(12): 1882–86
  7. Robert Kulacz and Thomas E. Levy, The Roots of Disease: Connecting Dentistry and Medicine (Xlibris, 2002)
  8. Circulation, 1970; 42(5): 935–42; JAMA, 1975; 231(4): 360–81; N Engl J Med, 1990; 323(14): 946–55
  9. Can Med Assoc J, 1953; 69(1): 17–22
  10. Proc Natl Acad Sci, 2000; 97(2): 841–46; Atherosclerosis, 1976; 24(1–2): 1–18; Am J Clin Nutr, 1971; 24(10): 1238–45
  11. Am J Physiol, 1957; 189(1): 75–77
  12. Nutr Metab, 1970; 2(2): 76–86; J Am Geriatr Soc, 1966; 14(12): 1239–60
  13. Diabetes Res Clin Pract, 2005; 68 (supp 1): S43–47; Scand J Clin Lab Invest, 2005; 65(3): 201–9
  14. J Hypertens, 2000; 18(4): 411–15; J Hypertens, 1998; 16(7): 925–32; Free Radic Biol Med, 2000; 28(9): 1421–29
  15. Am J Clin Nutr, 1993; 57(2): 213–17; J Hum Hypertens, 1997; 11(6): 343–50; Lancet, 1999; 354(9195): 2048–49
  16. J Glaucoma, 1997; 6(6): 402–7
  17. Clin Sci (Lond), 1997; 92(4): 361–65
  18. Lancet, 1999; 354(9195): 2048–49
  19. Cardiovasc Ther, 2020; 2020: 4940673
  20. Free Radic Biol Med, 2000; 28(9): 1421–29
  21. J Orthomolecular Med, 1996; 11(3): 173–79; Diabetes, 1991; 40(3): 371–76
  22. Archives de l’Institut Pasteur de Tunis, 1981; 58(3): 355–73; Int J Med Microbiol, 2000; 290(4–5): 351–56
  23. Lancet, 1975; 1(7902): 308–10
  24. Pestic Monit J, 1977; 11(3): 111–15
  25. Can Med Assoc J, 1955; 72(7): 500–3
  26. Nutr Metab, 1970; 2(2): 76–86; Int J Vitam Nutr Res, 1977; 47(2): 123–34
The one who got away 
  1. J Orthomolecular Med, 1996; 11(3): 173–79
  2. International Symposium “State of Prevention and Therapy in Human Arteriosclerosis and in Animal Models,” 1978; doi: 10.1007/978-3-663-06754-2_23
The heart-unhealthy root canal
  1. Robert Kulacz and Thomas E. Levy, The Roots of Disease: Connecting Dentistry and Medicine (Xlibris, 2002)
How much to take
  1. James L. Groff, Sareen S. Gropper, and Sara M. Hunt, Advanced Nutrition and Human Metabolism (West Publishing Co., 1995), 222–37
  2. “Bio-Technology Breakthrough Promises Nearly 100% Bioavailability,” USA Today, Dec 19, 2006
  3. Med Hypotheses, 1981; 7(11): 1359–76
Liposomal vitamin C
  1. Med Hypotheses, 1981, 7(11): 1359–76
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