X-rays showed that his lungs were completely clouded with fluid-among the worst his doctors had ever seen. They then discovered that Smith had hairy-cell leukaemia, but he still had a chance at survival if he could recover any lung function at all. However, in his present condition, the Auckland doctors told his wife Sonia that he was not likely to survive and recommended turning off his life-support.
Smith's brother-in-law, however, refused to accept this death sentence and insisted that he be given intravenous (iv) vitamin C. To humour the family, the sceptical doctors agreed to administer 25 g/day of vitamin C for several days. By the end of the second day, however, new X-rays showed large air pockets in Smith's lungs. His lung function had so dramatically improved that he was able to come off the life-support system.
Nevertheless, the doctors refused to acknowledge vitamin C as the source of the improvement and so stopped the iv drip, after which Smith rapidly deteriorated. But, at his family's insistence, the doctors eventually gave Smith a far lower dose-1 g of vitamin C twice a day; he began to improve, albeit much more slowly. After a move to another hospital, he regained consciousness and his vitamin C regimen was stopped permanently.
Sonia Smith then decided to give her husband a new form of vitamin C, touted as being as powerful as iv dosing. Smith's recovery was drama-tic. Although doctors believed he would need three months of hospitalization for rehabilitation, he walked out of hospital after two weeks. By the time he was released, he also had no signs of leukaemia.
What is LET?
Championed by American cardiologist Thomas E. Levy, author of the heavily researched book on vitamin C Curing the Incurable (LivOn Books, 2002), 'liposomal encapsulation technology' (LET) allows delivery of supplements such as vitamin C at lower doses by encasing the nutrient in a fat barrier, thereby protecting it against being expelled or absorbed until it is needed.
A liposome is a microscopic-sized phospholipid (fat) molecule shaped like a lollipop with two sticks on the other end. These tiny molecules make up the cell walls in your body, among other things, and have a unique prop-erty: the head (or lollipop) part of the long molecule has one end that is water-seeking, while the other end (the two sticks) repels water and attracts fats.
Whenever they are exposed to water (as in your cells), the phospholipids form doubled rows end to end, such that the fat-seeking ends attract each other, creating a semipermeable cell membrane that completely encloses the fats. The same mechanism is used by the cell's own membrane, which surrounds cytoplasm-the jelly-like blob that makes up every cell of your body-while enabling other molecules to enter and exit the cell through the membrane.
In the case of LET, the little spheres are stable in water and, despite their own little semi-permeable fat barriers, are also able to contain water-soluble substances.
Manufacturers of LET agents have gravitated towards using phosphatidyl-choline, liposomes con-taining essential fatty acids, usually extracted from animal proteins such as egg yolks but, more typically, from soy lecithin. LET makers then use either extrusion (forcing the liposomes through a polycarbonate grate), sound waves (which excite the molecules) or micro-fluidization (which uses high-pressure water jets) to force the fatty molecules to form tiny spheres (usually less than 200 nm in size).
Phosphatidylcholine is an excellent carrier agent because it's a nutrient in its own right, and a potent antioxidant that protects against hardened or narrowed arteries, high cholesterol, and liver and pancreatic disease (Levy TE. Curing the Incurable: Vitamin C, Infectious Diseases and Toxins. Henderson, NV: LivOn Books, 2002).
Liposomes are an ideal container for nutrients or drugs for a number of reasons. They can protect their cargo against digestion, contamination and degradation by enzymes, bile, digestive juices and blood, and the reverse is also true: the substances contained within the liposomes cannot interact with any substances in the body until they are released.
Because they are so tiny, LET products are thought to remain intact while passing through the small intes-tine, where they enter the lymphatic system and end up in the liver. There, cells in the liver quickly break down the liposomes, thus releasing the encapsulated nutrients for distribu-tion to cells throughout the body.
Studies show that this method of delivery doesn't require any energy expenditure by the body, whereas most delivery systems for vitamin C utilize energy for its uptake. This depletes cells of electrons, thus increasing free radicals and depleting other antioxidants-despite the fact that the purpose of taking vitamin C is to do just the reverse.
Vitamin C researchers are excited about LET because, up to now, the consensus has been that, for serious illnesses, vitamin C is best given as an iv drip. However, as LET is so readily absorbed, its uptake is purportedly 10 to 20 times greater than oral vitamin C, and is even higher than iv delivery, claim the researchers.
Nevertheless, so far, proof of LET vitamin C's superior efficacy is thin on the ground. Stephen Hickey, at the Manchester Metropolitan University and working with the Biolab Medical Unit in London, carried out a study to determine levels of vitamin C in the blood after single variable doses delivered as an ordinary pill vs a liposomal formulation. Subjects took vitamin C half-hourly or hourly for six hours; the results were then compared with the published data and those of 10 years of Biolab's testing results.
Although the research up to now has suggested that the maximum levels of vitamin C are 220 uML-1, Hickey's evidence showed that, with LET, it was possible to nearly double the amount of vitamin C in the blood to 400 uML-1 after just a single dose.
As Hickey speculated in his study, it might even be possible to sustain levels of vitamin C far higher still with repeated dosages.
These results have implications for the use of vitamin C as a potent treat-ment for a variety of cancers, says Hickey. "For example, a short in-vitro treatment of human Burkitt's lymphoma cells with ascorbate at 400 uML-1, has been shown to result in approximately 50-per-cent cancer cell death" (J Nutr Environ Med, 2008; 17: 169-77).
However, although Hickey tested his subjects repeatedly and found clear evidence of the superiority of LET vitamin C released into the blood-stream, he used only two subjects for his study. More evidence from more people is clearly needed.
Nevertheless, given that the use of liposomes for delivery of vitamin C is still in its infancy, LET has been used for an array of other important anti-oxidants, including vitamins E, A, beta-carotene, coenzyme Q10 and, in particular, glutathione-the body's most important antioxidant, what Levy calls the body's 'master defender'. Up to now, this vital nutrient could not be taken as a supplement, but only as its 'precursor' form. However, recent findings in mice have shown that LET glutathione not only mops up free radicals, but also reverses athero-sclerosis (Atherosclerosis, 2007; 195: e61-8). However, whether this effect can also be seen in humans remains to be seen.
LET supplements are widely sold in the US, thanks to Levy's efforts, but they are only available in the UK via the post (from www.lypospheric-nutrients.co.uk). However, they may yet prove to be the cornerstone of European nutritional therapy. With the EU's laws about to drastically lower the levels of vitamins permitted, LET is a simple way to provide high levels of nutrients with low-level supplements.
For more information, see Thomas Levy's website at www.tomlevymd.com.
WDDTY VOL. 21 ISSUE 7