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High-dose vitamin C relieves virus-related pain

Pain refers to the ‘unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage’ [1].

Pain can be classified by the three major types of aetiology:
- nociceptive (pain in response to injury);
- neuropathic (nerve pain or pain in response to nerve damage);
- particular pain features, such as allodynia (increased sensitization of neurons) and hyperalgesia (increased sensitivity to pain).

The principal organ of pain is the brain. Our brain collects signals from the central nervous system via the spinal cord when there is a noxious stimulus. The experience of pain is then perceived and experienced. Pain is also a transdiagnostic symptom which psychosocial, cultural and environmental factors influence the experience of pain over time [2].

Infection with viral pathogens is commonly associated with myalgia, arthralgia or neuralgia [3].

In this article, we will discuss about how vitamin C is related to virus-associated pain and its anti-inflammatory effects. (Read more: vitamin C as natural antibiotics)


Shingles, medically known as Herpes zoster infection, results in a painful skin rash which generally lasts 2–4 weeks. It's caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which is the same virus that causes chickenpox [65].

This disease usually manifest in areas supplied by spinal nerves, known as dermatomes. The virus in discrete dermatomes could cause nerve damage or alternations, a condition known as postherpetic neuralgia. Such injury may result in ongoing nerve pain that last for months or years. Pain can be mild to extreme in the affected dermatome, and
can include sensations of burning pain, itching, hyperesthesia
(oversensitivity), or paresthesia (tingling, pricking, or numbness, ‘pins and needles’). [4][5][6]

Lack of vitamin C increase the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia

Studies found that more than 50% of the patients of shingles had hypovitaminosis C than healthy individuals, which increase the risk of post-herpetic neuralgia [7][8].

This is because during a viral infection, the inflammatory process and the production of reactive oxygen species depletes stores of antioxidant, including vitamin C [9].

Unlike animals which can synthesise their own vitamin C if they become stressed and under a disease burden, our body
cannot produce vitamin C and thus shall have enhanced requirement on vitamin C, especially for hospitalized patients [10][11][12].

High-dose vitamin C therapy relieves pain and reduces acute symptoms

Frederick Klenner, MD, who pioneered the effective use of vitamin C in a wide variety of infections and toxin exposures,
published the results of his vitamin C therapy on eight patients with shingles. He gave 2,000 to 3,000 mg of vitamin C by injection every 12 hours, supplemented by 1,000 mg in fruit juice by mouth every two hours. In seven of the eight patients treated in this manner, complete pain relief was reported within two hours of the first vitamin C injection. All patients received a total of five to seven vitamin C injections. The blisters on Dr. Klenner's patients were also reported to begin healing rapidly, with complete resolution within the first 72 hours [4].

In 1943, Dainow reported success with 14 shingles patients receiving vitamin C injections.
[13] Dainow, I. (1943) Treatment of herpes zoster with vitamin C. Dermatologia 68:197-201.

In another study in 1950, complete resolution of shingles outbreaks was reported in 327 of 327 patients receiving vitamin C injections within the first 72 hours.
[14] Zureick, M. (1950) Therapy of herpes and herpes zoster with intravenous vitamin C. Journal des Praticiens 64:586. PMID: 14908970

Despite all of this data on vitamin C and shingles is quite old, there is an internal consistency among the report in how the patients responded.

Furthermore, several case studies also have indicated that both acute and postherpetic neuralgia can be dramatically decreased following high dose vitamin C treatment, by intravenous infusions (2.5–15 g daily or every other day for 5–14 days) [15][16][17][18].

An uncontrolled study by Schencking et al., 64 patients with Herpes Zoster who were subsequently administered 7.5 g
intravenous vitamin C two to four times a week for a total of 2 weeks. Overall, there was a decrease in pain for 92% of the patients [19].

In another trial, Chen et al. reported a larger decrease in numeric rating scale for pain after receiving vitamin C [20].

A clinical trial completed in 2010 suggests high-dose vitamin C can diminish acute symptoms of shingles, may mitigate or fully avoid the long-term painful post-herpetic neuropathy [21].

These shows the potential use of high-dose vitamin C as a therapy for patients that contracted shingles to have pain relieve and decrease the incidence of postherpetic neuralgia [22].

Other viruses

Chikunguya virus infection is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The most common symptoms of
infection are fever severe joint pain, which typically lasts weeks or months, and sometimes years [23][24].

Parvovirus B19 infection (also known as fifth disease) is a mild rash illness that occurs more commonly in children. In adults, the disease is even milder and may present as joint pain and swelling only [25][63].

Studies showed that high-dose oral and intravenous vitamin C treatments helped in reducing pain in patients with Chikungunya and parovirus B19 viruses [26][27][28].

Virus inactivation

Irwin Stone, Linus Pauling, and Thomas Levy have provided abundant evidence that vitamin C acts as a potent antiviral and antibacterial substance at gram level doses [29][30][31].

Vitamin C has a general virus-inactivating effect. Studies found that herpes viruses are one of many types of virus that
vitamin C can inactivate and neutralize in the test tube or has eradicated in an infected person.

[33] Holden, M. and R. Resnick (1936) The in vitro action of synthetic crystalline vitamin C (ascorbic acid) on herpes virus. Journal of Immunology 31:455-462.

[34] Holden, M. and E. Molloy (1937) Further experiments on the inactivation of herpes virus by vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid). Journal of Immunology 33:251-257.

How it works

Fenton Reaction

The spikes of bacteriophage viruses are rich in iron [35][36][37], while the surface of the virus also accumulates metallic iron and copper [38].

Vitamin C acts as an oxidizing substance in the presence of iron, and permeates water and oxygen to produce hydrogen peroxide. This hydrogen peroxide can severely damage cells. Amazingly, the advantage of high concentrations of vitamin C is that it does not cause any damage to normal human cells, but only selectively kills viruses. Hydrogen peroxide will further react with iron to generate toxic and violent hydroxyl radicals through the "Fenton reaction". Ultimately, the virus is devastated [64]. Vitamin C accumulated inside the virus particles can quickly destroy the virus.

By the same principle, through the Fenton reaction, vitamin C can kill various viruses, pathogens and cancer cells, all of which can be found in real proof records [39].

Anti-inflammatory Effects of Vitamin C

In addition, vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant that can help fight inflammation. High vitamin C levels are necessary to counteract the extremely high levels of oxidative stress and thus protect our organs and resolves the inflammatory response [40][41][42][43].

Vitamin C is crucial for wound healing and repair organs from inflammation due to its role in collagen synthesis [40][44][45][46][47][48]. High-dose intravenous vitamin C can reduce inflammation in severe coronavirus disease 2019 patients [49], cancer patients [50], and has neuroprotective effects in neurological diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and stroke [51][52].

Advantage of liposomal vitamin C

In oral consumption of water-soluble vitamin C, the vitamin passes through the digestive systems and be absorbed into the blood. Despite the increase in vitamin C intake, the
plasma steady state concentration reaches a maximal level of about 220 μM [53][54][55].

Absorption falls to less than 50% for a 1000mg water-soluble vitamin C tablet. There is also concern on the risk of kidney stone from the consumption of high dose vitamin C, as ingested vitamin C is partly converted to oxalate and excreted in the urine, thus potentially increasing the risk of
calcium oxalate stone formation [56].

To resolve the above challenges, oral liposomal vitamin C is an effective way to receive a higher maximum achievable
plasma concentration in the blood
[57] and it is not associated with any digestive discomfort even at high dosages [58].

Liposomal vitamin C is found to be much more easily and effectively absorbed by our body, as compared to conventional water-soluble vitamin C pills.

For the same oral intake of 1g of vitamin C, plasma concentration observed from liposomal vitamin C is double than that of standard soluble form [55].

The liposomes that encapsulate the vitamin C allows it to be absorbed into our body bypassing the dependency on intestinal absorption [59][60][61].

Furthermore, even intravenous vitamin C requires energy to realize the presence of reduced vitamin C inside the cell.

Liposomal vitamin C can effectively enter and/or deliver their contents into cells throughout the body, achieving the goal of having sufficient amounts of vitamin C entering the cell and its interior components.

This is why oral liposome-encapsulated vitamin C appears to have comparable clinical effects to much larger doses of vitamin C given directly intravenously [62]. 

An important note

Dr. Thomas Edward Levy said that the most important factor in the treatment of any virus with vitamin C is to give enough, for a long enough period of time. Vitamin C therapy can never be considered a failure in an acute viral syndrome until multiple forms have been used in large doses together [4].

Important statement

This information is for reference and sharing only, not for diagnosis or treatment. ​

High-dose vitamin C as natural antibiotics?