The Vitamins in Medicine, Part 2 (Vitamins C, D, E, K and More)

By Franklin Bicknell, MD, and Frederick Prescott, MD

Summary: Nutrition and medicine have seldom seen eye to eye. Though the discovery of the vitamins in the early twentieth century did cause some physicians to grasp the profound connection between vitamin deficiencies and degenerative disease, medicine as an institution never truly embraced this idea. Ultimately, the American Medical Association declared—in concert with the industrial food industry and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration—that most Americans do not suffer vitamin deficiencies of any consequence. This position, however, contradicts decades of scientific study, as famed natural nutritionist Dr. Royal Lee argued throughout his career. One of the books Dr. Lee cited most often in making his case was the text here, The Vitamins in Medicine, by British physicians Drs. Franklin Bicknell and Frederick Prescott. Backed by over 4500 scientific references, the text sums the totality of scientific knowledge about the vitamins at the time of its publication in the mid-twentieth century. While the book does take some typically medical views of vitamins, e.g., that they are single chemical substances and not synergistic biochemical complexes, as Dr. Lee taught, it nevertheless supports strongly the notion that many, if not most, of our modern ailments stem from partial (or “subclinical”) vitamin deficiencies. “This book not only tells of the ravages caused by ignoring nature’s ways,” Dr. Lee said, “but it also shows us the way to prevent these bodily damages.” In this second part of the book, Bicknell and Franklin discuss vitamins C, D, E, and K (along with a few other vital, if lesser known, nutrients). In Part 1, the authors examine vitamin A as well as the various B vitamins. Though the information in this book is over seven decades old, it is still incredibly valuable today, when so few health practitioners actually know what the vitamins do—or what a lack of them can cause. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research, 1953. Original publisher William Heinemann, London.

Ascorbic Acid as a Chemotherapeutic Agent

By W.J. McCormick, MD

Summary: In this 1952 article, medical doctor W.J. McCormick reports on the remarkable success that he and other practitioners were achieving using ascorbic acid—or synthetic vitamin C—to counter bacterial and viral diseases. The key to the acid’s efficacy, Dr. McCormick writes, is its powerful oxidative action when administered in huge doses—especially impressive, he says, given the lack of serious side effects. While it is dismaying that medicine never pursued the use of ascorbic acid as a possibly safe and inexpensive antibiotic, it is also important to distinguish isolated ascorbic acid from natural vitamin C, that is, vitamin C as it is found in food. As the great holistic nutritionist Dr. Royal Lee taught, vitamins in nature are not single chemicals, but rather they are complexes of compounds that cooperate synergistically to deliver a nutritive effect. Vitamin C as it is found in food, for instance, comprises not just ascorbic acid but also the adrenal-stoking enzyme tyrosinase as well as various bioflavonoids essential for maintaining the integrity of the blood vessels. Ironically, the role of ascorbic acid in the natural vitamin C complex may be merely to protect these other fractions, probably through the same oxidative action that Dr. McCormick amplified to great success as a chemotherapeutic agent. Though synthetic vitamins may display such pharmacological effects, Dr. Lee said, it’s critical that we don’t confuse such effects for the nutritional functions that only natural vitamin complexes can perform. From the Archives of Pediatrics, 1952. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Foundation reprint 5C.

The Changing Incidence and Mortality of Infectious Disease in Relation to Changed Trends in Nutrition

By W.J. McCormick, MD

SummaryIn the nineteenth century, deadly infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia, typhoid, and scarlet fever ran rampant in America and Europe. Then modern medicine came along in the 1900s and put an end to these epidemics through measures such as drug therapy, sanitation, and immunization. At least that’s how the conventional story goes. But does medicine really deserve credit for eradicating these infectious illnesses? In this fascinating article from 1947, Dr. W.J. McCormick points out a startling fact: the rate of each disease mentioned began steadily decreasing around the late 1800s—well before the advent of modern medicine. Moreover, the decline did not speed up as medical practices became standard in the early twentieth century, as one would expect if the “triumph of medicine” story were true. Given the facts, Dr. McCormick says, it appears some factor other than medicine was primarily responsible for bringing the great infectious diseases of the nineteenth century under control. That factor, he says, was the “anti-infection” nutrient, vitamin C. Thanks to revolutionary advances in food production, citrus fruits and other vitamin-C–packed foods became widely available for the first time in the late 1800s, steeling individuals against infection and spurring one of the great public health successes in history—a success wrongly credited to the medical and pharmaceutical fields, the author concludes. From The Medical Record, 1947. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 5A.

Vitamins in Dental Care

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: Originally published in Health Culture, this 1955 article outlines the critical roles of natural vitamin complexes, such as vitamins A, B, C, D and F, in maintaining and restoring dental health. Dr. Lee specifically credits the research of the celebrated Dr. Weston Price: “Dr. Weston A. Price was the first dentist to publish an article asserting that dental caries was primarily a result of vitamin deficiency. This was in 1927. In 1923, I had prepared a paper on the subject of ‘The Systemic Cause of Dental Caries,’ and read it to the senior class of Marquette Dental College, subscribing to the same hypothesis.” Amazingly, conventional dentistry still fails to comprehend the basic truth that a properly nourished body is resistant to tooth decay. Reprint 30G, 1955.

Nutrition and National Health: The Cantor Lectures

By Sir Robert McCarrison, MD

Summary: In this in-depth lecture before the Royal Society of Arts, Dr. Robert McCarrison discusses conclusions and observations of his pioneering research as Britain’s former Director of Research on Nutrition in India and its implications for the health of Britain’s population. “The greatest single factor in the acquisition and maintenance of good health,” he says, “is perfectly constituted [i.e., whole, natural] food.” 1936.

The Need for Vitamins

By L. Stambovsky

Summary: In this article, written amidst the Great Depression and the outset of World War II, the author describes the vitamin-poor state of the typical American citizen in terms that still apply today. “Quantitatively, most Americans get enough calories in the form of [refined] carbohydrates…But refined sugar and starch, while they are energy sources, provide little or no accessory or vital food factors [i.e., vitamins and minerals].” This basic message sums up the work of many of the early nutritionists, who tried in vain to communicate the fact that nutrient deficiencies are at the root of most modern degenerative illness. Includes an illuminating chart listing various vitamin deficiencies and their associated diseases. From Drug and Cosmetic Industry magazine, 1942. Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research reprint 31.

The Vitamin P Group of the C Complex

By Dr. Royal Lee

Summary: In this extensively referenced article, Dr. Royal Lee shows that the natural vitamin C complex is more than just ascorbic acid, in this case discussing the important part of the complex known as the vitamin P group (which includes rutin and other bioflavonoids). For decades, Lee and others knew that focusing on just ascorbic acid led to an incomplete understanding of the function of vitamin C, just as using only ascorbic acid in clinical studies had failed to bring complete systemic relief to scurvy. This scientific explanation of the complete vitamin C complex should serve as a cornerstone for approaching the subject of vitamins in general and vitamin C in particular. From Vitamin News, 1948.