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Emanuele Eco, 

How Vitamin C Saved the Life of Irwin Stone (1907 – 1984)

In the 1950s it became clear to the American biochemist and vitamin C researcher Irwin Stone that humans would benefit from ingesting much larger amounts of ascorbate than the medical and nutritional establishments considered adequate. A most intense learning experience with vitamin C literally saved his life from a car accident in the year 1962.

Economic historian Avner Offer once issued a paper titled the “American automobile frenzy of the 1950s”, describing most correctly an era in which the American society switched from producing mainly war-related equipment to consumer goods, especially automobiles. With a huge emerging market to satisfy, car manufacturers produced over 50 million cars in one single decade, a record that would stay part of the national memory.

Along with the economic victory and the millions of new registered cars came congestion and traffic jams. The US highway system was expanded with Interstate highways across many parts of the United States. Multi-lane highways allowed traffic to move at faster speeds, with few or no stoplights on the way. In an attempt to seduce customers, much attention went to increasing speed and boosting horsepower, at the expense of a high human toll in an increasing number of traffic accidents. It was only around 1955 that technological innovations focusing on intrinsic car safety would find their way to newer models.

The story goes around that in this economic turmoil the famous researcher and vitamin C pioneer Irwin Stone and his wife got involved in a serious traffic accident. Stone pioneered the use of high doses of ascorbate (vitamin C), doses much higher than what was assumed to be necessary for the human body, based on the theory that humans share a genetic defect that blocks the full synthesis of ascorbate and shared by certain animals like monkeys.

It has been demonstrated that the enormous stress ocurring during physical trauma, infectious diseases and shock all severely deplete severely the body’s antioxidant reserves, including ascorbate. Stone was fully aware of this heavy burden on the body in the aftermath of the accident and so had the unfortunate opportunity to be his own experimental rat. Twenty-two years later, in 1984, Stone recalled the whole event:

“Outside of Rapid City, South Dakota, we had a very serious automobile accident when a drunk driving on the wrong side of the road drove her car at 80 miles an hour into a head-on collision with ours.

Both my wife and I were seriously injured and the only reason we survived was the fact that we had been regularly taking daily megadoses of ascorbate for decades. We never went into the deep shock that kills most accident victims and I was able to experimentally verify ascorbate’s great healing power and survival value by taking about fifty to sixty grams a day of ascorbate during our hospitalization.

My wife recovered quickly and acted as my “nurse.” I went through five serious operations without any surgical shock and my multiple bone injuries healed so fast that we were able to leave the hospital in less than three months, take a 2,000 mile train trip home, and I was back at work running my lab in two months more. I left the hospital under my own steam, on crutches, walking on legs that the doctors originally predicted I would not be able to stand on for at least a year. My larynx was damaged by part of the steering wheel inflicting a deep throat wound, and the doctors despaired that I would ever talk again. With the help of large doses of ascorbate, this problem slowly resolved and I was able to assume the public speaking duties of the president of a scientific society with a voice of a slightly different timbre.” ¹

I was able to experimentally verify ascorbate’s great healing power and survival value by taking about 50 to 60 grams a day during our hospitalization.

From an interview with Steven Stone, Dr. Stone’s son,  it becomes clear how the dramatic outcome of the megadosing after the incident have focused Stone’s career even more to the study of ascorbate:

“My parents drove to visit Mt. Rushmore. They never got to see the monument. On the road to Mt. Rushmore, as they were going over a slight rise, they were hit head on by a drunk driver with such force that every one of my father’s limbs, except his right arm, was broken. He also had massive internal injuries.

Someone performed an emergency tracheotomy on him by sticking a piece of tubing through the hole in his throat and by the time he reached the hospital he had lost most of the blood in his body. Yet he never went into shock. My mother also sustained significant but not so serious injuries. They were both in the hospital from May till August. As soon as he could communicate, he insisted on having vitamin C supplements and convinced those caring for him that that was the reason he survived. They believed him.

Subsequently, my father found a research paper that showed that vitamin C supplementation increased impact shock survival in guinea pigs. The injuries affected his mobility to some extent, so he cut back on some of his more strenuous activities and spent the rest of his life researching vitamin C, the results of which are set forth in his book The Healing Factor.” ²

In 2002 an Annals of Surgery study of over 500 victims of trauma showed that early administration of antioxidant supplementation using alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) reduces the incidence of organ failure and shortens length of stay at intensive care, conforming the protective and healing power of sufficient amounts of antioxidants in injuries and disease.

Irwin Stone couldn’t have agreed more. The American pioneer devoted the rest of his life to studying and publicizing the need for multi-gram daily consumption of ascorbate by humans until his sudden death in 1984.

Fifty Years of Research on Ascorbate and the Genetics of Scurvy, Irwin Stone, 1984,

2 The Doctor Yourself Newsletter. Vol.4, No. 23, 2004,

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