Back to Eden - Nutritional Herbs and Vitamins

Heart Patients and Antioxidants
by Elisa Adams

For many years, practitioners in alternative medicine have scoffed at patch-up surgeries as quick-fix solutions that don't last, since the causes underlying the “need” for angioplasties, bypass surgeries, and heart transplants were never dealt with. Diets remained unchanged, lifestyles remained unimproved, and surgeries tended to be followed by more surgeries and more medications, reaping generous financial rewards for the orthodox practitioners until their patients’ untimely demise.

Meanwhile, conventional medicine for over twenty years has scoffed at those who attempt to treat modern degenerative diseases with vitamins and other supplements, calling them “quacks” and their recommendations “unproven” and “scientifically unfounded.”

Finally the two sides are coming together in what is called “integrative medicine.” One example of this is a study completed recently out of Oregon State University in Corvallis and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. The study, performed according to current double-blind standards, required 40 heart transplant patients to ingest either 1000 mg of vitamin C and 800 IU of vitamin E or a placebo. 

After 12 months, the arteries of all 40 patients were screened for increases in arterial blockages. The arteries of the placebo group had developed “significant narrowing due to plaque buildup,” whereas the blood vessels of the group taking vitamins C and E remained clear and unchanged, according to an article published in the March 10, 2002 issue of England’s premier medical journal, The Lancet.

Since current statistics indicate that 7 out of 10 transplant patients develop postoperative hardening of the arteries, this study has profound implications for heart and other transplant patients. The lead researcher, Dr. James Fang, M.D., observed, “Our results suggest that vitamins C and E provide a clinically useful approach to reducing arteriosclerosis after cardiac transplantations. Antioxidant therapy with these vitamins may also be useful in other solid-organ transplants, such as kidney and liver.”

Previous studies involving postoperative vitamin protocols had used vitamin E but had failed to include vitamin C in their regimen. Vitamin E alone had been consistently unable to provide the benefits the vitamin researchers had hoped for. Scientists are now learning that the optimal benefits of vitamin E depend upon an individual having adequate reserves of vitamin C and that a synergy between the two vitamins provides the ideal effect.

Current studies will determine if these two essential cellular enzyme cofactors, which we commonly refer to as vitamins C and E, will continue to provide postoperative benefits to transplant patients. Dr. Fang spoke optimistically about his research: “Further investigations are warranted to investigate whether the beneficial effects of vitamins C and E [will be] sustained over many years during which most of the clinical complications resulting from transplant-associated arteriosclerosis occur.”

If the examples of Dr. Linus Pauling and Jay Patrick are indicative, adequate levels of cellular vitamin C are a key in avoiding an untimely demise due to cardiovascular complications. Pauling, a Nobel prizewinner for his research on the benefits of vitamin C, led a busy and productive life up to the week of his death at 93. 

Patrick, currently 90 years “young,” owns a company he founded upon his retirement 30 years ago. The company, Alacar, produces a vitamin C ascorbate drink mix, enabling American families to turn their daily glasses of water into tasty electrolyte-balanced fizzy drinks containing abundant vitamin C and trace mineral compounds. 

Thin, but still bright and articulate, Patrick is currently one of the vitamin industry’s most outspoken advocates for vitamin C supplementation. With CAT scan readings of “0” for evidence of arterial blockages or arteriosclerosis, his anecdotal evidence adds to the findings in Dr. Fang’s recent studies: the jury seems to be in agreement that supplemental buffered vitamin C can make a world of difference in quality of life and length of life during our later years.

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