Synthesis of opposing views: a syncretic view of the many contradictions re vitamin C


A model that makes sense of opposing views about vitamin C has the following “tenets” (by definition, tenets are tentatively held ideas, modifiable with every piece of data that does not fit the model):

  1. Pauling focused on the high rate of synthesis of vitamin C in animals that make it. He focused on the fact that if we ingest grams of vitamin C, we absorb grams of vitamin C. He noted that we absorb even more vitamin C when we are ill. Pauling focused on the proven utility of high dose vitamin C in the work of Dr. Frederick Klenner. He more or less ignored the high rate of urinary excretion of vitamin C.
  2. The US government focused on the high rate of urinary excretion and the fact that total body pools of vitamin C cannot be increased stably beyond about 1500-3000 mg. The government scientists ignored the fact that animals of our size make 200 times our RDA and that we absorb grams of vitamin C before we excrete all but about 100 mg of it per day and that we absorb more vitamin C when we are sick.
  3. As a rule, animals make about what they need of various nutrients. Exception: we make less choline than we need. As a consequence, animals do not make 200 times what they need.
  4. Both Pauling and the government scientists are making valid points. What is the explanation of these contradictory viewpoints?
  5. A possible explanation of the paradox is that vitamin C is accidentally absorbed (for example, oxidized vitamin C is absorbed by a glucose receptor) and deliberately excreted. This fails to explain why vitamin C is absorbed better when we are ill.
  6. Optimal tissue levels of vitamin C are at or near SL (saturating or near saturating levels). This explains why goats make 13 grams of vitamin C a day and why we absorb grams per day even though we need but 100 mg or so to replace losses of vitamin C (at 2-4% loss per day with a total body pool size of 1500-3000 mg).
  7. Supersaturating levels in serum and tissues occur for a short period of time following injection with high levels of sodium ascorbate.
  8. Chosen properly, an injection that achieves a therapeutic window of proper supersaturating levels of serum and tissue vitamin C, which I will call SSL1 (supersaturating level 1), avoids most of the toxicity and allows some antitumor, antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal action, as well as some high level chelating of heavy metals. This explains the effectiveness of the use of injectable vitamin C as an adjunct cancer therapy and the many anecdotal results (more than 30 diseases treated) of Dr. Frederick Klenner re injection of high doses of vitamin C followed by high oral doses. Before even getting a diagnosis, Dr. Klenner treated everyone prophylactically with a high dose of injectable vitamin C, followed by multiple oral high dose vitamin C. When they came back for their diagnosis and treatment, they were in many cases on the road to recovery.
  9. Chosen improperly, there is a level of serum and tissue super-saturation, SSL2 (supersaturating level 2), at which there could be heavy damage to normal cells, especially if the kidneys are compromised. Possible mechanism: a catalytic cycle in which vitamin C binds regions in the genome in which copper is bound to cellular DNA, and creates single and double stand breaks. Vitamin C can be regenerated by various cellular antioxidants like glutathione (at 5-10 mM, glutathione is many times higher in concentration than cellular vitamin C), making this a highly destructive catalytic event.
  10. This toxic reaction or something like it or both explains why evolution has favored those animals whose kidneys excrete vitamin C so well and so rapidly, and this rapid excretion explains why vitamin C cannot ordinarily be driven to still higher concentrations in tissues (>=SSL2), given reasonably healthy kidney function.
  11. This explains the US government’s position – why take more than about 100 mg a day if it is all going to be excreted? Well yes, after tissue saturation has been achieved. I doubt that 100 mg a day can always maintain saturation in all tissues. When we are sick we absorb more vitamin C (as evidenced by higher bowel tolerance) and we consume more vitamin C when we are sick. When goats are sick they make twice as much vitamin C as when they are healthy.
  12. Nature’s program is to overdose the vitamin, thus achieving tissue saturation, and then excrete the excess as rapidly as possible to sidestep the toxic side reaction(s).
  13. Because of the toxic reaction(s) at SSL2, at inappropriately high supersaturating concentrations of vitamin C, no one with impaired kidney function should take Pauling type doses (18 grams a day).
  14. Re the government’s position: I would argue that vitamin C passing through the bowel may be doing us a world of good in keeping stools somewhat looser rather than too hard. I would also argue that vitamin C in urine is definitely doing us a world of good. First, in solubilizing substances like calcium (calcium oxalate and calcium phosphate stones are much less likely in someone taking high dose vitamin C). Second, and this is more speculative, in reducing the likelihood of UTI – the acidity of urine with lots of vitamin C likely makes it very uncomfortable for fimbriated bacteria trying to colonize the urinary tract.
  15. Also, re the government’s position: the total requirement for vitamin C cannot be deduced merely from mass balance studies. Two reasons – vitamin C is likely a member in a number of other nutrients’ ADME networks, and it will have an optimal dose for functioning there that is in addition to its own optimal dose (since a vitamin C molecule cannot be in two places at once). In addition, we need to write the total requirement of any nutrient as the sum of at least 4 independent parts: 1. the requirements of the entire gut. 2. the requirements of the blood stream and lymphatic systems. 3. the sum of the requirements of all tissues. 4. the requirements of the urinary system.

How general is this model? Might the same not be true of selenium and other nutrients in which the therapeutic window is rather narrow?

Nature plays with fire – it has to; life would never have come to be without doing so – and avoids getting burned most of the time thanks to many rounds of selective pressure that was at times so great that scientists estimate that ~90% of all species were extinguished. That is how nature comes up with such nearly flawless solutions to working with substances that can be as beneficial at one set of doses, between SL and SSL1, and so harmful at another set of doses, that is, >=SSL2.

Possible problems with determining nutrient requirements by mass balance studies


Determining the minimum daily requirement of a nutrient seems simple enough – just determine the mass balance, that is, how much of a nutrient is needed to replace obligatory daily losses, and do the experiment over a sufficiently long period of time to have confidence in the results.

However, this assumes that all nutrients in that particular nutrient’s ADME network are in place at optimal levels – highly unlikely in modern America.

Consider the absurdity of trying to define the minimum daily calcium requirement in a person with a clear deficiency of magnesium. Such a person inappropriately excretes calcium in his urine because magnesium is a nutrient in calcium’s ADME network.

The iron requirement in a person who is copper deficient cannot be defined, so important is copper in iron’s distribution (copper puts the D in iron’s ADME network; at least 3 copper-requiring proteins are involved in moving iron around the body).

In addition, it may be that some, many, or even all nutrients need to circulate throughout the body to grease the body’s gears so to speak – for these nutrients, the minimum daily amount needed is that amount necessary to maintain its balance, given optimal levels of all ADME nutrients, PLUS the amount needed to circulate through the body each and every day to keep everything running smoothly and everything else in balance.

Sodium, chloride, and vitamin C are almost certainly nutrients that need to pass throughout the body each and every day for optimal health. Is this true of all other nutrients?

Notice that my idea that the vitamin C requirement is the sum of the amount needed to maintain vitamin C balance PLUS the requirement that must circulate through the body comes close to Pauling’s idea that very high doses (multiple grams) of vitamin C are useful in preventing atherosclerosis – circulating high levels of C throughout the body hour by hour each day would keep the serum level consistently high and consistently protective against oxidative damage to key structures, provided that nothing untoward is making the vitamin C act like a pro-oxidant, in which case the vitamin C is likely attacking the culprit by bleaching it.

Why do I think that sodium chloride needs to cycle throughout our bodies?

Reason 1: Because our craving for salt is so much higher than what is needed to replace losses. This craving, present even in reasonably well nourished people, suggests the body has needs for salt that are greatly in excess of replacing insensible losses of sodium and chloride. So important is salt that it must even be added to sweets to make them taste better – first and foremost, if our taste for salt is not satisfied, we cannot thoroughly enjoy the sweetness of a sweet treat.

Reason 2: we absorb so much more sodium chloride than we need to maintain mass balance. Reasonable explanation: sodium chloride needs to circulate throughout the body. To maintain optimal health, we need more sodium chloride per day than what merely replaces daily losses.

Speculation: every essential nutrient is an essential nutrient in at least one other essential nutrient’s ADME network. If true, then sodium and chloride, each of which are essential nutrients, are essential nutrients in other essential nutrients’ ADME networks, and they may need to be temporarily at higher activities at particular locations for optimal bodily function. The same goes for vitamin C and who knows how many other essential and conditionally essential nutrients.

What evidence is there that vitamin C needs to circulate?

The evidence is a bit speculative:

Consider the goat, which is about our size. The goat makes about 13 grams of vitamin C a day. If its total body pools are like ours, about 1.5-3.0 grams, and its rate of turnover of vitamin C is about the same as ours, about 2%-4% per day, then as little as 4% of 1500-3000 mg (60-120 mg) is all that is needed to maintain homeostasis under the worst of conditions. Clearly the goat is making more than it “needs” Biological systems do not in general make 100 times more of something than they need to. So why make so much? Probably because something comparable to this amount of vitamin C, 13 grams, which is roughly 200 times the human RDA (60 mg/day, which is based on balance studies with a generous overage for safety), in all likelihood needs to circulate through the goat’s body each and every day. Is it not likely the same is true for us?

In addition, why does even a person with good vitamin C status still absorb grams of supplemental vitamin C only to excrete nearly all or all but what he/she needs to replace losses? Reasonable explanation: vitamin C needs to circulate throughout our bodies. Replacing losses is not enough. The assumptions behind mass balance studies are or may well be false.

Also, why does the body absorb so much more than it needs of supplemental B vitamins only to excrete what it does not need? Is there something not accounted for in current models of nutrition?

Could atherosclerosis be all but non-existent in us, as Pauling and Rath suggested, if we circulated many grams of vitamin C a day in proper and multiple doses throughout our bodies?

Has the US government misconstrued nutritional science, even when it is interpreting a “simple” balance study?

Does this apply even to cholesterol? Why does the body absorb up to a gram a day of additional cholesterol while remaining fully committed to making a gram a day?

Re poisons: In cases of accidental poisoning, why do we absorb so much more arsenic than we need (we need perhaps just 12 micrograms/day out of just 48 micrograms/day in our food supply)? I assume because mechanisms did not evolve to protect us from arsenic, which is not abundant in food, and so many other poisons. But mechanisms did evolve to protect us from iron poisoning, and food (10-20 mgs/day ingested) does contain enough iron to poison us, if we did not exclude all but 1-2 mg/day, although no known mechanism evolved to protect us from iron overload if the former mechanisms failed, as they do in hereditary hemochromatosis. Is the same true of salt, vitamin C, and the B vitamins? Mechanisms did not evolve to protect us from over-absorption of the minerals and the vitamins, and the over-absorption did not prove to be anywhere near as harmful as over-absorption of arsenic does, and iron would, if mechanisms did not exist to protect us from iron overload due to over-absorption?

The bull’s-eye diet: Not high fat, but sufficient fat


By definition, high fat is too high and low fat is too low. What we want is just the right amount of each type of fat and thus the right amount of total fat.

The bull’s-eye diet is not high in fat, but it is higher in fat than most experts believe is healthy. It is way higher in fat than the low-fat vegan diet many believe is optimal, at least for heart health.

Because most people are under-nourished, they cannot find the optimal level of fat in their food using as guides either their taste buds or the meal’s ability to suppress their appetite for at least 6 hours. Any meal that can suppress appetite for at least 6 hours must have sufficient calories, sufficient protein and sufficient fat. Sufficient calories alone does not remove the sufficient protein and sufficient fat requirements. Low fat, low protein vegan dieting is running uphill when it comes to suppressing the appetite.

F, The amount of fat we need per meal, is that amount that will accomplish at least all of the following:

1. Form a good micellar emulsion with water and bile and other emulsifiers (like choline) and all of the useful and absorbable fat soluble substances and amphipathic substances (essential nutrients like linoleic acid and linolenic acid and vitamins D, E, A, and K), conditionally essential nutrients, and accessory nutrients like carotenoids and the amphipathic substance vitamin P [and biotin?]) in foods and supplements, resulting in sufficient absorption of these nutrients. Call this F1.

2. Satisfy our well-nourished appetite suppression system for many hours so that we are not gaining weight by giving in to hunger frequently. One meal a day is ideal, as in the Fast-5 approach. Two meals are better than three. So we are talking about satisfying the appetite for 6 hours (for three meals) or 12 hours (two meals) to 19 hours (1 meal per day). Call this F2.

3. Completely empty our gall bladders, so important because our gall bladders store 10-20 concentrated organic toxins and amphipathic toxins from the liver. Call this amount F3.

4. Provide sufficient antimicrobial activity in the lumen of the stomach in the presence of stomach acid – 6 log killing can be achieved with 1 mM free fatty acid at pH 3, while 10 mM free fatty acid can achieve almost the same at pH 4.5 (C.Q. Sun et al. / FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology 36 (2003) 9-17). Call this amount of fat F4. Salivary serous gland lipase (the principle products of this enzyme are free fatty acids and diacylglycerols) is able to penetrate fat globules and is thus active without the need for bile and in the presence of acid, down to at least pH 4.5 – so considerable digestion can occur right after eating a meal with sufficient fat before the stomach contents are acidified down to where pepsin is optimal.

5. Provide a well-nourished taste bud system with good taste – not too little fat, which does not taste good, and not too much, which tastes greasy. This satisfaction of the taste requirements also contributes in a virtuous circle to appetite suppression and mood stabilization later on. Call this amount F5.

6. Provide sufficient fat for mood stabilization (helps prevent depression, likely taste bud satisfaction contributes to a better overall mood). Call this F6.

7. Provide sufficient fat for lubrication in enteric and non-enteric tissues. Call this F7.

Is F=F1=F2=F3=F4=F5=F6=F7? Don’t know, but it would be fascinating if it worked out that way or even approximately the same. Would be fascinating if F is also the amount of fat that we can digest by salivary lipase and gastric lipases, and absorb without making either new enzymes (salivary, gastric, or pancreatic lipases) or more bile. This amount of fat may decrease as we age. We may need to supplement digestive enzymes as we age and stimulate our digestive process (with all natural digestive bitters, e.g.) in any way we can.

Note that our well-nourished bodies also tell us when we consume too much fat. Too much fat not only tastes greasy, but it makes stool float and at an even greater excess too much fat in the diet results in smelly diarrhea. Too much fat may also promote feelings ranging from mild anxiety to outright panic attack, and from mild nausea to vomiting.

How could any reasonably intelligent person fail to read these signals? The body is clearly saying that too much fat is not good for the body.

Stating the obvious once more: an undernourished person may have such reactions to too low a level of fat in his diet. Only a properly nourished body has properly functioning taste buds, appetite satiation, and appropriate responses to too little fat and protein, and too much fat and protein.

The antioxidant network is a relay system for removing free radicals from sites of major harmfulness


In cell membranes, vitamin E is oxidized by free radicals. This is reduced by CoQ10, which itself is regenerated by the respiratory chain, to the degree that respiration is not “impaired.”

Or: diffusible vitamin C, or more optimally vitamin C held near the membrane by something (possibly including vitamin E), reduces vitamin E, glutathione reduces vitamin C, glutathione reductase reduces oxidized glutathione, and ultimately NADPH is regenerated by the oxidation of foodstuffs (pentose phosphate pathway oxidative cycle in which two glucose-6-phosphate are oxidized twice to produce four NADPH, two carbon dioxides, and two ribulose-5-P, which are non-oxidatively recycled back to one four carbon sugar plus one glucose-6-P, using transketolase, transaldolase, and phosphoglucose isomerase; in this way NADPH can be ramped up to appropriate levels for reduction of oxidized glutathione, keeping the antioxidant network [as noted above, involving minimally vitamin E, vitamin C, glutathione, glutathione reductase, and NADPH from the pentose phosphate pathway, but likely many more participants, including antioxidant enzymes and other small molecule antioxidants.] running smoothly, and reductive biosynthesis. When NADPH is sufficiently high, ribulose-5-phosphate can be used to make ribose-5-phosphate and its derivatives). NADPH is the ultimate or ground zero antioxidant in the body. NADH and FADH2, also regenerated from the oxidation of foodstuffs, serve as additional reservoirs of reducing power in the cell.

The above description is that of a relay shuttle, which carries away harmful molecules from the site where they would otherwise do the most damage.

The body uses the network principle, not the pharmaceutical principle, and thus achieves higher signal/noise ratios. The highest signal/noise ratio is never seen in any natural process near the maximum signal, as the pharmaceutical model presupposes. Rather the highest overall signal/noise ratio is achieved using concentrations of each component of a large network well off their maximal effective dose.

A shuttle network makes it obvious why it is not useful to overdose on any one component of the network. Optimal -not maximal- doses of ALL components (including the cofactors in the antioxidant enzymes) and precursors (in the case of making the enzymes and glutathione) make more sense in supplements.

Square Meal Poll #1


A commercial square meal would be certified to contain 100% of all of our nutritional requirements, thus taking away all worries and concerns about nutrition and health-related nutrition issues (except of course those due to genetic problems). Square Meals are only about 670 calories, leaving the vast majority of our calories for our favorite foods.

50 grams of protein


Below is a Table that helps one select sources to obtain the 50 grams of protein the average adult needs per day.

8 “servings” of protein is approximately 50 grams.


One Serving Equals

Meat, Fish, Cheese

One ounce


One large egg

Milk or Yogurt

Six ounces

Cooked Legumes

One half cup

From the Table above, 50 grams of protein would be about 8 ounces of beef or chicken, 8 ounces of shrimp or salmon. 8 ounces of blue cheese used to top the salad. 8 large eggs. 2 large eggs, one quarter pound burger, and four ounces of cheese.

One caveat: When the sole protein source is legumes, be sure to supplement the amino acid methionine (at least one half a gram, 500 mg.) and vitamin B12.

How to create a Square Meal


You need three things: (1) 50 grams of protein, (2) a pound of one or more dark green leafy vegetables, (3) a pound of other vegetables.

For example: Let’s make a shrimp spinach salad: (1) 8 ounces of cooked shrimp, (2) one pound of washed baby spinach leaves, (3) a pound of vegetables consisting of carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, celery, and cucumber. That is two and one half pounds of food, filling by design. That is the Square Meal. Easy. Square Meals average about 700 calories. If you are maintaining your weight on 2,000 calories, that leaves 1,300 calories in the “calorie bank” to enjoy any way you want.

Now to make the salad taste great, add your favorite dressing and toppings. These are borrowed from the “calorie bank.”

The Square Meal Diet Fundamentals


1. Enjoy one square meal a day to satisfy all of your nutritional requirements for optimal health. Obtaining sufficient nutrition during dieting is extremely important, but it is overshadowed by all of the emphasis on the importance of weight loss. It is assumed that weight loss “outweighs” any damage done to the body by nutrient deprivation on “denial diets.” I assume the opposite. Weight loss without assuring proper nutrition is dangerous to health.

2. Enjoy your favorite foods.

3. To lose weight, gradually increase physical activity and gradually reduce the portion sizes of your favorite foods, but never give them up.

Welcome to the Square Meal Diet Blog


I’m  Dr. Mark Collins, author of The Square Meal Diet: The Revolutionary Diet That Features Comfort Foods. This blog is to discuss technical issues relating to this diet.

A companion blog is devoted to recipes, The Square Meal Diet Recipe Blog.

Thanks for participating!      © 2011 Mark L. Collins

The most important terms are the ones we leave undefined

Neither scientists nor philosophers define important terms adequately.

For example, Aristotle never defined the term “cause” adequately before launching into categorizing all of the different ways the term is used, in a way enshrining all of the intellectual confusions people have with this term. What we needed from Aristotle was criticism of the superficiality of all of this nonsense. A poet making fun of all of this self-important nonsense re Causation would have been more informative. Aristotle’s “four causes” multiplies confusion. There are likely no causes in nature, not four every time we think we have identified one.

Thinkers are sloppy by nature; so this is expected.

But it may also be deliberate – it allows them to claim more for their discoveries, and in some cases get away with it.

“HIV causes AIDS” – millions of research dollars would never have been given to “HIV initiates immunodeficiency in the immunocompetent and it exacerbates immunodeficiency in those already immuno-deficient.” – the latter view of HIV and AIDS being my modest attempt to get at the plain truth.

There is no cause of sickle cell anemia

By definition, the cause of an effect is completely responsible for it. Thus, there cannot be two or more causes. The phrase “a cause” is a contradiction in terms. Removal of the cause of a malady cures ALL people of ALL aspects of the condition.

By definition, the driver of an effect is predominately responsible for it. Thus, there cannot possibly be two drivers of an effect, although when apparent drivers interact, and when each is studied independently, each can appear to be predominately responsible for the effect. In reality, both apparent drivers are contributors. With the exception of interacting “drivers”, the phrase “a driver” is a contradiction in terms. Removal of the driver of a medical condition approaches a cure of the condition.

By definition, a contributor to some effect is partly responsible for it. Removal of a contributor alleviates the condition.

There can be only one cause and only one driver. If there is a driver, there must also be at least one contributor. There can be any number of contributors along with one driver, and there must be two or more contributors when there is no driver and no cause.

Statistics and common sense tell us that in nature there are many more correlates than contributors and many more contributors than drivers, and many more drivers than causes.

The genetic mutation in the Beta globin gene is the driver of sickle cell anemia, not the cause of sickle cell anemia.

The mere existence of a wide range of phenotypes of those who suffer from the disease says that there is more to this disease than this genetic mutation, this driver, this common denominator, this defining characteristic, this challenge, the mutation being the challenging problem that sets up a whole lot of other problems.

The fact that there are mild cases of sickle cell anemia says either that the genetic lesion itself -the driver- is not so bad as imagined or that other things can ameliorate the condition.

If those suffering the worst cases of the disease were cured of the driver, they would not be restored to ordinary levels of health. They have other maladies that make their disease so much worse than average.

“The cause of sickle cell anemia” is a phrase that approaches reality only in those with the mildest forms of the disease. If this one malady were reversed, their health would be much, much better, though never perfect. Perfect health does not exist.

An anecdote that says that vitamin C deficiency does not cause scurvy

High dose vitamin C is a therapy for scurvy precisely because vitamin C deficiency is NOT the cause of scurvy.

What? Huh?

Some background:

By definition, the cause of something is completely responsible for it. There can be only one cause of something.

By definition, the driver of something is predominately responsible for it. There can be only one driver of something and there must also be at least one contributor.

By definition, a contributor to some effect is partly responsible for it. There can never be one contributor if there is no driver and no cause.

Statistics and common sense tell us that in nature there are many more contributors than drivers, and many more drivers than causes.

If vitamin C deficiency is the cause of scurvy, then only vitamin C can cure scurvy.

If vitamin C deficiency is a contributor to scurvy or a correlate of scurvy, and not the cause, or even the driver of scurvy, then a therapeutic dose of vitamin C might cure scurvy.

If vitamin C deficiency is a correlate of scurvy, not a cause, then simply increasing bodily pools of vitamin C to above the level seen in scurvy will not cure scurvy.

On the contrary, it will take quite a bit higher doses to do that. This is what is observed and was in fact the second thing that made me suspicious of the one-hit causal model of scurvy. The anecdote below, while not reliable, would disprove conventional wisdom, if the anecdote could be verified and established by rigorous experimentation.

If scurvy is a multi-hit a-causal disease, as I believe is the rule for diseases, then any number of things might cure it, including large doses of a single agent, vitamin C – because even single agents are multifactorial in their actions.

Scurvy could also be an exceptional one-hit causal disease or it could be a case of medical gerrymandering, making the statement somewhat trivial, as being true by definition. Gerrymandering means that only those symptoms attributable to vitamin C deficiency are included within the scope of the disease known as scurvy. Yet those who suffer from scurvy have more things wrong with them than that definition allows, including more deficiencies than just one vitamin.

As scientific evidence goes, anecdotes are weak, really weak. But they are not NOTHING. They are not controlled experiments and those reporting the anecdotes may even lack credibility. The anecdotes need to be investigated and the work repeated, scientifically. Most scientists just ignore anecdotes and go on about their business, but they do so at their own peril, the peril of the scientific error of promulgating and perpetuating overly simplistic univariate models.

Many an underpowered model, one that is too causal, too univariate, has arisen by ignoring anecdotes.

Here is a widely ignored anecdote about scurvy that if it is true, blows the theory that vitamin C deficiency is the cause of scurvy right out of the water because scurvy was cured rapidly without vitamin C. The two keys, which dispute scientists claims to the contrary, are the rapidity of the effect and the heat stability of the factor(s) responsible.


J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2009; 5: 5.  Published online 2009 Feb 2. doi:  10.1186/1746-4269-5-5 PMCID: PMC2647905.  Arginine, scurvy and Cartier’s “tree of life”

“One of the first documented uses of indigenous medicine in North America was the cure in the winter of 1536 of Jacques Cartier’s crew from a disease he called “Scorbut”(scurvy) [1,2]. Cartier’s second voyage (1535–1536) was undertaken at the command of King François 1er to complete the discovery of the western lands under the same climate and parallels as in France. At Stadaconna, now Quebec City, Cartier’s crew was cured from scurvy by ascorbic acid (vitamin C) obtained as a decoction from the Iroquois. It was prepared by boiling winter leaves and the bark from an evergreen tree. The tree, identified as “Annedda”, became known as the “tree of life” or “arbre de vie” because of its remarkable curative effects. In the winter, scurvy was the most prevalent disease among the Iroquois. This was due to the lack of food and vitamin C [3].

The cure for scurvy was significant for future naval explorations and for the introduction of the tree into France during the Reformation when the Age of Reason began (1558–1648) [4]. The medicinal value of the tree of life contributed to the resurrection of botany, which at that time struggled to free itself from pharmacy when medical men were still its masters. By the eighteenth century, the French naturalists at the Jardin du Roi in Paris knew of Thuja occidentalis as the tree of life and planted an avenue of it in the Jardin itself [5].

The Iroquois referred to the tree as Annedda (l’Annedda, Aneda, Anneda, Hanneda) [2]. Other tribal names for conifers were “ohnehta” for white pine, “onita” and “onnetta” for white spruce (Mohawk, Onandaga). These names represent the evergreen nature characteristic of coniferous trees. Regarding the transmission of the tree of life to France, the earlier one goes, the sparser are the available manuscripts. The pre-Linnaeus terminology for conifers made their precise identity impossible to make. Based on collections by French explorers and the ethnomedicine of indigenous peoples in eastern Canada, the true identity of the tree of life became controversial [2]. The identity of Anneda was narrowed down to eastern white cedar or arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis L.), white spruce (Picea glauca (Moench) Voss), black spruce (Picea mariana (Mill.)), eastern white pine (Pinus strobus L.), red pine (Pinus resinosa Aiton), balsam fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis (L.)), and juniper (Juniperus communis L.) [2,6].

We now know that during late a severe winter and at a similar latitude to Quebec City, the candidate trees of life are a rich nutritional source of arginine, proline and other amino acids [79]. Their physiological fluids and proteins contain amino acids which are essential in the human diet because the body does not synthesize them (viz., phenylalanine, valine, threonine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, leucine, and lysine). Arginine, cysteine, glycine, glutamine, histidine, proline, serine and tyrosine are conditionally essential, meaning they are not normally required in the diet, but must be supplied to specific populations that do not synthesize these amino acids in adequate amounts [10]. Today, these amino acids are used as nutritional support for the recovery of critically ill patients [1114]. In the recovery from scurvy they would help to promote vitamin C-dependent collagen biosynthesis, promote wound healing, reduce susceptibility to sepsis, and contribute to weight gain [10,1517].”

He declares, I believe wrongly, in view of the trivial amount of vitamin C present in heat-treated extracts of Thuja occidentalis bark and needles, the rapidity of the cure, and the heat-stability of the curative agent(s):

“Several conifers have been considered as candidates for “Annedda”, which was the source for a miraculous cure for scurvy in Jacques Cartier’s critically ill crew in 1536. Vitamin C was responsible for the cure of scurvy [emphasis mine] and was obtained as an Iroquois decoction from the bark and leaves from this “tree of life”, now commonly referred to as arborvitae. Based on seasonal and diurnal amino acid analyses of candidate “trees of life”, high levels of arginine, proline, and guanidino compounds were also probably present in decoctions prepared in the severe winter.”

In spite of declaring vitamin C deficiency to be the cause of cancer, this author concludes more sensibly, more multifactorially:

“The history of medicine and clinical practice has involved a succession of blind alleys and detours, mountains of often uninterpretable observations, and a great leap forward as in the discovery of vitamin C as a cure for scurvy. This review takes us centuries back, and turns our attention to the combined values of arginine, NO, proline, other conditionally and essential amino acids, guanidino compounds, and antioxidants as added factors in the food and medicines of indigenous Canadian peoples.”

Fit only for treasons

A man without music (or more generally arts and humanities) in his soul – according to the Bard.

Who was the driver behind the American Revolution? Driver = the person predominately responsible for – John Adams, a man who admitted he had no music in his soul.

Coincidence? I doubt it. The Bard was right again.

Want to be a rebel – eschew music, art, humanities. Eschew music and you are more likely to be a rebel at heart if not in deed.

It’s not them – it is us

The multi-hit a-causal model of disease says that the problem, the enemy, is us, more specifically, our weaknesses.

Koch’s postulates have the wrong emphasis – it is them, not us. They cause disease and we suffer the consequences.

Our defenses, both specific and non-specific, should be the focus of research.

Pathogens are challenges, and little more, but they evolve. What works today against these pathogens will probably not be adequate in time.

A contributor to poorer quality sleep?

Eating too often. Not too much (which is also a problem, and may be as relevant to sleep quality, especially in the extremely obese via sleep apnea).

Eating too often. The point is that one can eat the right amount of food, but eating too often will still lead to unexpected problems.

Many Americans eat 3 meals a day and some eat 3 meals plus snacks.

This is too often – it does not allow time for important repair processes, particularly those dependent on autophagy, which is stimulated by glucagon, and inhibited by insulin (and hence by every episode of feeding).

My guess is 1-2 meals per day is optimal for overall health and for optimal repair processing.

There are other problems that arise from eating too often. For example, because those who eat 3 meals plus snacks suffer the inevitable post-prandial slump, they consume more caffeinated beverages than they would if they ate just once per day, and this has the effect of reducing overall quantity and quality of sleep.

The Fast-5 diet format recommended by Dr. Bert Herring suggests having one meal a day of about 5 hour duration just before bedtime, followed by a 19 hour fast. As long as there is no reflux, this seems to me to be the best time for the single meal (and I am trying it out now). Because no caffeinated beverages need be consumed to combat the slump just before retiring, less caffeine is needed during the productive waking hours (I’m trying 100 mg every few hours in the AM – 400 mg MAX), meaning that all other things being equal, sleep will tend to be of better quality and longer in duration.

I wonder if there are data to support this. Probably very little, since the Fast-5 is not a particularly popular diet format – and who would study such a topic? I would – if only I could.

Logic and Logik

Goethe’s logic of passion – which Hegel called Logik and which Russell so famously misunderstood in his History of Western Philosophy– is simply to adopt a position wholeheartedly until you see its limitations by painful experience.

To help visualize this: imagine you were living in France during the Revolution – adopting the monarchist position or the revolutionary ideals at the wrong time could have led to imprisonment and death.

This procedure leads to sounder outcomes after adopting both sides of controversial viewpoints and finding both of their limitations – that is, dialectical syntheses (Hegel’s triad – roughly = thesis – antithesis – synthesis).

However, it is unnecessary. We can know a priori that any one-sided position is inadequate at modeling the zero sum multiverse that we live in.

In the case of the American and French Revolutionary ideals: we are more or less equal – equal with an asterisk, and our equality is so much more than is comprehended in the term “isonomia”.

Both Logik and the pain are unnecessary – under the assumption of a zero sum multi-verse,  logic dictates that one-sided positions will inevitably fail to model our world.

Application to: metaphysics

The logical positivists like Bertrand Russell were almost completely correct: metaphysical thinking is not sound. They were passionate about this dictum, though to most of us, “who cares?” is the usual response to such an academic issue.

As a rule, the positivists were right; but here is a worthy meta-rule (a logical entity different from a rule, according to Rusell’s Theory of Types) that may or may not also have an exception: to every rule there is an exception.

The exception to the positivists’ rule: any metaphysics that models the data of science -physics, chemistry, and biology as of 2017- is worth looking at. Take a look at my metaphysics in Crazy or Just Crazy Enough to be True. I figured this out in High School in 1971-1972 with only a High Schooler’s knowledge of science (barely an outline of science as it is today).