September 9, 2005

"Hoping to dodge a bullet" is not a plan...

...as we have seen recently. And there is a possible disaster on the horizon that could dwarf Katrina.

Our friend Dave recently passed us some links on the subject of Avian Flu. (Read THIS, and this) The possibility of a Flu pandemic really looks like a threat that should be taken seriously. NOTE: You will, when you read up on this subject, find frequent references to the 1918 Pandemic killing 20 million people. That figure is long out of date; historians now have estimates ranging from 60 to 100 million deaths worldwide. The equivalent for today's much larger population might be half-a-billion!

I have one bit of advice to add to what's easily available on the Web. There is, in the world of medicine and health, a large blind spot on the subject of Vitamin C. (I bet some of you are recoiling at this moment, and thinking, "Oh no, another food-faddist." But if you read Random Jottings you probably know that I'm pretty down-to-earth, and don't recommend any Appalachian folk remedies).

Anyway, I've been following the subject for about 30 years now, and I've seen that blind spot often. As one web site put it:

...Many studies have shown that Vitamin C is quite effective in treating and preventing colds. The medical profession is not very interested. The popular media always seem to take the same position. It goes something like this:
  • A study shows positive results
  • The results are discussed
  • The story ends with the warning of taking too much C and that we are all probably better off just eating a proper diet.
It is all such a shame

I think scientists and doctors shy away from the subject because it seems flaky and "amateur." And probably the herbal remedy types find Vitamin C too clinical and chemical (unless in the form of Rose Hips). But in fact, the scientific evidence in favor of routinely taking doses of Vitamin C much larger that the RDA is compelling. I'll just give you one example: Almost all animals synthesize their own Vitamin C. And they ALL do so in amounts much higher than the RDA, some as much as 10,000 mg (10 grams) per day per 70 kg of body weight. Compare that with the US RDA of 60mg! (Those RDA's, by the way, never had much science in them. They are regarded with awe, because they are from the GOVERNMENT, but in fact they were mostly guesswork.)

So, Vitamin C and the flu.

And what does your body do with this stuff? A lot--Vitamin C is a co-enzyme in hundreds of enzymatic reactions. Most importantly, it is used by your Immune System, and if you are sick your body wants plenty of it.

This is a complicated subject; you might want to read Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu, by Linus Pauling. I won't tell you what to do, but I personally consider 2-4 grams per day a minimum, and if I or my family has Flu, we are going to be taking at least a gram or two an hour. I feel confident it will make a big difference, but even a small difference could be crucial, because a killer flu will leave a lot of people hovering right at the edge of death, or too weakened to nurse others. (And hospital beds will not be available!)

And you are probably asking, does John Weidner get colds and flus? Well, the answer is, no, sort of. What usually happens is that, when all about me are taking to their beds with boxes of Kleenix, I just feel run-down and blah. But not so much so that I can't work. (Hmm. That may be a disadvantage.) I'm rarely sick in bed with a cold, certainly less than once a year. And those times seem to be connected with neglecting to keep my C level extra high when I'm not feeling my best. (And yes, I am perfectly aware that this is anecdotal evidence, and doesn't carry a lot of scientific weight. Make of it what you will.) And I would normally never blog about personal health matters, but the thought of a killer epidemic kinda concentrates the mind. Makes me remember reading The Stand.

[Bronson is a good source for C. Add baking soda to powdered C to make it less acidic (ratio 1-3). And Costco has good 1000mg tablets.]

Posted by John Weidner at September 9, 2005 8:22 AM
Weblog by John Weidner