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Ebola: A Scurvy-Like Illness?

This past weekend, I travelled to Indiana to give a lecture.  During my driving time, I was thinking about the Ebola problem.  Ebola eventually kills by causing massive bleeding.  Patients suffering with Ebola may bleed out of every orifice as well as from the nipples.

To cure Ebola, the media has been reporting that there is a race to bring a vaccine to market.  However, a vaccine probably won’t help those already infected with Ebola.  Other pharmaceutical companies are researching anti-viral drugs that will kill Ebola.

At present there is no Big Pharma treatment for Ebola.  The CDC recognizes this fact.  The CDC states, “Recovery from Ebola depends on good supportive clinical care and the patient’s immune response (my emphasis). People who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years.”

In this case, I agree with the CDC.  What we should focus on is supporting the immune system so that it has a chance to fight back against viruses–like Ebola–and other foreign invaders.  How is that accomplished?  Supplying the immune system with the nutrients it needs is the best way to ensure that it can fight off foreign invaders.

Let’s go back to the first paragraph in this post–Ebola kills, in part, by causing massive bleeding.  Not everyone bleeds with Ebola, but it does occur late in the course of the illness.

Scurvy is a condition of severe vitamin C deficiency.   Symptoms of scurvy include diarrhea, fever paralysis and bleeding.  All of these symptoms occur in an Ebola infection.  Perhaps the Ebola infection is causing a scurvy-like syndrome as the body’s store of vitamin C is used up fighting the infection.  Remember, we cannot manufacture vitamin C–we must ingest it from our diet.  Acute scurvy-like illnesses have been described in other infectious cases.

If I had only one therapy to prescribe to Ebola patients, it would be vitamin C.  It is too bad that most (>99%) doctors have no clue on how to use vitamin C both orally and intravenously to enhance the immune system as well as to fight  an infection.   However, most doctors are skilled at prescribing toxic drug therapies that do not aid the immune system’s ability to fight back against infection.

For over 20 years, I have been giving IV vitamin C (along with other nutrient IV’s) to sick patients.  IV vitamin C is a remarkable treatment for many conditons, especially viral infections.  I say, give the populations in West Africa oral vitamin C and treat sick Ebola patients with both IV and oral forms of vitamin C.  The same treatment should be used anywhere Ebola is being treated.

There are other nutrients that may synergistically work with vitamin C such as vitamins A and D as well as iodine.  Ultimately, to win any battle against a viral infection, a strong immune response is required.  This can only be achieved by supplying the immune system with the essential  nutrients it requires.

How much vitamin C should you take?  If you tolerate it, 3-5,000 mg/day should be the minimum.  During acute infections, the body’s need for vitamin C increases.  In these situations, vitamin C can be taken orally to bowel tolerance.  IV vitamin C can be used from 5,000-75,000mg increments in the hands of a  skilled health care practitioner.




Author Info

David Brownstein

Comments ( 40 )

  • Daniel

    I understand that Vitamin C remains an essential nutrient in all situations, but is there any reason for someone with too much iron to avoid higher doses that can’t be obtained from diet alone, such as 2-10 grams or even higher up to bowel tolerance? There are many sources that say that it is not safe for anyone with an iron overload conditon to have more than 500-1000mg of vitamin C a day beacuse of it’s effect on iron absorption or that it can be pro-oxidant in the presence of too much iron. This has caused me a lot of confusion for a while now. Do you see any reason why anyone with excess iron should avoid high doses?

  • Daniel

    Is Vitamin C supplementation contraindicated with any kind of iron overload condition?

    • David Brownstein

      The answer is “no”. We cannot manufacture vitamin C and we need to either get it in our diet or supplement with it.

  • David

    vitamin C is incredible. I have not had a cold or flu in 3+ years of using it. I take 8-10 grams per day regularly + take 12 grams of lipo C if something is attacking + it is dead on arrival! People just won’t listen. They will say, ” I take 500 mg of C a day.” uselss! You have to take enough! (to bowel tolerance)

    • David Brownstein

      Yes. Sorry about that.

  • Sally

    Vitamin C is manufactured by ALL mammals or rather ALL meat eating mammals. The mammals that do not produce Vitamin C are only small in number and they are ALL vegetarian or herbivores; which include the fruit eating bat, guinea pigs, the largest rodent, (can never remember the name but begins with ‘C’) one species of monkey and the final group are humans. All of the mammals which do not produce vitamin C are vegetarians and get adequate supplies of Vitamin C through their ‘natural’ diet.
    All mammals require vitamin C , those that hunt and kill for meat manufacture it as they do not get adequate supplies in their food and without vitamin C they would die.
    No doubt as primitive human, we would have eaten roots, leaves, fruit, etc., and possibly fish which would have been relatively easy for our primitive ancestors to catch. During winter months when that type of food is scarce our thyroid gland has a mechanism for dealing with starvation which would have seen us survive the toughest of times when food was scarce; (experienced by some today as SAD syndrome). Our evolution then enabled us to manufacture sophisticated tools which we used to kill and eat meat particularly useful when foraging in winter months would be difficult.
    Through time we have become more dependant upon eating meat and more mechanism/technology means we use less calories and this only increases our body’s need for Vitamin c supplementation as we cannot get adequate amounts in our diet; and even more so with a modern processed food diet.

  • Charlotte christenson

    How can we tell if our vitamin C is GMO or not?

  • Bernadette

    Or perhaps the vitamin c content of ancient gathered foods was much higher at one point and as agriculture systems spread vitamin content of foods was reduced which would have lead to survival of those with the ability
    to recycle lower vitamin c intakes

  • Emma Conroy

    Karin, I totally agree, and you put it so very well.

    I’m not against vitamin C supplements, or even IV, but the idea that humans need masses of vitamin C every day because they once upon a time supposedly ate lots of fruit and then lost the ability to make vitamin C like other animals is one of those Just-So stories that never made sense to me. To equal the weight – equivalent amount of vitamin C churned out by a rodent, a human needs up to 10,000 milligrams of vitamin C…or in fruit terms, 454 tangerines! Obviously, even if early humans did subsist on fruit (and I doubt it), they could never have consumed such quantities.
    So what is the real reason we don’t make vitamin C? It turns out that we don’t make it because we do something better, we RE-CYCLE it. This is much more efficient than making it from scratch, so far from being a tragic loss, recycling instead of having to make vitamin C was an evolutionary advantage.

  • Heather

    I am writing to point out an error. Lugol’s iodine is NOT prescriptions only. It is widely available online. I have found the best prices on eBay, personall.

    • David Brownstein

      The FDA has made 5% Lugol’s solution available by prescription only. I have seen it advertised on Ebay. I would be cautious of those products. Many products sold on Ebay and Amazon may have a particular manufacturers label on in it but it is an imposter. I have been testing supplements for over 15 years and I can assure you what is on the label is not necessarily what is in the product. It is best to buy from reputable people/companies.

  • The ebola virus causes the cells of the blood vessels to lose adherence to each other causing the vessels to disintegrate. Vitamin C is necessary in the formation of collagen which is part of healthy connective tissue. Without enough vitamin C the blood vessels become fragile because of the defective connective tissue resulting in abnormal bleeding. Different pathology – similar symptoms. By the time the blood vessels are falling apart from an ebola infection vitamin C will not put them back together.

    • David Brownstein

      I have found good success with non-liposomal forms of vitamin C. I am not sure if liposomal vitamin C would provide more benefit than regular vitamin C. We need more research on this.

  • Argentus Maximus

    Hi Dr….

    What about also having patients take several daily doses of high quality colloidal silver to fight the virus along with vitamin-C?

    • David Brownstein

      That may be a good thing. Silver is a powerful anti-infective agent.

  • Bob Jones

    You can get Lugol’s on Amazon, also Sweet Oil for earaches and sore throats.

  • Waking in the night and being unable to get back to sleep is often the result of low blood sugar, even though you may not feel hungry. Get out of bed and eat a small snack of protein and fat. I used to use an ounce or less of cheese, but if you don’t eat cheese, perhaps a little piece of leftover meat or a vegan option could be almond butter or a handful of nuts. It doesn’t take much, and you don’t want to eat a lot and go to bed.

    If you live in a state where medical marijuana is legal, a tiny bit of cannabis oil, or RSO, can also be a good solution. When I say small, I’m talking about a bit about the size of the head of an ordinary pin – not one of those with the big round head – or half the size of a grain of short grain rice.

  • Paul O.

    I wonder if Epicor would be of use against this disease?

  • Margery

    I’ve heard that whole food Vitamin C is better to take than ascorbic acid, but that when most people say Vitamin C they mean ascorbic acid. So, I’m confused. Should I be taking 250 mg/day of whole food Vitamin C (e.g., New Chapter Activated C Food Complex) or 3 – 5,000 mg/day of Vitamin C/Ascorbic Acid? Or, does it not make a difference?

    • David Brownstein

      Vitamin C is vitamin C is vitamin C! Vitamin C is ascorbic acid. You can get vitamin C from food sources or from supplements in the form of vitamin C or ascorbic acid. Whole food vitamin C is used as a marketing term for some supplement companies.

  • Greg Penniston, D.C.

    Years ago I read an article by a biochemistry PhD. who runs a well known lab in Washington state. He talked about an enzyme that the body uses to break down Vit. C. In people who take large amounts of C, the body produces large amounts of this enzyme. I think his point was that consistent high C supplementation doesn’t make sense to him because of this. Also, if you stop or reduce C supplementation it takes a while for the body’s level of this enzyme to be reduced causing very low C levels for a while.

    On a completely different topic…some people do well with acid type foods like sauer kraut during a meal which can help the stomach achieve an optimal acidic pH. Does unbuffered C ever help in this regard?

    Thanks for all of your interesting articles!

    • David Brownstein

      Dr. Greg,
      That is why it is important to always take vitamin C. I use buffered C powders because I have found it easier on the stomach.

  • Linda

    Dr. Brownstein, On your product list I cannot find lugol’s iodine in liquid form. I do not want the higher price of tablet form. Thanks, Linda

    • David Brownstein

      Unfortunately, Lugol’s is only available by prescription–FDA rules. We can only dispense it to our patients.

  • Twila

    Are physicians in our hospitals able and willing to treat patients with IV Vitamin C? How would an Ebola patient get this treatment authorized?

    • David Brownstein

      Physicians CAN treat with IVC but nearly all have no knowledge or interest in it.

  • I do believe I ran across this concept of the Vitamin C antidote to Ebola in Levy’s book “Curing the Incurable”. It has been some time since I have read it but the idea is very familiar as he compared certain diseases to “Rapid Scurvy”.
    As for Andrew and his sleep, if he wakes up between 1am-3am then look to helping his liver. If he wakes up between 3am-5am, it can be a sugar, ph, or an antioxidant thing. After many years I have learned to first treat with Vitamin C in a 2-3g dose as late as possible with food. I use Douglas Labs Ascorbplex as it seems to last longer in the body. (A buffered form as mentioned above.) My diabetic clients(Type 1) tell me that they wake up at 3am-5am and then they check their sugar and it is low. So the jury is still out on non diabetic clients as it seems folks are not lining up to prick their fingers…

  • Loren Schultz

    Ebola has U. S. patent. …. No. CA2741523Ai submitted by…. Jonathan S Towner, Stuart T Nichol, James A Comer, Thomas G Ksiazsk, Pierre E Rollin. USA Dept. of Health. Center for Disease Control.
    Jon Rappoport of has an article on where the bleeding comes from, and it doesn’t look like it comes from a virus

  • Jill

    I appreciate all of your posts on this issue. The link you are drawing b/t Scurvy and Ebola seems very astute. I wish that I knew of a practitioner who was knowledgeable about administration of IV Vitamin C, but I have yet to find one that even knows what I’m talking about. Is there a database that you recommend for searching other “think outside of the box” health care providers? I reside in the Southeast. Thanks and keep up the good work!

    • David Brownstein

      I belong to ICIM which is a holistic society of physicians. To find a doc, go to:

  • Mary

    Treating with vitamin C makes a lot of sense. However, if taken orally, what kind of Vitamin C is available that’s Not ascorbic acid? That form is really harsh on the stomach.

    • David Brownstein

      There are many forms of vitamin C. Buffered vitamin C is available from many companies.

  • Charlotte christenson

    Can vitamin C IV’s cause kidney damage after extensive use?

    • David Brownstein

      After 22 years of using high-dose vitamin C I have neither seen it cause kidney stones or kidney failure. It is a myth that is perpetuated to convince people that vitamin C is dangerous.

  • Colette Harmer

    It sounds like you could use some adrenal and/ or gut support also.
    Just guessing because I’ve had similar issues.

  • Andrew

    Hi Dr. Brownstein

    I worked my way up to 50 mg of iodoral iodine over the course of three months, and have been trying to take it every day with the iodine cofactors (Terry Naturally Iodine Co-Factors) and a 30 mg zinc tablet.

    I’ve found that even after all this time, though, I have two issues:

    1) I often wake in the night and can’t get back to sleep.
    2) My appetite is greatly diminished (and I don’t need to lose weight).

    I’m curious if you think these are side effects of taking iodine, or perhaps problems with the supplements I’m taking with them.

    Do your patients have these problems? The lack of sleep is really disturbing my lifestyle, and I’m thinking of calling it quits. Any advice would be welcome.


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