Smothering the Fire: How Vitamin C Can Stop Viral Infections Quickly

Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, May 28, 2020

Smothering the Fire: How Vitamin C Can Stop Viral Infections Quickly

by Tom Taylor

(OMNS May 28, 2020) “Smothering the fire”? Do you remember the old forest fire fighting movies? Someone in a fire tower spots smoke and a plane load of fire jumpers go out and puts the fire out before it really gets going. Then occasionally, the fire gets too well established before the jumpers can get there and it turns into a major operation that lasts for weeks. In the end a good rainstorm from Mother Nature finally puts the fire out. This is a good metaphor for what vitamin C can do for viral infections.

In this article I’ll present the fire jumping/smothering technique applied to viral infections. However, the jumpers are vitamin C, and the fire controller is you. If your vitamin C jumpers get to the viral fire quickly, it can be snuffed out and the incident is soon forgotten. However, if you’re slow to react to the problem the infection can rage for a week or more.

Previous OMNS articles on this topic recommend 3 grams a day of vitamin C for a healthy person. [1-8] What happens if you start to feel sick? The solution is to send in your vitamin C fire jumpers before the viral infection gets out of hand.

The following is my recommendation based on years of taking vitamin C. This is not original science. Dr. Robert Cathcart worked this out in the 70’s and 80’s because he ran his family medical practice based on the treatment of illness with vitamin C. [9,10] The video of him summarizing the practice can be found here. [11] Since then, numerous others have replicated these techniques. Here I am just summarizing the technique and giving it the name ” Smothering the fire.”

The Vitamin C Fire Smothering Technique: Four Keys

The first key is to pay attention to your early indicators that you are about to get sick. For me that is stuffiness in my left nostril. Years ago, it was a sore spot in the back of my throat. For you it may be different. The important thing is to be aware of your early warning indicators of illness.

The second key is to be very quick to start the high dose vitamin C at your first indication of illness. My experience has taught me to go immediately to 2 grams an hour (not per day) and keep the rate up for a few hours or for the whole day or evening. When this gives you enough vitamin C, your first indication of a shift is that you suddenly perk up and feel, maybe not great, but better.

For some nasty illnesses, four grams an hour or one gram every fifteen minutes will be the solution to stop the viral infection. Dr. Cathart in his video and papers reports a young woman who took around 450 grams in two days to bring a case of mononucleosis under control. I recall that was a teaspoon full (i.e. four grams) every half-hour.

The third key is closely or evenly spacing the dosages. All sources agree that vitamin C has a very short half-life in your body. On the order of a few hours when you are well. When you are sick and heavily stressed, the sources say the body can easily consume a gram or more in fifteen minutes.

What happens if you take too much? After starting to feel better, the next indicator is you start feeling a little gassy with some flatulence. This is annoying but OK. However, in the rare event you wildly overdo it, you will clean out your bowels for a few hours, but this is usually a very short-term event. Though unpleasant, it far beats the alternative of being sick and it could be looked upon as a detoxification. Dr. Cathcart called this method of trial-and-error with the dose “bowel tolerance,”

The fourth key is to keep vitamin C handy. Just as you would small bandages or lip balm. When you need it, quick is very important.


I have not had it and do not know anyone who has. Previous OMNS articles explain that vitamin C has stopped every viral infection when given in enough quantity. [1-10] About 70 years ago Dr. Fred Klenner stopped 49 out of 49 cases of viral polio with vitamin C. [12] That was and is a very nasty virus. You had not heard that vitamin C was a long-proven robust solution? Good news travels slow, I guess. My bet is: as far as vitamin C is concerned, a virus is a virus.

Other Requirements:
  1. Dr. Cathcart explained in his video that you need a healthy GI track to take the volume of vitamin C required. [11]
  2. Dr. Tom Levy in his book “The Toxic Tooth” says you absolutely must be free of oral infections for this to have a good probability of success. [13] Any oral infections absorb antioxidants (e.g. vitamin C) at a great rate. It’s difficult to overcome a viral infection when combined with an oral infection.
  3. It’s probably very wise to lay off sugar, alcohol, and tobacco for the duration of the illness. These items detract from the efficacy of vitamin C.
  4. What about other conditions, e.g. metabolic diseases? Vitamin C usually works well with anything but check with other consultants as appropriate. I do not recall any literature citing conflicts. Talk to your doctor.
Case Study:

In the summer of 2019, my wife/partner and I boarded a plane from Atlanta to Seattle for a vacation trip. We had been stressed to get ready for the trip. It was a long flight and the instant we took off I could feel myself deteriorating with signs of a viral infection. Of course, the vitamin C was packed in the luggage. By the time we landed I was feeling very poor and realized this was a viral illness. Being fearful of overdoing it and causing a bathroom dash in an airport, I started off modestly on the vitamin C. However, in very short order I went to 2 grams/hour. My son picked us up and we made plans for dinner. After a bit I realized that I was still losing the battle. We stopped by the supplements store and picked up more C. I went to a gram every 15 minutes. During dinner, it was light on the food plus constant vitamin C and water. I thought I held up rather well, I did not feel great, but neither did I have any fever, runny nose, or coughing. No one noticed, except I was rather subdued. In the end a good night’s sleep, then two days of high-dosage vitamin C kept me very functional. Being that I was the pilot/captain of our rented boat, I did not have the option of sleeping it off for two days. Overall, the vitamin C worked very well, no noticeable fever, cough, or runny nose. A slight sinus headache I recall. The disease did not spread to anyone else even though six of us were on a boat together for a week. There was no sneezing to spread it around.

What about babies?

Experts like Helen Saul Case say a gram of vitamin C per year of age is no trouble at all for a healthy baby. [14-15] I have nothing to add except one interesting data point. A young mom working in my shop came in with a one-year old that had been kicked out of day care due to a cold. The baby was clingy and did not look very happy. I had a few one-gram packets of liposomal vitamin C in my desk and said, “Hey, let’s see if she will take this.” So fearless mom, rips open the packet and puts it to the lips of the baby. To my amazement, the child just started sucking the liposomal oil straight out of the packet and consumed the whole dang thing without noticeably stopping. In a few minutes, the baby perked up, started doing standard content toddler stuff and we were able to get a few other things done.

Dogs, cats, and parakeets?

Can’t help you on these. Most animals make their own vitamin C naturally. The exception in the pet world is the guinea pig. They, like humans and other primates, do not make their own vitamin C.

IV- Vitamin C?

Intravenous has the benefit of a nice steady flow of antioxidant and it bypasses the GI system. Around the major cities, I am starting to see IV infusion clinics pop up. If I was sick and thought the travel and timing arrangement practical, I would give this a try.

Should I wait for a medical doctor to tell me this?

A medical doctor might say, “Come in tomorrow.” I am saying this must be started within the first hour after signs of a viral infection or so else it will not work near as well. If you wait on the medical doctors, the amount of vitamin C required may become so great as to not be practical to take.


If you learn this fire smothering technique for taking vitamin C and you are otherwise reasonably healthy, you should be able to snuff out any viral infection you might pick up and get on with your life. I know I have saved myself weeks of misery every year just by learning what Dr. Cathcart taught decades ago.

  1. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service (2020) Rationale for Vitamin C Treatment of COVID-19 and Other Viruses.
  2. Downing D, Schuitemaker G. (2020) Vitamin C and COVID-19 Coronavirus. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  3. Saul AW. (2020) Nutritional Treatment of Coronavirus. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  4. Smith RG, Saul AW. (2019) Vitamin C Supplementation Improves Chronic Kidney Disease. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  5. Rasmussen MPF. (2020) Vitamin C Evidence for Treating Complications of COVID-19 and other Viral Infections. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  6. Smith RG. (2020) Forms, Doses, and Effects of Vitamins C and E. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  7. Taylor T. (2017) Vitamin C Material: Where to Start, What to Watch. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  8. Saul AW. (2013) Ascorbic Acid Vitamin C: What’s the Real Story? Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  9. Cathcart RF. (1981) Vitamin C, titrating to bowel tolerance, anascorbemia, and acute induced scurvy.
  10. Cathcart RF. (1981) The Method of Determining Proper Doses of Vitamin C for the Treatment of Disease by Titrating to Bowel Tolerance. J Orthomol Psychiat, 10:125-132.
  11. Dr. Robert Cathcart, vitamin C pioneer. Online video:
  12. Klenner FR. (1949) The treatment of poliomyelitis and other virus diseases with vitamin C. South Med Surg. 111:209-214.
  13. Kulacz R, Levy T. (2014) The Toxic Tooth: How a root canal could be making you sick. Medfox Pub. ASIN: B00TZ9L1JQ
  14. Case HS. (2016) Vitamin C Prevents Side Effects from the MMR Vaccine. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service.
  15. Case, HS. (2018) Vitamin C Questions: Answered.
Additional information provided by the OMNS Board
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid, AA) antiviral mechanisms:
Direct antiviral mechanisms
  1. Disruption of viral capsid by structurally interfering with the sugar moiety of its glycoprotein envelope.
  2. Damage to the viral capsid due to AA Red-Ox capacity when given in pharmacological doses.
  3. Inhibition of viral replication when provided in pharmacological doses by creating an hostile environment for this activity to occur, in addition to inhibiting viral replication enzymes.
Indirect physiological mechanisms
  1. Increases cellular Immunity (white blood cells, neutrophils, macrophages, lymphocytes, Nk cells).
  2. Increases humoral immunity (B cells, antibodies).
  3. Enhances expression of antiviral proteins (Interferon).
  4. Potent, quick antioxidant action when provided in proper doses to prevent the dangerous and severe pathological cascade of a cytokine storm.
  5. Maintains structural integrity of cells and tissues by favoring collagen formation.
  6. Modulates gene expression – Vitamin C administration decreases expression of susceptibility genes, including mitochondrial antiviral signaling (MAVS) and interferon regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), and increased expression of NF-?B. These in conjunction induce type I interferons (IFNs) and elicit innate antiviral response.
Additional readings on anti-viral effects:
  1. Gonzalez MJ, Miranda-Massari JR, Berdiel MJ, et al. (2014) High dose intraveneous vitamin C and chikungunya fever: A case report. J Orthomolec Med, 29:154-156.
  2. Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Miranda-Massari JR, et al. (2016) High dose intravenous vitamin C treatment for zika fever. J Orthomolec Med, 31:19-22.
  3. Gonzalez MJ, Berdiel MJ, Duconge J, Levy TE, et al. (2018) High Dose Intravenous Vitamin C and Influenza: A Case Report. J Orthomolec Med, 33:1-3.
  4. Hunt C, Chakravorty NK, Annan G, et al. (1994) The clinical effects of vitamin C supplementation in elderly hospitalized patients with acute respiratory infections. Int J Vitamin Nutr Res. 64:212-219
  5. Kim Y, Kim H, Bae S, et al (2013) Vitamin C Is an Essential Factor on the Anti-viral Immune Responses through the Production of Interferon-a/ß at the Initial Stage of Influenza A Virus (H3N2) Infection. Immune Netw. 13:70-74.
  6. Hemila H. (1994) Does vitamin C alleviate the symptoms of the common cold? A review of current evidence. Scand J Infect Dis 26:1-6.
  7. Peters EM, Goetzsche JM, Grobbelaar B, Noakes TD. (1993) Vitamin C supplementation reduces the incidence of postrace symptoms of upper-respiratory-tract infection in ultramarathon runners. Am J Clin Nutr 57:170-174.
  8. Mandl J, Szarka A, Banhegyi G. (2009) Vitamin C: Update on physiology and pharmacology. Br. J. Pharmacol. 157:1097-1110.
  9. Englard S, Seifter S. (1986) The biochemical functions of ascorbic acid. Annu. Rev. Nutr. 6:365-406.
  10. Bergsten P, Amitai G, Kehrl J. et al. (1990) Millimolar concentrations of ascorbic acid in purified human mononuclear leukocytes. Depletion and reaccumulation. J. Biol. Chem. 265:2584-2587.
  11. Evans RM, Currie L, Campbell, A. (1982) The distribution of ascorbic acid between various cellular components of blood, in normal individuals, and its relation to the plasma concentration. Br. J. Nutr. 1982, 47:473-482.
  12. Tanaka M, Muto N, Gohda E, Yamamoto I. (1994) Enhancement by ascorbic acid 2-glucoside or repeated additions of ascorbate of mitogen-induced IgM and IgG productions by human peripheral blood lymphocytes. Jpn. J. Pharmacol. 66:451-456.
  13. Chen Y, Luo G, Yuan J, et al. (2014) Vitamin C mitigates oxidative stress and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in severe community-acquired pneumonia and LPS-induced macrophages. Mediators Inflamm. 2014:426740.
  14. Hajishengallis G. (2010) Too old to fight? Aging and its toll on innate immunity. Mol. Oral Microbiol. 25:25-37.
  15. Cheng L, Cohen M, Bhagavan H. (1985) Vitamin C and the elderly. In CRC Handbook of Nutrition in the Aged; Watson, R., Ed.; CRC Press Inc.: Boca Raton, FL, USA, 1985; pp. 157-185.
  16. Simon J, Hudes E, Tice J. (2001) Relation of serum ascorbic acid to mortality among US adults. J. Am. Coll. Nutr. 20:255-263.
  17. Fletcher A, Breeze E, Shetty P. Antioxidant vitamins and mortality in older persons: Findings from the nutrition add-on study to the Medical Research Council Trial of Assessment and Management of Older People in the Community. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2003, 78, 999-1010.
  18. Bharara A, Grossman C, Grinnan D, et al. (2016) Intravenous vitamin C administered as adjunctive therapy for recurrent acute respiratory distress syndrome. Case Rep. Crit. Care 2016:8560871.
  19. Fowler AA, Kim C, Lepler L, et al. (2107) Intravenous vitamin C as adjunctive therapy for enterovirus/rhinovirus induced acute respiratory distress syndrome. World J. Crit. Care Med. 6:85-90.
  20. Vissers MC, Wilkie RP. (2007) Ascorbate deficiency results in impaired neutrophil apoptosis and clearance and is associated with up-regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha. J. Leukoc. Biol. 81:1236-1244.
  21. Schwager J, Bompard A, Weber P, Raederstorff D. (2015) Ascorbic acid modulates cell migration in differentiated HL-60 cells and peripheral blood leukocytes. Mol Nutr Food Res. 59:1513-1523.
  22. Shilotri PG. (1977) Phagocytosis and leukocyte enzymes in ascorbic acid deficient guinea pigs. J. Nutr. 107:1513-1516.
  23. Anderson R. (1982) Effects of ascorbate on normal and abnormal leucocyte functions. Int J Vitam Nutr Res Suppl. 23:23-34.
  24. Sharma P, Raghavan SA, Saini R, Dikshit M. (2004) Ascorbate-mediated enhancement of reactive oxygen species generation from polymorphonuclear leukocytes: Modulatory effect of nitric oxide. J. Leukoc. Biol. 75:1070-1078.

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Comments (1)

For a while during this COVID-affected period, vitamin C was just about impossible to find in the stores, but it appears to have gotten back in stock in at least some places. Your article makes clear that you need to have a LOT of it on hand to be able to quickly use these high doses– people may not realize that using vitamin C therapeutically means using this much.

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