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Sudden Death
A Look Back from Ascorbate’s 50th Anniversary 1

Irwin Stone, P.C.A.

1 Based on a paper presented at the World Congress on Vitamin C, Palm Springs, California, March 18, 1978.

Irwin Stone, P.C.A., Research, 1331 Charmwood Square, San Jose, California 95117.

“At sea, where no greens, fresh meats or fruits are to be had, the prognostics in this disease are sometimes deceitful; for people that appear to be but slightly scorbutic, are apt to be suddenly and unexpectedly seized with some of its worst symptoms.”

“Their dropping down dead upon an exertion of their strength, or changes of air, is not easily foretold; though it generally happens after a tedious confinement in a foul air.”

James Lind, Treatise of The Scurvy, 1753


Sudden and unexpected death has been known and observed for centuries as the characteristic final pathognomonic symptom of scurvy. There are numerous references, like the one above, in Dr. James Lind’s medical classic, A Treatise of The Scurvy, published in 1753, to the sudden and unexpected deaths in scurvy.

Lind, born in 1716 and died in 1794, will be remembered as the great British naval physician called “The Father of Nautical Medicine,” who conducted the first scientifically accurate medical experiment on shipboard on 12 scorbutics in 1740. He proved that the appearance of the classical symptoms of scurvy could be prevented or cleared up by giving its victims one ounce of fresh lemon juice each day.

Providing the seamen with this daily ration of lemon juice was proposed to the British Admiralty to eliminate the deadly scurvy in the Royal Navy. It took 42 years and the “Sudden Deaths” of an estimated 100,000 scorbutic sailors before this simple suggestion was approved. This regulation went into effect in 1795, one year after Lind had died, so he never saw the great benefits accruing from his work. This simple expedient, besides saving the lives of countless seamen, guaranteed Britain the “mastery of the seas” and completely changed the course of history in the 19th century.

Lind’s unusual book was the first medical tract that reads like a modern medical textbook. It records not only Dr. Lind’s many years of personal contact and observations on scorbutic sailors on shipboard, but also his wide experience in autopsies on sailors who had experienced this “Sudden Death.” The book is unique in that Dr. Lind also records the observations of earlier authors writing on this dread disease in a chapter called, “Bibliotheca Scorbutica.” His first reference to “Sudden Death” is dated 1541. His book should be reprinted and made required reading in the medical schools, so that present MD’s do not forget the lessons of scurvy and could better cope with the deadly dangers of this disease, which is still so endemic and widespread in our population.

Lind’s work showed 19th century and early 20th century medicine how to eliminate the terminal symptoms of this deadly disease, which in their ignorance they equated with a total cure of the scurvy. One bad feature of Lind’s work was that it tended to confirm the centuries-old impression that scurvy was related to the foods we ate. This led to further clinical work by nutritionists of the latter part of the 19th century and early 20th century, which ultimately produced the conclusion that diseases could be caused by something missing in the diet. Casimir Funk proposed, in 1912, the “Vitamine-Deficiency Disease” Hypothesis.

In 1912, not much more was known about scurvy than was recorded by Lind in 1753 and “Vitamin C” was just a speculative, hypothetical substance whose existence was not even certain until 20 years later with the identification and synthesis of ascorbic acid. The application of the vitamin hypothesis to the diseases caused by the lack of vitamin A and the B vitamins has stood the test of time better than vitamin C and scurvy. Further research on synthetic ascorbic acid brought out data which questioned the accuracy of the vitamin C hypothesis, especially in the matter of the size of the optimal daily intakes of ascorbate (Stone, 1972).

This led to the showing in 1966 that scurvy’s basic etiology was that of an inborn error of carbohydrate metabolism, a genetic liver-enzyme disease named Hypoascorbemia (Stone, 1966) caused by a defective gene for the liver enzyme, L-gulonolactone oxidase (GLO) and not simply by improper foods. This birth defect for GLO prevents humans from producing their own large daily quantities of ascorbate, as nearly all the other mammals do. Improper foods are not a cause of this disease, but merely a complication involved in the workings of this potentially-fatal birth defect, the real cause.

By this time, however, the misleading vitamin C-nutritional hypothesis had become euphoric established medical dogma, requiring a reeducation and reorientation of present and future physicians into the many dangers to health of this universal human birth defect.

After over 60 years of this nutritional propaganda, major medical mental-blocks have been created which have interfered with clinical research by preventing clear thinking regarding the size of effective necessary dosages of daily ascorbate required for fully correcting this birth defect for health maintenance and the therapy of many diseases. Because of ignorance of the proper high ascorbate dosage, Hypoascorbemia is endemic and chronic subclinical scurvy (CSS Syndrome) has become our most widespread and insidious disease (Stone, 1972, 1977). The chronic insults of the CSS Syndrome sets the stage for the high incidence, morbidity and high mortality of cancer, heart disease, strokes, diabetes and many other current serious medical problems including Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and drug addiction. The continuing application of the outdated tenets of the vitamin C-deficiency disease hypothesis by orthodox medical practitioners has only assured the continued high rate of scorbutic sicknesses and scorbutic sudden death in our population, deaths that can be so easily and inexpensively avoided.

The Problem

The first and most obvious condition of modern “Sudden Death” which comes to mind is the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome or “Crib Death.” This kills 8,000 to 10,000 infants a year in this country, which is probably a low estimate. In this fatal condition we have the most data involving its relation to scurvy and it is almost a certainty, even without double-blind studies, that these deaths are due to infantile scurvy and are unnecessary and easily preventable. Through the clinical studies of Dr. Frederick R. Klenner (1974) and Drs. Archie Kalokerinos and Glen Dettman, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome should no longer exist and it is only a matter of resolving some medical politics before it is allowed to become extinct. In the meantime more babies will die unnecessarily. Reference should especially be made to Dr. Kalokerinos’ book on infant death, Every Second Child (1974).

The disease usually afflicts infants under one year of age and runs its course swiftly and surely the baby is put to bed in apparent health and is found dead the next morning. Neither suffocation nor strangulation from the bedclothes are a causative factor and Drs. Klenner, Kalokerinos and Dettman all agree that the cause is infantile scurvy, a condition that at this point in time is so unnecessary and so easily corrected and avoided. There are usually no characteristic morphological signs of the disease after death, except possibly some slight, hardly noticeable liver mottling and the complete absence of ascorbate spillover in the residual urine in the bladder at autopsy. This latter finding is not characteristic of Sudden Infant Deaths, because nearly all sick scorbutic patients who expire, infants, older children and adults, will show zero ascorbate urinary spillover by the C-Stix test. The term “sick scorbutic patient” is applicable to nearly every hospital admission and has led Dr. Robert Cathcart to call hospitals “Scurvy Houses,” as the typical hospital makes no attempt to correct the patient’s CSS Syndrome. The callousness and insensibility of present-day doctors to their patient’s chronic subclinical scurvy amounts to a national scandal and leads to our present high death rates.

Let us now glance at the physiological history of the future Crib Death victim. When a baby is born to a scorbutic mother, and most mothers are scorbutic throughout pregnancy, the infant has already suffered from nine months of intrauterine subclinical scurvy, even though the fetus tried hard to scavenge every bit of the anti-stressor, ascorbate, from the mother’s body. Sickly and smoking mothers put an added burden on the ascorbate metabolism of the infant. When the incident stresses on the infant get far beyond available ascorbate compensation, that is when Sudden Infant Death Syndrome takes over and sudden death ensues.


Prevention of this Syndrome should begin before the baby is born. The mother should use the regime prescribed by Dr. Klenner of about 10 to 15 grams of ascorbate a day throughout pregnancy and lactation. Strong multivitamin and multimineral preparations should also be taken. When the baby is born, it should be given during the first year of life, one gram of ascorbate per day in spaced doses. Besides its preventive effects in Crib Death, this regime has many other salutary effects on the course of pregnancy, childbirth, healing, lactation and the production of an extremely robust, healthy baby as shown by its use in over 2,500 pregnancies by Dr. Klenner.

Let us look now into the Sudden Deaths occurring in adults like heart attacks, strokes, bursting aneurysms, the traumatic and hemorrhagic shock that quickly kills accident victims, the surgical shock that finishes off the patient on the operating table, the fatal anaphylactic shock reactions, the rapidly fatal acute leukemias, fatal exposure to ionizing radiation, the fatal rejection of transplanted organs and many others. These are all basically conditions that occur as a result of the long-term insults of the chronic lack of abundant amounts of ascorbate, producing, to name a few: low strength, poor quality collagen in the heart and vascular system and other organs, having an immune system that lacks ascorbate to keep it functioning at 100% efficiency, lack of sufficient ascorbate to maintain biochemical homeostasis at a cellular level by allowing the oxidation-reduction potential (rH) of the tissues to rise beyond its optimal level (Stone, 1972, pp. 179-182). An internal environment of abundant ascorbate is characteristic of most of the other mammals, a trait that has served them well over the past 165 million years.

Broader Implications

I can personally attest to the value of ascorbate in controlling shock. Both my wife and I were involved in a serious automobile accident in 1960 in which we both were severely injured. We had been taking at that time and for many years prior about five grams of ascorbate daily. Neither of us went into traumatic or hemorrhagic shock, which very likely saved our lives. I am convinced that I would not have survived the injuries and blood loss without the help of the large doses of ascorbate.

What this all boils down to is that Sudden Death in adults is similar in etiology to the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, except in adults it takes a little longer. Basically the roots of both these types of death are steeped in the easily correctable chronic subclinical scurvy that afflicts nearly every member of our population. The mere addition of 10 to 20 grams of ascorbate to our daily intake would essentially correct the CSS Syndrome for most people: at least it would be a good point to start. Large-scale studies should be started to determine what the effect of this “correction” would be on general health and the incidence of “Sudden Death.” If it works only half as well as I think it will, this simple expedient would completely wreck our present statistical tables on the incidence of diseases, death and life expectancy.

In future cases of Sudden Death, the important influence of the patient’s uncorrected chronic subclinical scurvy should always be suspect and this is easily verified by testing the urine with the convenient 10-second C-Stix dip stick test. It will come as an unpleasant surprise to the well-financed watch-dog Government agencies, whose duties include the maintenance of the good health of the American people and a reduction in their death rates, to learn that this ancient killer, the CSS Syndrome, is still plaguing mankind with undiminished efficiency. This is the same disease that the National Academy of Sciences, the Center for Disease Control, the National Institutes for Health colossus, the Food and Drug Administration, thought was licked in 1912, by giving “homeopathic” doses of ascorbate.

When confronted with any new pathological condition, which does not respond to their customary medications, these agencies are so helpless and hopeless and never think of looking into the scorbutic status of their victims. The highly stressful medications, vaccines and treatments they use only further depletes their helpless victims’ bodies of the little bit of ascorbate present and exacerbates the serious CSS Syndrome already present. The vaccines don’t work because the scorbutic victim’s immune system does not respond and the other defenses are equally unresponsive. They would achieve a lot more success in their present orthodox therapy by simply and harmlessly including megadoses of ascorbate along with whatever they are now using and overcome the handicaps of the poor physiological responses of a severely scorbutic body.

I will just mention two recent instances to illustrate my point. The first is the well publicized “Legionnaire’s Disease,” which appeared a couple of years ago with many “Sudden Deaths.” It is still an unknown entity. In all that I have read about this disease, I have never seen a report of anyone testing the scorbutic status of the victims either during life or after death, nor of anyone administering a therapeutic megadose of ascorbate. This seems incredible in this day and age, when it is realized that the CSS Syndrome is our most widespread disease and everyone suffers from the birth defect for GLO causing it. It is likely that a few intravenous shots of megadoses of ascorbate, known to be so helpful in serious viral infections would have saved these poor victims and prevented these “Sudden Deaths.” How many more will be sacrificed before orthodox medicine casts out its bias, does its homework and begins to realize the seriousness of the chronic subclinical scurvy plague.

The second instance is the more recent “Mystery Deaths” which, according to a recent account (Parachini, 1978), is killing about 6,000 victims a year. The deaths “continue to baffle the medical experts” which comprise, at least, the Medical Examiners of Chicago, Indianapolis, Dallas and Miami. They all agree that “stress - physical or emotional - appears to play a role in some of the ’Mystery Deaths.’” With this as a clue, did these coroners take the next logical step and test the residual urine in the victim’s bladder at autopsy with C-Stix? Probably not, because these doctors are trained NOT to think of scurvy as a cause of death. If they had used the C-Stix test, it is likely that they would have confirmed our autopsy results in “Sudden Death” of zero ascorbate urinary spillover, indicating that scurvy was a large contributing factor in the death. A healthy person, fully correcting the CSS Syndrome has a urinary spillover of, at least, 100 mg% ascorbate in the morning urine before breakfast. The account continues, “a small number of cases every year in every major U. S. city involving the natural deaths of otherwise healthy young people - most of them 15 to 30 - for which no trace of a cause can be found. Most of them literally drop dead.” Dr. James Lind, 225 years ago, provided the diagnosis for “Mystery Deaths,” which is quoted on the first page of this paper. Lind’s usage of the term “foul air” can be interpreted as tobacco smoke, gasoline fumes and “major city” pollution.

In my opinion these “Mystery Deaths” are nothing more than “Crib Deaths” in an older age group, who had successfully avoided dying in their cribs, only to be struck down later by the same poorly corrected birth defect for GLO. Like Crib Death, these “Mystery Deaths” could be prevented by Dr. Klenner’s regime of giving, beginning at birth, one gram of ascorbate per day per year of age, up to age 10 and then 10 grams a day thereafter throughout life. On days of heavy stress more ascorbate. should be ingested.

In a 1976 paper on Sudden Death (Barnes & Martt, 1976), containing a bibliography of 23 references and discussing the statistics of risk factors of Sudden Death, there is not a single mention in the entire paper of ascorbate or the scorbutic status of the victim as being a risk factor in these deaths. They point out that “only 10% of sudden deaths occur in the hospital; 90% occur away from the hospital and away from the physician.” Since the authors believe that most of these deaths are caused by heart conditions, they ask, “How are we to deal with it?” and answer it with, “Certainly one of the most dramatic and aggressive approaches to the problem is that attempted in the City of Seattle...Would that every community in America could emulate the track record of this city...any victim of sudden apparent death anywhere in the City of Seattle can be reached in three minutes...they have been able to resuscitate about 45% of the victims at the scene and, ultimately, 25% leave the hospital alive.” Is a death rate of 75% to be considered a good “track record?”

In a later paragraph the authors suggest, “Checking the cord blood of all newborn infants for hyperlipoproteinemia is the simple inexpensive procedure that could be done routinely and might provide early identification of persons at high risk.” A better way is to check the urine with C-Stix for ascorbate spillover. It will be found that nearly all are low excretors, and being scorbutic are thus persons at “high risk.” The reason some die are that those dying are more scorbutic than the others and are thus higher risks than the “high risks.” The risks could drop to zero by everyone just ingesting a few cents worth of ascorbate each day!!

The greatest advance in this century for improving the health of the American people and increasing their healthy, active, productive life span will only come when the National Academy of Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, the Center for Disease Control, the Food and Drug Administration and all others concerned with health, learn the lessons of history, lose their unreasonable bias against daily megadoses of ascorbate and become aware of the vital necessity of eliminating the CSS Syndrome in the U. S. by simply and fully correcting this potentially-fatal human birth defect for GLO. Until this is done, the American people will continue in its unhealthy scorbutic ways, going from one unnecessary medical crisis to another. At present this decision depends upon the whims of the great medical bureaucracy and the tax-paying public have little to say or make decisions about their own health and welfare. The general public has to rise up and become more involved in decision making in health matters. OUR HEALTH IS TOO IMPORTANT TO BE LEFT IN THE HANDS OF ORTHODOX DOCTORS!!


Sudden and unexpected death has been a characteristic pathognomonic symptom of scurvy known for centuries. The Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, whose only symptom is the sudden and unexpected death of the apparently healthy victim, has been shown to be due to infantile scurvy. Because of the genetic origin of scurvy and the inadequate correction of this human birth defect, among large sectors of our population, it is postulated and evidence is presented, that other forms of sudden and unexpected death, which massacre millions yearly, are manifestations of the long-term insults of the chronic subclinical scurvy afflicting all these victims. These include the sudden death caused by heart attacks, strokes, the traumatic and hemorrhagic shock in accident victims, the surgical shock which finishes off the patient on the operating table, anaphylactic shock reactions, the rapidly fatal acute leukemias, fatal exposure to ionizing radiation, fatal rejection of transplanted organs, “Legionnaire’s Disease,” and the new “Mystery Death” in which apparently healthy, 15 to 30-year-olds, suddenly and unexpectedly drop dead. It is suggested that the full correction of the human birth defect for GLO, by simply taking the required mega-daily doses of ascorbate, would act prophylactically to reduce or eliminate this slaughter. It is also suggested that the well-funded health agencies immediately start a program of long overdue clinical studies of this death-defying treatment.


  1. Barnes, R. N. and Martt, J. M., Sudden death syndrome, Texas Medicine, 71:49-57, October 1976.
  2. Funk, C., The etiology of the deficiency diseases, J. State Med., 10:341-368, 1912.
  3. Kalokerinos, A., Every Second Child, Australia, Thomas Nelson, Ltd., 1974.
  4. Klenner, F. R., Significance high intake ascorbate, J. Int. Acad. Prev. Med., 1:1, 45-69, 1974.
  5. Parachini, A., Mystery deaths continue to baffle experts, (Chicago Sun Times), Mercury-News, San Jose, California, Sunday, January 1, 1978.
  6. Stone, I., On the genetic etiology of scurvy, Acta. Genet. Med. et Gemell, 15:325-350, 1966.
  7. Stone, I., The Healing Factor: Vitamin C Against Disease, New York, Grosset & Dunlap, 1972.
  8. Stone, I., Hypoascorbemia, our most widespread disease, Bull. Nat. Heal. Fed., 18:10, 6-9, November 1972.
  9. Stone, I., The CSS Syndrome, J. Northwest Acad. Prey. Med., 1:24-28, 1977.

From Journal of the International Academy of Preventive Medicine, 1978, Volume 5, Number 1, pp. 84-91

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