The Truth about HIV and Vitamin C

Controversial as it is vitamin C has outperformed AZT in trials on HIV infected human cells. A small trial has also shown positive results in those with AIDS. I am not claiming or advising anyone to solely take vitamin C over AZT for the treatment of HIV, but opening the discussion on doing more research to test whether vitamin C is effective in treating the disease in HIV positive people, perhaps in combination with anti-retroviral drugs.

In the New Optimum Nutrition Bible I report on ‘in vitro’ trials on human T-cells infected with HIV, comparing the anti-viral effect of AZT with vitamin C. I say that “AZT, the first prescribable anti-HIV drug, is potentially harmful and proving less effective than vitamin C in suppressing the virus in chronically infected cells (Ref 23).”

Ref 23. These ‘in vitro’ studies on human T-cells shows that vitamin C suppresses the HIV virus in both chronically and latently infected cells, while AZT has no significant effect. It is a tragedy that this simple, non-toxic potential treatment approach hasn’t been further tested in a human trial with the required high dose to achieve the same tissue saturation required to suppress the virus in HIV infected cells . [Both AZT and vitamin C can inhibit viral replication in acutely (newly) infected cells.]

Harakeh S, Jariwalla RJ.Ascorbate effect on cytokine stimulation of HIV production. Nutrition. 1995 Sep-Oct;11(5 Suppl):684-7.

Also see:

Harakeh S, Jariwalla RJ, NF-kappa B-independent suppression of HIV expression by ascorbic acid, AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1997 Feb 10;13(3):235-9.

Harakeh S, Niedzwiecki A, Jariwalla RJ. Mechanistic aspects of ascorbate inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus. Chem Biol Interact. 1994 Jun;91(2-3):207-15.

Harakeh S, Jariwalla RJ. Comparative study of the anti-HIV activities of ascorbate and thiol-containing reducing agents in chronically HIV-infected cells. Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Dec;54(6 Suppl):1231S-1235S.

Harakeh S, Jariwalla RJ, Pauling L. Suppression of human immunodeficiency virus replication by ascorbate in chronically and acutely infected cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1990 Sep;87(18):7245-9.

This robust and impeccably conducted research, published in the most prestigious journal of the National Academy of Sciences, warrants following up with ‘in vivo’ trials. Read here what the author, Dr Raxit Jariwalla, wrote to the Guardian in 2007.  The real crime here is that no full scale human trials have been funded on vitamin C to follow up Jariwalla’s important finding probably because it is non-patentable and hence not profitable. Until such a trial is done we will not know to what extent vitamin C can act as an anti-retroviral agent. The non-toxicity of vitamin C, compared to AZT, make the need for this research of paramount importance.

Goldacre then went on to attack Jariwalla’s research on the basis that cell studies mean nothing. Here’s Jariwalla’s reply:

“In his most recent column (‘Bad Science’, The Guardian, 17/2/07), Mr. Ben Goldacre refers to two small studies, published by me with a colleague while at the Linus Pauling Institute, comparing vitamin C with AZT in laboratory cultures of HIV-infected cells, calling them “farcically weak evidence, blatantly unfit for purpose, absurdly reductionist”. With all due respect to Goldacre, but this is an unfortunate characterization and mockery of scientific research. It is regrettably so and also ironical, since in his previous remarks in the same column on another lab study of ours on vitamin C and HIV (‘Working Papers’, The Guardian, 20/1/05), Goldacre wrote “Can a published research paper ever be Bad Science? I think not”. Later in the column, he reiterated “But is the Jariwalla paper Bad Science? No. I don’t think a paper can ever be”. Such double standard in journalistic judgment on evaluating research studies is unfortunate, as even though Goldacre may “think not”, it skews the validity of published research and erroneously leads it to being labeled as ‘Bad Science’.

Laboratory studies are an essential first...

Want to keep reading? Members have full access...

Join Today!


First month free

Then £7.99 per month & free cancellation at any time

FREE health check

Find out your health score & see how healthy you are

Personal Health Plan

Detailed report, analysis & tailored action plan

Free Vitamin D3

With your first purchase at HOLFORDirect (suitable for vegans)

Save money

20% off all Patrick Holford supplements & events plus free delivery over £30

Exclusive Health support

Ask Patrick your questions, access to Low GL recipes & research updates