Fred R. Klenner And His Vitamin C Treatment of Polio

Recently I came across some of the work by Fred R. Klenner, a physician in North Carolina in the 1940s who worked on treating illnesses with vitamin C megadoses.

He published a paper titled “The Treatment of Poliomyelitis and Other Virus Diseases with Vitamin C” in the Southern Medicine & Surgery, Volume 111, Number 7, July, 1949, pp. 209-214, discussing some of his work.

In this paper Dr. Klenner states:

In the poliomyelitis epidemic in North Carolina in 1948, 60 cases of this disease came under our care. These patients presented all or almost all of these signs and symptoms: Fever of 101 to 104.6, headache, pain at the back of the eyes, conjunctivitis, scarlet throat; pain between the shoulders, the back of the neck, one or more extremity, the lumbar back; nausea, vomiting and constipation. In 15 of these cases the diagnosis was confirmed by lumbar puncture; the cell count ranging from 33 to 125. Eight had been in contact with a proven case; two of this group received spinal taps. Examination of the spinal fluid was not carried out in others for the reasons: (1) Flexner and Amoss had warned that “simple lumbar puncture attended with even very slight hemorrhage opens the way for the passage of the virus from the blood into the central nervous system and thus promotes infection.” (2) A patient presenting all or almost all of the above signs and symptoms during an epidemic of poliomyelitis must be considered infected with this virus. (3) Routine lumbar puncture would have made it obligatory to report each case as diagnosed to the health authorities. This would have deprived myself of valuable clinical material and the patients of most valuable therapy, since they would have been removed to a receiving center in a nearby town.”

The treatment employed was vitamin C in massive doses. It was given like any other antibiotic every two to four hours. The initial dose was 1000 to 2000 mg., depending on age. Children up to four years received the injections intramuscularly. Since laboratory facilitates for whole blood and urine determinations of the concentration of vitamin C were not available, the temperature curve was adopted as the guide for additional medication. The rectal temperature was recorded every two hours. No temperature response after the second hour was taken to indicate the second 1000 or 2000 mg. If there was a drop in fever after two hours, two more hours was allowed before the second dose. This schedule was followed for 24 hours. After this time the fever was consistently down, so the drug was given 1000 to 2000 mg. every six hours for the next 48 hours. All patients were clinically well after 72 hours. After three patients had a relapse the drug was continued for at least 48 hours longer — 1000 to 2000 mg. every eight to 12 hours. Where spinal taps were performed, it was the rule to find a reversion of the fluid to normal after the second day of treatment.”

“For patients treated in the home the dose schedule was 2000 mg. by needle every six hours, supplemented by 1000 to 2000 mg. every two hours by mouth. The tablet was crushed and dissolved in fruit juice. All of the natural “C” in fruit juice is taken up by the body; this made us expect catalytic action from this medium. Rutin, 20 mg., was used with vitamin C by mouth in a few cases, instead of the fruit juice. Hawley and others have shown that vitamin C taken by mouth will show its peak of excretion in the urine in from four to six hours. Intravenous administration produces this peak in from one to three hours. By this route, however, the concentration in the blood is raised so suddenly that a transitory overflow into the urine results before the tissues are saturated. Some authorities suggest that the subcutaneous method is the most conservative in terms of vitamin C loss, but this factor is overwhelmingly neutralized by the factor of pain inflicted.”

Unfortunately on the wikipedia article on polio none of Dr. Klenners work is addressed.

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