Linus Pauling: A Champion for Vitamin C and Better Health

An early Plowboy Interview with Linus Pauling, a pioneer in alternative medicine and one of the first advocates of Vitamin C as a defense against disease.

| August/September 1992


Linus Pauling, the recipient of two Nobel Prizes, pioneered the use of vitamin C to ward off disease.


Dr. Pauling, most people, it seems, think of your name in connection with nutrition and medicine. Isn't it true, though, that you've had no formal training in these fields? 

Yes, that's true. I've never had a course in biology or biochemistry.

How did you get involved with nutrition? 

I was trained in chemistry, physics, and mathematics in the early 1920s at the California Institute of Technology. By 1940, I had a very active group of people working with me at Cal Tech on problems of immunology…that is, problems involving antibodies, antigens, antitoxins, allergies and things of that sort. Later, I began to study a variety of diseases with a molecular basis. I remember thinking too, that I might as well study some important diseases while I was at it.

It was during this period that I learned of the work of Hoffer and Osmond. These two researchers—working in Canada—had found in the early 1950s that very large doses of niacin (vitamin B12) were often beneficial to patients suffering from schizophrenia. Eventually, they began to administer massive does of vitamin C, which also proved helpful. In time, I came to realize that vitamin C has many other benefits.

Why do you believe that vitamin C will prevent colds? What leads you to this conclusion? 

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