Starting in the late 1960s, Pauling rigorously promoted vitamin C as a method to deter the common cold and help cancer victims.
Many medical professionals undermined Pauling's claims and discredited his authority in medicine. These physicians noted that
Pauling's well-established reputation was in chemistry and peace (as his Nobel Prizes proved), but not nutrition. In 1990,
Pauling relayed his dismay that medical professionals discredited his statements and mentioned the irony that the journal
editors valued his research on sickle cell anemia, but not on vitamin C and other nutrients: "Modern Medicine published an attack on me for a whole lot of things. I wrote to the man, the editor of Modern Medicine and said, "You remember that Modern Medicine gave me the Modern Medicine Award four or five years ago for my work on sickle cell anemia? And here you are attacking me."…I had been astonished by
the medical profession, the response of the medical profession to orthomolecular ideas."
Since many medical doctors undermined Pauling's concept of orthomolecular medicine, Pauling regularly asked for more information
about medical trials that failed to show the benefits of orthomolecular therapies, especially vitamin C. Thus when Pauling
read a short statement written by Dr. Mervyn L. Goldstein of New York, which said that vitamin C exacerbated the symptoms
of a patient suffering from sickle cell-thalassemia disease, Pauling wrote to Goldstein requesting information about his patient.
Specifically, Pauling wanted to know the amounts of vitamin C she had taken during sickness and health, the dates of her sicknesses,
and statements about the nature of the bouts of sickness. If Goldstein replied, then the letter has not survived. Even so,
less than one week later Pauling acted on Goldstein's statement; he wrote a letter to a colleague explaining that he wanted
to research the effects of high doses of vitamin C on sickle cell patients.
Click images to enlarge
Cartoon of Linus Pauling in the laboratory, by Sidney Harris. 1985.
Memorandum from Linus Pauling to Mervyn L. Goldstein. June 6, 1972.
"Many orthomolecular substances are so free from toxicity that they show beneficial effects over a 10,000-fold range of concentrations.
Yet if you take even ten times the amount of aspirin that many patients take, for example, you’d be dead; hundreds of people
do die every year from aspirin poisoning. And all of the other major drugs are highly toxic as well."