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Professor Ian Brighthope

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‘What’s the number one thing you’re doing?’ …is a question Mum has been asked a lot in these last few months.

While dealing with unresolved emotions and stress has been essential for Mum, if she were to name one cancer treatment that’s been most critical to her recovery, it would probably be intravenous vitamin C.

Many others would agree – if the demand at Mum’s local clinic is anything to go by. In the lead up to Christmas it was particularly frenetic, with cancer patients desperate to get their IV C fix before the festivities got underway.

While some patients, like Mum, use vitamin C as part of a combination of alternative treatments, many others use it alongside chemotherapy. A few weeks ago, a close friend of mine got the all-clear following a round of chemo and she’s now keen to supercharge her immune system with intravenous C. She recently asked me how it worked and I found myself getting tongue-tied.

So I thought I’d enlist the help of Australia’s leading expert in IV C – Professor Ian Brighthope.

Many of you will recognise Professor Brighthope – a medical doctor and surgeon – from the hit documentary Food Matters.

He has been treating patients with intravenous vitamin C for over 35 years, and, as the previous president of the Australian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine (ACNEM), he’s well placed to talk about how it works. Here’s what he had to say:

What are the benefits of having vitamin C therapy alongside conventional treatments?

‘Every benefit in the world,’ said Brighthope.

It reduces the toxic effects of chemotherapy, it accelerates the healing after chemotherapy, it reduces the inflammation caused by radiotherapy, it boosts the immune system, it suppresses the bacteria and viruses that may be implicated in causing or aggravating the growth of cancer and it stimulates white blood cells to mop up dead cancerous tissue and fight infection.’

Phew, that’s an impressive list.

So where did you learn about the benefits of high-dose Vitamin C ?

‘I had some clues from Linus Pauling in the US, but I basically taught myself,’ said Brighthope. ‘I used vitamin C experimentally in a cancer patient who was terminal – and the patient lived for another seven years.’

Where it all began

More than thirty years ago, Dr Linus Pauling and Dr Ewan Cameron conducted a number of studies, looking at the effect of vitamin C therapy in cancer patients. In 1971, 100 terminal cancer patients were given 10g (10,000 mg) of vitamin C intravenously a day, compared to a control group of 1000 patients who were treated by conventional methods only. (Just to give you some idea of how much vitamin C we’re talking – the RDI in Australia is 45mg per day).

Five years after the beginning of the study, 18 of the 100 vitamin C-treated patients were still living while all 1000 of the control patients had died (Tomorrow’s Cancer Cures TODAY, Dr Allan Spreen)

More recent research supports these findings. One Japanese study found those suffering from cancer of the uterus lived 15 times longer on vitamin C therapy (International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research, 1982) and last year, New Zealand scientists confirmed that vitamin C helped inhibit tumour growth.

But it’s not just cancer patients who benefit from high-dose vitamin C – in 2009 a New Zealand dairy farmer miraculously recovered from a severe case of swine flu after intravenous C was administered at the eleventh hour. The doctors wanted to turn off this man’s life support, but his family insisted he have the treatment. You can watch the incredible story here (thank you Marie for sharing).

Back to Brighthope

‘ For acute problems, like an acute virus that’s going to kill somebody, it’s important to give vitamin C as an injection,’ said Brighthope.


‘You cannot achieve the extremely high physiological level that severely ill patients require by taking it orally, because the more you take orally, the less of a percentage of a dose is absorbed,’ said Brighthope.

The Mayo Clinic study (often cited by conventional doctors as evidence Vitamin C doesn’t work) is a case in point.

Shortly after Pauling and Cameron released the results from their groundbreaking vitamin C study, researchers from the Mayo clinic ran a similar trial – with one key difference.  While Pauling and Cameron administered 10g vitamin C intravenously, the Mayo participants were given the same dose orally. And -surprise, surprise- the vitamin C made no difference to survival rates.

So why don’t more people know about Vitamin C?

‘It’s very difficult …when you’ve got a very established profession that’s been dominated by the idea of diseases and drugs and surgery and radiotherapy; a profession that doesn’t know anything about health, yet is a health profession,’ explained Brighthope.

Is it illegal, in Australia, for an oncologist to recommend a patient try vitamin C therapy?

‘No. In fact it’s morally the correct thing to do for an oncologist to support whatever a patient – and or the patient’s family – wants for them. Also, the patient does have legal rights to a therapy that may be unproven.

From a legal point of view they have to practise along accepted guidelines, but the accepted guidelines for oncologists, may not be in the best interests of the patient,’ said Brighthope.

‘Put it this way, if the patient presents to the oncologist with a cancer, and the patient is malnourished and has a lack of protein; a lack of vitamins; a lack of minerals; a lack of essential fatty acids and other deficiencies of nutrients; the oncologist will take absolutely no notice … and will still go ahead with oncology – and oncological drugs – drugs that will compromise the patient’s health even further,’ said Brighthope.

But change is afoot.

‘It has been interesting to see how something [high dose vitamin c] that was regarded as absolute quackery, has become mainstream,’ said Brighthope. ‘In many respects we are at the forefront here in Australia with regard to nutritional medicine. It’s actually now recognised as a part of the GP training from the Royal Australian College of Medicine.’

Other countries are following suit. In the UK there’s pioneers like Dr Patrick Kingsley ( as well as Dr Wendy Denning and Dr Nicola Hembry) in America there’s legends like Dr Gary Gordon and in Mexico you have the likes of Dr Contreras – who have long prescribed IV C to help cancer patients achieve the all-clear.

As I’ve mentioned before the natural cancer journey is anything but clear. Alternative practitioners can be hard to come by, dietary advice can be contradictory and it can be difficult to know where to find the purest and best supplements and products.

It’s for that reason that I’ve mentioned specific brand names on this website – they are products we have both researched and Mum has tried – and we thought people might like to know about them. But I was given pause for thought last week when two subscribers questioned whether I was benefiting financially from product endorsements.

I can tell you, with hand on heart, that Mum and I make nothing from this blog ( in fact, on a few occasions, I’ve turned down paid work so that I have enough time to ensure the blog goes up). It is a labour of love, but one I do gladly, as Mum and I find the feedback, suggestions and stories from other readers profoundly life-affirming.


Professor Brighthope is no longer consulting. To find a practitioner in Australia who offers vitamin injections you may go to the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine:

Those living in the UK may wish to contact the charity Yes To Life. They provide a directory of physicians trained in alternative and complementary medicine, including IV vitamin C.

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