Standard intravenous antibiotic therapies often prove futile against sepsis’ complex nature. Yet new hope may be found in an unlikely place.
Sepsis claims over 350,000 lives each year, making it a leading cause of death among U.S. hospital patients.
‘One of the Most Challenging Conditions to Treat’
When the body fights an infection, the immune system mobilizes briefly and then retreats. Sometimes, however, it persists in attacking the body; sepsis is such a condition.
Sepsis occurs unpredictably and can be aggressive, spinning the immune response out of control. In the worst cases, vital organs shut down, leading to death.
“Sepsis is one of the most challenging conditions to treat in the ICU,” Dr. Paul Marik, a pulmonary and critical care specialist and chairman and chief scientific officer of the Frontline COVID-19 Critical Care (FLCCC) Alliance, told The Epoch Times.
How Can Vitamin C Help?
Historically, vitamin C was used to treat scurvy. However, in recent years, vitamin C has been established to have various beneficial effects that have led to its use in diseases like cancer and sepsis.
Patients with sepsis often have widespread inflammation and increased reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can cause severe injury that ultimately results in multiple organ dysfunction.
Most people’s serum vitamin C levels exceed 50 micromoles per liter. However, doctors have noticed that vitamin C levels in patients battling sepsis experience a rapid reduction, with critically ill patients dropping below 11 micromoles per liter. Researchers hypothesize that this reflects vitamin C is being used up as the body works to regain equilibrium. This same observation has been seen in patients battling cancer.
Multiple studies have investigated whether vitamin C could reduce sepsis severity.
“Given its low cost and minimal adverse effects, we strongly encourage further large, randomized trials to establish vitamin C as a standard of care in sepsis management,” authors of the 2022 systematic review and meta-analysis wrote.
Why Aren’t Hospitals Using Vitamin C?
Vitamin C as an adjunct therapy remains minimally used in hospitals across the country. “It is hard to know precisely why intravenous vitamin C might not be used in each sepsis case,” Dr. Marik said.
He cited possible reasons like lack of awareness or hospital policies favoring antibiotics over vitamin C.
“There is a disturbing trend by medical authorities and hospitals to view only new and expensive treatments with often questionable safety records as effective when we should first look at what is readily available, well-studied, and relatively safe,” he added. This bias seems to be a major factor in vitamin C’s limited sepsis use, he noted.
“Given the challenges with treating sepsis, there is no medical reason not to try intravenous vitamin C in a treatment protocol,” Dr. Marik said.
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