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Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, April 9, 2023

Therapeutic Benefits of Direct Application of Vitamin C
Physicians' use of topical ascorbate began over 50 years ago

Editorial by Andrew W. Saul

OMNS (April 9, 2023) I kept wondering where the pustulous rash on my wrists and between my fingers was coming from. It appeared at the end of an afternoon of working in my back yard vegetable gardens. Suspecting some poison plants to be out there somewhere, I resolved to pinpoint and eradicate them. But my immediate need was to stop the really annoying itching. Necessity being the parent of invention, I decided to try topical application of vitamin C. It was quick and easy: I simply took a half teaspoon of ascorbic acid powder and added drops of water until it formed a paste. Generously applied to the rash, it relieved the itch in less than 15 minutes. A day or so of twice-daily repetition and the rash was gone. I learned that the offending plants in my yard were belladonna and poison sumac. I have also seen this work on poison oak and poison ivy. And I am now more diligent in wearing work gloves.

The general idea of using vitamin C topically did not come to me out of nowhere. Back in 1984, Robert F. Cathcart III, MD, published on how to make what he simply called "C-paste." He used it for herpes simplex lesions and early Kaposi's lesions. "C-paste is made with either ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate and water applied directly to the skin and covered with a bandage. Frequently, one application will suffice for herpes. . . Frequently, applications to intact skin where the patient perceives an outbreak is about to occur will completely abort the attack. Several applications may be necessary to penetrate through the intact skin." [1]

Topical vitamin C is a remarkable and versatile antiviral. Vitamin C paste applied directly to HSV or HPV lesions may make a visible difference, sometimes overnight. It is also effective on warts, which are viral. [2] If ascorbic acid C stings, one may use sodium ascorbate instead of ascorbic acid. I have seen both to work.

All this apparent antiviral property of concentrated vitamin C was an odd companion to the earlier antitoxic property I had experienced.

Preparation of a water-based vitamin C paste is simple. Slowly add a small amount of water to about half a teaspoon of vitamin C powder. Use just enough water to wet down the vitamin C. Using less water will make a thicker paste. Application with the fingertip or a cotton swab, several times daily, is easy. The water will evaporate in a few minutes and leave a plainly visible but temporary coat of vitamin C crystals on the skin.

It was soon to get even more interesting: I learned that vitamin C had been used to actually destroy cancer cells. How well it does so is easily and visibly demonstrated by twice-daily topical application directly onto basal cell skin carcinomas. There is no localized dose higher than that achieved by direct application. [3]

The use of topical vitamin C to kill basal cell carcinoma has been known at least since 1971. Frederick R. Klenner, MD, wrote: "We have removed several small basal cell epithelioma with a 30 percent ointment" of vitamin C. [4]

One person, who reported that a 2mm diameter spot on the nose would not heal for months, had it disappear within a week with twice-daily concentrated vitamin C applications. Another patient reported that after dermatologist-diagnosed multiple spots of basal cell carcinoma were coated with vitamin C, the spots fell off within two weeks. [5]

Common sense caution: First have your physician diagnose any suspected cancer-like blemish. Basal cell carcinomas are slow growing and it is rare for them to metastasize. This provides an opportunity for a therapeutic trial of vitamin C, provided one has proper medical diagnosis and follow-up. But malignant melanoma, for example, is fast-spreading and most definitely not to be home-treated.

Having read this far, you may or may not be ready for yet another therapeutic use: bleeding after tooth extraction.

"A woman of age 82 had a decayed lower incisor tooth removed by her dentist (resulting in) uncontrolled bleeding estimated at the time as 1 to 2 mL/min. Blood was oozing not only from the socket, but from a broad area of local gum tissue, particularly posteriorly. Direct pressure applied with several gauzes did not slow the continuous oozing. . . [With] application of a gauze dusted with buffered vitamin C powder [such as calcium ascorbate], bleeding slowed significantly. Then the entire bleeding surface of her gums was dusted with about 0.25 g of the powder. After the third application of a similar amount, the bleeding stopped." [5]

Broad-spectrum utility of a pharmaceutical drug is generally lauded as a boon to humanity. Yet a vitamin demonstrating wide-ranging properties as an antitoxic, antiviral, anti-cancer, and anti-hemorrhagic agent has been largely dismissed by the medical profession.

There is a principle which is a bar against all information,
which is proof against all argument,
and which cannot fail to keep man in everlasting ignorance.
That principle is condemnation without investigation.

- William Paley (1743-1805), often attributed to Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

(Andrew W. Saul is in his 20th year as Editor-in-Chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. He is neither a virologist nor a physician. He is author or coauthor of a dozen books and has taught clinical nutrition and cell biology at the university level. Work directly with your own healthcare provider on any health issue.)


[1] Robert F. Cathcart III, MD. Medical Hypotheses, 14(4):423-433, Aug 1984.

[2] Topical vitamin C for HPV, genital herpes, and herpes simplex: Vitamin C as an antiviral.

[3] Topical vitamin C stops basal cell carcinoma. Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, November 9, 2007.

[4] Fredrick R. Klenner, MD. Observations on the dose and administration of ascorbic acid when employed beyond the range of a vitamin in human pathology. Journal of Applied Nutrition Vol. 23, Nos 3 & 4, Winter 1971. and

[5] Age spots, basal cell carcinoma and solar keratosis.

[6] HD Riordan, and JA Jackson. Ascorbate stops prolonged bleeding from tooth extraction. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine 1991, 6(3-4).

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Editorial Review Board:

Albert G. B. Amoa, MB.Ch.B, Ph.D. (Ghana)
Seth Ayettey, M.B., Ch.B., Ph.D. (Ghana)
Ilyès Baghli, M.D. (Algeria)
Barry Breger, M.D. (Canada)
Ian Brighthope, MBBS, FACNEM (Australia)
Gilbert Henri Crussol, D.M.D. (Spain)
Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D. (USA)
Ian Dettman, Ph.D. (Australia)
Susan R. Downs, M.D., M.P.H. (USA)
Ron Ehrlich, B.D.S. (Australia)
Hugo Galindo, M.D. (Colombia)
Gary S. Goldman, Ph.D. (USA)
Michael J. Gonzalez, N.M.D., Ph.D. (Puerto Rico)
William B. Grant, Ph.D. (USA)
Claus Hancke, MD, FACAM (Denmark)
Patrick Holford, BSc (United Kingdom)
Ron Hunninghake, M.D. (USA)
Bo H. Jonsson, M.D., Ph.D. (Sweden)
Dwight Kalita, Ph.D. (USA)
Felix I. D. Konotey-Ahulu, M.D., FRCP (Ghana)
Peter H. Lauda, M.D. (Austria)
Alan Lien, Ph.D. (Taiwan)
Homer Lim, M.D. (Philippines)
Stuart Lindsey, Pharm.D. (USA)
Pedro Gonzalez Lombana, M.D., Ph.D. (Colombia)
Victor A. Marcial-Vega, M.D. (Puerto Rico)
Juan Manuel Martinez, M.D. (Colombia)
Mignonne Mary, M.D. (USA)
Joseph Mercola, D.O. (USA)
Jorge R. Miranda-Massari, Pharm.D. (Puerto Rico)
Karin Munsterhjelm-Ahumada, M.D. (Finland)
Sarah Myhill, MB, BS (United Kingdom)
Tahar Naili, M.D. (Algeria)
Zhiyong Peng, M.D. (China)
Isabella Akyinbah Quakyi, Ph.D. (Ghana)
Selvam Rengasamy, MBBS, FRCOG (Malaysia)
Jeffrey A. Ruterbusch, D.O. (USA)
Gert E. Schuitemaker, Ph.D. (Netherlands)
Thomas N. Seyfried, Ph.D. (USA)
Han Ping Shi, M.D., Ph.D. (China)
T.E. Gabriel Stewart, M.B.B.CH. (Ireland)
Jagan Nathan Vamanan, M.D. (India)

Andrew W. Saul, Ph.D. (USA), Editor-In-Chief
Associate Editor: Robert G. Smith, Ph.D. (USA)
Editor, Japanese Edition: Atsuo Yanagisawa, M.D., Ph.D. (Japan)
Editor, Chinese Edition: Richard Cheng, M.D., Ph.D. (USA)
Editor, Norwegian Edition: Dag Viljen Poleszynski, Ph.D. (Norway)
Editor, Arabic Edition: Moustafa Kamel, R.Ph, P.G.C.M (Egypt)
Editor, Korean Edition: Hyoungjoo Shin, M.D. (South Korea)
Editor, Spanish Edition: Sonia Rita Rial, PhD (Argentina)
Editor, German Edition: Bernhard Welker, M.D. (Germany)
Associate Editor, German Edition: Gerhard Dachtler, M.Eng. (Germany)
Assistant Editor: Michael Passwater (USA)
Contributing Editor: Thomas E. Levy, M.D., J.D. (USA)
Contributing Editor: Damien Downing, M.B.B.S., M.R.S.B. (United Kingdom)
Contributing Editor: W. Todd Penberthy, Ph.D. (USA)
Contributing Editor: Ken Walker, M.D. (Canada)
Technology Editor: Michael S. Stewart, B.Sc.C.S. (USA)
Associate Technology Editor: Robert C. Kennedy, M.S. (USA)
Legal Consultant: Jason M. Saul, JD (USA)

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