Vitamin C for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFIDS)

Robert F. Cathcart, MD, of Los Altos (CA), has treated CFIDS since the illness was first identified in the 1970’s. He believes that the condition is a result of mitochondrial dysfunction caused by viruses, toxins, genetic susceptibility, or a combination of the above. Mitochondria is the cell component in which energy is produced. Today it is theorized that varying degrees of mitochondrial dysfunction can also be involved in causing autism, some cases of ADHD, and possibly many other modern-day chronic illnesses, including allergies.

Dr. Cathcart points out that when the mitochoindria is damaged it is not able to recycle vitamin C as it normally would. This means that even large doses of vitamin C are rapidly wasted leaving the body deficient in this vitamin and vulnerable to free radical damage.  His solution is to slowly build up the dose of vitamin C until people take the highest amount they can tolerate before developing diarrhea, which is what too much vitamin C will cause. This is called taking vitamin C to “bowel tolerance”.

Dr. Cathcart comments that high-dose vitamin C is not a cure for CFIDS but that it helps ameliorate the condition more than other treatments, including drugs costing thousands of dollars (

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