A team of researchers has discovered that vitamin C can not only prevent the onset of sepsis, but can also reverse the disease.
According to Dr. Karel Tyml and his colleagues at The University of Western Ontario and Lawson Health Research Institute, patients with severe sepsis have a high mortality rate, nearly 40 per cent, because there is no effective treatment.
Sepsis is caused by a bacterial infection that can begin anywhere in your body. Your immune system goes into overdrive, overwhelming normal processes in your blood. The result is that small blood clots form, blocking blood flow to vital organs.
"There are many facets to sepsis, but the one we have focused on for the past 10 years is the plugging of capillaries," said Dr. Tyml.
Plugged capillaries prevent oxygenation and the supply of life-supporting materials to your organ tissue and stop the removal of metabolic waste product.
Plugged capillaries are seen in organs of septic patients. These organs may eventually fail, leading to multiple organ failure and death.
Through his research, Dr. Tyml has discovered that a single bolus of vitamin C injected early at the time of induction of sepsis, prevents capillary plugging. He has also found that a delayed bolus injection of vitamin C can reverse plugging by restoring blood flow in previously plugged capillaries.
"Our research in mice with sepsis has found that early as well as delayed injections of vitamin C improves chance of survival significantly," said Dr. Tyml.
"Furthermore, the beneficial effect of a single bolus injection of vitamin C is long lasting and prevents capillary plugging for up to 24 hours post-injection.
"Vitamin C is cheap and safe. Previous studies have shown that it can be injected intravenously into patients with no side effects," said Dr. Tyml.