Robert F. Cathcart, M.D.

The day before Thanksgiving I had a cornea transplant. When the local began to wear off, it became obvious that it was going to be painful. I began taking 12 grams of ascorbic acid orally every 15 minutes. By the time I reached 72 grams, there was absolutely no pain.

I continued to take 8 to 12 grams and hour that evening and the following day. There was no pain.

Thanksgiving, I returned for a follow-up visit. There had been 2 cases of corneal transplant done the day before. There were no nurses in that day so the doctor came in to do the follow-up by himself. He called both of us in at the same time. As we were walking down the hall together, he asked me if I had pain, I told him about the 72 grams of ascorbate (vitamin C) and told him there was no pain. He asked the other patient the same thing and he replied that it had hurt terribly the night before and still hurt terribly.

Subsequently, the eye incision healed rapidly and there was not pain. The corneal edema, which was the reason for the operation, was due to an old style cataract operation where the lens was placed anterior to the iris and just behind the cornea. (The more modern method is to place the lens posterior to the iris.) Anyway, it was a Leiske lens and a common complication is that it somehow damages the endothelium of the cornea. The cornea grows from the inside out. As little pockets of damaged cells grow toward the surface, it results in corneal edema and corneal ulcers.)

The reason that ascorbate (only in very high doses) is such a good pain killer is because the pain is mediated by free radicals and if there are no free radicals, there is no pain. The important thing to remember is that the ascorbate has to be forced into the tissues involved in very high concentrations before the ascorbate has this pain killing effect.

More recently, I tripped over my dog and hit the concrete with my right eyebrow.  This tore open the skin and required 8 stitches.  Also there was a partial tear of the supraorbital nerve.  While in the ER at Stanford, the young lady physician was beginning to inject some local anesthetic.  I knew she was going to send me for an Xray to see if there was any foreign body or fracture of the skull.  I told her that she better hurry because the local anesthetic was going to wear off rapidly.  She said not to worry because she was using a long-acting local anesthetic.  I told her it would wear off rapidly because I had taken some vitamin C.  She approved because she took vitamin C herself.  I asked her how much and she said, "One gram a day."  I told her that I had taken 36 grams in the two hours since the injury.  She said, "You must be kidding."  Anyway after the Xray, the anesthetic had worn off but since she was using 6-0 sutures which are very small, I bit the bullet and didn't say anything.  Afterward, I continued to take 12 grams of ascorbic acid an hour and the pain vanished.  I never did take any of the pain medicines I was prescribed.  The next morning the wound was itching.  It rapidly healed without any difficulty. 

- Robert Cathcart, MD