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'I'm alive four years after they told me there was no hope thanks to taking vitamin C - now my goal is to live until I hit 100'

When Co Antrim sports physiotherapist Bob Granville was told his heart disease was incurable he started to take high doses of vitamin C. Here he explains to Una Brankin how the controversial therapy has given him a new lease of life.

Published 26/04/2016

Preparing potion: Bob making his vitamin C drink
Preparing potion: Bob making his vitamin C drink
Fighting back: Bob Granville has seen his fitness increase substantially
Bob with his late wife Dorothy enjoying happy times together
Bob with his late wife Dorothy on their wedding day
Pack leader: Bob with his daughter’s two dogs Benji and Lucy

At the height of his prominent career as a sports physiotherapist, Bob Granville could run 10 miles, four days a week. Despite his life-long fitness and good diet, the father-of-four from Co Antrim fell prey to coronary disease, with a very poor prognosis.

After a heart attack at 67, he underwent triple by-pass surgery. Less than seven years later, his chest pain was so severe he could barely walk.

"The doctor told me there was nothing he could do for me; the coronary disease was too far gone," Bob says. "I went from getting severe angina attacks once every six weeks, to once a month, to once a fortnight, to six or seven attacks a night.

"But I'm not one for taking things lying down, so I went for a second and third opinion and it cost me between £300 and £400. A surgeon told me he couldn't operate but recommended a trouble-shooter cardiologist for rejects like me. He said if I'd no success with him, not to be wasting my money any further and just to accept my condition was incurable." Now 78, Bob has beaten the odds - thanks, he claims to high-dose vitamin C. Fresh-faced and clear-eyed, he comes to meet me in the Europa after catching the bus from his daughter Lynn's house in Glengormley, where he minds her dogs while she's out working as a health psychologist.

He has four grandchildren and one great grandchild, but lost his treasured wife, Dorothy, to lymphatic cancer over 20 years ago.

"I'm not afraid of death but I'd like to see the grandchildren grow up - you relive your life through them, don't you?" he says.

"When I had the heart attack about 11 years ago, the doctor thought it was just very painful indigestion and sent me home, but I had a pain in my left arm, so Lynn brought me back and insisted on a blood test.

"I had to have a triple by-pass and was off my feet for six months. They had to fit another stent a while after the operation and I was back in hospital on a cocktail of drugs.

"I had terrible angina pains but after about six months, I was able to get up and out a bit, and exercise more. I was doing all right until the pains came back, four years ago."

For 50 years, Bob ran a successful physiotherapy and acupuncture clinic in Glengormley and worked as the sports physio for several GAA clubs, including Tyrone in the days before Mickey Harte's tenure.

He retired when he began to find it difficult to run up and down the football pitch, but nothing was to prepare him, in his retirement, for those dreaded five words from the doctor: 'There's nothing we can do'.

"Anyway, I went to see this trouble-shooter cardiologist and he told me it was too difficult to put in another stent. I was at a complete loss but I went online and did a load of research, and discovered the power of high-dose vitamin C," he says.

"I ordered a book by the guy who did all the research into it, Linus Pauling, and he recommended taking 12,000 milligrams of vitamin C a day. Now, the so-called official recommended dose is 80mg for a female and 90mg for a male and when told my GP about taking the high dose, she said I was nuts.

"She said it would be no use and it could kill me. I said 'I'll be dead in two or three weeks anyway; my heart can't take this constant pain. So, I went on ahead and bought a kilo bag and some baking soda - you add that to the high-strength vitamin C and take it with water three times a day."

To Bob's astonishment, the effect was almost immediate.

"Within three days, the pain had entirely gone. I could walk almost a mile. Three months later, I walked 10 miles on Hadrian's Wall with my daughter - I was the slowest there but I did it." When Bob went back to see his GP, she suggested that his recovery was possibly due to remission.

"But here I am four years later with no pain. I'm alive four years after they told me there was no hope. I know I still have this serious condition but I feel reasonably well.

"I'm a trained physiotherapist with a good knowledge and understanding of nutrition, and I can have a scientific view of these things. I've studied the orthomolecular science behind high-dose Vitamin C and I know it works," he claims.

"You see, we may think we have a balanced diet but none of us are getting enough Vitamin C to ward off free radicals and cancer cells. It's not about living forever, and you have to die of something - it's about staying healthy for as long as possible. Linus Pauling's book saved my life."

One of the most famous forerunners of high dose vitamin C treatment for illness - from the cold to cancer - Linus Carl Pauling, who passed away in 1994, was a physical chemist and peace activist who won two Nobel Prize awards; one in chemistry in 1954, followed by a Nobel Peace Prize in 1962.

The New Scientist magazine ranked him as one of the 20 greatest scientists to ever live. Despite being a well-respected scientist, his views on vitamin C were all firmly rebuffed by the medical community. Many felt Pauling was too far out of his field of expertise with his research into nutrition, and he was largely ignored by mainstream medicine and nutritional science

"These big pharmaceutical companies don't want you to know of the benefits of high-dose vitamin C and they denounce people as quacks if they promote it," says Bob.

"They don't want sales of their drugs and chemo affected, but they protest too much. If they weren't worried about it, they'd ignore it.

"I know that vitamin C could have saved my wife, in conjunction with her chemo.

"I tried desperately to save her but it was too late.

"I didn't have the knowledge then, that I have now, and all I want to do is share it, to help people but don't get me wrong - I take the tablets the doctor gives me, too. It's belt and braces; you take all when you're at risk of dying."

Bob believes his daily vitamin C dosage - to which he adds lycopene, B Complex and vitamins A, B12 and E - has helped him ward off colds and kept arthritic pain in his neck at bay. He avoids sugar - "a killer" - and caffeine, and his only complaint these days is lateral cartilage problem in one of his knees, which has slowed him down at his Newtownabbey Walking To Health Club.

"I've a bit of pain standing up but I'm all right once I get going. I used to be walking at the front, as the leader; now I'm at the back, but I'm trying to get my fitness back again," he concludes.

"I have palpitations from time to time; had them from I was 20 years of age. But it's not the serious type; just an irregular heartbeat.

"I'm very lucky to be sitting here talking to you today. Now my goal is to live to be 100."

Antioxidants help to protect health of heart

Vitamin C is one of the most well-established traditional antioxidants and its potent health benefits have been demonstrated over time, especially for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases.

While most animals have the ability to produce vitamin C internally, three species cannot. Guinea pigs, primates, and humans must obtain their vitamin C from their diet. It plays a role in the body's production of collagen, carnitine (which helps body turn fat into energy), and catecholamines (hormones made by the adrenal glands). Vitamin C is also used by the body for wound healing, repairing, and maintaining the health of bones and teeth, and plays a role in helping the body absorb iron.

A powerful antioxidant, vitamin C also helps prevent damage caused by free radicals. Over time, free radical damage may accelerate ageing and contribute to the development of heart disease and other health conditions.

It's through this antioxidant effect that it's thought vitamin C may play a role in protecting heart health.

What the medical professional says

Dr John O'Kelly, chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland says: "As GPs we understand why people often look to alternative therapies, especially when they feel that traditional medicine has not improved their condition or is not likely to change the outlook.

All treatments have a placebo effect which means that there can be a small improvement no matter what it is - all medical trials have to show improvement beyond this. Some alternative therapies can be potentially harmful as they are unregulated and can interfere with prescribed medication.

If people are planning to try alternative therapies, they should check with their own family doctor/practice nurse and be guided by them."

Top chemist leading advocate

The Nobel Prize winning physical chemist Linus Pauling detailed his discoveries on the power of Vitamin C in a series of books, starting with Vitamin C and the Common Cold in 1970, followed by Vitamin C, the Common Cold and the Flu (1976), Vitamin C and Cancer (1979), and How to Feel Better and Live Longer (1986).

While the recommended dailyallowance (RDA) for Vitamin C had been established at 40 to 60mg per day — an amount more than sufficient to prevent scurvy — Pauling advocated amounts of 1,000mg or even higher.

Pauling himself is said to have taken 12,000mg per day. He noted that veterinarians recommended far higher doses of Vitamin C for primates than what was recommended for people and determined that humans likely need a minimum of six grams per day — 200 times more than the RDA.

Pauling died of prostate cancer in 1994 at the age of 93. Since then, there’s been an explosion of research into the properties of Vitamin C. Much of the recent scientific literature published on Vitamin C supports his claims.

The Linus Pauling Institute at the University of Oregon has continued his research into how vitamins and other essential micronutrients play a significant role in enhancing human health and preventing chronic diseases — not just deficiencydiseases.

Further information from:

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