Vitamins and minerals have been used to treat illnesses other than obvious nutritional deficiencies for over 70 years.
Jonathan Wright, M.D., treated a child who suffered from chronic nasal congestion and who had been repeatedly admitted to hospital emergency rooms for wheezing. Antihistamine medication failed to improve his condition. Wright diagnosed the boy's problem as an inability to digest and absorb nutrients, and he prescribed vitamin B12 injections, digestive supplements, magnesium and other minerals. The patient's health improved quickly and he has had no further wheezing attacks.
Not all of the dosages used in orthomolecular medicine are in the megavitamin category, but some are dramatic multiples of the standard daily recommendations. To reduce hay fever or asthma symptoms, a physician might recommend 5 to 20 grams of powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to be taken in small doses with water over a 24-hour period. A mild cold may be prevented by taking 30 to 60 grams, influenza with 100 to 150 grams and viral pneumonia with dosages up to 200 grams in 24 hours. Considering that a 500 mg tablet (1/2 gram) is considered a high dose of vitamin C, these recommendations are unusual and they should not be taken without supervision. This treatment for the prevention of an acute infection lasts for several days or until all symptoms disappear. The dosage remains high until the body indicates its vitamin C saturation point by developing loose bowels, a signal to reduce the amount. Many orthomolecular physicians have found that taking vitamin C to bowel tolerance (the diarrhea point) effectively treats colds, flu, infections, allergies, burns, viral pneumonia and autoimmune disorders.
In general, those with respiratory infections or illnesses benefit from the daily use of a well-balanced multiple vitamin and mineral supplement and additional trace minerals.