In this interview, Dr. Thomas Levy, a cardiologist widely known for his work with vitamin C, discusses his most recent book, “Magnesium: Reversing Disease.” In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, which was in full swing at the time of this interview, March 24, 2020, our discussion also includes some other strategies you can use to prevent and treat this and other respiratory illnesses.
Personally, I believe the fear of the pandemic and collapsed economy leading to depression and increased suicides will be more harmful than the disease itself, considering the mortality rate is now believed to be similar to the flu, which is around 0.1%.1
That said, if this pandemic is teaching us anything, it’s that your immune system is your primary defense against infectious disease, so the best thing anyone can do is to educate themselves about how to do that. The same applies when facing acute illness, as there are many ways to boost your immune function even in the short term.
Vitamin C Is a Powerful Antiviral
As noted by Levy, vitamin C is one excellent option. “I personally believe, from the research and literature, vitamin C is the primary agent that stimulates and maximizes the potency of the immune system. So, I don't think it can be undersold,” he says. Levy recommends taking 2 to 3 grams, three or four times a day, for this purpose.
I agree with this dosage for acute purposes, but not as a daily supplement. You simply do not need upward of 12 grams of vitamin C every single day. Many could definitely use some vitamin C every day, however. According to Levy:
“Epidemiologically there's no question — if the whole population just took 1 gram or 2 grams a day, I believe it would have enormous impact on the general public health and the incidents of infectious disease.”
As for my objection to such high daily doses, Levy replies:
“There's a difference between preventing disease and resolving disease. A larger amount of vitamin C in your bloodstream is going to give you a greater resistance against a given pathogen load than a lower amount, even if that lower amount is in the ‘normal’ range.”
Vitamin C can also be administered intravenously. Levy, who has performed many intravenous vitamin C procedures, typically uses a pH-balanced solution of sodium ascorbate dissolved in water, buffered with sodium bicarbonate. In this manner, 12 grams of vitamin C can be pushed in as little as five minutes without irritating the lining of your blood vessels.
I personally prefer oral liposomal vitamin C, which can still allow you to reach the kind of blood levels you’d normally only get with an IV. Levy recounts a small trial he recently did at the Riordan Clinic, which measured intracellular levels of vitamin C. Here, oral liposomal vitamin C resulted in substantially higher intracellular vitamin C levels than is seen with oral, nonencapsulated vitamin C.
“In this particular study, we also looked at the effects of hydrocortisone, in particularly with liposomal vitamin C … The presence of hydrocortisone massively increased the amount of vitamin C that goes inside the cell. This is very interesting, because … hydrocortisone is considered your No. 1 anti-inflammatory agent. My opinion … [is] that [this] is because it exerts such a profound effect on putting vitamin C inside the cells.”
Contraindication to High-Dose Vitamin C Treatment
The only contraindication to high-dose vitamin C treatment is if you have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) genetic disorder.2 G6PD is required for your body to produce NADPH, which is necessary to transfer reductive potential to keep antioxidants, such as vitamin C.
Because your red blood cells do not contain any mitochondria, the only way it can provide reduced glutathione is through NADPH, and since G6PD disorder eliminates the major source of NADPH, it causes red blood cells to rupture due to inability to compensate for oxidative stress with glutathione.
Fortunately, G6PD deficiency is relatively uncommon, and can be tested for. People of Mediterranean and African descent are at greater risk of being G6PD deficient. Worldwide, G6PD deficiency is thought to affect 400 million individuals, and in the U.S., an estimated 1 in 10 African-American males has it.3
“If you do have someone that's positive, you need to remember that the reason the red blood cells are hemolyzing is because they have increased intracellular or intra red blood cell oxidative stress,” Levy says, “and this is due to decreased glutathione [and] vitamin C levels inside the cell, [and] increased calcium levels inside the cell.
So, you can bolster these people up by giving, usually, liposomal or intravenous forms of glutathione a day or two before, as well as intravenous magnesium. This builds up the resistance of the cell …
[We] counsel the patient … to drink a lot of water, stay well hydrated, and tell us if they notice any change at all in the color of their urine. And you'll find out early on, long before there's a massive hemolysis that's life threatening, whether something [is going wrong].
That is the overall approach, but I also have to follow up and say, especially, at the Riordan Clinic, where I'm a consultant, I don't think we've ever seen that, not even once.
Obviously, in certain populations — let's say if the Riordan Clinic was in Africa — then it might be a whole lot more concern, but there's a lot of people of color that come to the Riordan Clinic and it just has not turned out to be a problem. Although, with the reports and the literature as they are, you're probably not doing yourself any favors legally if you don't check the [G6PD] test.”
Other Important Immune Boosters
“It's very important to take Vitamin D as well. Probably somewhere along the lines of 10,000 to 15,000 units a day, at least, during the time of the epidemic … A good preparation of zinc also helps arm the immune system. General supplementation should always include vitamin K as well, and magnesium, which we'll talk about.
I consider vitamin C, magnesium, vitamin D, and vitamin K2 to be the premier, top four supplements for promoting and maintaining good health, mainly because they're the primary antagonists to calcium accumulation, and excess calcium inside the cell … I consider to be the primary pathophysiology in all disease.”
Nebulized Hydrogen Peroxide Inactivates Viruses
Levy also discusses nebulization with hydrogen peroxide, which you can read more about in “Hydrogen Peroxide Protocol for Coronavirus” that was posted in my April 9 newsletter.
“Hydrogen peroxide absolutely destroys everything on an open wound. Well, guess what? When you put a fine mist of it inside your sinuses, nose, and throat, it nukes the virus there too … When you're systemically ill with influenza or coronavirus … the thing that's fueling it is an ongoing massive replication of the virus in the sinuses, nose and throat.
When you can effectively knock that down 99%, you ‘lop the head off the snake.’ And then the body is in great shape, especially with the support of things like vitamin C to mop everything up. Ozone is also fantastic, [but] ozone is not readily available for most people …
In the nebulization I'm talking about, [you use] over-the-counter, 80 cents a bottle at Walmart, 3% hydrogen peroxide. If you don't mind a little discomfort, you can do the full strength, but you can get a great effect with 50% or 25% of that concentration or less. The bottom line is, whatever aggravation it causes to nose and sinuses, those rapidly resolve once you stop the nebulization.
For long-term usage, it’s a good idea to use food grade hydrogen peroxide. But don’t hesitate to use the regular peroxide if you are actively dealing with a virus and don’t want to lose time trying to obtain the food grade form.”
Why Magnesium Helps Reverse Disease
As mentioned, Levy believes excess calcium inside your cells is a primary contributor to most disease, and magnesium is a natural calcium channel blocker. That makes it useful for a wide variety of scenarios involving oxidative stress.
This is also why I recommend magnesium as a countermeasure to electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure. To learn more about the adverse health effects of excessive calcium, listen to the interview in its entirety, as Levy delves into greater detail than summarized here:
“’Magnesium: Reversing Disease’ came as a natural sequel to my earlier book in 2013, ‘Death by Calcium.’ When I did the research for that book, I had no idea … how clear cut the data was. But the bottom line was — and this is why magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin D and vitamin K are so good — is they all are natural calcium antagonists.
They all help dissolve preexisting calcifications and they all help to normalize the calcium in the body. Each one, individually, decreases all-cause mortality — decreases your chance of death from anything — which means they favorably impact every cell in the body.
As I reviewed more and more studies, it became apparent to me (and I've not found an exception to this yet) that every cell that is ‘diseased’ has increased calcium levels inside the cell. And the higher they get, if you go without killing the cell, that's when you undergo malignant transformation. It's the highest levels of calcium that also result in cancer.
It was also very apparent, even before I began the magnesium book, that magnesium was the No. 1 calcium antagonist and general metabolic calcium function inhibitor. It mirrored everything. More calcium increased your chance of death by all causes, less decreased it. More magnesium decreased it, less magnesium increased it …
Magnesium is directly involved, one way or another, with 80% of all the chemical reactions in the body. So it’s a significant player everywhere. As you go down, disease by disease, No. 1, it becomes apparent that magnesium deficiency by itself causes many diseases, but perhaps even more importantly, magnesium deficiency, if it doesn't cause a disease, makes all the diseases worse.
Because, once again, the more calcium you get inside the cell, the more oxidative stress, the less enzymes and other biomolecules function normally, and the more you bring that micro environment inside the cell to a reduced level, things start functioning normally …”
Magnesium Is Antimicrobial Too
Levy also points out that some forms of magnesium are antimicrobial as well. In 1939, Dr. Frederick Klenner cured 60 out of 60 cases of polio in children and infants using oral and injectable vitamin C. According to Levy, a French investigator in the 1940s did the same thing but with oral magnesium chloride solution.
Both of these historical accounts are outlined in Levy’s book. According to Levy, while magnesium is not an antioxidant per se, it exerts through other mechanisms a profound antioxidant effect inside cell — largely by displacing calcium, allowing vitamin C to accumulate and optimizing glutathione synthesis.
I review this very mechanism in my latest book, “EMF*D” as well. The intracellular concentration of calcium is about 50,000 times lower than the extracellular. But when you get an excess amount of calcium inside the cell, it causes nitric oxide and superoxide levels to increase.
Those two molecules, once they're formed, instantaneously go on to form a really pernicious molecule called peroxynitrite, a reactive nitrogen species (RNS), which stays around about 9 million times longer than hydroxyl free radicals.
This longevity allows it to travel throughout the cell, causing tremendous damage to stem cells, cell membranes, proteins, mitochondria and DNA. Essentially, EMF exposure triggers an increase in intracellular calcium levels, meaning it causes oxidative stress, and magnesium is an elegant solution to mitigate this damage. Most are also deficient in magnesium, so supplementing is a good idea for most people.
Magnesium chloride appears to have the most potent antimicrobial effects. Levy cites research showing the magnesium sulfate form and the magnesium chloride form have opposite effects on pathogens. In one in vitro study the sulfate form encouraged infection while the chloride form suppressed it.
“I think the chloride entity is extremely important for the anti-infectious property of magnesium,” Levy says. “So, if you're taking magnesium for the purposes of infection, take magnesium chloride.
If you're getting an IV, use magnesium sulfate. If you're taking it orally, just for the magnesium, then any of a number [will work, including] magnesium glycinate, magnesium threonate and magnesium gluconate — all of those are great.”
Another excellent source of magnesium is molecular hydrogen tablets. Each tablet provides 80 mg of elemental ionic magnesium. The tablets, which must be dissolved in water, provide you with highly absorbable pure ionic elemental magnesium, and have no laxative effect.
On Magnesium Testing
Levy does not think an RBC (red blood cell count) test is accurately reflective of your magnesium level. He explains:
“Red blood cells don't have cytoplasm and they're not really a good reflection … No. 1, if your blood level is low, you're low [on magnesium]. You don't need to go any further in testing. No. 2, if your blood level is ‘normal,’ then the next step is to go to … ExaTest.com.
They get sublingual swabs and measure intracellular levels of not only magnesium but calcium and a couple other electrolytes as well … It appears to be your best direct reflection that we have so far.
Maybe something better will come out down the road, but right now it looks like the best way for you to really know what your magnesium level is [and] get an idea of how well-suppressed your calcium levels are inside your cells …
It's not an outlandishly expensive test, but it's going to run about $250 or $300, so you don't want to just get it for no reason at all. But if you're dealing with problems that could be secondary to magnesium deficiency, it's good to rule that out as being a major contributor to whatever it is you might be treating.”
Side Effects of Excessive Magnesium
As for dosage, it’s virtually impossible to overdose on oral magnesium, as it has a built-in mechanism to prevent toxicity. Like vitamin C, excessive oral magnesium will simply come out the other end, as loose stools. That’s when you know you’ve exceeded your ideal dose.
One exception to the nontoxicity rule is in elderly individuals with constipation who are given large doses of magnesium citrate. If the magnesium preparation fails to work, it can sit in the gut, causing it to be overabsorbed. “That's about the only subset that I know of for oral magnesium,” Levy says, adding:
“Obviously, then, you can very easily harm yourself by taking too much magnesium too rapidly intravenously. But that's also it's therapeutic effect, and it's a known entity.
As a matter of fact, in dental surgery they have something called magnesium-induced controlled hypotension, because surgeries on the jawbone bleed so badly they want to use something to deliberately bring blood pressure down to controlled hypotensive levels until you get hemostasis, and then they back off on the magnesium and your blood pressure comes back up.
But the point I make about that is, if you give enough magnesium, you can take any blood pressure and bring it down it zero. Within those confines though, it's very, very safe … Ironically enough, our pseudo-enemy calcium is one of the ways you bring people out of that [hypotensive state].”
Magnesium for Migraine
The reason magnesium lowers your blood pressure is because it’s a vasodilator: It enlarges your blood vessels. And, if you inject it rapidly enough, you will get very warm, sometimes almost hot and sweaty. Importantly, for people with migraines, IV magnesium will typically resolve a migraine very rapidly.
“Upon my review on migraine, let me say, it's my humble opinion that migraine is completely and totally a magnesium deficiency disease,” Levy says. “That's how significant magnesium is in the physiology of that.
Interestingly enough, at about the same time I was writing on migraine in my book, a friend called me who was going through some horrible situations with a syndrome I had never heard before, called reversible cerebral vasoconstriction syndrome, and even having a slight bit of a subarachnoid hemorrhage.
I read up on it and said, ‘This looks identical, basically, to migraine physiology. Start dosing your magnesium like there's no tomorrow.’ She did and she eventually came out of it. I guarantee you she hasn't gotten off magnesium since, and she's had no recurring episodes.”
The Toxic 3: Calcium, Iron and Copper
In his book, Levy reviews why you don’t want elevated levels of calcium, iron or copper. All three can be quite toxic and cause significant health problems.
“They're what I call the three toxic nutrients,” Levy says. “They're certainly, without any qualification, essential at lower doses for normal metabolism. Calcium plays a role in just about everything — the contraction of your heart. Iron is essential for blood production. Copper plays a similar but lesser role to iron in many of the things that it does.
But I've yet to see a person that I think is legitimately deficient in copper. But whether or not that person exists, the more important one is iron. Iron, in my opinion, you should never supplement if you do not have an iron deficiency anemia — hypochromic, microcytic anemia — because for all the things iron does, it's very tiny amounts of iron that are needed …
You need relatively massive amounts to make a normal blood count. So, if you're making enough blood, you have enough iron for everything else. Combined with that … you'll be absolutely appalled to see what's been put in our fortified enriched foods for the last 70 years. I've got news for you — I'm not nuts — they put in metallic iron filings.
Now how on Earth that's nutritious is beyond me, but even if they put in a legitimate supplemental form of iron, still, the more iron you accumulate, the greater your bodywide oxidative stress is. And excess oxidative stress is what we're trying to avoid.”
Be particularly careful if you have beta thalassemia, like I do, or sickle cell anemia. Taking iron when you have these conditions is the kiss of death, and I've seen that done to so many patients.
To learn more about magnesium and its health benefits, be sure to pick up a copy of “Magnesium: Reversing Disease.”
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