Linus Pauling: The Brain Behind the Unified Theory Of Heart Disease
“The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” -Linus Pauling
Preventing Cardiovascular Disease with Proper Nutrition
In 1991, Linus Carl Pauling turned the world of heart health upside-down by discovering a non-prescription approach to reversing atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and preventing heart disease. The “mega-nutrient” therapy focuses on supporting cardiovascular health by improving blood vessel function and reducing cholesterol buildup rather than just lowering cholesterol. Pauling discovered that a combination of vitamin C and the amino acids L-lysine and L-proline have the synergistic ability to prevent cholesterol deposits from blocking blood vessels. Vitamin C works to maintain healthy collagen production, the molecule responsible for elasticity in the arteries. The amino acids L-lysine and L-proline, on the other hand, ensure that the body uses cholesterol appropriately for optimum cardiovascular function.
Pauling titled his discovery the Unified Theory of Human Cardiovascular Disease, and it rests on the premise that the body creates cholesterol buildup as a back-up solution for preventing damaged blood vessels from hemorrhaging. If you supplement with enough vitamin C, L-lysine, and L-proline, says the Unified Theory, the body will opt to use these molecules to repair damaged blood vessels instead of producing excess cholesterol.
Understanding The Unified Theory
Lipoprotein A Lp(a) is a cholesterol carrier found in species that cannot produce vitamin C on their own, like humans. Lp(a) is responsible for transporting cholesterol covered in a sticky protein called apo(a). The higher the vitamin C concentration, the less sticky apo(a) particles are produced. When the body doesn’t have enough vitamin C, Lp(a) particles patch damaged blood vessels with their sticky protein coat. However, circulating LDL particles sometimes connect with the sticky surface of Lp(a), leading to unwanted hardening of the arteries.
Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, fuses our cells together. Collagen particles are composed of three strands of amino acids: one L-glycine strand, one L-proline strand, and one L-lysine strand. When a collagen fiber is damaged, the ends become frayed much like a cut rope. Vitamin C has the ability to hydroxylate the broken ends, allowing them to fuse back together and reversing plaque buildup.
Furthermore, while L-glycine is usually in ample supply in the body, L-proline and L-lysine are not always abundant. In order to support effective collagen synthesis, Pauling suggested the body would benefit from supplementation of these two amino acids.
The solution, Pauling discovered, lies in a combination of vitamin C, L-lysine, and L-proline. Although usually coveted for its ability to prevent scurvy, vitamin C plays an important role in chronic disease: Pauling believed that most people who suffer from chronic disease may actually be experiencing symptoms of sub-acute scurvy.
When Pauling gave test animals the combination, several factors came together to reverse atherosclerosis with astonishing efficiency:
- Vitamin C converted the frayed three-strand collagen amino acids into hydroxyaminos, making it impossible for the sticky Lp(a) to adhere to the collagen, causing buildup.
- L-lysine reduced the stickiness of Lp(a), thereby sealing the binding sites on Lp(a) and further preventing plaque buildup at the frayed collagen ends.
- L-proline, the final piece to the puzzle, is lipophilic, meaning it prefers oil to water, unlike its hydrophilic counterpart L-lysine. Because Lp(a) is composed of the hydrophilic protein apo(a) and an oily cholesterol, Pauling hypothesized that L-proline would take care of any leftover receptors on the Lp(a) molecule not blocked by L-lysine. He was right.
The powerful combination completely rid the arteries of blockages by using amino acids to seal the receptor sites on the Lp(a) molecules and using vitamin C to bind to broken collagen strands, chemically altering them so that Lp(a) can no longer adhere to the receptor site. As a result, plaque patches begin to strip away from blood vessel walls, leaving the passage clear for blood to flow freely.
The Remarkable Life of Linus
Linus Pauling was born in Portland, Oregon on February 28, 1901. His father a druggist by profession, Pauling took an interest in chemistry early on, eventually beginning his scientific career as a chemical engineering student at Oregon State College. In 1925, Pauling was awarded a Ph.D. in chemistry, with minors in physics and mathematics from the California Institute of Technology.
Linus Pauling is the only person to have been awarded two undivided Nobel Prizes. In 1954, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry “for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances.” Eight years later, Pauling was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for speaking and writing against weapons of mass destruction after atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also played a major role in the Pugwash movement, which opposed the international nuclear arms race and was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize of its own in 1995. Pauling has also been called a founder of molecular biology, changing the way the entire discipline operated.
In the 1950s, Pauling began to construct a comprehensive theory of human health, though it was not until later in his life that he solidified his revolutionary work with vitamin C. He viewed the human body as an experimental machine full of chemical reactions that could be supported simply by keeping chemical balance in check. For Pauling, that meant the proper balance of nutrients, catalysts, and products, a trio he later deemed “orthomolecular,” meaning the right molecules in the right amounts.
Seduced by Vitamin C’s Vibrant Benefits
Near the end of the 1960s, a biochemist who attended one of Pauling’s lectures suggested that he increase his intake of vitamin C to boost his health. The biochemist sparked Pauling’s interest, and after high dose vitamin C supplementation left him with fewer colds, he began comprehensive research on the vitamin and published his first book on the subject, Vitamin C and the Common Cold, in 1971. Though it stirred up some controversy, Pauling’s book persuaded many people to increase their intake of vitamin C. Two years later, he founded the Institute of Orthomolecular Medicine in Palo Alto, California, to further his research. Though his ideas remain somewhat controversial to this day, vitamin C continues to increase in popularity and gain integrity as an important factor for achieving optimal health through nutrition.
In his lifetime, Pauling authored over 350 publications that demonstrate his extensive scientific reach, including experimental determination of the structure of crystals, applications of quantum mechanics, the nature of the chemical bond, the structure of antibodies, and the nature of serological reactions.
A true scientific genius with a heart of gold, Linus Pauling made major contributions to the world of nutritional health and revolutionized the way that the medical industry views vitamin C.