**Post originally uploaded April 2016**
I’ve been fascinated with the idea of taking megadoses of vitamin C during times of stress or following exposure to viruses since I first discovered the work of nutritionist Patrick Holford over a decade ago. He advocates taking 3g of vitamin C every four hours at the onset of a cold, until all symptoms are gone. Plenty of other nutritionists and complementary healthcare providers support this view, with an article on vitamincfoundation.org even advising doses in excess of 100g a day for some conditions. While I have never reached (or felt the need to try to reach!) these dizzy heights, I have on several occasions exceeded 10g per day, usually when I have been in the throes of a cold.
The problem is that achieving megadoses using mineral ascorbate forms of vitamin C is tricky. One must be careful not to overdose on the mineral of choice and, obviously, drastically increasing intake of one mineral may upset the balance of other minerals. I like to use the magnesium ascorbate form, as this is the most difficult to overdose on, but it produces a laxative effect in me at quite low doses, meaning that after about 2g per day I have to choose between having an upset tummy and allowing my cold to worsen! Folk more skilled than I would probably design a way to mix up their ascorbates to ensure the mineral ratios stayed nice and balanced, but I am distinctly amateur in these matters.
For the inexperienced and the poor, much higher doses of vitamin C can be achieved more easily and cheaply using its ascorbic acid form. However, I, like many interstitial cystitis sufferers, cannot tolerate ascorbic acid. What to do then?
When my partner got a really bad cold a few weeks ago, I did what everyone does when they have a question nowadays – I turned to Google. Here I discovered that liposome-encapsulated vitamin C allows absorption BEFORE digestive activity occurs, therefore bypassing some of the digestive issues that can occur when megadosing. It is said to provide near-complete absorption and gram for gram may even be five times better absorbed than intravenous vitamin C. How marvellous!
However, would the better absorption of liposomal vitamin C mean that its irritating effects on the bladder would also be bypassed? I could find no answer to this one way or the other, but after some reading around concluded that there were logical bases for argument in either direction. I therefore decided to purchase some and give it a try. I went with Dr Mercola’s Liposomal Vitamin C, because I have used several of his products before and consider his supplements to be some of the best on the market. I also regularly read his articles and hold him in high esteem regarding most issues pertaining to health and wellbeing.
The liposomal vitamin C was encapsulated in 500mg dosages and was in an ascorbic acid form. I was almost certain that I would be fine with liposomal ascorbic acid and thought that if not, any adverse bladder symptoms would present quickly and would vanish upon ceasing the supplement. I hoped its unusual and superior absorption would mean less excretion via the urine, thus avoiding any bladder irritation.
I was very wrong. At first all seemed well – I took only a gram a day in divided doses and had expected that any reaction would come within the first two days. It seemed not to – I felt a touch more sensitive than usual, but was also just coming off my period, which often has a similar effect. About four days in, I knew I was in trouble. I stopped taking it, drank lots of water, took some extra Desert Harvest Aloe Vera capsules hoped everything would settle down. By the following evening, I had a full blown cystitis attack to deal with. It was sufficiently severe to prevent me from sleeping, resist painkillers and to have me sitting in a tub of cool water at 3am. I had not become dehydrated; I had not had sex; I had not used or done anything differently apart from introducing the liposomal vitamin C.
Days after stopping the supplement, I am still experiencing cystitis symptoms. I improved slightly for a couple of days, but as soon as I let up on my treatment protocol, it came back with a vengeance. I therefore still need to keep my urine alkaline, drink plenty of fluids and maintain a supplement and medicine regime in order to soothe the pain. I think this will have to continue for a number of weeks to be on the safe side, which is obviously inconvenient, costly and stressful. Also, having had almost a year of persistent genital arousal disorder to contend with after my last bout of cystitis, I am naturally worried that I will be paying the price for my experimentation for a considerable period.
I’m really looking after myself at the moment and am going to be very careful until I feel like my bladder has properly healed. I am therefore confident that I will soon be better and will recover much quickly and with fewer complications than after my last cystitis episode. It is however very frustrating and I am really cross with myself for taking that kind of risk with an ascorbic acid supplement! On the other hand, up until now I’ve never had a full on bladder flare up that was not bacterial in nature; I just thought ascorbic acid made me a bit niggly and uncomfortable. Were I a ‘proper’ interstitial cystitis sufferer, I may have exercised more caution, but I honestly did not know my bladder was quite so sensitive until it was too late!
I just wanted to write this experience up as a blog post so that anyone with a temperamental bladder can make a more informed decision about whether to try liposomal ascorbic acid or not. Further Googling after the event has thrown up a sodium ascorbate form of liposomal vitamin C, which, with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, would have been a much safer option. Perhaps at some stage in the future I will give that a try! For now, however, I will stick with my trusty mineral ascorbates in their normal tablet/capsule form – it’s not as if I want to megadose most of the time anyway.
To conclude: while everyone responds to things differently, I would not recommend liposomal ascorbic acid to people who have a known bladder sensitivity to ordinary ascorbic acid. If in doubt, I would also thoroughly recommend contacting customer service departments and having the patience to wait for responses to questions, rather than getting all excited and taking risks! Finally, in case you were wondering, my partner and mother, both of whom have enviously durable bladders, are going share the premium quality liposomal vitamin C, so it will not go to waste!
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