Sepsis: Vitamin C therapy improves survival rates

Vitamin C therapy suitable for the treatment of sepsis

Treatment with vitamin C injections can significantly increase survival rates in blood poisoning, according to a recent study. “This therapy could change the way we treat sepsis patients. We may have found a life-saving therapy, ”says study leader Dr. Alpha A. Fowler of Virginia Commonwealth University released a press release on the study results.

At first glance, the result of the current study seems somewhat disappointing, since no positive effects of vitamin C therapy on organ dysfunction, inflammation markers and vascular injuries were found. However, the research team also observed a significantly reduced mortality in the test group. The probability of dying from sepsis has been massively reduced by vitamin C therapy. The results of the study were published in the specialist magazine "JAMA".

What is sepsis?

Sepsis (blood poisoning) is a defense reaction to an escalating infection, which in the worst case could lead to multi-organ failure and death. It is one of the leading causes of inpatient death and is held responsible for around 300,000 deaths annually in the United States alone, the research team reports. The pathogens often penetrate the body in the course of pneumonia via micro-injuries to the respiratory tract.

Vitamin C therapy in a clinical test

In the current study, the research team has now investigated "whether vitamin C is a more effective treatment for organ failure than the current standard of care for sepsis." At seven medical intensive care units in US clinics, 167 patients with sepsis and acute respiratory complaints were treated either with a placebo (5% dextrose in water; 83 participants) or vitamin C therapy (vitamin C intravenously every 96 hours; 84 participants).

Shorter time in the intensive care unit and in the hospital

While there was no evidence in this study that "Vitamin C improves sepsis-related organ failure, it has significantly reduced the length of time patients stay in hospital," reports Dr. Fowler. On average, the vitamin C group spent three days less in intensive care (seven days versus ten days) after a period of four weeks. After two months, they were on average one week less in the hospital (15 days versus 22) than the participants in the placebo group.

Reduced mortality through vitamin C therapy

In addition, intravenous vitamin C therapy reduced mortality in sepsis from 46 percent in the placebo group to less than 30 percent in the vitamin C group (four weeks after the start of treatment). The researchers hope that vitamin C therapy could change the treatment of sepsis. "We may have found life-saving therapy," emphasizes Fowler. While further research is needed, the results of this first randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study of vitamin C and its possible effects on sepsis are encouraging.

Vitamin C therapy can be used in many ways

In future studies, even better results may be achievable, since higher doses of vitamin C and longer intake times could make a big difference, says Fowler. The expert also points to other possible uses of vitamin C therapy, such as atrial fibrillation and other heart diseases that often result in inflammation. "The list of possible uses for vitamin C therapy is getting longer," said Fowler. The use of vitamin C therapy for cystic fibrosis and head injuries is currently being investigated. (fp)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.

Dipl. Geogr. Fabian Peters


  • Virginia Commonwealth University: New study links vitamin C therapy to better survival rates after sepsis (published 10/01/2019), Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Alpha A. Fowler, Jonathon D. Truwit, R. Duncan Hite, et al .: Effect of Vitamin C Infusion on Organ Failure and Biomarkers of Inflammation and Vascular Injury in Patients With Sepsis and Severe Acute Respiratory Failure The CITRIS-ALI Randomized Clinical Trial; in: JAMA, Volume 322, Issue 13, 2019,

Video: Meet Dr. Alpha A. Fowler III, Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Disease and Critical Care Specialist (January 2022).