Thursday, March 17, 2011

Vitamins and Antibiotic Treatment for Chronic Disease

In my experience, mainstream medicine acts inside the following paradigms:

1) Chronic, non-infectious diseases do not involve bacteria
2) Vitamins beyond 1 RDA can not prevent or cure disease

Both paradigms are currently unsupportable. By definition, following a paradigm is not malpractice. If you're inside a paradigm, you can't know. I'm confident that if physicians were trained to use vitamins, they would find them to be invaluable tools. The best example I have found supporting my view is Abbott Labs baby formulas. Abbott has recently introduced a special formula for pre-term infants called NeoSure. The new formula almost doubles vitamin doses vs. the other formulas. A controlled trial showed that pre-term babies gained more weight on NeoSure vs. ordinary formula.

Lyme disease, ulcers, arthritis, and specific rare cancers are all examples of diseases that mainstream medicine treats with antibiotics.

Vitamins and antibiotics are safe. If you're not feeling well, in addition to going to the doctor, there's much to gain and almost nothing to lose by giving antibiotics and vitamins a try. If the treatment restores your health, then you have no more reason to visit the doctor and undergo testing to justify the use of relatively dangerous prescription drugs. If the treatment doesn't restore your health, nothing has been lost, and you can proceed with testing, prescription drugs, and/or surgery knowing that inexpensive, safe, and effective antibiotics and vitamins will not solve your health problems. Very often it will be the case that the vitamins and antibiotics improve, but do not completely restore health. In many cases, the antibiotics, vitamins, prescription drugs, and surgery all working together will provide a full cure.

If you're not feeling well, here's a strategy:

1) Attack any difficult to detect bacterium with an antibiotic like tetracycline meant to attack mycobacteria
2) Boost the immune system with extra vitamins
3) Accelerate wound healing with extra vitamin C and niacin
4) Start the tests necessary to diagnosis the cause of your problem and to justify the use of drugs and/or surgery

There's much to gain and little to lose by giving this strategy a try.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Overdosing on Vitamin A: Side Effects, Toxicity, Symptoms, Poisoning

We are living amidst an epidemic of chronic diseases: hypertension, osteoporosis, cavities, heart disease, and cancer. There is overwhelming scientific evidence that vitamin deficiency and hard-to-detect bacterial infections (think Lyme disease)play an important, if not predominant, role.

When I go to see my doctors with an emerging problem, I almost never like their treatment plan. My plan is to treat first with safe antibiotics and vitamins - even before testing. Why should I put up with inconvenient, and often actually risky, medical testing when safe treatment with vitamins and antibiotics first is an option. If the emerging problem doesn't respond to vitamins and antibiotics, then I'm all for moving on to high technology testing and drugs.

My plan depends upon the safety of vitamins and antibiotics. This is why I'm somewhat obsessed by information on the subject. Due to the dangers, vitamin A is the last megavitamin that I've used personally to shore up my poor immunity to viral respiratory infections.

Used carefully, vitamin A, like all the vitamins, is incredibly safe. There is no evidence to suggest that use of vitamin A supplements or vitamin A rich foods can reduce life expectancy. The dangerous problems caused by massive overdoses typically cause no long term harm. Reducing vitamin A dose to 1 RDA results in a complete recovery in most cases.

It was only last year that I went shopping on the internet for vitamin A supplements. Of the hundreds of supplements I found for sale, the overwhelming majority contained 10,000 IU or less. 10,000 IU is just twice the RDA for vitamin A. For me, a super experienced vitamin side effect analyst, this was strong evidence that even 10,000 IU supplements were sure to cause most people side effects with chronic use.

I have not found myself to be particularly sensitive to vitamins. I've generally been able to take many times the RDA without side effects. It's a good thing I was expecting side effects from vitamin A.

The best reference I know of concerning vitamin side effects is Hausman's "The Right Dose - How to Take Vitamins and Minerals Safely". Here's what she says," The 25,000 IU limit cited by the American Academy of Pediatrics is the simplest of these guidelines. Most nutritionists, I believe, would endorse it as sound. Of course, teenaged James, mentioned earlier, could not tolerate even this dose. He was an exception rather than the rule, and experience does show that many adults can tolerate substantially more than the 25,000 IU limit that nutritionists offer as a rough rule of thumb."

Hausman's book is awesome, and her analysis is flawless. It's just probably wrong. I don't enjoy telling all the experts that they are wrong. I hope they are right and I am wrong. But in this case I really really doubt I'm wrong. If problems from 10,000 IU tablets weren't common, why on earth wouldn't their be consumer demand for higher doses? Vitamin A is incredibly important, yet few people take pure vitamin A supplements, and of those few who do, very very very few of them take >10,000 IU/day. I'm not used to making such an unscientific case, but I'm sticking with this one. Once again the establishment is wrong. When the data is in, it will show that most people will refuse to take 10,000 IU/day vitamin A supplements because of the resulting discomforts.

For me, side effects emerged almost immediately. I never made it up to 10,000 IU/day. I don't think I took more than four 10,000 IU gelcaps in one week before I suspected that vitamin A was causing problems. The troubles were nervous system symptoms and bad feelings. To be specific, the quality of my sleep started to deteriorate - I just didn't feel good when I woke up. When I got up at night, I felt a bit off balance. The psychiatric symptoms included irritability and an increased tendency towards frustration.

This is not at all what I had expected from reading Hausman. But when I went back, I found this sentence, "The patient arrived complaining that, for about six months, he had felt as if some unknown force was pushing him forward. He reported some trouble in keeping his balance..."

I have no doubt that if I went to see the Doctor, I'd get as many tests as I would tolerate and all would come back negative. I might be wrong, but I have no doubt. These circumstances drive scientists crazy. They have to base their conclusions based on patient reports, and patient reports are notoriously unreliable.

So - here's my view of what to look out for:

1) poor sleep, night sweating, just feeling warmer than usual in bed
2) anxiety, irritability
3) imbalance, disorientation
4) loss of appetite
5) ringing ears
6) uneasiness, insecurity

Given my list, it's small wonder that vitamin A is not a wildly popular supplement.

I'm unsettled by my conclusions. Lots of multivitamins are formulated with >2000 IU of vitamin A. Taken every day, that's >14,000 IU/week. I had trouble after just a few weeks at no more than 30,000 IU/week. I never imagined that I'd be concerned that a harmless multivitamin could cause psychiatric problems.

The older I get, the less comfortable I am with multivitamins. I don't take them anymore because I get lots of sunshine which has made me sensitive to the vitamin D in the multivitamins. Now I know that the vitamin A in a multivitamin can also cause me problems. TTFD, a fat-soluble form of vitamin B1, is a superior form of vitamin B1 that is not used yet by multivitamin companies. So I have to buy that and take it separately. I also don't think that vitamins are something that are best taken in a regularly daily dose. When I'm sick, I need more. When I'm healthy, I need less. When I'm busy, I don't want to bother. When I make the effort to take a supplement, I'd like it to have the maximum positive effect for the maximum length of time.

I'll end repeating the good news. Nothing particularly bad happened to me. I stopped taking the vitamin A and the minor troubles I was having faded away in just a few days. My psychiatric symptoms were plenty unpleasant to persuade me to stop taking vitamin A well before any real toxicity emerges. In really high doses (like a single dose of 300,000 to 1,000,000 IU's), vitamin A causes severe headache, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and peeling of the skin. Reactions like that are almost unheard of because lesser problems motivate stopping the supplements long before acute doses are reached. So, nothing really bad can happen from taking a standard vitamin A supplement. You just want to know that if you're not feeling like yourself and are taking vitamin A, it's a good idea to stop and see if the vitamin is the problem. I know from readers that it's maddening to take a vitamin supplement for months or years that are causing these kinds of problems before figuring out it is the vitamin. Physicians are no help. They can't detect any problems and won't blame vitamin A. They'll say it's in your head and prescribe medications!

Actually I'll end extolling the virtues of vitamin A. Vitamin A is incredibly powerful. It plays an important role in almost everything! It has outstanding warning properties (that's what this column is about). If it's not hurting you, trust me it's helping you. Take it. Learn what the side effects feel like. Then when a chronic health problem pops up, take some more and see if it helps.

Here's to your health.


Saturday, March 05, 2011

Vitamins and Wound Healing: Conventional Wisdom is Just Plain Dumb!

When you or someone in your care gets hurt badly enough to cause temporary disability, actions alone can not be the optimum treatment. My daughter recently sprained her wrist badly. She was prescribed RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation). Not a word on nutrition. I don't know the answer. Really - I don't have any data indicating what is the best treatment for wound healing, and I'm sure it varies alot depending on the wound. There are lots of ways of getting hurt. I'm certain, however, that nutrition can help. For years I've recommended vitamin C and niacin for wound healing. But when I took on the task of helping my daughter, I came back from the grocery store with lots of supplements: calcium/magnesium/zinc, chondroitin/glucosamine, vitamin C, B-50 B-complex, and niacin. There were many others that indicated they might be helpful for healing. Many of these products were developed to support wounded joints, and have staffs of physician researchers standing behind them. The idea that nothing - just RICE - is optimal and that none of these supplements are helpful is one that no thinking scientist would stand behind. At the turn of the 20th century, most colleges still did not accept the atomic theory. Once trained, many adults will never change their minds. They simply have to die. Many of today's physicians will never change their ways - no matter the evidence. They'll just have to retire. Until they do, you'll get the treatment they learned years ago and you will not benefit from recent research.

This situation makes me crazy. No one really stands behind today's standard of care, but no one is acting to develop a new standard of care. So - if you want to treat a wound with supplements, you're on your own. This situation is not stable. It will change. But too late for those suffering now.


Prevent Cancer with Vitamins and Antibiotics: Vitamins A, B1, B3, C, and Sunshine

I rarely write about cancer because the relationship between cancer and vitamins is obscure at best. My impression is that cancer patients are more willing to experiment with vitamins than patients with other conditions. Over all, it seems to me that there is strong support for the idea that vitamins increase the survival time between the onset of cancer and death. But that's cold comfort if you have cancer. There are many reports of vitamins causing spectacular cancer cures, but the effect is not general. You have to be extremely lucky for vitamins to cure your cancer.

I hope I'm not the first person to write my next words. That said, despite extensive reading and networking, I came to this realization on my own - not through reading.

I believe the dominant causes of cancer are common chronic diseases. Carcinogens, of course, also cause cancer. The good thing about known carcinogens is that you can know if you've been exposed to them or not. It's the link between chronic disease and cancer that I've heard little about. Turns out, obesity, hypertension, heart disease, cavities, osteoporosis, and sleep disorders are all known to be linked to higher cancer risk. Cancer caused by cavities and osteoporosis is particularly unappreciated. Few people take teeth cavities seriously. Most consider cavities to be a normal part of aging. In fact, before the advent of modern antibiotics, cavities were a life threatening condition. Dentists do not cure cavities - they remove cavities. Most people with osteoporosis don't even know they have it. Advanced x-ray techniques that are still not regularly used indicate that osteoporosis (or osteopenia) is astonishingly common. The sad truth is that few adults over the age of 40 (and at much much higher risk of cancer than individuals <30) are in outstandingly good health. Way more than half of adults over 40 are taking one or more prescription medications for a chronic condition. A large fraction of the remainder have cavities or osteopenia, are obese, have trouble sleeping, have troulbe with hormones, or have some other health problem not typically treated with a drug. How many of the lucky few in excellent health are diagnosed with cancer as their very first health problem? I'm sure there are a few - but I'm certain a much lower percentage of this population contracts cancer.

Vitamins clearly prevent and reverse a number of the common chronic conditions associated with increased cancer risk. The most prevalent of these conditions that vitamins and antibiotics not only prevent, but reverse, are osteoporosis and heart disease. So - if you're in excellent health, this column is great news. You have less reason to fear cancer. Everyone else has more reason to be afraid, and even more incentive to give vitamins and antibiotics a try.

Here's the simple antibiotic/vitamin protocol:

an antibiotic like tetracycline continued for at least one month
regular full-body sunshine as close as possible to noon
2000 mg of vitamin C two, three, or four times per day (more so long as you remain comfortable)
10,000 IU vitamin A pills, twice per week
250 mg time release niacin once per day
One per day 50 mg tablet of enteric coated TTFD (a special thiamine supplement)
One B-50 B-complex tablet twice per week

The antibiotic needs to be obtained from a physician. Sunshine is the biggest pain in the neck. I lie about one minute face down, face up, and on each side (4 minutes total) at the summer solstice (UV index 9 at latitude 40) and 4 minutes on each side at winter solstice (UV index 3). If you refuse to get in the sun, it is possible to use sunlamps. You should be able to get help at a tanning salon. Some salons can tune their lamps to get you maximum vitamin D in a minimal amount of time with minimal tanning (not the usual request, but they can do it). You can also take vitamin D supplements - but these are un natural and frequently cause uncomfortable side effects. If you choose the supplements, I recommend 4000 IU/day for effectiveness. Any more runs a really high risk of bad side effects. Any less runs a really high risk of being ineffective. I don't like the supplements because even 4000 IU/day runs a really high risk of side effects as the weeks and months go by.

If this treatment isn't obviously working after one month, it will not work and should be discontinued. If it is obviously working, you need a strategy to finish the treatment. I believe it will be rare to need the antibiotics for more than 3 months. The following doses of vitamins are typically more than sufficient to maintain good health in the absence of environmental insults (which occur far more frequently than we would like in the form of viruses, bacteria, and injuries).

the sunbathing I recommend but just once a week is enough
2000 mg vitamin C every day
250 mg time release niacin once per week
10,000 IU vitamin A once per week
50 mg enteric coated TTFD once per week
One half of a B-50 B complex tablet twice per week

If you among the majority of adults over 40 suffering from osteoporosis, osteopenia, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, poor mental health, and/or a sleep disorder, you have much to gain and little to lose by giving vitamins and antibiotics a try. Each day you live with conditions, the odds go up that you'll be diagnosed with cancer.