A worrying consequence of the mainstream media’s obsessive coverage of COVID-19 over the last 2 years is that deaths from other major infectious diseases have essentially been ignored. A notable example is that of tuberculosis (TB), a disease that 10 million people globally now fall ill with each year and 1.5 million die from. Reminding us that TB remains one of the world’s top infectious killers, a new scientific review examines the potential role of vitamins in its prevention and treatment. Promisingly, not only do the authors suggest and encourage the use of vitamins against TB, they conclude that using them may significantly improve outcomes.
Published in the journal Antibiotics by researchers from Italy, the review examines the impact of vitamin A, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin E on TB infection. Noting that low levels of micronutrients are commonly observed among TB patients, the researchers suggest that supplementing with multiple micronutrients may be beneficial against the disease.
Vitamins against TB
The researchers outline how studies have found an association between vitamin A deficiency and a variety of infectious diseases, including TB. Noting that zinc is required for the mobilization of vitamin A from the liver, they describe this mineral as a key component in vitamin A metabolism. Citing research showing zinc deficiency can cause secondary vitamin A deficiency, they further suggest that supplementing with vitamin A may not be beneficial in TB unless zinc deficiency is also corrected.
Examining the B complex group of vitamins, the researchers point out that the World Health Organization recommends the use of vitamin B6 when the drug Isoniazid is administered. A powerful antibiotic used in the prevention and treatment of TB, Isoniazid therapy frequently results in vitamin B6 insufficiency and the development of a form of nerve damage known as peripheral neuropathy. Vitamin B6 can prevent peripheral neuropathy during Isoniazid therapy when taken in doses of up to 25 mg per day.
In the case of vitamin C, the researchers note that the amounts consumed in a normal human diet are far below those needed for optimal results against TB. They also confirm that megadoses administered to human patients produce high plasma concentrations of vitamin C and have been shown to be safe. Significantly, therefore, the review describes how several reports have shown an improved effect when vitamin C is administered orally for the prevention and treatment of TB. Studies cited by the researchers show vitamin C deficiency is related to a high risk of developing TB, as well as to severe outcomes.
Describing how several studies have shown TB patients have low levels of vitamin D, the researchers cite a previous meta-analysis which found vitamin D deficiency was positively and significantly associated with an increased risk of TB. They recommend that more studies are needed to evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D supplements against the disease.
The researchers also note that vitamin E shows a promising role in TB management as a result of its connection with oxidative balance. They say that supplementing with vitamin E likely protects against TB progression in household contacts, as well as against organ toxicity resulting from TB drug treatment and indirect complications of extrapulmonary TB such as kidney stone formation.
The Cellular Medicine approach to TB
Demonstrating the superior effectiveness of the Cellular Medicine multi-nutrient approach, scientists working at the Dr. Rath Research Institute have conducted a clinical trial in 120 hospitalized patients with active pulmonary TB. Published in 2008, the study investigated how a carefully designed combination of specific micronutrients affects the TB healing process when taken alongside standard TB drug treatment. For the purposes of comparison, the micronutrient results were evaluated alongside those of a matched group of 100 control patients who were given standard TB treatment alone.
At the end of the trial period the patients taking the micronutrients were found to exhibit significantly greater signs of healing, as seen on their chest X-rays and other parameters measured. Their cavity healing was almost 30 percent higher than that of the control group. Moreover, while all (100 percent) of the patients taking the micronutrients tested negative to the TB bacteria, only 88 percent of the patients in the control group tested negatively.
A further important benefit seen in patients taking the micronutrients was that only 11 percent reported any side effects from the TB drugs they were taking. Impressively, 89 percent experienced improved tolerance to the treatment. Conversely, in the group of TB patients not taking the micronutrients, 46 percent suffered adverse events that required further treatment.
The urgent need for nutrition and Cellular Medicine approaches to be applied to TB prevention and treatment is reflected in the World Health Organization’s latest Global Tuberculosis Report. For the first time in more than a decade, global deaths from TB have actually increased and are expected to continue to do so. The message here could not be clearer. While the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, it ignores TB at its peril.