Ancient cure - 'sunbathing' now seems to aid modern tuberculosis patients
Antibiotics and high dosages of vitamin D aid in recovery
In spite of what many dermatologists say, sunshine is an essential ingredient for health. A new study has proven that vitamin D - known as the sunshine vitamin, now seems to be beneficial in the treatment of tuberculosis patients.
Doctors in the Victoria era would routinely isolate sufferers and prescribed 'heliotherapy,' i.e. selective sunbathing. This treatment, long before the advancement of antibiotics, always proved to be effective.
Queen Mary at the University of London researchers decided to test this age-old treatment with modern day antibiotics. When coupled together, antibiotics and high doses of vitamin D, created in the body when it is exposed the sun speeded recovery from tuberculosis.
A bacterial disease that attacks the lungs, tuberculosis is caused by the Mycobacterium tuberculosis bacterium. In 2010, 8.8 million people contracted tuberculosis, and 1.4 million people died from it. About 95 percent of the cases were found in low and middle-income countries. Tuberculosis remains on of the top three worldwide causes of death for women between the ages of 15 to 44.
The researchers tested 95 subjects with tuberculosis who were currently in London hospitals and institutions. The entire group was given antibiotics; while 44 members were given an additional high dose vitamin D. The other 51 members received a sugar placebo pill.
The tuberculosis bacterium was gone after 23 days, from the sputum or phlegm from deep in the lungs of the patients who received the vitamin D supplement. It took 36 days for those on the placebo. Patients who had ingested vitamin D also had less inflammation during the treatment period.
"This is important, because sometimes these inflammatory responses can cause tissue damage leading to the development of cavities in the lung," Dr. Adrian Martineau, senior lecturer in respiratory infection and immunity at the Blizard Institute said in a press release.
"If we can help these cavities to heal more quickly, then patients should be infectious for a shorter period of time, and they may also suffer less lung damage."
When tuberculosis attacks a part of the lungs, the process is known as scaffolding, which allows more infection to come in. The infection also creates tiny divots in the lungs where the bacteria can reside.
"If we can help these cavities to heal more quickly, then patients should be infectious for a shorter period of time, and they may also suffer less lung damage," Martineau explains.
Peter Davies, the secretary of the charity TB Alert, told the BBC that the study was "excellent." He was especially excited for the possibility that vitamin D supplements might help prevent latent tuberculosis - which hangs out in the body and turns into full blown tuberculosis in 10 percent of the cases - from developing.
"That would be a massive revolution if it was shown to work," he said.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Vitamin D, tuberculosis, sunshine, therapy, scaffolding
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