Vitamin B12 as Medicine

 

Vitamin B12 as Medicine

Vitamin B12 as medicine: B12 has been used to treat a number of diseases successfully. The active cobalamin forms have proven to be particularly effective.

Vitamin B12 – A Versatile Vitamin

Vitamin B12 is involved in a number of essential metabolic processes and therefore influences a wide range of health-related reactions. Some of the vital functions that B12 is needed for include: blood formation, DNA replication, cell division, gene and enzyme regulation, synthesis of neurotransmitters and hormones and energy production.

Recent research suggests that in addition to the well-known benefits of vitamin B12, there could be many others that are yet to be found and researched. For example, the vitamin appears to be involved in basic anti-inflammatory processes – a function which has only recently been investigated in detail – and may therefore have many more roles that are yet to be discovered and/or fully understood (1). 

The Medicinal Effects of Vitamin B12 on Illness and Disease

While B12 has a diversity of positive effects on the body, unfortunately there are an equal measure of disorders that can prohibit the absorption and utilisation of the vitamin. Most commonly these are disorders affecting the gastrointestinal mucosa, which can dramatically impede B12 uptake. Many illnesses can thus lead to vitamin B12 deficiency, which in turn causes further symptoms and damage to heath overall.

Sometimes it is not the medical condition itself that impairs the absorption of B12 but rather aggressive medicines that are frequently prescribed as treatment. These can damage the gastrointestinal tract, making absorption much less effective. 

Another factor to consider is that both physical and emotional stress (a byproduct of nearly all illnesses) increases the body’s need for the vitamin.

Vitamin B12 as a Therapeutic Aid

Due to its positive influence on health, vitamin B12 is often used today to accompany the treatment of illnesses and has been shown to have a direct therapeutic effect on a number of diseases. The exact mechanisms of action here are not always fully understood, nor why in some cases only certain natural or active forms of B12 have a healing effect. 

The use of B12 as a therapeutic agent to treat illnesses other than B12 deficiency is a relatively new concept. The idea was borne out of a type of medicine that is increasingly gaining recognition: orthomolecular medicine. The belief is that almost all diseases can be the result of metabolic disorders and an imbalance of micronutrients such as vitamins, minerals and amino acids. The body is a complex and carefully balanced system of biochemical reactions and interactions, where even small disturbances can trigger chain reactions which may then cause disease.

Vitamin B12 Deficiency and Disease: Examples from Practice 

An undersupply of nutrients can lead to various clinical pictures. However, instead of treating these illnesses directly with medications, many therapists today consider it more effective to test for underlying nutrient deficiencies, which can be rectified first. 

The orthomolecular perspective presents new treatment options, but also requires experienced therapists and practitioners. Surprisingly, biochemists have until now given medicine little attention and likewise doctors and medics have hardly engaged with biochemistry; even experienced physicians are unlikely to know much about the specifics of biochemical correlations. However, this knowledge is necessary to be able to detect possible deficiencies from symptoms and to carry out the correct laboratory tests.

Example 1: Mental Illness

The success of this approach can be dramatic. For instance, orthomolecular physician Dr Bodo Kuklinki has reported of a patient who took psychiatric drugs for 20 years and was even treated on a psychiatric ward, before it was eventually discovered that he was suffering from a vitamin deficiency. Once this deficiency was rectified, all medicines were stopped and all symptoms disappeared permanently (2). 

Example 2: Nerve Pain 

Even illnesses and diseases known to result from B12 deficiency are frequently misdiagnosed. This was the case for 33 year old Roy R. from Berlin, who suffered from neuralgia (nerve pain) – running from his back down to his legs – and had a medical history of stomach disorders. After being examined by an internist he was referred to an orthopaedic doctor, who diagnosed him with a herniated disc and recommended an operation. Mr R. was prepared to go ahead with the operation because he was suffering with a lot of pain, but decided to seek a second opinion in the meantime. A blood test revealed a severe B12 deficiency caused by a disruption to the stomach lining, as his body was only able to intake very small amounts of B12 through the diet. After just two vitamin B12 injections his pain and symptoms were gone. He now takes regular B12 shots every 2-4 weeks and is also receiving treatment for his stomach problems.

There are countless other case studies that tell similar stories, showing how poorly recognised and treated vitamin deficiencies are.

Vitamin B12 to Treat Diseases

In many cases a combination of micronutrients are required to treat diseases effectively. Many deficiencies are not identifiable through a blood test alone, so it is always advisable to consult an expert. 

Below is an overview of diseases that vitamin B12 has shown to be an effective treatment for. In these treatments, the vitamin is used in conjunction with other micronutrients. The active ingredients used have also been specified.

This information is based on studies and correspondences with naturopaths and doctors and does not claim generality or completeness. In many cases, clinical trials are still missing and information is supported by individual cases and the practical experience of professionals. The list is intended to provide an overview of experiences gained so far. A consultation with a therapist to determine exact vitamin levels is always advised.

Table: Vitamin B12 and Diseases

A supplementation of vitamin B12 is used for the treatment and prevention of the following diseases:

Brain/Psychological 

Alzheimer, dementia (6)x x 
Depression (12 – 15)x   
Schizophrenia (30)x   
Psychosis (31 – 33)x xx
Bipolar, manic depression (34) x xx
Insomnia (27)x   

See here: Vitamin B12, Brain and Psyche

Nerves

Nerve pain (neuralgia), 
nerve disease (neuropathies) 
(23-25)

x

x

x

 

Fibromyalgia (9,10)

x

x

x

 

Multiple sclerosis (22)

x

   

Trigeminal neuralgia (28, 29)

x

x

  

Back pain (26)

x

 xx

See here: Vitamin B12 and Nerves

Metabolism

Chronic fatigue (8-11)

x

x

x

 

Increased homocysteine

x

 

x

x

Mitochondria (disorder) 

 

x

  

Nitrosative Stress

x x 

Further reading: Vitamin B12 and Nitrosative Stress and Homocysteine and Vitamin B12 

Other Disease

AIDS (3 – 5)

x

x

x

 
Cancer (all types) (20, 21)

x

x

x

x

Anaemia 

x

 

x

x

Anorexia (7)

x

x

  

Intestinal diseases in general

x

x

x

x

Gastritis and helicobacter pylori (16, 17)

x

x

x

x

Crohn’s disease (35)

x

x

x

x

Hashimoto’s disease

x

 

x

x

Hepatitis (19)

xxx

x

Skin (neurodermatitis, psoriasis) (18)

   

x

Herpes zoster (shingles)

  

x

 

Cardiovascular problems

x

x

x

 

Reconvalescence (recovery after illness) 

x

x

x

x

Vitamin B12 Therapy for Disease

The treatment of diseases with vitamin B12 usually consists of two steps:

  1. High dose initial therapy
    Filling the body’s store via injections or high oral doses
  2. Maintenance treatment
    Sustaining a sufficient blood levels through supplementation 

Initial Therapy

Often B12 is given in the form of injections at first. The frequency and dosage is individually adjusted in each case and ranges from 1000-1500 μg vitamin B12, one to seven times per week. After a few weeks/initial improvement, the frequency of administration is reduced.

Orally, even higher dosages are necessary to achieve a similarly high intake as with injection. Here 5000 – 15000 µg vitamin B12 are given as capsules for about four weeks.

Hydroxocobalamin is particularly suitable for initial therapy.

Maintenance Treatment 

After vitamin levels have been suitably raised, the patient should switch to taking a sustained dosage of oral B12 supplements. Capsules are most recommended here, as tablets always contain undesirable additives.

Which vitamin B12 form is used depends on the clinical picture. In maintenance therapy, a mixture of the three natural B12 forms – methylcobalamin, hydroxocobalamin and adenosylcobalamin – can be used to cover the full spectrum of effects. 

For more information on vitamin B12 dosages in general, click here

Interaction with Other Medicines

Various medications may interfere with vitamin B12 and cause malabsorption (30). Below such drugs are specified, however the exact interactions are yet to be fully understood. There may be varying degrees of interaction.

If one or more of these medications are being administered, an additional intake of 500 – 1000 µg B12 is recommended.

Contraceptive (oral)

  • Contraceptive pill

Antibiotics

  • Chloramphenicol
  • Neomycin
  • Tetracyclines

Antihypertensives

Diabetes medicine

  • Metformin

H2(acid)-blocker/proton pump inhibitor

  • Cimetidine
  • Lansoprazole
  • Omeprazole
  • Ranitidine

Cholesterol/Lipid-Lowerers

  • Coletipol
  • Colestyramine
  • Clofibrate

Antidepressants 

  • Fluoxetine

Drugs and narcotics

  • Alcohol
  • Laughing gas

Antiepileptic drugs

  • Carbamazepine
  • Phenytoin
  • Primidone

Chemotherapy

  • Pemetrexed

AIDS Medicines

  • Stavudin
  • Zivuduvin

Sources

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