(10/31/02 10:03 am)
B12 that protects against neurological disease |
Japanese scientists have identified a form of vitamin B12 that protects against neurological disease and aging by a unique mechanism that differs from current therapies. Some of the disorders that may be preventable or treatable with this natural vitamin therapy, called methylcobalamin, include chronic fatigue syndrome, Parkinson's disease, peripheral neuropathies, Alzheimer's disease, muscular dystrophy and neurological aging. Americans have immediate access to this unique and new form of vitamin B12, and, unlike prescription drugs, it costs very little and is free of side effects.
vitamin B12 is a general label for a group of essential biological compounds knows as cobalamins. The cobalamins are structurally related to hemoglobin in the blood, and a deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause anemia. The primary concern of conventional doctors is to maintain adequate cobalamin status to protect against anemia.
The most common form of vitamin B12 is called cyanocobalamin. However, over the last ten years, a number of central and peripheral neurological diseases have been linked to a deficiency of a very specific cobalamin, the methylcobalamin form, that is required to protect against neurological diseases and aging. The liver converts a small amount of cyanocobalamin into methylcobalamin within the body, but larger amounts of methylcobalamin are necessary to correct neurological defects and protect against aging.
Published studies show that high doses of methylcobalamin are needed to regenerate neurons as well as the myelin sheath that protects nerve axons and peripheral nerves.
CFIDS and B-12
In the Summer 1998 issue of Healthwatch, an important research article reported a fascinating new finding. Over 60% of CFIDS and FM patients cerebral spinal fluids contained subnormal levels of vitamin B12. On the other hand, vitamin B12 levels in the blood did not significantly deviate from normal ranges.
According to Dr. Paul Cheney's treatment pyramid for CFIDS, vitamin B12 in its non-cyanocobalamin form (the type commercially available) is a potent detoxifier of the brain. Recent studies in Europe suggest that it needs to be given in large doses in the range of 10 - 20 mg per day, or even more. This supplementation of methylcobalamin might protect the cognitive function of patients with CFIDS by preventing the death of brain cells.
One cause of brain cell death is glutamate toxicity. Brain cells use glutamate as a neurotransmitter, but unfortunately glutamate is a double-edged sword in that it can also kill brain cells. The release of glutamate from the synapses is a usual means by which neurons communicate with each other.
Effective communication means controlled release of glutamate at the right time to the right cells, but when glutamate is released in excessive amounts, intercellular communication ceases. The flood of glutamate into the receiving neurons drives them into hyperactivity, and the excessive activity leads to cellular degradation.
The good news is that it may now be possible to protect brain cells against glutamate toxicity by taking methylcobalamin supplementation. In a study in the European Journal of Pharmacology, it was shown that methylcobalamin protected against glutamate-, aspartate- and nitroprusside- induced neurotoxicity in rat cortical neurons.
Researchers concluded that methylcobalamin protects against neurotoxicity by enhancing brain cell methylation. The CFIDS & Fibromyalgia Health Resource recommends methylation-enhancing therapies such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folic acid and trimethylglycine (TMG), taken together, to protect against heart disease, stroke and other aging-related diseases.
The scientists who conducted the methylcobalamin studies emphasize that ongoing intake of methylcobalamin is necessary to protect against neurotoxicity. Thus for methylcobalamin to be effective in protecting against neurological disease, daily supplementation may be required.
An appropriate dose to protect against neurological aging might be 1 to 5 mg a day taken under the tongue in lozenge form.
A recent German study appearing in Neuropharmacology showed methylcobalamin reduced the amount of time subjects slept; sleep quality was better and subjects awoke feeling refreshed, with better alertness and concentration. Part of this effect was apparently due to melatonin suppression during the daytime because morning methylcobalamin supplementation reduces drowsiness by decreasing daytime melatonin levels.
According to a recent study at Vanderbilt University, chlamydia pneumoniae might link multiple sclerosis (MS) to CFIDS. This makes the published effect of methylcobalamin treatment on MS of great importance to those who suffer from CFIDS.
A study in the Journal of Internal Medicine investigated the daily administration of 60 mg of methylcobalamin to patients with chronic progressive multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease that has a poor prognosis and feature side spread demyelination in the central nervous system.
Although motor disability did not improve, there were clinical improvements in visual and auditory MS related disabilities. The scientist stated that methylcobalamin might be an effective adjunct to immunosuppressive treatment for chronic, progressive MS. Those with less serious forms of MS may consider adding methylcobalamin to their daily treatment regimen.
The effects of methylcobalamin were studied on an animal model of muscular dystrophy. This study, published in Neuroscience Letter looked at degeneration of axon motor terminals. In mice receiving methylcobalamin, nerve sprouts were more frequently observed and regeneration of motor nerve terminals occurred in sites that had been previously degenerating.
Few substances have been shown to regenerate nerves in humans with peripheral neuropathies. However, a study in the Journal of Neurological Science postulated that methylcobalamin could increase protein synthesis and help regenerate nerves. The scientists showed that very high doses of methylcobalamin produce nerve regeneration in laboratory rats.
The scientists stated that ultra-high doses of methylcobalamin might be of clinical use for patients with peripheral neuropathies. The human equivalent dose the scientists used is about 40 mg of sublingually administered methylcobalamin on a daily basis.
Those suffering from peripheral neuropathies often take alpha lipoic acid. Based on our new understanding of peripheral neuropathy, it may be prudent that anyone using alpha lipoic acid also take at least 5 mg a day of sublingually administered methylcobalamin to ensure that alpha lipoic acid will be bioavailable to the peripheral nerves.
A study in the journal Oncology examined the effects of methylcobalamin on several different kinds of tumors in mice. The administration of methylcobalamin for seven days suppressed liver, lung and ascites tumor growth. Mice receiving methylcobalamin survived longer than control mice did. In mice irradiated before tumor cell inoculation, methylcobalamin did not improve survival.
The effects of methylcobalamin on human immune function was investigated in the Journal of Clinical Immunology. The study showed that methylcobalamin demonstrated remarkable T cell-enhancing effects when the T cells were exposed to certain antigens.
The scientists also showed that methylcobalamin improved the activity of T helper cells. The scientists concluded that methylcobalamin could modulate lymphocyte function by augmenting regulatory T cell activities.
Americans need to know about this important natural therapy that could extend the healthy human life span. A search of the scientific literature reveals 334 published studies on methylcobalamin. However, it would not be an exaggeration to say that virtually no doctors know of it or are recommending it.
Methylcobalamin should be considered for the treatment of any neurological disease. For example, based on its unique mechanisms of action, methylcobalamin could be effective in slowing the progression of "untreatable" diseases such as ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease).
Since methylcobalamin is not a drug, there is little economic incentive to conduct expensive clinical studies on it, so it may be a long time before we know just how effective this unique form of vitamin B12 is in slowing the progression of common diseases like Parkinson's disease.
The sublingual intake of methylcobalamin is an affordable and effective natural therapy, and has proven even safe when given in large doses.