Post Edited (GWB) : 5/15/2010 6:58:32 PM (GMT-6)
Marshall Protocol principlesVitamin D dysregulation
Also known as calciferol, Vitamin D was misnamed as a vitamin after its discovery in 1922. A vitamin is a type of organic substance that is required in the diet and essential to nutrition and metabolism. Vitamin D is unique because it is not required in the diet; instead, it is manufactured by the body via exposure to sunlight or artificial lights. Although we do consume Vitamin D in our diets, it is not technically a vitamin since it is not required in the diet.
For the purpose of explaining the Marshall Protocol, we are less concerned about the technical definition of Vitamin D and more concerned about how it affects chronic disease. Whether a true vitamin or not, Vitamin D plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Lyme Disease and other illnesses involving infection with cell-wall-deficient bacteria. At the center of the Marshall Protocol is the breakthrough discovery that Vitamin D is not handled correctly in the bodies of people infected with cell-wall-deficient bacteria. Let’s look at how this dysregulated handling of Vitamin D occurs.
As we mentioned, Vitamin D can enter the body in two ways: it is either synthesized in the skin after exposure to sunlight or artificial lights, or it is consumed in the diet. Once Vitamin D is inside the body, not all of it remains in static form. A small portion of Vitamin D is converted to a type of secosteroid known as 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin-D (abbreviated “1,25-D”). A hormone required for regular body function, 1,25-D is manufactured by the kidneys as a metabolite (or product) of Vitamin D. In healthy people, the body tightly regulates how much 1,25-D is made in the kidneys; although critical to health, too much 1,25-D can be very harmful. If present in excessive quantities, 1,25-D can be immunosuppressive and cause a plethora of physical and psychological symptoms.
In people infected with cell-wall-deficient bacteria, the production of 1,25-D can spiral out of control and rapidly reach damaging levels. This happens because, as an evolved survival mechanism, cell-wall-deficient bacteria are capable of catalyzing the process by which Vitamin D is converted to 1,25-D. Instead of a slow, controlled conversion which occurs only in the kidneys, 1,25-D production becomes uncontrolled, occurring throughout the body inside cells infected with cell-wall-deficient bacteria. Specifically, immune system cells harboring cell-wall-deficient bacteria can turn into tiny, unrestrained factories producing excessive amounts of 1,25-D. Bacteria catalyze the 1,25-D conversion process intentionally to cause immune system suppression and create a more favorable living environment in the body.
The result of catalyzed 1,25-D production is a subclinical yet devastating immunosuppression syndrome that allows Lyme Disease (and other types of cell-wall-deficient) bacteria to persist chronically in the body. When present in appropriately controlled quantities, 1,25-D is a critical nutrient and is important to health, as we have said. However, when present in excessive quantities, 1,25-D is immunosuppressive and inhibits the immune system from fighting infections. This process is one of the core survival mechanisms of Borrelia Burgdorferi. The excessive levels of 1,25-D often present in people harboring chronic infections leads to a greatly inhibited host defense system. By accelerating conversion of Vitamin D to 1,25-D, these tiny bacteria are basically able to neutralize the human immune system.
Additionally, as we have alluded to, elevated levels of 1,25-D itself (even without infections on board) can cause a plethora of disease symptoms. So, an elevated level of 1,25-D has a two-fold impact: it suppresses the immune system and also creates numerous other symptoms of malaise. This is why it is so important to address elevated 1,25-D levels when treating Lyme Disease.
The aforementioned principles are at the core of the Marshall Protocol. One of the primary objectives of the Marshall Protocol is to reduce the excessive levels of 1,25-D in the body. Since 1,25-D is a metabolite of (or product of) Vitamin D, the process of reducing 1,25-D levels in the body requires that a person suffering from infection with cell-wall-deficient bacteria decrease their consumption of Vitamin D foods and supplements, and also reduce their exposure to sunlight and bright lights. Both of these actions are primary components of the Marshall Protocol that will be examined in a few pages. By curtailing the amount of Vitamin D that enters the body, 1,25-D production is also reduced, bringing the immune system back into balance. While Vitamin D consumption (and exposure to sunlight and other artificial lights) may be neutral or even beneficial to healthy people, it can be poison to people infected with cell-wall-deficient bacteria because of this pathogenic process.
In addition to Dr. Marshall, Dr. James Schaller has also found that 1,25-D is involved in other inflammatory processes. Specifically, 1,25-D levels have been found to be higher in inflamed, damaged, and arthritic joints in comparison with healthy joints. This observation further confirms the principles on which the Marshall Protocol is based.