Before antibiotics-based tuberculosis treatment came along, doctors would recommend patients to spend time in the sun ray’s for a speedy recovery. A new study explains the unusual treatments made sense and that sun-baths and thus vitamin D can treat tuberculosis, allowing for a faster recovery and a nice tan at the same time.
Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection that impacts the lungs. When untreated it can easily spread to other organs. For the most part, tuberculosis’ symptoms make it harder to go through your every day chores. There’s the cough, usually with mucus and even blood, fatigue and fever and excessive sweating during nights. Then there’s the breathing difficulty, the chest pain and even wheezing.
Nowadays the treatment of tuberculosis means antibiotics intake. Isoniazid, Rifampin, Ethambutol and Amikacin are just a few of the drugs doctors usually prescribe to tuberculosis patients. But taking antibiotics several times a day for 6 months or longer isn’t the exact definition of a healthy lifestyle.
British researchers found that vitamin D is great in the treatment of tuberculosis. In high dosages it could be enough to allow tuberculosis patients to cut the antibiotics treatment shorter and thus avoid additional health damage. Doctors used to recommend sun baths constantly to tuberculosis patients from the late 1800s to 1930s.
The study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this Monday treated 95 TB patients with high dose vitamin D. 44 of them actually received the vitamin D intake, while 51 got placebos. At the end of the study, patients taking antibiotics and receiving high dose vitamin D recovered faster. In fact, the bacteria causing the tuberculosis cleared up faster.
While it is still too early to actually have doctors recommend high dosage vitamin D and antibiotics as a sure-fire way to treat tuberculosis, the findings do show there’s a connection. In a nutshell, vitamin D can be the missing link in helping damaged lung tissue heal faster and thus cutting the antibiotics treatment shorter.
“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” said lead author Adrian Martineau, researcher and senior lecturer with the Queen Mary University of London.