Saturday, January 18, 2014

Vitamin D may ease Fibro Pain

Vitamin D May Ease Fibro Pain
Patients who think they are deficient in the nutrient should consult
their doctor first, experts say

By Randy Dotinga
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, Jan. 17, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- People suffering from the
chronic pain of fibromyalgia might benefit from taking vitamin D
supplements if they suffer from low levels of the vitamin, a new study
from Austria suggests.

There's no cure for fibromyalgia, which can lead to pain, fatigue and
several other symptoms, the researchers said. The exact cause of the
illness remains unclear.

In the study, researchers led by Dr. Florian Wepner, of Orthopedic
Hospital Vienna Speising, sought to discover whether there is a link
between a patient's vitamin D levels and the chronic pain of
fibromyalgia. Vitamin D often is called the "sunshine vitamin" because
it is manufactured by the body through sunlight's activity on the

Wepner's team launched a randomized, controlled trial in 30 women with
fibromyalgia who also had low levels of vitamin D. Some of the women
took supplements for 25 weeks and then were tracked for another 24

Reporting in the February issue of the journal Pain, the researchers
said those who took supplements reported less pain and morning fatigue
over time than those who did not receive the supplements.

"[Vitamin D] may be regarded as a relatively safe and economical
treatment and an extremely cost-effective alternative or adjunct to
expensive pharmacological treatment," Wepner said in a journal news

Vitamin D levels should be monitored in fibromyalgia patients --
especially in the winter when levels can be lower due to less sun
exposure -- and adjusted as necessary, Wepner said.

Although the study was able to find an association between vitamin D
supplementation and an easing of fibromyalgia pain, it did not prove a
cause-and-effect link.

However, two experts on the illness said the findings make sense.

"Fibromyalgia patients and those with chronic pain should certainly
have their vitamin D blood levels checked and, if low, consider
supplementation under the guidance of a physician," said Dr. Kiran
Patel, a pain medicine specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York
City who often treats people with fibromyalgia.

Dr. Houman Danesh, director of integrative pain management at Mount
Sinai Hospital in New York City, agreed. "Vitamin D deficiency has
been linked to chronic pain, and this study further strengthens the
argument to [replenish] vitamin D in deficient individuals," he said.

"It is important to note that these patients were under the care of a
physician during the [vitamin] repletion, and that it took months for
the benefits to be shown," Danesh said. "This is expected, as vitamin
D is a fat-soluble vitamin and is stored in fat cells. When a patient
has low levels, those stores need to be [replenished], and this takes
weeks or months to occur."

Danesh cautioned, however, that people who worry that they are vitamin
D-deficient should always check with their doctor before taking
supplements. Taking in too much vitamin D can actually be toxic and
cause harm, he said.

"Patients should consult their doctor if they think they are deficient
or have their levels checked at their next physical," he said.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Shame of Biomedical Research in the US


Modified: January 16, 2014 at 1:58 pm • Published: January 16, 2014

c.2014 Hearst Newspapers

When the dark shadow of incurable disease settles across a life, it is
brightened only by the hope that science is on the job: The cavalry
will come.

Horribly the cavalry — researchers in the big pharmaceutical companies
and the government-run National Institutes of Health and the Centers
for Disease Control — may not even have mounted.

New drug development is a murky business governed by huge risks,
inertia, bureaucracy and politics.

I've been looking at the role of biomedical research and the
development of new therapies and drugs through the lens of one
disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as Myalgic

But it is symptomatic of the whole struggle for cures, which means
funds. It is a peephole into a system in chaos; where good intentions,
economic reality, public pressure, politics and bureaucratic apathy
play a role in where the research dollars go.

I've been writing about CFS for several years now, so I understand the
dilemmas those who are in charge of biomedical research in government
and private industry face.

It is a disease of the immune system, like AIDS, but it is mostly a
medical enigma. It is hard to diagnose because there are no normal
markers in blood or urine. It prostrates its victims essentially for
life. In its severest form, patients lie in bed in darkened rooms,
often feeling that their bones are going to explode. It cries out for
more research, as do many other little-understood diseases.

A very small coterie of physicians — maybe not many more than 50 in
the United States — specialize in CFS and have developed private
clinics for research into alleviating therapies. None of them are set
up to do major drug research in the way that pharmaceutical companies

Big Pharma — as the drug behemoths are known collectively — is at the
heart of new drug development, aided by preceding biomedical research
that takes place through government grants to researchers in
universities, teaching hospitals and private clinics. It is a complex

A new drug can cost over $1.2 billion to develop. It is a very
high-risk undertaking — maybe the riskiest investment decision made in
the private sector is developing a new drug. It is also a tortuous

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Patient's Plan to Educate Doctors on CFS

Patient's Plan to Educate Doctors on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

A young man is taking on the medical establishment with a plan to
educate medical students about the devastating disease Chronic Fatigue
Syndrome, also known as Myalgic Encephalomyelitis, that is little, or
not understood at all, by most doctors. Ryan Prior, 24, has Chronic
Fatigue Syndrome, which affects about 1 million Americans and 17
million people around the world.

Prior, accompanied by infectious disease researcher Dr. Andreas
Kogelnik, will discuss his plan to tackle the lack of understanding
about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome among doctors by placing medical school
students on a ten-week internship with doctors who have treated the
disease for decades. They will also discuss the pioneering work being
done on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at Kogelnik's Open Medicine Institute
in Mountain View, CA.

When: January 24, 2014
Where: The National Press Club, 529 14th St., NW, Washington, DC 20045

Speakers: Dr. Andreas Kogelnik, director, the Open Medicine Institute,
Mountain View, CA, expert on Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and supporter
of the medical internship program for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Ryan Prior, patient and creator of the Blue Ribbon Foundation, based
in Atlanta, GA, which will manage and coordinate the medical intern

Facilitator: Llewellyn King, executive producer and host, "White House
Chronicle" on PBS and columnist, Hearst-New York Times Syndicate

Background: Chronic Fatigue Syndrome has no cure, succumbs to no drug,
and is hard to diagnose because there are no biological markers in
blood or urine. About twice as many women as men are stricken with the
disease and they tend to be more severely incapacitated.

Victims suffer a variety of awful symptoms including fatigue that is
not abated by sleep, joint pain, cognitive difficulty, and the
inability to undertake any physical activity without collapsing
afterwards. Victims are often bedridden in tomb-like rooms – even in
bedroom closets — because of their sensitivity to sound and light.

For most sufferers, it is a disease that dictates bare existence for
the rest of life. Holding a job is difficult or impossible for them;
family and friends often abandon them. Suicide rates are high.

There is a critical lack of doctors who know anything about the
disease, according to Kogelnik. "That is why I am supporting Ryan and
his Blue Ribbon Foundation in their plan to educate medical students
in this critical medical specialty," he said.

Contact: For more information, call Llewellyn King at (202) 441-2703.
To arrange a broadcast interview with either Ryan Prior or Dr. Andreas
Kogelnik, e-mail Llewellyn King at [email protected]