Vitamin D Supplementing? Good or Bad? Dr. Marshall says BAD---HELP!

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by zenouchy, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    Hi Friends,

    Hope you are all doing as well as possible. Sorry this is long.

    My question is: I'm getting very conflicting info on Vitamin D. Docs say it's great but Dr. Marshall say it can be harmful and make us more sick (see below). I'm at a crossroads and don't know what to do. I started taking more Vitamin D and FINALLY got a much-needed energy boost to get out of my zombie state and now I'm learning it could harm me (see below). What do you all think and what are you all hearing? Thanks for your help!

    I felt so encouraged until I saw this article from Dr. Trevor Marshall, who does the Marshall Protocal (which I don't follow). It basically says that in the long run, taking Vitamin D will *suppress your immune system*.

    He also says that there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about Vitamin D in an effort to promote it, and that doctors are included in this group of the misinformed. (Docs might not be trying to promote it, but because there are so many studies being done on Vitamin D that are positive, doctors only here the positive and they pass the info onto the patient.) Basically, I don't know what to believe. It feels amazing to finally have an energy boost (which Marshall says is because Vitamin D acts as temporary steroid) only to get more sick in the long run. YIKES.

    Here's the article:

    The Importance of Avoiding Vitamin D

    "Ingested Vitamin D (a secosteroid hormone) is an immune-suppressant, with a function similar to that which prednisone performs.

    Ingested Vitamin D (food and supplements) suppresses the action of the Vitamin D Receptor (VDR) and thus turns-off the immune system's response so it cannot fight the intra-phagocytic bacteria that cause chronic inflammatory diseases.

    People feel better in the short-term because bacteria are not being killed which often causes temporary symptoms due to increased toxins, but they will succumb to the chronic diseases caused by intracellular infection more rapidly in the long-run.

    The mechanism by which Vitamin D causes this suppression of the immune system is quite simple. They inhibit the action of the VDR so there is not an issue of acute bacterial toxicity beyond the point at which the immune system is shut down.

    While the active hormone (1,25-D) is competing with 25-D and cholecalciferol for control of the immune system the patient suffers badly, because the body's endocrine and thyroid hormones wander all over the place. But once the ingested Vitamin D has won, and put a blockade of VDR activity in place, the Th1 immune response is shut down well and truly, and nothing fluctuates any more. So once you get above a 25-D level of 30ng/ml, or so, higher levels of 25-D don't make you any sicker. In fact they make you feel better (in the short run).

    And the level of excess immune-generated 1,25-D is reduced as the Th1 response is shut down by ingested Vitamin D. That is one of the reasons it is such an art to interpret the clinical D-metabolite data. So very sick people who are taking Vitamin D will not show excessive levels of 1,25-D until they become very ill indeed.

    There are long-term problems with VDR blockade, like upset calcium homeostasis and bone loss, but medicine hasn't figured out a very good way of tracking these until they become catastrophic. So it will be a few more years (the skeleton regenerates in 10 year cycles) before these adverse affects of VDR blockade become obvious."

    Dr. Trevor Marshall, PhD
  2. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Active Member

    The only person I believe is misinformed is Trevor Marshall. His protocol is very questionable. If you read the latest research on Vitamin D it would explain why some illnesses are on the increase. With people being scared to get any sun, avoiding it whenever possible, or slapping on SPF 30, it's no wonder we are becoming deficient in Vitamin D. They are now linking Vitamin D deficiency to MS, cancers, possibly autism, osteoporosis, and the list goes on.

    I take 1000 IU daily, and plan to go up to at least 2000 IU. The MS Society of Canada are recommending that pregnant women and young children get 2000 IU daily to avoid MS later in life.
  3. zenouchy

    zenouchy Member

    I appreciate you both taking the time to respond as well as the good info. Jam, I looked up the book you mentioned; it looks really good.

    I hope you both have a happy/healthy day,

  4. shelbo

    shelbo New Member

    I must be deficient in vit D as I am pretty much housebound... I'd be interested in whether I should incorporate this or not, too...
  5. Iamwell

    Iamwell New Member

    Vitamin d is not a wonder supplement. How in the world could all these people be deficient in Vitamin d? Come on. It's everywhere in supplements in food in sun exposure. Please don't tell me we are deficient because of sunscreens. I don't know anybody who apply's sunscreen on a daily basis.

    Dr. Marshall is trying to keep everyone sick? Ok I'm not even going to go there.

    The reality is people on the Marshall Protocol are recovering while avoiding vitamin d in all forms. We have hundreds of people who have been on the MP for a long time and are not suffering negative effects from vitamin d avoidance. That is the proof that vitamin d supplementation is not necessary.

    How can a person say that vitamin d is helping when they are taking a ton of other supplements? Can anyone who is swallowing handfulls of stuff be sure of what is really going on?

    I don't take any supplements and I don't take any other prescription medications except the MP ones so I can give you an accurate asessement of the effects of these meds.

    We're adults here and we make up our own minds about information we are exposed to.

    Supplements have never cured anyone of our disease. It may make someone feel better for awhile but in the end most here are still looking for that magic pill to make everything alright.

    Vitamin d is not that magic pill.

    I can't blame anyone for looking for trying supplements because I did the same thing for years and got nowhere. Just wasted alot of money.

    The MP is the way to get rid of the real problem ( bacteria )and fix an immune system that is broken. That is the simplicity and beauty of the MP.

  6. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Active Member

    For anyone who lives north of Atlanta, during the fall and winter months we do NOT get enough sun to make Vitamin D. It is a well known fact that the further north a person lives in North America, the more likely they are to become deficient in Vitamin D during the winter months. Blood testing proves this point.

    As we age, our skin becomes less able to produce Vitamin D from the sun. If you have dark skin (ie of African decent) it is the equivalent of wearing a SPF50. And yes, wearing a sun screen during the summer months does interfere with the production of Vitamin D.

    You are correct in the fact that there is Vitamin D in supplements, however, have you looked at a label to see the dosages. Also a lot of supplements contain Vitamin D2 which isn't as effective as Vitamin D3. The current recommendations is for 200 to 400 IU. That is not adequate for most people.

    Milk has 99 IU per 8 ozs., however, only some of that is used by the body. You would have to drink a heck of a lot of milk each day to get adequate levels of Vitamin D.
  7. cmt49829

    cmt49829 New Member

    I just recently started taking D3 daily.
    Ive read about it and I feel the good outweighs the bad as for its benefits.

    I , however, seem to be getting more frequent hot flashes. I am wondering if the vitamin D can cause the flushing like niacin does.

    any one know that ??
  8. victoria

    victoria New Member

    The important thing is to look at one's levels of the D1,25 (a hormone) and also in relation to one's level of vitamin D. Even the Merck Manual says D1,25 is an indicator of inflammation. There is more and more research that is bonafide that does tell another story, you can find links at the MP site.

    That said, of course it doesn't work for everyone. BUT I don't know of any protocol that does, including taking more vitamin D.

    As many know, I have done the MP but have yet to finish it... but I have had permanent gains from it. Which is why I am intent on continuing and finishing it. (My life has been really out of control with various things and pre-empted my time due to family needs.)

    As with all protocols you obviously do need a doctor to consult with... my doctors agreed I was a candidate after they saw my tests.

    I am in total agreement that as adults we should take some responsibility for choosing what we do.

    Or not do.

    all the best,

  9. quamijay

    quamijay New Member


    Ive seen the phase2 and 3 forums of the MP. like 5% of people are truely better. Sorry vitd is good for you not bad.
  10. Iamwell

    Iamwell New Member

    Look up the meaning of the word cult and you will see that it is the worship of a religious deity? That can apply to any religious group. I don't think you would want to use that word in conjunction with a medical treatment.

    As to what we are taking it is very simple. We take Benicar an FDA approved medication. Benicar is an angiotensin 2 receptor blocker and we also take some FDA approved antibiotics in small doses. Pretty simple don't you think? Nothing mysterious. We don't sacrifice chickens or dance around naked in a circle by the light of the full moon.

    I also want to ask why you would put a whole lot of stock in what main stream medical professions say about CFS? Most doctors think CFS and Fibro is all in our heads. I think we are the most ignored bunch of sick people on the planet. We'd probably get more attention if we said we caught our disease from ET the extraterestrial.

    Do you really think you are deficient in vitamin d because you slathered on some sunscreen a couple of times last summer?

    Once information is let loose on the public and repeated over and over again it's very hard to change peoples minds even if it is so obviously flawed.


  11. So, please, NO ONE say that they are/have been 'personally attacked' for my use of the words "a bit dramatic" -- how about *passionate* ? maybe a better word?

    Obviously, whatever treatment(s) whichever person is taking, they are taking it, because they believe in it wholeheartedly, and so, they are always going to be 'right' in their minds..and feel VERY strongly/passionate about it. Seems like this type of thread happens often- discussing treatments, etc seems to be just about like discussing 'politics & religion' on here (and other boards too, I'm sure.)

    Dr Phil always asks people a good question... we could ALL probably stand to ponder a little bit (MYSELF INCLUDED- BIG TIME)

    "Are you a "right fighter" ? "do you want to be *right*.... or do you want to be happy?"

    The man has a way of really simplifying things, IMO..that we tend to make far more complicated than necessary.

    Now- most people- especially on D3, but certainly not all- have had bloodwork, SHOWING A DEFICIENCY... like Jamin... also, myself... I believe the pain clinic said mine was 6.7.

    So, no, of course not, as to the question "do you really think you are deficient in vitamin d because you slathered on some sunscreen a couple of times last summer?" And that really IS..... being overly dramatic, **IMO** which I'm entitled to, as everyone else in this thread is, and has been.

    It would be like someone else asking the SAME question, regarding the MP, and the people on IT, taking FDA approved medications-

    "do you really think you need anti-biotics (and/or this Benicar)?" because this *one* particular doctor insists, that it is *bacteria* as the cause, and that his protocol, (vs. other treatments, vitamins, etc) is *thee* way..

    the cure, someone said. one person's own post, stated as fact that it is bacteria, stating "Vitamin D hurts (in the long run)", but MP "cures"...

    Just not that cut & dried, unfortunately... or we'd all be well. We may all have this disease(s), but, every single one of us could have the same 50 tests run, bloodwork, urine, scans, etc.. and chances of any two coming back the same, or even 'almost' the same, are probably *extremely* slim.. which is why there IS NO one cure-all yet. Not even one single "better" all, unfortunately..

    As someone above stated, vitamin D (in this particular discussion, anyways) may/will/is/does work for some people... MP may/will/is/does work for other people-

    Isn't that right THERE *exactly* what's been said?? ADULTS making their OWN choices, thus 'taking responsibility, & an active roll for their own health's sake?

    So, let's all just agree, instead of *arguing* that one person's choice is wrong, or b.s., or 'unfounded'.. etc...???

    As most chronically ill people know by now, you truly can find ANYTHING on the internet- including research FOR, and just as much research AGAINST, ANYTHING..

    I just know that for people that have been tested, via bloodwork, for ANY deficiency- most CERTAINLY are NOT going to suffer, or get 'worse in the 'long run'... how *could* they? If you are severely difficient in something your body needs, you're quite sick, often...

    *deficiencies*, make us extremely immune compromised, just as well as *toxicities* do..

    wouldn't you (all) agree with that much? We KNOW THIS MUCH- you can DIE from *some* deficiencies... or suffer liver, kidney, or other organ failures/damage/impairment, stroke, etc.

    Just one more thing, and I apologize, a migraine is really hitting me right now, and it is 6:30 am here...

    But: " We don't sacrifice chickens or dance around naked in a circle by the light of the full moon. "

    C'mon now... really?

    I am in NO WAY *comparing* MP patients/followers of the MP, etc to these people, but, just wanted to say, that,

    to my knowledge, neither did the "heaven's gate cult", the 900+ Jonestown members, the followers of David Koresh/"davidians", the followers of Charles Manson (though, it certainly would have been better, than what they did do.) :-(

    Now, that is all I felt compelled to say in response to that.



    "We don't sacrifice chickens or dance around naked in a circle by the light of the full moon." THE STATEMENT, AND THE STATEMENT *ONLY*

    Also, if you disagree with other's choices of treatment (mikie, shirl, etc have addressed this a milllllion times, at the very LEAST)... as they suggest, just skip over the post, don't even click on the thread, or, if you want to say something, just wish *all* people well on whichever treatment 'path' they are on, and realize, that they DID make the ADULT decision to take that route.. unless a doctor/nurses are literally holding a person down and injecting them- we ALL *ARE* making choices, correct?

    That's certainly all I wish for everyone on here, with all sorts of treatments, conventional, non-conventional, 'out-of-the-box' thinking... creative 'concoctions' by well meaning doctors willing to TRY for a patient, or even something that to a 'majority' would seem "outlandish"...

    It certainly wouldn't be outlandish to us anymore if it ended up being the cure! LOL (or even just a 20,30,40,*50%* improvement)....

    Also, whomever has yet to FINISH the MP.... isn't it too soon, then, to already say the word PERMANENT... in regards to improvements, or disappearance of symptoms, etc?

    I wish you well also, and feel for you (deeply), for what you are going through, family wise- I have had to stop treatments before, simply due to being TOO SICK to make it to my treatments on a regular basis! (thank goodness it was not chemo, huh?!) I have also been in your position, as we all have, I am sure, to some degree, in some way that applies to our own lives/families, where we have had to 'drop everything' for something urgent/critical, for family, etc.

    I hope you can resume *your choice* in treatment, and that you get as well as possible on it, and truly permanently.

    God bless all.

    [This Message was Edited on 02/14/2009]
  12. TigerLilea

    TigerLilea Active Member

    I just thought we were having a friendly debate! Nothing wrong with that :)
  13. victoria

    victoria New Member

    arguments and debate and 'agreeing to disagree' without getting personal are all different things, which is what aintasgoodasIoncewas I believe was trying to say, as well as others about other treatments.

    Again, certain treatments work well for certain people. I can't say I haven't seen benefits from doing the MP because I have. Any gain without detriment, which I've had none of, is good imho despite what anyone wants to say or opine about or argue about. Altho true, my doctor has found most success with the MP with his sarcoidosis pts.

    It's similar to what many other health problems have had to deal with - ie, with endometriosis for me (and others) a candida diet was key for me to keep symptoms at bay, while others still continue still arguing it cannot help or work and that even it is still a 'fad'. When I was dx'd hypoglycemic via the 6 hr glucose tolerance tests, many doctors still wouldn't believe me anyway, even tho I passed out and seizured within 1/2 hour of drinking the glucola. I know of doctors who still prescribe sugar for hypoglycemia in fact.

    I won't even bother going into the chronic lyme controversy.

    We all take risks no matter what... consider the number of people who have died or had severe complications because of what 'standard medicine' believes works, now and 100 years ago. Given our unique genetic makeups, if a protocol works even for a small percentage of people, it is valuable.

    And nobody said one doesn't need any D. I've a feeling that the new levels that doctors want people at currently will be found 15 years from now to be too high. There have been fads in medicine, from dieting to how much sun you should get before it gets to become a liability.

    This has been argued/debated/discussed/opined about plenty... do a search here... research... get the D1,25 tests done... talk to your doctor(s)... make the decision.

    Good luck in what you decide... nothing is 100% guaranteed, that's why medicine is still considered an art.

    I agree to disagree with those that don't agree... and I also agree that it doesn't need to be argued over endlessly.

  14. spacee

    spacee Member

    Then they will know if they are low, high or in between.

    I am above normal in 1,25 and below normal in 25. If that isn't just hunky dory, I don't know what is.

  15. AuntTammie

    AuntTammie New Member

    This is lengthy, but gives a good explanation of what MP is and why Dr Mercola believes it is a really bad idea. He is an alt med/integrative Dr who I don't always agree with, but who in general seems to be really on top of things and to really know what he is talking about. He is not your typical it's-all-in-your-head-Dr. Here's his article.....

    Clearing Up Confusion on Vitamin D -- Why I Don’t Recommend the Marshall Protocol

    Marshall, Trevor Marshall, Marshall protocol, vitamin D, sun, sunshine, sunlight, sarcoidosisby Dr. Mercola

    Ever since I started promoting the benefits of vitamin D there has been a small but vocal minority of advocates of what is referred to as the “Marshall Protocol”.

    As much as I would like to ignore it due to its lack of validity, I can no longer do so, because so many people are using this information and at the very least, they are placing their health at great risk and in many cases they are damaging their health.

    Therefore, to remain silent would be irresponsible, so I am going to address this issue once and then put it to rest.

    I felt it was important to share my views on what I perceive is a dangerous view of vitamin D physiology. It has been my common strategy for as long as I have been in medicine to be open to new ideas and concepts and I have carefully evaluated Dr. Marshall’s protocol and even attended one of his lectures in Chicago nearly ten years ago.

    It was somewhat comical to attend his seminar as most of the people attending were wearing very large, wrap around UVB blocking glasses typically worn after cataract surgery. I knew at that point that the operating premise was seriously flawed. The belief that ANY exposure to the sun was dangerous and needed to be avoided gravely concerned me.

    “Dr.” Marshall is Not a Physician and Doesn’t Even Have a Biology Degree

    For those of you who are not familiar with the protocol recommended by Trevor Marshall, I will briefly summarize its basic tenets, as I understand them, before going on.

    First it is important to note that Dr. Marshall is not a medical doctor but freely uses the doctor salutation to add credibility to his questionable theories.

    Marshall is an Australian electrical engineer who developed an interest in biomedical engineering out of a desire to cure his own sarcoidosis, which he developed in the 1970s. He has no medical degree. His theories come from mathematical molecular models, not clinical studies.

    Sarcoidosis is Only Disease Where Vitamin D Levels Are an Engima

    Sarcoidosis is an inflammatory condition that produces tiny lumps of cells called granulomas in various organs of the body. These granulomas clump together into large or small groups, resulting in organ damage. They most commonly occur in the lungs, lymph nodes, skin and eyes, and symptoms can wax and wane over many years.

    Symptoms can vary from very minimal to life threatening. Some medical experts believe sarcoidosis is an autoimmune process, and others believe some substance or pathogen has triggered the inflammation. There is no agreement yet about the cause of this illness.

    Marshall states the treatment he developed has cured his disease and claims that his protocol, the Marshall Protocol (aka MP) will cure a long list of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. According to one of his most vocal advocates, Amy Proal[ii], the MP cures sarcoidosis, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease, and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and many others.

    Marshall proposes the following:

    All chronic diseases are the result of infection by certain bacteria that hide out and proliferate inside the cytoplasm of the cells they infect. These cells include macrophages, the very cells of the immune system the body uses to kill invading pathogens. Once inside these cells, they generate the release of inflammatory cytokines, which cause the person pain and/or fatigue.

    The infected cells sustain themselves by congregating into communities called biofilms, which produce a protective matrix that allows them to more effectively evade the immune system and resist antibiotics.
    The reason these bacteria are able to proliferate in this way is directly related to vitamin D. Marshall argues that vitamin D is immunosuppressive—it effectively shuts down your body’s immune system. Therefore, he states, the lower your vitamin D is, the better, because vitamin D from any source (food, supplements, or sunlight) in any amount drives the disease process.
    The low vitamin D levels [meaning serum 25(OH)D] found in many people with chronic diseases are a result of the disease, rather than the cause. Marshall explains this by saying that the disease process causes 1,25-D to rise to an unnaturally high level. This in turn causes a cascade of reactions leading to a drop in 25(OH)D, leading to the low blood levels we observe in blood tests.

    Given these premises, his treatment plan consists of the following:

    Avoid sunlight and vitamin D as if they were the plague. He restricts people from eating foods high in vitamin D, as well as having them hole-up inside for months on end. If they go outside, they cover up completely, including wearing special sunglasses.
    Patients take a medication called Benicar (olmesartan), which is an angiotensin II receptor blocker (ARB). This is supposed to reactivate the immune system by opening up the VDRs (vitamin D receptors), allowing the body to once again manage the infections.
    Patients concurrently take pulsed, low-dose antibiotics to further combat the infection.

    The protocol is continued for 3-5 years. Before patients begin to feel better, they can expect to feel much worse due to the “Herx” reaction (Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction). Herx is the effect of bacterial dye-off, releasing toxins into the bloodstream, stimulating the production of inflammatory cytokines, which make the patient feel bad.

    So, Marshall believes, if you don’t feel bad, it’s not working.

    Why One Size Doesn’t Fit All

    Probably because Marshall is an engineer and not a physician, his approach reveals a lack of appreciation of the complexity and variation of the human system. Your body is not a piece of electronics that can be predicted to act a certain way every time. A radio is a radio is a radio, but not so with the human body. It is more than a sum of its parts, making medical science as much an art as it is a science.

    This is precisely why clinical trials are necessary before conclusions about causation can be drawn. There are simply too many variables.

    What Marshall has done is take conclusions from his research for a cure for his own condition (sarcoidosis), and then applying it to everything from soapsuds to unicorns. The error in logic would not be so disturbing were it not for the fact that he is doing a lot of harm to people who desperately seek help for their pain.

    Our Ancient Ancestors Had Constant Sun Exposure

    First, let me address the most basic premise here—that vitamin D and sunshine promote disease. Besides being contrary to current research, this goes against our evolutionary history.

    Our ancient ancestors had regular and consistent sun exposure as they were from sub tropical environments and did not spend nearly all day indoors like most of us do when we work. We’ve spent thousands of years hunting and gathering outdoors, particularly in equatorial regions, and most of that time we certainly wore far less clothing than we wear today. It makes no sense that we would have developed the need to avoid sunlight altogether.

    Nature has designed a system in which humans go into the sun, make thousands of units of cholecalciferol, which the liver then converts to 25(OH)D. Our organs then make a steroid hormone, 1,25-D, which helps to regulate genes in every organ of the body[iii].

    As Dr. John Cannell, Executive Director of the Vitamin D Council, says, “We assume nature created this for a good reason.”

    Inflammation Requires Holistic Approach

    I can agree with Marshall on the idea that inflammation is a major underlying factor in many chronic diseases. However, ,inflammation must be addressed with a holistic approach that includes diet and nutritional type, exercise, sleep, stress, psychological factors, environmental toxins, and many other things. None of these is mentioned, that I can find, in the Marshall Protocol.

    And it is my firm belief that medication should rarely if ever be the first avenue of treatment for anything. Most healing can be achieved by supporting your body’s own ability to heal itself by strengthening your immune system.

    The Antibiotic Issue

    Taking antibiotics for years, as directed by the MP, is just ludicrous and is an invitation for disaster.

    There are certainly times when antibiotics are necessary, but they are widely overused. For every time they are used appropriately in traditional medicine, there are at least 10 to 20 times when they are inappropriately used, and this is what has resulted in antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

    Marshall claims that, by “pulsing” several different antibiotics, antibiotic resistance is avoided. However, there is evidence to the contrary in the literature.

    A researcher at MIT by the name of Mark London has written a very detailed, comprehensive analysis of the MP[iv]. He states that overuse of macrolides (Zithromax, clindomycin, and others) is known to result in resistant bacteria, and the risk is even higher when macrolides are combined. There is also cross-resistance between macrolides. Therefore, Marshall’s claim that his protocol prevents antibiotic resistance is false.

    In the past I have used antibiotics for rheumatoid arthritis when I was applying Dr. Thomas Brown’s protocol. Even though Dr. Brown clearly helped many thousands of patients with this, after using it for many years I realized that even better results could be achieved without the use of antibiotics.

    If infectious agents do underlie disease, which is certainly possible but remains to be proven, antibiotics are not the answer. There are many natural choices for anti-infectives that are much safer and have fewer side effects than antibiotics.

    For example, for thousands of years, Chinese medicine has been curing infections with herbs, mushrooms, bark, and other natural agents.

    If you have an infection, your best strategy is to get your immune system into shape by addressing the things I mentioned above, none of which are addressed by the Marshall Protocol.

    “Herx” Reactions, or Something More Ominous?

    Jarisch-Herxheimer reactions are a major part of what patients are told to expect once they begin the MP.

    The MP teaches that, in order to know that you have one of these infections, you go onto the MP, and if you have a Herx reaction (which they basically define as feeling bad in any number of ways), you can conclude you’re on the right path. By the same token, they say, if you don’t “Herx,” then you don’t have an infection.

    However, Herx reactions are known to occur only with certain types of infections such as Lyme and syphilis. They normally occur only early in treatment and typically last a few days or weeks, not months or years, and only in some people—not in all people3[v][vi].

    Therefore, any test that is based on whether or not a Herx reaction occurs is meaningless, since the lack of a reaction doesn’t rule out the presence of an infection. Similarly, an increase in your symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having a Herx reaction.

    So-called Herx reactions can be explained by well-documented medication side effects. For example, Minocycline has been known to cause dizziness and nausea in some people. Benicar has many documented side effects at much smaller doses than what the MP calls for, including headaches, chest pain, muscle pain, and coughing.

    How do you know that your “Herxing” isn’t just a reaction to the Benicar?

    Also, the MP can cause an elevated PTH level (Parathyroid Hormone), which in itself can cause symptoms of fatigue, poor concentration, irritability, depression, insomnia, headaches, and palpitations[vii].

    To say that everyone who has any increase in symptoms while on the MP is just having a “Herx reaction” is simply ignorant and foolhardy, as well as negligent as it causes the patient to ignore potentially dangerous signals that something else could be wrong!

    This is just what happened to a man by the name of Steve Carroll. Mr. Carroll is someone who tried the MP and nearly died of Addison’s disease, as a direct result of the Marshall Protocol. His symptoms were of a growing adrenal crisis. However, the MP advisors told him that he was simply “herxing.”

    When he consulted his own physician, who took him off the protocol and saved his life, Mr. Carroll contacted the MP “forum” advisors[viii]. He was met with nothing but resistance and denial, and told that his own physician was wrong. The Marshall forum advisors refused to even consider the possibility they might be wrong, and that using Benicar with people who have weak adrenal function (namely low cortisol and aldosterone production) is very dangerous and can lead to an adrenal crisis.

    A documentation of the dialog between Mr. Carroll and the MP folks is quite telling and has been posted verbatim online[ix].

    As Mr. London writes:

    “Giving a medicine to see if a person will get better from it, and then continuing that medicine due to the fact that a positive benefit occurred, is of course extremely common. However, giving a medicine specifically to see if a person will get worse from it, and then continuing that medicine because this occurred, is quite rare.

    While it’s true that many medicines will first cause side effects before the positive benefits occur from it, these side effects are almost never considered to be a sign that the medicine is the proper medicine to use to treat a person.”

    Measuring 1,25-D is Like Herding Cats

    Marshall states that 1,25-D levels are elevated in people with chronic infectious diseases. [Remember, 1,25-D is the active form of vitamin D, once it’s been converted from 25(OH)D.]

    He relies on 1,25-D levels as indicators of the disease process. However, 1,25-D values can fluctuate tremendously up and down for many reasons, other than disease processes. 1,25-D is influenced by calcium, phosphate, and PTH, just to name a few, which makes it meaningless to use it as a marker for dysfunctional vitamin D production or regulation.

    In fact, some studies show little to no correlation between 1,25-D and 25(OH)D levels[x][xi]. Many body tissues have the ability to generate 1,25-D themselves, as a way to self-regulate, rather than solely relying on serum 25(OH)D.

    This is why the standard used by the medical community for assessing health is serum 25(OH)D, which is not subject to these variables and fluctuations. This test has been standardized, recognized and used by every vitamin D expert in the world. I have talked to many of the leading vitamin D researchers and not one of them had anything favorable to say about the misinformation Marshall is promoting.

    What about the Cancer Studies Cited by MP Advocates?

    On her website called Bacteriality, Amy Proal mentions a number of cancer studies that reportedly demonstrate that vitamin D does not decrease cancer risk. Upon close inspection, however, several of those studies involve people supplementing with very low doses of vitamin D, lower than what is considered effective by most vitamin D experts. The supplementation levels are 600-800 IU per day, which is too little to prevent much of anything.

    Dr. John Cannell, one of the foremost experts on vitamin D today, scripted a response to the MP, which he sent out in his newsletter[xii]. He makes the point:

    If Marshall’s hypothesis is correct, that low vitamin D levels are the result of disease, then he is saying that cancer causes low vitamin D levels, not the other way around. The problem is that Professor Joanne Lappe directly disproved that theory in a randomized controlled trial[xiii] when she found that baseline vitamin D levels were strong and independent predictors of who would get cancer in the future.

    The lower your levels, the higher your risk. Furthermore, increasing baseline levels from 31 to 38 ng/ml reduced incident cancers by more than 60% over a four-year period. Therefore, advising patients to become vitamin D deficient as the MP clearly does, could cause some patients to die from cancer.

    It is worth noting that the amount of vitamin D subjects in the Lappe study received was 1,100 IU per day, higher than any of studies cited as negative toward vitamin D, and this study was of longer duration.

    Can Any Value Be Found in Marshall’s Work?

    Marshall arrived at most of his theories from his personal battle with sarcoidosis, and he certainly can’t be faulted for taking an aggressive approach to finding a solution for what is traditionally viewed as an incurable disease. After all, many serendipitous discoveries in history came about in unusual ways.

    I strongly believe his efforts have gone astray, however, in assuming all those other chronic diseases fit the same model.

    Sarcoidosis is a condition marked by abnormal immune responses, one of the many unique features of that condition. For example, according to Dr. Cannell, in sarcoidosis, the body can’t regulate activated vitamin D production, resulting in hypercalcemia12. But these immune responses are not found in all of the other inflammatory conditions, so any treatment effective against sarcoidosis is thus treating a rather unique condition and may not necessarily be as effective for other conditions.

    If the MP does indeed help some people with sarcoidosis and various other conditions as it seems to, based on some people’s reported experiences on the web, there is no guarantee it is working in the way Marshall assumes it is.

    For example, Benicar and the various antibiotics all have various effects, both positive and negative, on various conditions, which could be one explanation for why some folks feel better. Benicar has been shown to have some anti-inflammatory properties, among others. Some antibiotics have anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects themselves (minocycline, for example).

    It could be this effect that makes patients feel as if they are getting better. If so, patients might experience a recurrence of symptoms once the meds are discontinued.

    What About Melatonin?

    Since light suppresses melatonin, it would be expected that melatonin levels would rise when you avoid light. Melatonin has significant effects on your immune system. In fact, in 2006, a study showed that melatonin was a safe and effective treatment for sarcoidosis![xiv] Melatonin has also been shown to help other conditions, including CFS, fibromyalgia and colitis.

    How does anyone know it isn’t the melatonin that is causing some people to feel better? If so, there are much better ways to increase your melatonin level than by sacrificing sunlight and valuable vitamin D!

    The point is, there are many other factors that could explain why the MP could seem to help sufferers of sarcoidosis, besides the one he claims. To really determine what is causing what, a series of controlled studies would have to be done. He has drawn a lot of conclusions without the clinical studies to separate out the variables.

    I believe that Marshall is placing people’s health at risk by having them participate in a clinical trial via the Internet--and a badly designed one at that—with inadequate details and precautions about what the health consequences might be.

    My Recommendation

    Stick to what you know works, and if there is merit to any of Marshall’s theories, studies will bear that out in time. It would seem that the only indication for MP would be sarcoidosis. I believe it would be unwise to use it for other conditions, but even for sarcoidosis there are a number of effective non-drug approaches to address it.

    I would have to agree with Dr. Cannell that you would be hard-pressed to find any reputable person in the vitamin D field who takes Marshall’s theories seriously. They are poorly substantiated and lack corroborating evidence.

    Go with what you know. Health comes from getting back to the basics…nutrition, exercise, restorative sleep--and yes, appropriate exposure to sufficient sunshine to normalize your vitamin D levels.


    [ii] Amy Proal’s website, Bacteriality: Exploring Chronic Disease (accessed February 11, 2009)

    [iii] Cannell JJ, “Vitamin D and mental illness,” the Vitamin D Council website, (Accessed February 12, 2009)

    [iv] London M, Is the treatment for sarcoidosis helpful for other chronic diseases? MP’s theories are not supported by lab studies. July 2, 2008 (accessed February 11, 2009)

    [v] Herrell D, “What is a Herxheimer reaction?” (Accessed February 12, 2009)

    [vi] Silver Colloids, “The Herxheimer reaction—feeling worse before feeling better” (Accessed February 12, 2009)


    [viii] Marshall Protocol Study Site,


    [x] Breslau NA, Preminger GM, Adams BV, Otey J, Pak CY. “Use of ketoconazole to probe the pathogenetic importance of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D in absorptive hypercalciuria,” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1992 Dec;75(6):1446-52 PubMed (Accessed February 11, 2009)

    [xi] Abreu MT, Kantorovich V, Vasiliauskas EA, Gruntmanis U, Matuk R, Daigle K, Chen S, Zehnder D, Lin YC, Yang H, Hewison M, Adams JS. “Measurement of vitamin D levels in inflammatory bowel disease patients reveals a subset of Crohn’s patients with elevated 1,25-D and low bone mineral density,” Gut.2004 Aug;53(8):1129-36 PubMed (Accessed February 11, 2009)

    [xii] Cannell J, April 2008 newsletter. “Cholecalciferol is cholecalciferol”

    [xiii] Lappe JM, Travers-Gustafson D, Davies KM, Recker RR, Heaney RP. “Vitamin and calcium supplementation reduces cancer risk: results of a randomized trial.” Am J Clin Nutr 2007 Jun;85(6):1586-91. PubMed (Accessed February 11, 2009)

    [xiv] Pignone AM, Rosso AD,, Fiori G, Matucci-Cerinic M, Becucci A, Tempestini A, Livi R, Generini S, Gramigna L, Benvenuti C, Carossino AM, Conforti ML, Perfetto F. “Melatonin is a safe and effective treatment for chronic pulmonary and extrapulmonary sarcoidosis,” J Pineal Res. 2006 Sep;41(2):95-100 PubMed (Accessed February 11, 2009)
  16. dannybex

    dannybex Member

    ...for posting Mercola's thorough, researched, well-documented and just plain common sense response to the Marshall Protocol.

    I've yet to hear of a SINGLE person who has stopped the MP drugs and remained "cured" or "well."

    Not one. But of course I could be wrong...maybe someone like IamWell or Amy Proal could provide us with a link or a name or names of people who have recovered?

  17. Okay I had a script to ck amongst other things Vit D, BUT the gal asked which one she wanted, one needed to fast. So they did the one that didn't need fasting? Is it only Vit D3 that needs testing or????

    Love the name aintasgoodasIoncewas ! And isn't that the truth!