(NaturalNews) Exposing your skin daily to natural sunlight or regularly supplementing with high doses of vitamin D3 can effectively shorten the duration of tuberculosis infection. This is the finding of a new study recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which reveals once again that vitamin D plays a critical role in disease treatment and prevention.
Researchers from Queen Mary University (QMU) in London evaluated the power of vitamin D by giving it to several dozen tuberculosis patients at hospitals throughout the English city, and comparing how these patients fared to those not taking the hormone. They found that, compared to those taking just antibiotics, patients taking both antibiotics and vitamin D recovered more than 36 percent faster.
It turns out that vitamin D eases the inflammatory response associated with tuberculosis infection, and breaks down the scaffolding present in the lungs so that more white blood cells, which are what treats the infection, can make it through. This combined effect helps the body naturally eliminate tuberculosis infection much faster than it otherwise would with drugs alone, lessening the infection period from an average of 36 days to just 23 days.
"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 Dr. Martineau about the spaces created in the lungs as a result of vitamin D. Though they are said to potentially harbor tuberculosis and other bacteria, these spaces are not really that serious of a problem since vitamin D appears to effectively eradicate any pathogens that might try to lodge inside them.
Since researchers did not compare the effects of treating tuberculosis patients with just vitamin D as opposed to vitamin D combined with synthetic antibiotics, it is unclear how much more effectively patients taking just vitamin D might have fared. Overuse of antibiotics, after all, is responsible for the emergence of deadly "superbugs," and may actually make infections more severe. (http://www.naturalnews.com/superbugs.html)
Vitamin D also shown to help prevent tuberculosis
As effective as it is at lessening the duration of tuberculosis, vitamin D may be an even better preventive method against tuberculosis, according to orofessor Peter Davies, also from QMU. Roughly 30 percent of people harbor latent tuberculosis in their lungs, and most of them never develop any negative symptoms. But supplementing with vitamin D could help the 10 percent that otherwise would develop full-blown tuberculosis to avoid the disease altogether.
Modern studies continue to prove that 'heliotherapy' has legitimate medical merit
Interestingly, the study actually brings tuberculosis treatment full circle, as light therapy, also commonly known as "heliotherapy," has been around for centuries as a treatment for tuberculosis (http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk). Only within the past half century or so did light therapy lose popularity, and this due to the advent of synthetic antibiotics.
But now that antibiotics are being shown to spawn antibiotic-resistant superbugs, science is once again discovering that the simple, tried and true method of exposing skin to natural sunlight for the purpose of generating vitamin D is a powerful way to promote healing. The next step is for patients to ditch the antibiotics altogether and begin getting regular sunlight exposure or taking mega-doses of vitamin D.
Exposing your skin to anywhere between 15 minutes and one hour of natural sunlight a day, depending on your skin's pigmentation, is ideal for maintaining optimal vitamin D levels. If natural sunlight exposure is not an option, the Vitamin D Council suggests taking between 3,000 and 5,000 international units (IU) of vitamin D daily for optimal health. (http://www.vitamindcouncil.org)