Marshall Protocol

…part 2 of Slowburn Treatment for Chronic Disease

UPDATE: Science-Based Medicine (no relation) has a nice balanced post on the Marshall Protocol in which it is pointed out that it has all the tell-tale trademarks of a sCAM (spurious Complementary and Alternative Medicine):

The Marshall Protocol has all the characteristics of modern alternative therapy: a single discoverer, a hitherto undiscovered biology, an unproven therapeutic intervention and one of the most aggravating issues in sCAM’s: Taking a scientific truth the size of a molehill and transmogrifying it into a Cascade Range of exaggerated disease etiology and treatment. Unlike most sCAM’s, however, as best as I can tell Dr Marshall does not seem to be in the business of making a business from his discovery, although he does have patent applications for his protocol.

Staphylococcus epidermidis, Credit:NIAIDThe Marshall Protocol was originally designed to treat sarcoidosis, an inflammatory condition, and utilised the drug Benicar, subsequent claims that it could also treat non-inflammatory conditions such as CFS and fibromyalgia, smack of the kind of reaching out for a panacea that is common in efforts to find cures for what conventional medicine considers incurable. Indeed, the list of diseases supposedly caused by L-form bacteria continues to grow and includes the spurious condition, mania.

One of the underlying principles of the Marshall Protocol is that patients must avoid vitamin D. Apparently, the patient’s immune system cannot kill L-form bacteria effectively until vitamin D is eliminated from their diet so they must also avoid sunlight as much as possible.

What we refer to as vitamin D is actually a steroid. Marshall argues that his molecular models show that the precursor form of vitamin D will actually inhibit the vitamin D receptor and consequently the innate immune system. It is possible that any “feel good” effects are simply a result of L-form bacteria surviving and so no spewing out their toxins when they die. But, none of this has been tested or proven in vitro and certainly not in vivo.

A deficiency of vitamin D has been implicated recently as a causative agent in certain forms of cancer, then a treatment that perhaps reduces vitamin D levels below safe thresholds for long periods may indeed effect a resolution of chronic symptoms of one disease or another, but could concomitantly increase one’s cancer risk. That could be a red herring, however, it is thought that vitamin D will temporarily decrease a patient’s level of inflammation but only in the short-term. In the meantime those L-form bacteria could have a field day, if they actually exist.

There is certainly the feeling that long-term, low-level use of antibiotics among individuals with various non-specific disorders could be storing up real problems for the immune system by allowing low levels of real pathogenic bacteria to evolve resistance. And, that’s not to even mention probiotics, which millions of people imbibe on a daily basis in the belief that they will boost levels of so-called good bacteria.

A paper in the Lancet in February 2007, suggested that prescribing antibiotics in healthy volunteers is a very risky strategy. Macrolide [antibiotic] use is the single most important driver of the emergence of macrolide resistance, the researchers conclude, physicians prescribing antibiotics should take into account the striking ecological side-effects of such antibiotics.

Proponents of the Marshall Protocol point out that it uses carefully selected, extremely low-dose antibiotics. Particularly minocycline, which is used long-term for acne treatment and has not evolved resistance yet. Indeed, minocycline is actually one of the few antibiotics active against MRSA (multiple-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) that has not triggered resistance, although it is only weakly active.

Claims that go against the grain of conventional medicine often take years to filter through, especially if those claims suggest a simple answer to a wide range of illnesses. But, more often than not those claims turn out to be nothing more than a sCAM (spurious complementary alternative medicine). Humans have always sought panaceas, an elixir of life, a cure all for our ills. They don’t, unfortunately, exist. I suspect the Marshall Protocol, with its bizarre claims about naked bacteria and vitamin D will fall at the first hurdle when properly tested.

I too am curious as to why Marshall allegedly holds a patent on his eponymous Protocol.

Back to the introduction.