It has taken 18 months to answer the very important question:
Is Vitamin B1 effective in improving the quality of life of people who have Parkinson’s disease ?
to answer to this question we have:
- Carried out a first 30 days trial test directly supervised by the association = positive results
- Prepared and posted on line a questionnaire = over 60% of the participants have found an improvement in their quality of life
- Put in place a research through which we came across five (n. 5) other international studies all characterized by positive results
- Provided, during these past 18 months, assistance to more than 300 people with PD who had contacted us directly = more than 2/3 of the people have found an improvement in their quality of life
- asked neurologists for their opinions and/or input = the vast majority of them expressed perplexity on the efficacy of vitamin B1
- asked other associations, that operate for similar causes, to jointly collaborate and share information = unfortunately their responses were not very promising
- asked other professionals (molecular biologists, chemists, nutritionists, etc…) for their opinions and/or input : almost all of them have expressed an interest for the research; some of them even suggested other approaches while others have provided valuable insights or information;
Interestingly some of them had already conducted experiments to test the efficacy (or lack of it) of Vitamin B1 when taken specifically for this pathology.
Based on all of the aforementioned research activities, (consisting in the findings gained from running an independent 30 day experiment) newly acquired information and feedbacks we can affirm that :
- First and foremost the integration of vitamin B1 cannot cure Parkinson disease nor it can replace the traditional prescription drug therapy
- For people with Parkinson the integration of vitamin B1 can only provide an improvement to their quality of the life
- On the positive side, for people with PD, the integration of vitamin B1 can be an excellent motivational factor to conduct a fitting lifestyle, which in turn through good nutrition, regular physical activity and a positive emotional approach would :
- sensibly improve the quality of life
- slow down the progression of the disease
- reduce medication regimen and accordingly reduce proven side effects
In which cases it is desirable to integrate vitamin B1 ?
Just like all the other vitamins it is desirable to integrate B1 when its physiological levels are low and they cannot be restored to normal levels, even by adjusting and/or improving the daily nutritional diet, (it must be kept in mind that B1 it is particularly abundant in cereals high in fiber and in swine’s meats).
Hence, to ascertain if the level of Thiamine (B1) is normal, it will suffice to do a specific blood test that would provide the actual value of Thiamine, whose acceptable levels range from 2-5 micrograms for deciliter.
We have found that people with PD seldom have optimal values of vitamin B1, particularly in people who are over the age of fifty.
Obviously the lower it is the value of B1 when the trial begins the higher will be the benefits gained by taking it.
Why in certain people it doesn’t have any effect?
In our research we came across some cases where the integration of B1 didn’t produce any tangible benefits.
We believe that, this was due to the fact that the level of Thiamine was already at its maximum and once reached this upper limit the excess gets expelled through the urine or it could be due to a wrong diet, given that the consumption of alcohol, drinking of coffee or the digestion of heavy foods can easily interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B1.
What is the best way to integrate Vitamin B1?
Currently in Italy Vitamin B1 can be acquired either over the counter (tablets : no prescription needed) or with prescription (vials : prescription needed) and it comes in three different types :
- Benerva in tablets of 300 mgs (no prescription required – “over the counter”)
- Benerva in vials of 100 mgs / 1 ml (prescription required )
- Biovea B1 in tablets of 500 mgs (no prescription required – “over the counter”)
Considering that a person with PD must maintain, for all her/his life, optimum levels of B1, it would be naïve to think of using vials, if not just for an initial phase.
The taking of medication by I.M. injections will prove to be quicker and more effective as compared to the ones taken by mouth.
We have found that on average four (n. 4) tablets of Benerva 300 mg would be equivalent to one (n.1) intramuscular injection.
The Biovea B1 received the most positive feedback, not only for the dose titration of Thiamine (tablet of 500 mg, but also because it contains 100 mg of magnesium, an extremely important element for the production of cellular energy).
Normally the medication regimen consists of one tablet per day for the first month at the end of which it is worthwhile to repeat blood tests to ascertain le level of Thiamine.
It is recommended to alternate with a similar period where there is no intake of Thiamine (B1).
It is highly recommended to consult with a nutritionist who has had extensive experience in advising patients with PD.
How should Vitamin B1 be integrated with prescription drugs therapy?
Often the importance of a proper diet combined with the intake of Vitamins is often underestimated or taken too lightly both from the patients and from the clinicians (neurologists, assistants, etc..).
Probably it is easier to increase the dosage of the medication (first and foremost levodopa) to allay the discomfort perceived by the patient instead of undertaking more complex and perhaps beneficial alternatives that a trained or specialized nutritionist, if consulted, could provide.
The dismal conditions that characterize the current state of the (SSN) Italian National Sanitary Service certainly don’t help. In many cities there are no medical centers that specialize in the treatment of PD. Neurologists are overwhelmed by their workload or stuck in red tape or trying to navigate in a petrified bureaucracy.
Besides, the exceedingly specialist-oriented approach of recent years doesn’t allow for the treatment of a pathology that by its nature requires a multi-disciplinary intervention
Seldom will Neurologists exhort patients to monitor the level of the Thiamine prior to the integration of the Vitamin (B1).
The mere fact that vitamin B1 can be purchased just like an over the counter medicine (does not require a prescription, exception being made for Thiamine Benerva in vials) directly by the patient it would imply that it is not covered by the “Mutua” (Italian governing body in matters of health services and prescriptions drugs) but luckily it has a reasonable cost of roughly 8 € /month .
It is advisable though to consult a nutritionist who has particular knowledge in recommending diets for people with PD; this special knowledge would enable her/him to provide valuable insights and advise with regard to the interaction : food-nutrition.
Recent reports tend to suggest that, from a drug-interaction standpoint, Vitamin B1 could alter or interfere with conventional prescription drug therapy.
Should one decide to start integration of Vitamin B1, we suggest to do so at a time when the symptoms are stable and by simply not altering the medication regime (levodopa), this would allows us to have a clearer picture should new symptoms arise
Possible side effects caused by high doses of Vitamin B1 (Dott. Costantini) * * News 03/04/17 **
We have received a note directly from the Dott. Costantini, which addresses the possible side effects of Vitamin B1, that we would like to share by publishing it :
“The use of vials for intramuscular (I.M.) injection of Vitamin B1 can produce a very serious allergic reaction known as “anaphylactic shock”. Such reaction is very rare and has occurred only when high doses of the medication were administered repeatedly intravenously. Also very rare have been reactions known as nettle-rash (urticaria) which would require the suspension of the therapy and other one known as “Generalized Itch”. This last one can be taken care of by administering low doses of antihistaminic. Furthermore, the use of high doses of vitamin B1 taken by mouth or by intramuscular injection con manifest itself with symptoms typical of an overdose whose incidence would be 5 -7 for thousand of the treated cases. Here we are dealing with an unpredictable event but not dangerous for the patient. As a general rule the initial minimum dose administered for the cure of diverse neurodegenerative disorders consists of two vials of 100 mg per week or 4 grams per day to be taken by mouth. If in time these doses should result excessive for that particular patient it would occur that after an initial improvement the patient would start noticing a reduction in the efficacy of the treatment and the reappearance of the symptoms that had initially regressed.
Increased symptoms of anxiety and irritability con also be observed. Should this be the case the therapy is suspended for a few days and in a joint decision with the prescribing physician arrangements are made to predetermine the entity by which the prescribed medicine on should be reduced. In general we reduce the dose by 50 %. In the last five years we have treated, even with higher doses, roughly 2000 patients of which 1500 were people that had Parkinson disease. Routine laboratory tests (normally taken during regular check-ups) exhibited values that fell within the acceptable range nor the patients displayed any signs of clinical distress. We had two cases of nettle-rash (urticaria), and two cases of generalized itch. In one case we had to suspend the treatment because it provoked vomit when taking the medicine”.
Who should not integrate Vitamin B1 ?
** News 03/04/17 **
To maintain the level B1 near the maximum levels for prolonged periods can cause an acceleration of the biorhythms and therefore produce a potential impulse capable of fostering the growth of preexisting breeding grounds of tumor cells.
We must keep in mind that we are speaking of “potential risk”, as of today there has been no reported case, actually we made reference to this at the urging of an oncologist we also believe that we have an ethical duty to report this and to make all reasonable efforts to provide complete information.
It is strongly recommended that patients with cardiovascular pathologies MUST first consult with their family physician before embarking on an integration of vitamin B1 because they could have a negative or adverse interaction with other drugs that they might be taking (for instance Warfarin / Coumadin® and Digdoxin / Lanoxin)
How to maximize the benefits of the integration of vitamin B1? Therapy 2.0.
By now it must be clear to everyone that Parkinson disease cannot be challenged single handedly with a pharmaceutical approach.
In the long run the increased dosage of the medicines to counter the progression of the disease, will eventually lead to a worsening of the side effects brought about by the same medicines.
It has been demonstrated through scientific research and also mentioned in numerous neurological conferences and/or annual meetings that from a neuroprotective standpoint regular physical activity will provide higher benefits than the ones gained through prescription drug therapy.
We recommend that you become fully aware of what has been said above and that you take it upon yourself to lead a lifestyle that follows the guidelines indicated in what we call : Therapy for the Parkinson 2.0 (english version available in a few weeks).
Translated by WeAreParky volunteer Pino Porpiglia (Thanks Pino 😉 )