The Elephant in the Room - Vitamin D and Malabsorption
It was while reading the March 2021 edition of ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ that I came across a small article entitled ‘Healthy Gut Activates Vitamin D’. (1) It was certainly a ‘lightbulb’ moment and I was excited to share it with the colleagues I was meeting on Zoom the next day.
It suddenly explained to me why vitamin D on its own has proved so inconclusive in its effectiveness in immune enhancement. This applies not only on a general level, but also for patients who, after years of its administration, have still succumbed to the full effects of Covid-19. Some lived in sunny countries but that seemed not to reduce their vulnerability to this disease.
This made me realise that the ‘elephant in the room’ was the issue of absorption when it came to vitamin D’s effectiveness. It also made me question the effectiveness of other vitamin supplements in this regard.
What I gleaned from this article was that there is a direct link between active vitamin D levels and microbiome diversity - the word ‘diversity’ being key here. In trials, the participants with the highest level of active vitamin D also had more than twelve specific types of bacteria that produced butyrate - a short-chain fatty acid that helps create a healthy gut lining. This is achieved by sealing the leaky junctures between the myriad of cells contained within.
Apparently, the substance which contains butyrate most closely is butter, as well as some milk products. The startling conclusion of the article states “It does not necessarily matter how much vitamin D one gets through sunlight or supplementation, it matters how well one’s body is able to metabolise it into active vitamin D”.
This made me appreciate that Butyric Acid as a homeopathic remedy may be one which should be brought out from its obscurity and sung from the hilltops. After all, since the days of its proving, the erosion of air quality as well as the soil, the compromise in the food supply, the use of strong pharmaceutical drugs and the upsurge of Caesarian births - among other triggers - have all contributed to a marked decline in the diversity of the microbiome. This makes Butyric Acid a vital remedy in our materia medica and proof there is no such thing as a ‘small remedy’.
On considering the epidemic of diabetes which has swept the globe over the last few years, it can partially be explained by the lack of butyrate in its ability to metabolise sugar which, by creating more insulin, dampens down inflammation in the body. It has been documented that diabetes, as well as obesity which is often a concomitant, are marked risk factors for Covid-19. (2)
I consider the term ‘leaky gut’ is a term which has been bandied about for years without full understanding. It would seem that we now have to sit up and take notice - after all, most of our patients suffer with - what can often be expressed and unexpressed - gut issues and the microbiome is nowadays regarded as ‘the second brain' (with most of the serotonin being stored there). (3)
It is interesting to me that Butyric Acid is related to the remedy - Nux Moschata - the latter a remedy reputed for senile dementia. There is a dryness running through this remedy, along with Alumina - another remedy reputed for senile dementia. I queried whether this means that the microbiome is the main key in such cases and should be addressed as the first port of call. By clearing this layer, the cognitive element could be significantly shifted even before the simillimum has been given. The relationship of remedies plays a marked role here.
My colleagues, in their zeal to experience the effects of this seemingly magical remedy, administered it right up to the higher potencies such as 10M. This tapped into the constitution and resolved issues which had been outstanding for periods of up to twenty years. This was despite targeted treatments having been given prior without such success. Initial exhaustion was experienced by the patients and some turmoil in the unravelling of the longer standing symptoms. These included intermittent claudication preventing walking and lasting for 2-3 days before resolution. There was swimming in the head, inner ear type dizziness, and painful as well as swollen feet recorded in the process of cure.
I opted to administer the remedy in 12c with the realisation that this potency taps into the emotional sphere as well as the physical one and because I consider this remedy has a universal application for most people these days with the effects of 21st century living already mentioned earlier in this article.
The group has not carried out a full proving. However, the one recorded in Robin Murphy’s Materia Medica (4) is very full and comprehensive - especially for a remedy which is still to be fully unearthed from the archives for today’s increasingly toxic world.
When reading the Mind symptoms recorded there, this indicates that when a remedy such as Butyric Acid which is noted for its main action on the microbiome is given, it has a direct reflex action on the mind (as well as other physical symptoms in the case). These Mind symptoms include:-
Anxiety and fear,
Worries over trifles,
Constant fear and nervousness,
Impulsive thoughts of suicide, brooding.
The core issue is that butyrate can penetrate the blood brain barrier, where it acts as an antidepressant. It modifies certain genes in the brain, encouraging cellular repair and potentially leading to better mental health. (5) The key aspects of this remedy are summarised here:-
“Butyrate, along with other fermentation-derived short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s), shows promising effects in various diseases including obesity, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases as well as neurological disorders. Indeed, it is clear that host energy metabolism and immune functions critically depend on butyrate as a potent regulator. We hypothesize that butyrate and other volatile SCFA’s produced by microbes may be involved in regulating the impact of the microbiota on behaviour, including social communication”.
This begs the question whether this remedy may be as effective as SSRI’s in keeping depression at bay but at the same time without becoming addictive or dulling in its action. At the same time, of course, butyrate enhances the overall health of the microbiome in its vital functioning of the organism on all levels. In fact, in cases with a history of such medicinal drugging, either taken orally or injected, this may be a well indicated remedy to restore the microbiome to its optimum diversity. It is therefore a game changing remedy in my opinion.
University of California - San Diego. "Connection between gut bacteria and vitamin D levels." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 November 2020. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/11/201130131356.htm
Holly JMP, Biernacka K, Maskell N, Perks CM. Obesity, Diabetes and COVID-19: An Infectious Disease Spreading From the East Collides With the Consequences of an Unhealthy Western Lifestyle. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2020 Sep 17;11:582870.
Gershon, Michael D., 1999, The Second Brain - Your Gut has a Mind of its Own, Harper Collins.
Murphy, R., ND., 2006, Nature’s Materia Medica, Lotus Health Institute.
The Psychobiotic Revolution: Mood, Food and the New Science of the Gut-Brain Connection Edited by Scott C. Anderson John F. Cryan and Ted Dinan 320 pp. ISBN 9781426218460. National Geographic, Washington, DC, 2017.