The antibiotic approach to MS therapy was developed at Vanderbilt by Drs. Stratton and Mitchell. They have patented multiple versions of their protocol, most recently in 2005. (Since patents are publicly available and the “Description of the Invention” is often an excellent overview of the science, we’ve put links to patents at the end of this post.)
Since we have some readers with MS, including Alexander, I thought I would post a summary of the Vanderbilt protocol. This was written by Dr. Stratton in 2009:
Treatment Protocol for Chronic Infections Caused by C. pneumoniae
As far as the Cpn Antimicrobial Regimen is concerned, my thoughts (as of 2009) are as follows:
First, as a general rule, the sicker a patient is, the slower they should go. This is why our early protocol started out with only one antibiotic and one dose, and then gradually adding the next dose/antibiotic as the reactions to each dose/antibiotic became apparent. These reactions appear to be caused by destruction of Chlamydia organisms as well as by the death of some of the infected host cells. Even destruction of elementary bodies by reducing agents such as N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) can cause these reactions as chlamydial major outer membrane protein (MOMP) is released. MOMP is known to interact with Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and can thus induce the production of cytokines. Moreover, chlamydial cell wall contains LPS, which also interacts with TLRs and induces the production of cytokines. The reaction to anti-chlamydial therapy is sometimes referred to as “die-off” as presumable both chlamydial organisms and host cells are dying. These reactions can be delayed by days to weeks and may include “flu-like symptoms”, arthralgias and myalgias, “hangover-like symptoms (“brain-fog”, nausea, malaise), gastroenteritis (including diarrhea), and (rarely) fever. These reactions are akin to the “leprosy reaction” well described with the therapy of leprosy. The use of prednisone (10-20 mg per day) and/or pentoxifylline (Trental, 400 mg bid or tid), as done for the leprosy reaction, may be beneficial.
I think that all patients should start with supplements/vitamins before they start any antibiotics. Baseline lab studies, including CBC and liver function studies, should be done and these parameters followed every 3-4 months, more frequently (i.e., monthly) for sicker patients. As C. pneumoniae can infect white blood cells and liver cells, potential death of these cells should be monitored in sicker patients. Our initial protocol recommended this. I would add NAC to the supplements. We used amoxicillin, which is degraded in the body to penicillamine (a reducing agent) in our regimen as an anti-elementary body agent, but NAC seems to work equally well and may offer additional benefits in boosting the immune system as well as protecting the liver. As far as supplements/vitamins are concerned, I think Professor David Wheldon’s supplement/vitamin suggestions are very complete and should be the benchmark. Once antibiotics are ready to be started, I would start with a macrolide. We have used Azithromycin because it is easy to give and has become somewhat cheaper since it went off patent. Clarithromycin (500 mg twice a day) or Roxithromycin (300 mg once a day) can be used instead of Azithromycin. I would still give just one 250 mg azithromycin tablet and then wait two weeks to see if there is any reaction to it. Then I would give two tablets, one on Monday and one on Wednesday. Once again I would wait two weeks. I’d continue in this way, adding each dose until the patient was taking 250 mg of azithromycin MWF. If the patient has severe reactions (meaning they can’t work – most people are trying to work and take care of a family while they are on this therapy), I’d slow down the process. After the azithromycin, I’d add doxycycline – again doing this very slowly. Once the patient was taking both azithromycin (250 mg MWF) and doxycycline (100 mg twice a day), I’d start the metronidazole pulses – again, doing these slowly and working up to a once a month pulse of 7 days of metronidazole (500 mg twice a day). Once the patient could do the monthly pulse of metronidazole, I’d add rifampin (300 mg twice a day). Once this was tolerated, I would increase the metronidazole pulse to 14 days, doing so slowly. Eventually, the patient should be able to tolerate metronidazole (500 mg twice a day) on a daily basis. Once a patient could do this regimen without any reactions, I would continue it for at least a year and probably three years for MS patients. It might take a year or two (or longer) to get to the point where there is no reaction to the daily metronidazole, depending on the chlamydial load, followed by 1-3 years of therapy. This might be a 5-year program, but should allow the patient to continue to work with minimal disruption. Patients should also be gradually improving during this time. The sicker the patient is, the longer the therapy is going to be. There is no shortcut. Younger patients who have not been sick as long tend to respond more quickly. ?
With MS patients, due to the possible CNS damage that might occur by going slowly, I would move more quickly unless there were major reactions. This means compressing what might have taken a year into several months.
The reactions patients have are varied – some are severe enough that they stop the antibiotics. That, of course, defeats the purpose of the therapy. It is very tricky and each patient has to learn his own limitations. When we started our protocol, we were thinking of a hotline to answer questions that are now easily and better answered via the internet (http://Cpnhelp.org). Finally, I don’t think this is the only regimen that will work nor do I think it will work better or faster. It is just what I do in 2009 when treating a patient.
I’ve been informed that the late stages of the protocol have been further refined in 2010. Now, once die-off reactions to the metronidazole subside, Dr. Stratton tries rifabutin or rifampin.
I would agree with Dr. Stratton that nutritional supplements should begin 3-4 months before antibiotics, but would add that our diet should be adopted 3-4 months before antibiotics begin. This is necessary to improve immune response and healing capacity; and to avoid unnecessary cell death and die-off toxicity when antibiotics begin. The eleven ways to enhance immunity, discussed in Step Four of the book, should be routinely practiced.
Simply introducing diet and nutrition alone can lead to significant die-off effects. This shows that the adoption of diet and nutritional supplements is therapeutic in its own right.
On a bad diet, antibiotics are dangerous, as they risk gut dysbiosis and introduction of new co-infections.
Like Dr. Stratton, I think being active at http://cpnhelp.org is essential for anyone on this protocol. Many people at cpnhelp.org have used this protocol, often for years, and their experience can be very helpful.
As Dr. Stratton notes, it takes years to cure MS. It is necessary to be patient and to balance speed of killing pathogens against allowing the body time to recover from die-off effects – toxic bacterial proteins and human cell death. Remember, “the dose makes the poison” – doubling the rate of pathogen killing may quadruple the toxicity effects, so the optimum course is not the one with highest rate of pathogen killing. Every patient has to progress at his own pace. Go as fast as you can but no faster.
There are steps that can be taken to reduce die-off toxicity, such as drinking lots of water and eating salt to help urine excretion, and taking “moppers” such as charcoal, bentonite clay, cholestyramine, or chlorella to help assure that toxins released from the liver through the bile are excreted in feces, not re-absorbed.
MS recovery is not impossible; indeed, many have recovered on this protocol. However, it is long and arduous. Optimizing diet will shorten time to recovery, but it will still take years.
MS is not the only disease that may be caused by C. pneumoniae. Alzheimer’s dementia, atherosclerosis, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis, and rosacea are all associated with C. pneumoniae infections and may be treatable by Dr. Stratton’s protocol.
“Multiple Sclerosis: A Curable Infectious Disease?”, July 7, 2010, http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=157.
“Is Multiple Sclerosis an Autoimmune Disease?”, July 5, 2010, http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=151.
“Eleven Steps for Overcoming Alzheimer’s and Other Chronic Infectious Diseases,” July 1, 2010, http://perfecthealthdiet.com/?p=134.