Vitamin D supplementation, Marshall protocol

by | Jan 19, 2013 | Columns, Healing Lyme, miscellaneous, vitamin d | 11 comments

Dear Stephen,
This is not a question, but rather a comment on the issue very close to my heart. I’ve just purchased your book and finding it extremely helpful. While browsing through your website I came across the topic of vitamin D and lyme disease. You mentioned that you do not really have the experience with it yourself, so cannot advise people. I would like to share my perspective with you. I live in South Africa and I only was diagnosed with lyme this year although I suspected I had a very abnormal bacterial infection for at least 4 years. But – you know the story – the numerous doctors I went to did not want to listen etc. We do not have any LLMDs here anyway, the only more or less knowledgeable doctor specializing in rickettsial infections lives 600 km away. So I had to make do with normal ignorant lot.
To cut a long story short, a year ago I went to see a local MD as my health kept deteriorating (in our sunny Durban winter it did a couple of sudden downwards steps I could not find a reason to at the time). But I was about 60% functional. The doctor believed I was having some sort of a rheumatic illness because of my muscle pains and one blood test. So he gave me an arthritis supplement – innocent combination of GA, vitamins etc., which I started taking as I did not think it could do me any wrong. However a few days later I started feeling worse and worse. A month later from being 60% functional I became 10% functional – my previously normal to low BP shot up, I was having sudden fatigue episodes which I did not have in any previous years of my illness, my heart palpitations became much worse, my nose was bleeding, I could not sleep. By that stage I was hopping from one doctor to another.
Somebody suggested I had fibromyalgia (FMS) and that malic acid and vitamin D were good for people with FMS. So I added this to my list of supplements. Fortunately I came across a very nice naturopath during that time who confirmed that all my symptoms of many years were consistent with the infection, although he was puzzled with the most recent developments. As I was sitting one night reading up on lyme disease I came across a link to the Marshall protocol. I clicked on that link not expecting anything much from it as I was getting tired of all the various suggestions about the possible cures. But as I started reading I had one of the very rare “eureka!” moments when everything is suddenly is crystal clear and falls into place (I may have had it about 5 times in my whole life).
All the new symptoms I started experiencing were correlating very strongly with the vitamin D toxicity and consequent vitamin K deficiency; the worsening of my conditions occurred every time I got prolonged sun exposure too! Perhaps I owe Professor Marshall my life – after 1.5 months on the increased vitamin D consumption I was developing not just heart palpitations, but angina like pains, so I was lying in bed at night thinking I may die any moment. Of course I stopped taking anything with vitamin D immediately, but it took some time for it to get out of my system. I also developed a horrendous light sensitivity when I started taking the natural antibiotic my naturopath prescribed me – its behavior corresponded to a T to what Professor Marshall described in his works. Again, had it not been for the information on his website I would not have known how to protect myself from the light as there are no resources for dealing with anything like this in South Africa.
From what I read I could identify that I am probably one of the few unlucky individuals with the faulty mechanism of vitamin D metabolism. Not only did I have unexplained sickness after being out in the sun in the past, but other parts of my history were consistent too – hirsutism, which neither genetics nor hormone levels could account for, negative Mantu reaction were the early warning signs nobody knew how to interpret. I spent a lot of time studying all the information Professor Marshall has put out there. I like most of it and agree with many of his brilliant concepts and ideas. However, being a scientist, I recognize the danger of falling in love with creating global theories, so I was not that impressed when I saw that he started attributing all chronic diseases to just the vitamin D receptor issue. Life is much more complex.
Nevertheless, his finding still stands true – there are people, myself included – who do not metabolize vitamin D in the normal way and thus these people should never be given vitamin D supplements as this will create a huge problem for their immune system. So this is the personal information I wanted to share. I can talk hours about it, but I do not want to waste your time. My only aim was to bring to your attention a real case study when vitamin D made a lyme patient worse, not better. Thank you!

Stephen’s response:
I think you are correct in that some people do have trouble with vitamin D. Oddly enough in some people vitamin D supplementation helps them recover. I think your approach was the best one, that is, to really take a look at what is happening to you and then find out what works for you and what does not. The one thing that lyme generally does do for anyone without a closed mind is to generate humility. There is no one way to health and the lyme bacteria make sure that that message is strong and clear. Thanks for your input.

This protocol was incredible. After only a few weeks most of my symptoms were gone. After six months all my symptoms were gone… it has given me my life back.

– Amazon review by Joseph

Please note:

Stephen Buhner is no longer living and this Q + A column on Planet Thrive is closed to new questions. It will be kept on our website so readers can access vital information in the archives, communicate with each other in the comments section, and find herbs, books + lyme adjuncts in our directory. If you want to read more of Stephen’s writings, please see his website at:

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  1. Chris

    Vitamin d should never be supplemented. Its a crime its added to so much food. It arrests the immune system. That’s why many people feel better from it short term. Magnesium is the key to fixing vitamin d levels. D3 supplements is a multi million dollar industry….

  2. Frances

    I’ve read with concern about the Marshall protocol as I recently started Dr Stasha Grominak’s protocol with Vit. D (a hormone) and Vit. B spplementation to help cure sleep disorder associated with Lyme-like illness, which is not recognised in Australia.

  3. Izzy

    So vitamin d3 supplent is bad for some people
    Not all
    Any way i tried googling to find bad things about d3 but couldnt find any
    Lso ittl be almost impossible to avoid it
    Even my organic milk that i just bought has added vitamn d

  4. Greg Bryson

    Both vitamins A and D regulate aspects of the immune system. The interaction of these vitamins, as well as with vitamin K (especially K2) and vitamin E is complicated. Toxicity of vitamin D probably only occurs when there is insufficient vitamin A and K and/or insufficient thyroid hormone. Supplementing vitamin D carries some risk even when those are accounted for because the blood test is only a snapshot of one aspect of its metabolism. Sometimes you need to pay attention to calcium or magnesium levels or perhaps test parathyroid hormone. I suggest looking at Chris Masterjohn’s writings and videos on the topic.

  5. Mo

    I am one of those that has genetic mutations to vitamin d however there are ways to supplement vitamin d given your genetics. You have to incorporate sage and rosemary per dr yasko. This has worked great for me because I greatly need supplementation. Helps tremendously with muscle pain in my hips neck shoulder and hip. I am doing the Yasko protocol and its been a lifechanger. I too thought i had lyme but it turned out i had a lot of genetic mutations that just caught up with me. Dr Amy Yasko has answered all of the questions no one else has been able to even phd naturopaths. She is a geneticist with a background in alternative medicine. I have many of the buhner books and they are fantastic. Great fan and wish someday all these great minds may work together.

  6. marty

    My son was on the Marshall protocol plan for Lymes…and has bee free of the desease…however he has now developed tourette syndrom from the strong doses…so now looking for answers…

  7. healing lyme admin

    Thanks so much for sharing this info Mo. Can you share — in what form do you take sage and rosemary, as fresh herbs or essential oils? If fresh herbs, how much do you have to take in order to benefit? And do you take synthetic vitamin D3 as well? I have genetic mutations and very low vit D so this resonates for me, would love to hear more! Thank you!

  8. Corne Nieuwoudt

    Good day.

    Im looking for a Doctor in South Africa preferably in Gauteng who can advise me on the Marshall Protocol. Ive come across a Dr Jadin? Ive got Fibromialgia. Any information regarding this will be helpfull. Friendly Greetings

  9. Laura

    I’ve stopped all Vit D and make my own egg shell calcium. In addition, adding herbs is my choice of healing right now

  10. Mo

    Did anyone ever find any answers to this question? I have VDR (vit D receptor) mutations. I had testing through Amy Yasko. I. recall there being a suggestion that people with this issue are to take rosemary and/or sage. Don’t quote me on this. Still looking for answers myself.

  11. mel

    Some people with chronic illness apparently get much worse from medications, food groups, supplements, and therapies that seem to benefit others. Understanding that each person is different and approaching healing with an open mind, curiosity, and persistence can be instrumental…

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