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This blog is not meant to be a comprehensive essay on the subject of measles. In this blog, I will discuss vitamin therapy for the treatment and prevention of measles. I will also cover a list of homeopathic remedies that have been used historically for the treatment of measles. The information here is meant strictly for educational purposes, and will not replace a visit to your doctor’s office or the hospital.

“Measles can be a dangerous disease, especially in third world nations where children are malnourished. In developed nations, measles can be severe when it infects people living in impoverished communities with poor nutrition, sanitation and inadequate health care. Complications are also more likely when the disease strikes infants, adults, and anyone with a compromised immune system. Several studies show that severe cases of measles in children are associated with vitamin A deficiency. When patients with measles are given high doses of vitamin A, their complication rates and chances of dying are significantly reduced. The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend administering 200,000 international units (IUs) of vitamin A to children older than 1 year of age to be given immediately when measles is diagnosed, with a second dose given the following day. Infants who are 6-12 months of age should be given 2 doses of 100,000 IUs of vitamin A. Infants who are younger than 6 months of age should be given 2 doses of 50,000 IUs of vitamin A.” (Excerpt from the book titled Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccines Studies)

The following are several studies on vitamin therapy for measles that the book Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccines Studies shares with the reader:

One such study titled “Vitamin A Supplements and Mortality Related to Measles: Randomized Clinical Trial” was published in the British Medical Journal 1987, January edition. One of the conclusions of this study was the following: “The death rate in children under 2 years of age declined by 87% in the group that received vitamin A supplementation (2.2% mortality) when compared to the group that only received routine treatment (16.7%) mortality).”

According to another study titled “Effectiveness of Measles Vaccination and Vitamin A Treatment” published in the International Journal of Epidemiology 2010, April edition, “Vitamin A treatment for measles recommended by World Health Organization was found to reduce measles mortality by 62%.”

A third study titled “Vitamin A Supplementation Reduces Measles Morbidity in Young African Children: a Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial” was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; 1991, November edition. The conclusion was another remarkable finding: “The morbidity (severity) of the disease was reduced by more than 80% in the group that received vitamin A supplementation. The improvement in health was mainly due to reduced respiratory tract infection.”

Two other interesting studies here: One was published in the Journal of Tropical Pediatrics regarding older children with measles as well as babies of breastfeeding mothers, and how these groups of children can both benefit from vitamin A supplementation. In another study which was published in the British Journal of Nutrition, they found that “vitamin A supplementation was beneficial for newborns …”.

In yet one more study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, they found that “women who have given birth are advised to receive 200,000 IUs of vitamin A to increase the amount transferred in breast milk to the baby.”

Last, but not least, the book Miller’s Review of Critical Vaccines Studies shares another important vitamin, namely vitamin D, for protection against measles: “Evidence that vitamins A and D protect children against complications and death from measles has been available since 1932”. The particular study cited in this book is titled “Intensive Vitamin Therapy in Measles” published in the British Medical Journal, October of 1932. In this study, the researchers found “the hospitalized children who received vitamin A and D supplements were significantly less likely to die compared to the children who did not receive the vitamin therapy (3.7% versus 8.7%).”

So far, we have covered vitamins A and D. Below you will find some relevant information on yet another vitamin (namely vitamin C) for combating measles. The following is an excerpt from an article on vitamin C by Dr. Suzanne Humphries, MD, and its use in measles: “Vitamin C is one of the safest medical wonders on the planet. Cumulative vitamin C information has been published in medical literature since the 1940’s. Despite the evidence of the molecule as life-promoting, therapeutic, and very safe even in high doses, vitamin C as therapy in high doses has been admonished by many medical entities. Vitamins A and C would render measles much easier to treat.”

Dr. Paul Thomas, MD, a pediatrician, recently wrote the following Facebook post: “The measles outbreak has the media in a feeding frenzy. In the past decade there have been an average of 200 measles cases a year and no deaths. The past 20 years just three deaths (a 75-year-old man who got measles in Israel and 2 immunocompromised people). That is out of 300,000,000 people in the U.S. Measles is not endemic. It has been eradicated and it will not return to the States to stay as we do have adequate immunity in the community… To clarify on Vitamin A: The high dose Vitamin A therapy (recommended by the WHO) should ONLY be given if you are fairly sure your child has measles. They were exposed and they have measles-like symptoms. For 99.99% of us that means just take vitamin A or betacarotene (which gets converted to vitamin A) at the RDA dose (Recommended Dietary Allowance) which is always listed on the bottles. I have had two infants under age 1 get a bulging fontanelle after taking high dose vitamin A. I would prefer you purchase the beta carotene version of Vitamin A as this tends to be less toxic. If you have the regular vitamin A and your child gets measles, you can use that (ONLY FOR TWO DAYS AT HIGH DOSE).”

One can deduce from the post above that Dr. Paul Thomas, MD, recommends the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) dose of vitamin A (preferably in the beta carotene form) for preventative purposes, and prescribes the higher doses for treatment only. Why not take the higher doses of vitamin A for prevention? Vitamin A is fat-soluble, and in excessive amounts it can be toxic to the body. I have recommended high daily doses of vitamin A (10,000 IUs or even more) to adults during active viral infections of various kinds for only short periods of time without any problems, however. Of course, we need to be much more cautious with our dosing in children.

NIH (National Institutes of Health) offers the most comprehensive discussion on the subject of vitamin A’s RDA on their website, and I have included that information below for your safety and the safety of your child: “RDAs for vitamin A are given as mcg of retinol activity equivalents (RAE) to account for the different bioactivities of retinol and provitamin A carotenoids (see Table 1). Because the body converts all dietary sources of vitamin A into retinol, 1 mcg of physiologically available retinol is equivalent to the following amounts from dietary sources: 1 mcg of retinol, 12 mcg of beta-carotene, and 24 mcg of alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin. From dietary supplements, the body converts 2 mcg of beta-carotene to 1 mcg of retinol.

Currently, vitamin A is listed on food and supplement labels in international units (IUs) even though nutrition scientists rarely use this measure. Conversion rates between mcg RAE and IU are as follows:
• 1 IU retinol (preformed vitamin A) = 0.3 mcg RAE
• 1 IU beta-carotene from dietary supplements = 0.15 mcg RAE
• 1 IU beta-carotene from food = 0.05 mcg RAE
• 1 IU alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin = 0.025 mcg RAE

However, under FDA’s new labeling regulations for foods and dietary supplements that take effect by January 1, 2020 (for companies with annual sales of $10 million or more) or January 1, 2021 (for smaller companies), vitamin A will be listed only in mcg RAE and not IUs.

An RAE cannot be directly converted into an IU without knowing the source(s) of vitamin A. For example, the RDA of 900 mcg RAE for adolescent and adult men is equivalent to 3,000 IU if the food or supplement source is preformed vitamin A (retinol). However, this RDA is also equivalent to 6,000 IU of beta-carotene from supplements, 18,000 IU of beta-carotene from food, or 36,000 IU of alpha-carotene or beta-cryptoxanthin from food. So a mixed diet containing 900 mcg RAE provides between 3,000 and 36,000 IU of vitamin A, depending on the foods consumed.”

Table 1: Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin A

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–6 months* 400 mcg RAE 400 mcg RAE
7–12 months* 500 mcg RAE 500 mcg RAE
1–3 years 300 mcg RAE 300 mcg RAE
4–8 years 400 mcg RAE 400 mcg RAE
9–13 years 600 mcg RAE 600 mcg RAE
14–18 years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE 750 mcg RAE 1,200 mcg RAE
19–50 years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE 770 mcg RAE 1,300 mcg RAE
51+ years 900 mcg RAE 700 mcg RAE

* Adequate Intake (AI), equivalent to the mean intake of vitamin A in healthy, breastfed infants.

To simplify the NIH’s complicated recommendations above, I would like to point out that if you are indeed using a “vitamin A” supplement, to calculate the RDA in IUs, you need to divide the mcg’s from the table above by 0.3. This is how they arrived at 3000 IUs for RDA for an adult- they divided 900 mcg by 0.3 since 1 IU of retinol (preformed vitamin A) equals 0.3 mcg RAE. And, if you are using beta-carotene from a supplement, to calculate the RDA in IUs, you need to divide the mcg’s from the table above by 0.15. This is how they arrived at 6,000 IUs for RDA for an adult- they divided 900 mcg by 0.15 since 1 IU of beta-carotene from dietary supplements equals 0.15 mcg RAE. Note that for prolonged use of vitamin A you must talk to your physician about the subject of dosing to avoid toxicity.

Last but not least, how about homeopathy for prevention and/or treatment of measles? Dr. Robin Murphy, ND, one of the world’s most well-known homeopaths shares some insights on measles in his book titled Epidemics and Homeopathy. According to Dr. Murphy, the top homeopathic remedies that may be used for the treatment of measles include: Aconite nap, Antimonium tart, Apis mel, Arsenicum alb, Belladonna, Bryonia alb, Camphora, Euphrasia off, Gelsemium, Ipecac, Mercurius sol (or viv), Morbillinum, Phosphorus, Pulsatilla, Rhus tox, and Scilla. Selecting the correct remedy requires a thorough knowledge of these homeopathic remedies. In short, the “indicated” remedy is one whose keynotes best match the signs and symptoms the patient presents with. What are keynotes? Each remedy has a list of characteristics that can be found in homeopathic books or even on the internet. The top characteristics of each remedy are known as “keynotes”. The remedy Morbillinum is the “nosode” for measles, and may be used preventatively. The idea here is similar to vaccination. A nosode is a homeopathic remedy derived from the causative agent (be it a bacteria or virus, etc.), and since it is prepared homeopathically, it is extremely diluted- thus similar to vaccines. It does not take the place of vaccines, of course, but the idea is similar. If there were to be a serious outbreak in the society, many homeopaths would likely recommend the prophylactic (meaning preventative) use of the appropriate nosode (in this case Morbillinum) until the outbreak is over- I would likely recommend Morbillinum 30c to be used daily initially for a couple of weeks, and then a few times a week until the outbreak is over. If the actual disease is contracted at any point (with or without the use of this remedy), or if people who have caught the condition appear to be responding well to another specific homeopathic remedy (a remedy that is most likely in the list of remedies mentioned above), then it’s better to stop taking Morbillinum, and switch to the other remedy that appears to be helping people. Homeopathy can get rather complicated, so a consultation with a homeopathic practitioner is needed in order to come up with the appropriate remedy.

For those who are unfamiliar with homeopathy, homeopathic remedies are totally natural. They are extremely diluted and as a result considered to be completely safe. They come in tiny sugar pills that are to be taken orally. The pills dissolve in the mouth on their own. Avoid food/drinks for at least 5-10 minutes after the use of a dose of any homeopathic remedies. How many pills do you take at any given time? Strangely enough, whether you take one or ten, the effect of the remedy is similar. More does NOT mean better in homeopathy. Therefore, to preserve your pills, just take one pill at a time (despite what the label might say), and that is considered to be “one” dose. During most acute illnesses, one dose of the appropriate homeopathic remedy 2-3 times per day on the first day is typically a good approach. Starting day 2 or 3, one dose a day is sufficient in most acute illnesses for most individuals. The magic rule in homeopathy is “take the minimum dose”. If you take the remedy too often, it can back fire and cause some potential side effects. Assuming a dose of the remedy helps with any of the symptoms, we wait until there is a decline in the patient’s progress at which time the next dose of the remedy is taken. If the remedy does not help at all after 2-3 doses, then it is not the correct remedy, and should not be repeated.

If you think your child might have measles, many medical clinics might advise you to go in at the end of the day to prevent the spread of the illness to other patients, and to make sure you all wear masks.

In order to extend some hope and encouragement to concerned parents, I would like to share the following paragraph from the book titled Childhood Vaccinations written by Dr. Lauren Feder, MD: “Before the vaccination program was licensed in 1967, nearly every American child born before 1957 had measles. Most recovered without any serious consequences.”

We at Whole Health Clinic hope that you and your family stay healthy during this outbreak. I must say that my concern presently is not so much measles, but the possibility of a pandemic flu or an Ebola outbreak or another deadly contagious condition that could put millions of lives at risk. I am presently gathering data on various past and present epidemics and pandemics (such as the flu, anthrax, Ebola, polio, TB, malaria, etc.), and am researching the medical literature on possible homeopathic treatments for such conditions in case of any major outbreaks.