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Protocol Review: The Marshall Protocol

A friend of mine gave a lecture at our fibromyalgia support group one day, and I noticed how healthy she look. So, after the meeting, she proceeded to inform me that she had been on the Marshall Protocol for more than a year. She explained some of the basics and gave me a DVD of a convention that the "Marshall-ites" attend. Over the next few months, she had convinced me to give it a try, and I was more than willing since I had be having difficulty with my fibromyalgia with not much help from the physicians that were treating me. So, I began Phase I of the Marshall Protocol in September 2007. What is the Marshall Protocol? And is it an effective treatment plan for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome?

The Marshall Protocol was created by Dr. Trevor Marshall who had been diagnosed with Sarcoidosis. Not wanting to take the medication normally prescribed for Sarcoidosis (methotrexate and prednisone among others), Dr. Marshall discovered a way to reduce Th1 inflammation in the body by avoiding vitamin D. The main sources of vitamin D are sunlight and calcium. The idea is to reduce the body's vitamin D to a certain level, and once that is done, the patient is prescribed Benicar, an antibiotic, to kill this "bacteria" that has caused these Th1 illnesses. And from there, you find yourself in outer space. I believe some physicians would have difficulty understanding how the protocol works which is probably the reason why most physicians won't touch it. But, if you want more information about this protocol, click here.

Here is my experience with the Marshall Protocol:

I was having some type of "inflammatory attacks" on the left side of my face when I was exposed to sunlight, bright lights, and when I took calcium supplements or ate cheese. To this day, I do not know what was causing it, but I was experiencing it, and doctors didn't know why. Desperate for relief, I began Phase I of the MP which is to avoid sunlight, supplements and foods containing vitamin D. It was a challenge, but I was determined. The "inflammatory attacks" diminished, and I thought that I was on to something. I continued the MP for the 3 months which is the usual length of time in Phase I, and some abnormal tests that I had previously had suddenly became normal. For example, I had an abnormal brain MRI two years prior, and doctors suspected multiple sclerosis (which was ruled out just a month ago, thank goodness). When the third neurologist ordered another MRI, these supposed lesions had "resolved". This is what cause the fourth neurologist that I saw to conclude that it wasn't MS. To this day, no one really knows what caused that first MRI to be abnormal. The second example, (now I'm going to get a little personal here) I had been having abnormal pap smears for 10 years. The OB/GYN had scheduled a LEEP procedure. Instead, she decided to test once more, and guess what it was NORMAL for the first time in ten years. Was this a 'freak of nature', or was it the Marshall Protocol? I don't know; I can't explain it.

Whatever the case, the conditions that I described above are not the same as fibromyalgia since inflammation is involved in each case. Sarcoidosis and multiple sclerosis are autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation when the disease is active. And sometimes after an abnormal pap smear, further testing by means of a colposcopy may result in a lab report of inflammation. Yes, I can see how the MP can help someone with an inflammatory condition. But, fibromyalgia is not an inflammatory illness; there is no inflammation found in the muscles or joints, therefore, I cannot envision the science behind the Marshall Protocol and fibromyalgia. While I noticed a difference in the facial pain and the feeling of inflammation, I did not notice a difference in my fibromyalgia pain.

Lowering vitamin D levels is also a problem with this protocol. Research studies has revealed that lower vitamin D levels are linked to increased pain. Being that vitamin D is an enemy to this protocol, a person may expose oneself to increased risks and more pain.

I also had a problem with the "herx" phenomenon, which is now called immunopathology. This is described as a severe reaction to the bacteria destruction. When starting Phase II, Benicar and minocyline are prescribed. The Benicar is supposed to kill the bacteria and the minocyline is supposed to help counteract the herx reaction. When I saw the video and heard this woman express her Herx experience about how she ended up paralyzed for two weeks because this immunopathology, I was done!

The video shared many testimonies of how the MP had helped these individuals, but all of them were in "recovery." Recovery is the process of being "cured. I may have seen one other person other than "Dr." Marshall that had recovered (past tense). Most people may not know that Sarcoidosis is an illness that can go into remission and in some cases, never return. This can happen without the MP. So how do we know that his sarcoid was put in remission by the MP or if it went into remission on its own? Did I mention that Trevor Marshall has the letters PhD and not MD behind his name? It makes you wonder if it was a mind-thing all along-just one big placebo effect. However, my friend looked healthier, and she had a more positive outlook. I haven't seen her in awhile, so I don't know if she is "herx-ing", "recovering, or "recovered." All I know is that M-P is not for M-E.

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