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Friday, 9 September 2016

How to treat Vitamin D deficiency with Chinese medicine?

Tiejun Tang

Many patients have told me that they have been diagnosed with vitamin D deficiency. These patients seemed to dismiss this “small” problem because it didn’t cause serious symptoms. Actually I believe we should pay attention to this condition. Next are some common questions, I have been asked by my clients and my answers:
Q: Do I have vitamin D deficiency?      

A: If you often feel general tiredness, vague aches, pains and a general sense of being unwell, you need to check your blood VD level.  If you are an office worker, didn’t have enough sunshine, or at the age of menopause or above you need to have your VD checked. In the UK, 90% of the obsese population has VD deficiency [1]. The South Asian community in the U.K have higher prevalence of VD deficiency compare to white people because of different lifestyle[2].

Q: Do I need any treatment?

A: The early stage of VD deficiency can have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. It is easy to ignore. The main function of VD is regulating the calcium and phosphorus metabolism and it plays a key role in osteoporosis and adults and rickets in children. A recent study from Cambridge fund that VD is a custodian of cell signalling stability in health and disease. It See comment in PubMed Commons belowcontributes to many human diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Parkinson's disease (PD), multiple sclerosis (MS), hypertension and cardiovascular diseases [3].  If you have VD deficiency, you have high risk of these diseases. You need to get your VD level rebalance to reduce the risk of many serious diseases.

Q: How to treat VD insufficiency

A: Western medicine usually gives external VD and calcium to treat VD deficiency. Self-administration of Vitamin D supplements in the general public can result in high to toxic 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels [4]. A Randomised, placebo controlled clinical trial report showed calcium supplementation in healthy postmenopausal women is associated with upward trends in cardiovascular event rates. This potentially detrimental effect should be balanced against the likely benefits of calcium on bone[5]. The best treatment of VD deficiency should be a nature way like regulate diet and lifestyle, nature herbal medicine and acupuncture.

Q: What is Chinese medicine’s opinion on VD deficiency?

A: According to traditional Chinese medicine theory kidney dominates the bone. The strength of bone depends on kidney essence. The hydroxylase of the kidney can active 25-hydroxycholecalcifero into 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol, it is endogenous vitamin D3. To read more about kidney dominate bone theory please reference my previous publication.
VD deficiency is due to kidney deficiency in TCM opinion.   
Q: How to treat VD deficiency by Chinese medicine?
A: Any kidney tonify method can benefit VD. Acupuncture treatment should focus on the kidney meridian like KI 3, KI 6, BL23, DU4, apply reinforce manipulation. Kidney tonifying herbs can be select according to the principle of syndrome differentiation diagnosis. Kidney Yin deficiency use modified Liuwei Dihuang Wan; Kidney Yang use modified Jingui Shenqi Wan. Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture are good at balance Yin & Yang. Since the most of Chinese medicine has a bidirectional adjustment effect, the side effect of external VD and calcium can be avoided.
Kidney tonify herbs usually have health maintaining and anti-aging functions. In ancient China from emperor to ordinary people everybody like to take kidney tonifying pills or decoctions even though they never know what vitamin D is.

1.      Grace C. High prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency in a United Kingdom urban morbidly obese population: implications for testing and treatment.  See comment in PubMed Commons belowSurgObesRelat Dis. 2014;10(2):355-60.

2.      Kift R. Lifestyle factors including less cutaneous sun exposure contribute to starkly lower vitamin D levels in U.K. South Asians compared with the white population. Br J Dermatol. 2013;169(6):1272-8.

3.      Berridge MJ. Vitamin D: a custodian of cell signalling stability in health and disease. BiochemSoc Trans. 201; 43(3):349-58.

4.      Shea R. ANNALS EXPRESS: Self-administration of Vitamin D supplements in the general public can result in high to toxic 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. Ann ClinBiochem. 2016; 15.

5.      Mark J Bolland. Vascular events in healthy older women receiving calcium supplementation: randomised controlled trial.BMJ. 2008; 336(7638): 262–266.

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