Dr. Thomas Levy -- How COVID Helped Me Regain Good Health

Wayne

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I've been a big fan of Dr. Thomas Levy and his line of research for many years. Now I find that like myself, his health has improved since getting COVID. He's written a number of articles on COVID-19 since the pandemic started, and I always find them to be well-researched, with a wealth of information for anybody looking to protect themselves with mostly non-drug methods. The below e-mail that I just received today gives somewhat of a review of his previous articles, but breaks much new ground.

In the article below, he describes what he did to achieve better health post-COVID. When I saw this article, I noticed much overlap between some of the things I was doing that worked well, and what Dr. Levy did--and continues to do. His list is more comprehensive than mine, but I did some things that he doesn't mention. I plan to describe more of what I did in future posts. -- Of note: I noticed that many of his health improvements were from conditions that closely resemble symptoms of ME/CFS.

I realize this is a fairly long article, and some here may not be able to--or inclined to--read it all. So I'll just mention one thing (of many) things I found astounding in his description of his recovery from COVID; He totally regained his sense of taste within 3-4 minutes of starting an IV Vit. C treatment. That sure got my attention; did it get yours? :) He also touches on topics like air-hunger, sleep quality @Mary, and so much more. I think the following is truly an extraordinary compilation of information that has relevance for pwME/CFS, and for those who are looking for insights or ways to help protect themselves from COVID. @Marylib @anne_likes_red @vision blue @hapl808

................................

This article may be reprinted free of charge provided 1) that there is clear attribution to the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, and 2) that both the OMNS free subscription link http://orthomolecular.org/subscribe.html and also the OMNS archive link http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/index.shtml are included.​
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, February 1, 2022
How COVID Helped Me Regain Good Health
Editorial by Thomas E. Levy, MD, JD
OMNS (Feb. 1, 2022) Most truly healthy people do not actually realize they are healthy, especially if they have never had a significant chronic disease or infection. And that is a normal reaction to being healthy. You just enjoy life without being focused on multiple ways in which you might eventually become unhealthy. Someone who has never suffered with headaches is not going to marvel that they are headache-free. Someone who has never had heartburn after a beer and pizza is not going to marvel at how good their stomach and gut feel afterwards. The person who is completely healthy and has always been so, who appreciates how precious that health is, and who works hard at doing everything possible to stay healthy is the rarest of individuals. Most people who are working hard at staying healthy have already been significantly ill in the past, and they have no desire to become ill again. It is human nature to notice and focus on feeling bad, not to celebrate feeling good.​
I have never considered myself to be exceptionally healthy or sick. But I have always felt that, for whatever reason, my immune system was not close to working optimally at any time in my life. "Hay fever," sneezing, runny nose, and coughing from a postnasal drip have been with me since age 7 or 8 (I am 71 at the time of this writing.) My mother was able to get me a prescription for chlorpheniramine, an antihistamine on which I have relied for symptom relief for literally my entire life (long since available without a prescription). Even though I knew at a young age that using up a box of facial tissue every few days was not "normal," I had no choice but to accept it and work with it.​
Similarly, my major health problem for most of my life has centered on easily contracting and then keeping colds and influenza. Such infections would always last weeks for me, with some severe chronic coughing and often just feeling poorly for months. A chronic nasal congestion made truly restful sleep an impossibility much of the time, along with the common spasms of coughing waking me after finally falling asleep. For many years, my chronic cough would be associated with a metallic taste in the back of my throat, which I felt was due to the iron-rich pathogens that had to be colonizing there.​
Whenever I had X-rays at the dentist, air-fluid levels were consistently noted to be present in the sinuses directly above my upper jawbone (there should never be fluid in your sinuses). And even though I had infected teeth adjacent to those sinuses extracted in the past, it never really seemed to improve the chronic sinusitis with which I was afflicted.​
It was these chronic conditions that resulted in my experimenting a great deal with the nebulization of a large number of different agents for several months to a year, starting several years ago when I first realized the therapeutic potentials of nebulization while researching the literature for my book, Magnesium: Reversing Disease. When I finally researched the physiology of hydrogen peroxide in the body and started nebulizing it, I achieved an incredible relief from much of the sinus-nose-throat symptoms described above. The scientific reasons for these clinical experiences are explained in my book, Rapid Virus Recovery, the eBook of which I have made available due to its ability to consistently hasten the resolution of respiratory tract viral infections, including COVID. (To download a complimentary copy, go to www.rvr.medfoxpub.com). Past OMNS articles that address these and related issues also include:​
On December 11, 2021, another of my OMNS articles was published (http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v17n28.shtml) This article discussed the synergistic relationship between vitamin C and cortisol [hydrocortisone], especially in the context of their role in the response of the body to acute stress, infection, and toxin exposures. In a nutshell, the premise of the article is that all possible positive clinical responses to any condition are ultimately realized by normalizing cytoplasmic levels of vitamin C in the affected cells. Very high doses of vitamin C (doses of 50 grams intravenously or higher) are effective at doing this, but lower multi-gram vitamin C doses, orally or intravenously, appear to require the assistance of cortisol to realize optimal intracellular levels of vitamin C.​
Ironically, this article appeared roughly two weeks prior to my having a prolonged, shaking chill directly prior to going to bed. The next morning my infection with COVID was well-established in my body. As there was no shortness of breath, my untested assumption was that I contracted the Omicron variant. Nevertheless, for the next 10 days, I was sicker than I have ever been in my life. The most prominent symptoms were profound fatigue and almost a completely inability to focus and think about anything. I had no appetite or hunger at all, and I promptly lost my ability to taste any food. It was actually too much effort to even want to chew. At its worst, I sustained what little energy I had with a couple of protein shakes a day. I think I might now realize how a zombie must feel.​
After the first few days had passed, I decided to give myself some intravenous vitamin C. I did not do this at first because I simply did not have the energy or focus to do so. I put 25 grams of vitamin C in a 50-cc syringe and inserted a 21-gauge butterfly needle in my left arm. As I usually get very thirsty during such a procedure, I had a root beer ready to drink as I proceeded with my injection. Of note, my first sip before placing the butterfly needle had very little taste and only remotely was identifiable as root beer. After about 3 or 4 minutes during which I administered roughly 9 to 10 grams of vitamin C as an IV push, I took another drink of root beer. I was stunned. At that moment, I had completely regained my taste and the root beer was full-flavored. It was immediately clear that the rapid administration of a large dose of vitamin C intravenously could completely reverse the loss of taste associated with the COVID infection.​
Not really having the desire to repeatedly go through the process of giving myself IV injections of vitamin C over the following few days, my befogged brain remembered the article I had written on vitamin C and cortisol. After discussing the situation with my friend and colleague, Dr. Ron Hunninghake of the Riordan Clinic, I decided to start taking oral hydrocortisone along with my oral vitamin C. Several times a day I took a 20 mg hydrocortisone tablet along with 4 grams of regular vitamin C and 3 to 10 grams of liposome-encapsulated vitamin C from LivOn Labs. I rapidly started to respond positively.​
Of additional note is that I had a good friend graciously taking care of me during this time period. She had just finished dealing with COVID about a week earlier, and she felt fine except for the continued complete loss of taste, which understandably distressed her greatly. Following my highly-dosed IV vitamin C injection with the rapid return of taste, I decided to give her 3 grams of liposome-encapsulated vitamin C orally with 20 mg of cortisol. Several hours later she noticed some taste returning. This was repeated for the following 3 days with her taste returning to a near-normal degree after the full 4-day period of VC-cortisol therapy. It was very clear to me that the VC-cortisol combination was working some magic in getting vitamin C inside the cells.​
Post-COVID Recovery
As my VC-cortisol-aided recovery became complete, I realized my clinical surprises were only beginning. Not only did I finally completely resolve my bout with COVID after about a 2-week period of illness, I quickly noticed that my previous state of "health" had not only returned, but that I was feeling better than I had in literally 30 to 40 years. Upon discussing the situation with Dr. Hunninghake, I decided that my usual daily vitamin C intake needed to be optimized with an accompanying administration of cortisol. The chronic administration of low doses of hydrocortisone is discussed at length in William McK. Jefferies book, Safe Uses of Cortisol. After trial-and-error dosing based on a sense of well-being, I finally settled in with a dose of 3 grams of liposome-encapsulated vitamin C accompanied by a 10 mg dose of hydrocortisone twice daily, once at 8 am and the other at about 4 pm.​
The work of Dr. Jefferies made it clear to me that I had suffered from an advanced degree of adrenal fatigue with cortisol insufficiency nearly my entire life, but especially over the last 30 years. The vitamin C-cortisol protocol has had the following remarkable effects described below, improving or resolving a wide array of symptoms, nearly all of which had been present for decades:​
  • The complete elimination of runny nose and the associated allergy-like symptoms
    • The resolution of a chronic left middle ear fluid/mucus accumulation, sometimes associated with vertigo, and a literal inability to sleep with the head turned to the left on the pillow without getting dizzy
      • The return of free and easy breathing at all times, without periods of nasal stuffiness and the need to breathe through the mouth. Also, the loss of an "air hunger," a peculiar, seemingly neurotic, inability to take a "full" breath, but without a genuine underlying shortness of breath. It would "disappear" the moment I got distracted and started doing something other than concentrating on my breathing.
      • The ability to consistently sleep soundly, something I had never known in my entire life
      • The complete elimination of chronic cough (which had been greatly reduced but not completely eliminated by the hydrogen peroxide nebulization protocol); family and close friends had just accepted my "need" to cough hundreds of times daily, even in the absence of any acute respiratory infection. It is actually the minimal return of the desire to cough (a "sentinel" symptom) that allows me to increase, usually temporarily, the size or frequency of a cortisol dose with my vitamin C.
      • The elimination of the need to continue my nebulization on a regular basis, as cough would tend to recur if not done at least every few days
      • The complete disappearance of years of metallic taste in the throat
      • A striking increase in energy, without the need or desire to take naps
      • A striking decrease in pulse and a stabilization of often-elevated blood pressure (pulse from high 80s to low 90s now dropping as low as high 60s; BPs going from diastolics of 80 to 90 down to mid-60s to low 70s)
      • The complete resolution of heartburn and an acid stomach, present for many decades with an enormous daily intake of sodium bicarbonate for relief, along with other agents
      • An improvement in long-standing heat and cold sensitivity, along with a dramatic decrease in the occurrence of what had been daily soaking night sweats present for the past 8 years or so
      • A significant decline in chronic lower back pain present for many years
      • The loss of a tendency to be depressed
      • The complete loss of sugar cravings, with very little desire to consume sweets even when readily available. I am still marveling at the disappearance of this lifelong "obsession."
Adrenal/Cortisol Insufficiency: The Unrecognized Pandemic
Realizing that most older individuals lose their ability to make adequate amounts of the sex hormones or of thyroid hormone, it became logically apparent, along with the information reported in Dr. Jefferies' book, that the vast majority of adults eventually reach a point where they are no longer capable of making enough cortisol, either at rest or following stress, to stay healthy. And as with any hormone deficiency, it can be minimal to severe in degree, depending on the individual. With my array of symptoms, it appeared that my deficiency has been substantial for most of my life, and arguably quite severe for the last 30 years.​
The complete loss of cortisol synthesis and secretion by the adrenal glands is known as Addison's disease. Complete replacement cortisol therapy, which might require as much as 40 mg hydrocortisone daily in divided doses, can allow such individuals to live normal lives. However, without such replacement therapy, death will ensue very rapidly, often occurring in the context of a rapid and overwhelming infection, usually viral.​
As discussed in the December 11, 2022 OMNS article cited above, a working diagnosis of some degree of adrenal fatigue/cortisol insufficiency can be made when you contract a respiratory infection but cannot resolve it in a day or less. The classical symptoms of acute influenza, for example, are essentially identical to the symptoms of just a profound deficiency of cortisol secretion in the body. However, when you have enough vitamin C and cortisol present, you simply do not (or more precisely, cannot) get a viral infection. And if you are subjected to an overwhelming large viral exposure, you will only get mild symptoms that promptly resolve. As a working rule of thumb, staying sick with a cold, flu, or COVID for several days is seen with mild adrenal fatigue. The longer the infection stays, however, the greater the degree of cortisol insufficiency can be expected to be present.​
Basically, the pathogens that cause disease are always present, and the ability to keep normal levels of vitamin C inside the cells of the body (and the respiratory tract) is what keeps us well and the pathogens at bay. When this ability is compromised, infections always result, and eventually chronic diseases will follow.​
Of course, the only way to be able to take supportive cortisol therapy with your vitamin C is to have an integrative physician willing to work with you. If you find a physician who is open to such a protocol, he/she can feel free to email me: televymd@yahoo.com.​
(Cardiologist and attorney-at-law Thomas E. Levy is a Contributing Editor for the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service. Dr. Levy serves as a consultant to LivOn Labs.)
Nutritional Medicine is Orthomolecular Medicine
Orthomolecular medicine uses safe, effective nutritional therapy to fight illness. For more information: http://www.orthomolecular.org
Find a Doctor
To locate an orthomolecular physician near you: http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v06n09.shtml
The peer-reviewed Orthomolecular Medicine News Service is a non-profit and non-commercial informational resource.​
 
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a working diagnosis of some degree of adrenal fatigue/cortisol insufficiency can be made when you contract a respiratory infection but cannot resolve it in a day or less.
What is wrong with the 24 hour urine cortisol test? Is not it a better indicator? Btw I have never met anyone capable of resolving a respiratory infection in 3 days or less.
 

Learner1

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The classical symptoms of acute influenza, for example, are essentially identical to the symptoms of just a profound deficiency of cortisol secretion in the body. However, when you have enough vitamin C and cortisol present, you simply do not (or more precisely, cannot) get a viral infection. And if you are subjected to an overwhelming large viral exposure, you will only get mild symptoms that promptly resolve. As a working rule of thumb, staying sick with a cold, flu, or COVID for several days is seen with mild adrenal fatigue. The longer the infection stays, however, the greater the degree of cortisol insufficiency can be expected to be present
I've had adrenal insuffiency, adrenal crisis and too much cortisol. I've had viral infections in all states. High dose vitamin C and hydrocortisone can certainly be helpful, but overdoing it can be harmful.

Additionally, before doing IV C it is essential to determine G6PD genetics and iron status or mitochondrial damage and/or death may result.

What is wrong with the 24 hour urine cortisol test? Is not it a better indicator?
I've found it very useful to understand my cortisol levels. I think making assumptions can lead to wrong conclusions.
 

vision blue

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Vit C is well known for covid and one of the first things to be reseaced. Was discovered in Wuhan at the very beginning. Later work has suggested big individual differences in effectiveness tbought to stem from known big individual Differences in vit C transport system

If he or anyone is cortisol Deficient, that seems like a very easy thing to test and get confirmation for since cortisol saliva test have been shown to be accurate

In the case of covid and cortisone , to the extent catastrophic reactions are due to overreaction of immune system as many believe, the immunosupressent Properties of Cortizone might be having a beneficial effect there

And outside of Covid or proven low levels, ,claiming benefit reminds me of the joke from I believe the 1960s that Cortisone let you walk to your own funeral. Well known to make people feel great but hurts rather than hps long term
 

Wayne

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If he or anyone is cortisol Deficient, that seems like a very easy thing to test and get confirmation for since cortisol saliva test have been shown to be accurate
Hi @vision blue -- William Jeffries wrote what is probably the most definitive book on low-dose hydrocortisone, having researched it several decades. He himself didn't believe the cortisol saliva tests were reliable, as there are too many factors that can affect one's cortisol levels at any given time. He thought that the best way to discern whether you needed it was to do a trial dose, and if you felt better, then you most likely needed it. Not to say that a cortisol saliva test can't give you "indications" (like so many other tests).

Well known to make people feel great but hurts rather than hps long term
I just want to emphasize that that's the case when supplementing with amounts that are over what the body normally produces in a day (around 40 mg/day). When you take low-dose hydrocortisone (usually 20-30 mg, often less), the body does not shut down its own cortisol production. You then avoid the many harms that can result from higher amounts of supplementation.

This lack of distinction between low-dose supplementation and high-dose supplementation is an all too common problem, and leads to a great deal of misunderstanding about the many benefits (often long-term) that low-dose supplementation can provide. I've taken it for over 20 years now, with continuing good benefits. It recently (greatly) helped me pull out of my COVID episode.
 

vision blue

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@Wayne

I do agree that there is a big difference between giving cortisol that is as larger than whats usually produced thereby shutting down ones own production entirely and dosing low enough to not shut down endogenous productio.n. There are many now who advocate such dosing (or every other day) to be able to use it longer term like in AI disease.

But i disagree with “He thought that the best way to discern whether you needed it was to do a trial dose, and if you felt better, then you most likely needed it.” many many many people get a buzz extra energy and feel great off of tiny boosts of their cortisol level. Ditto opium and cocaine. Its not a good test of deficiency

By saliva being accurate i just meqn it correlates highly with blood levels and thereby easier to collect plenty of data at home. That may help get around an issue of basing any treatment on a singke reading of anything which i agree does not make much sense (Same argument has been made for treating blood pressure for example)
 

godlovesatrier

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Does LipoSomal vit c cause teh same diherrea that ascorbic acid does? My nutritionist was pretty bent on getting me to do a 30g a day detox - take it until your diherrea stops or something like that I forget.

I just take mag ascorbate 3x a day, which is about 1.2g vit c 3 x a day. But it's prob not as penetrative as taking 5 or 15g a day lipo.

Is lipo as scientifically similair in penetration into bodily cells as iv vitamin C? IV vit c is expensive near me, £120 was the cheapest I could find, which seems to be for just 8g.

I see you self injected - how did you create sterile vitamin c prior to injection? Or did you buy an ampule of some sort online for injection?

Thanks,
 

godlovesatrier

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https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/colu...-more-effective-than-intravenous-vitamin-c-2/

Some study mentions here that liposomal penetrates deeply into cells inc immune cells.

But I remember why I never went down this route, lipo is £35 for 50 1g doses. So you'd have to spend a silly amount of money to get up to say 8 or 15g a day, even though it seems as if 5 is really the only required maintenance dose? But hard to say what we'd really need daily to get anywhere.
 

anne_likes_red

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Pretty sure it was Dr Levy who injected himself, per the article Wayne posted. That's not to say Wayne didn't also of course!

Livon Labs version is expensive. :/
Here's Mary's thread from last year in case you're open to some DIY when it comes to these kind of things..
https://forums.phoenixrising.me/threads/easy-to-make-liposomal-vitamin-c-for-viruses.38867/


Does LipoSomal vit c cause teh same diherrea that ascorbic acid does? My nutritionist was pretty bent on getting me to do a 30g a day detox - take it until your diherrea stops or something like that I forget.

I just take mag ascorbate 3x a day, which is about 1.2g vit c 3 x a day. But it's prob not as penetrative as taking 5 or 15g a day lipo.

Is lipo as scientifically similair in penetration into bodily cells as iv vitamin C? IV vit c is expensive near me, £120 was the cheapest I could find, which seems to be for just 8g.

I see you self injected - how did you create sterile vitamin c prior to injection? Or did you buy an ampule of some sort online for injection?

Thanks,
 

Violeta

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Hi @vision blue -- William Jeffries wrote what is probably the most definitive book on low-dose hydrocortisone, having researched it several decades. He himself didn't believe the cortisol saliva tests were reliable, as there are too many factors that can affect one's cortisol levels at any given time. He thought that the best way to discern whether you needed it was to do a trial dose, and if you felt better, then you most likely needed it. Not to say that a cortisol saliva test can't give you "indications" (like so many other tests).



I just want to emphasize that that's the case when supplementing with amounts that are over what the body normally produces in a day (around 40 mg/day). When you take low-dose hydrocortisone (usually 20-30 mg, often less), the body does not shut down its own cortisol production. You then avoid the many harms that can result from higher amounts of supplementation.

This lack of distinction between low-dose supplementation and high-dose supplementation is an all too common problem, and leads to a great deal of misunderstanding about the many benefits (often long-term) that low-dose supplementation can provide. I've taken it for over 20 years now, with continuing good benefits. It recently (greatly) helped me pull out of my COVID episode.

Wayne, are you using low dose hydrocortisone? I am just now looking at Dr Jefferies information and wondering if this has been my problem for so long and getting worse as time goes on.
 

Wayne

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Wayne, are you using low dose hydrocortisone? I am just now looking at Dr Jefferies information and wondering if this has been my problem for so long and getting worse as time goes on.
Hi @Violeta -- I've been taking low-dose hydrocortisone for over 20 years now. More recently when I was dealing with COVID in January, I found it extremely helpful to up my daily dosage from 20 mg/day to around 30-35 mg/day. The body normally makes about 40 mg/day on its own. So my experience from supplementing while having COVID was pretty similar to Thomas Levy's.

I consider Dr. Jeffrie's book on low-dose hydrocortisone to be the most authoritative book on the topic (that I"ve found anyway), and I would encourage you to look into it. I spent many hours researching it before starting myself, and the longer I researched it, the more my intuitive sense was telling me I needed to give it a trial run.

Doing so completely changed things for me, going from around 4% functionality (always thinking I was going to die), to around 15% almost overnight. Over the ensuing weeks, my functionality improved to around 20-25%, where it hovered for many years. Doing those thoracic extension exercises then boosted me to around 75%. Long COVID now has me around 50-60%, but I anticipate that will improve in the months ahead.

I would encourage you to continue your research into this. For those who need it, the transformation in our daily lives can be huge.
 

Violeta

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Hi @Violeta -- I've been taking low-dose hydrocortisone for over 20 years now. More recently when I was dealing with COVID in January, I found it extremely helpful to up my daily dosage from 20 mg/day to around 30-35 mg/day. The body normally makes about 40 mg/day on its own. So my experience from supplementing while having COVID was pretty similar to Thomas Levy's.

I consider Dr. Jeffrie's book on low-dose hydrocortisone to be the most authoritative book on the topic (that I"ve found anyway), and I would encourage you to look into it. I spent many hours researching it before starting myself, and the longer I researched it, the more my intuitive sense was telling me I needed to give it a trial run.

Doing so completely changed things for me, going from around 4% functionality (always thinking I was going to die), to around 15% almost overnight. Over the ensuing weeks, my functionality improved to around 20-25%, where it hovered for many years. Doing those thoracic extension exercises then boosted me to around 75%. Long COVID now has me around 50-60%, but I anticipate that will improve in the months ahead.

I would encourage you to continue your research into this. For those who need it, the transformation in our daily lives can be huge.
Do you have to get it by a prescription from a doctor?
 

Wayne

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Do you have to get it by a prescription from a doctor?
Yes, and it wasn't easy to do. Most doctors are unfamiliar with low-dose hydrocortisone therapy, and equate it with high dose synthetic supra-steroids like prednisone, which are about 4x stronger than bioidentical hydrocortisone. These supra-steroids usually start creating long-term "side-effects" within a relatively short period of time.

I had to educate two different doctors on this, and they fortunately were able to see the logic in it, and gave me a prescription. The first doctor I tried to educate however wasn't able to help me (though she wanted to), because the policy at the clinic she worked in wouldn't allow it.
 

Violeta

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Yes, that's what I was thinking. Too bad you need a doctor to get it. I told a friend who has polymyalgia rheumatica and is having severe inflammation about it this morning. I'll see if her doctor will prescribe it. He either doesn't know about it or doesn't agree with it, he's had her on hydroxychloroquine for 8 months despite no relief whatsoever, just retested her and her inflammatory markers are over 5 times something or other, and now wants to prescribe methotrexate or heavy duty steroids.

What's really interesting is low cortisol can be the cause of dysautonomia, too.
 

Wayne

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I told a friend who has polymyalgia rheumatica and is having severe inflammation about it this morning.
@Violeta -- You or your friend may want to check out the following video. Since watching it, I started taking 30,000 IUs of Vitamin D daily, and my tinnitus seems to have notched down a tad. Which I suspect is because it's lowering some inflammation somewhere in my ear or brain.

Vit. D3 is actually not a vitamin, but more accurately, a steroid hormone. The video is only about 4 min., but is quite good (and succinct). The video starts in the middle, so you may want to watch the first three minutes. Just to mention, I'll be monitoring my D3 intake carefully to make sure I'm not taking too much on a long-term basis.

I'm limiting myself to 30,000 IUs, but you can actually take more. Some people are taking as much as 75K IUs, and in one case, had their psoriasis completely go away. The maximum amount a person can take is likely to be highly individualized. But I've read that your body can require much larger amounts during times when it needs it, so "high dose" may not necessarily be "high-dose" if your body can actually use it.

The Best PREDNISONE Alternative - YouTube
 
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Violeta

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@Wayne, I will go read more of Dr Levy's notes, but may I ask you if you've ever seen him say anything about vitamin c and cortisol being good for skin/appearance?