Published on August 8, 2023
The Coimbra Protocol has helped thousands around the world overcome their autoimmune diseases using extremely high doses of vitamin D. Do not treat yourself without the guidance of a skilled practitioner
The following is a narrative by Satya L. Nahu, MD; be sure to read the short interview below as well!
My story with Vitamin D began in 2012, at the time of my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. I was 31, and already a doctor as I had just finished my second specialization (Cardiology) a few months prior. It was suddenly and without warning that I woke up with intense tingling in both hands, which spread up both arms in addition to the sensation of shocks in the spine when flexing the neck. Fatigue, days later, was associated with the condition. Around 30 days after symptoms began, the diagnosis was made, through the addition of magnetic resonance imaging of my entire central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), collection of cerebrospinal fluid and blood laboratory tests.
The feeling of life “cut off,” after so much effort to be a doctor, to specialize, to dedicate yourself, and now what would be waiting for me soon would be sick pay, wheelchairs, and early retirement due to disability… I stayed exactly 1 month after the diagnosis in the revolt and thinking about the “injustice” that had happened. Later, I would be mature enough to understand that nothing happens by chance.
Conventional medications were started (corticoid in the form of pulse therapy and immunomodulators such as Interferon beta-1b). However, they did not have the desired effect and I was increasingly fatigued, and the symptoms were trying to spread. A few months later, I started to develop arthritis in my knees and wrists, dry mouth and eyes, and markers that were previously negative started to become positive for another autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Faced with the association of diseases and failures in therapeutic responses, my family and friends began to look for other forms of treatment and information was seen on the internet about vitamin D and autoimmune disease, more precisely about multiple sclerosis. There were videos and testimonials about the use of vitamin D in higher doses, and they were exciting to see – people returning to have a fully normalized and compensated life, literally leaving the autoimmune nightmare. However, I declined and did not go ahead, because I thought it would be a fantasy, that “a vitamin that is linked to making strong bones was able to cure people of autoimmune diseases,” and when asked, my doctor said that it had no basis, and that this experimental treatment was dangerous.
I could have dug deeper, studied about it, learned more about this innovative doctor named Dr. Cicero Galli Coimbra who taught about the vitamin D treatment, but when I was sick and even more so as a doctor, there was a fear of going against my colleagues, against the traditional establishment, and even of being branded as irresponsible, so I decided that it was not for me and I put it aside.
Interestingly, my conventional neurologist ended up prescribing a dose of 10,000 IU of vitamin D per day, at the time according to him, the maximum dose accepted by traditional societies, but my vitamin D level didn’t even reach 50 ng/ml (125 nmol/L) and in fact I didn’t see any difference in my symptoms. I worked on other aspects of my life; I improved my diet, removed inflammatory foods (dairy, gluten, sugars, etc.), did regular physical activity, started receiving Acupuncture, reorganized my work routine, among other interventions. The autoimmune system calmed down, but was still touchy… the slightest stress, for example, was enough to activate the arthritis, have parotitis, dry eyes, increase numbness in the hands and reactivate fatigue, etc.. And so I lived until 2017 when I found myself again with vitamin D in a lecture by another neurologist who had undergone high dose vitamin D training with Dr. Cicero Coimbra. Then began my second chance to turn life around.
The information acquired in this explanation made a lot of sense to me, and it was then that I decided to make an appointment with this doctor. When he referred to the PubMed website and entered the words in English in the search field: multiple sclerosis; vitamin d polymorphism; VDR, several articles came out that reached the same conclusions about the existence of genetic defects linked to vitamin D that were linked to autoimmune diseases, specifically multiple sclerosis.
At that moment, the stories of success that I had heard of years ago and the foundation of why it works began to make total scientific sense. I was impressed by the extent to which countless scientists were already working on this and not a word was seen in congresses, symposiums, colleges about the promise of vitamin D and its non-calcemic effects… And it was evident that if you could not patent vitamin D and make a “medicine” of this substance and profit millions or even billions of dollars in isolation due to patent law, it was clear why there was prejudice and lack of information.
I learned that individuals with certain autoimmune diseases carry genetic polymorphisms of vitamin D, such as VDR receptor, vitamin D binding protein (Gc-globulin) and hydroxylase enzymes (vitamin D 1a-hydroxylase -CYP1a- is one of them). These genetic defects when activated help trigger an autoimmune response, as one of the many functions of vitamin D when it is in perfect working order is to modulate the response of Th17 cells, which are the main cells that attack our body when they are in disorder during an autoimmune condition. He proposed a treatment, called the “Coimbra Protocol” developed by Dr. Cicero Galli Coimbra, neurologist, Ph.D. director of the laboratory of Neuropathology and Neuroprotection at UNIFESP (Federal University of Sao Paulo), also an Associate Professor at the same institution, which aims at the use of high doses of vitamin D for correction and compensation of genetic resistance to the effects of vitamin D in patients with autoimmune diseases. It was then that I underwent the treatment and in 45 days my arthritis and fatigue disappeared as well as the dryness of the eyes and mouth, and over the course of months, the numbness. After my experience, I applied for the internship to be trained by Dr himself Cicero (there are more than 100 Brazilian and foreign doctors personally trained by him) and learned how to handle the high dose of vitamin D with my future autoimmune patients. I went to Sao Paulo -SP in 2018 and it was unforgettable… they were days of intense and profound learning. How much groundbreaking scientific knowledge, infinite courage and generosity Dr. Cicero Galli Coimbra had. Those days spent in his office, caring for patients together with other medical colleagues and seeing the results, were the practical basis for understanding how this extraordinary treatment, affectionately called by his patients the “Coimbra Protocol”, was one of the most remarkable moments of my life. Today this treatment has saved thousands of lives here in Brazil and abroad. It is even spoken in 13 languages and has more than 150 doctors trained worldwide. We see ex-wheelchair patients, patients mistreated by autoimmune and side effects of immunobiological and immunosuppressants, who suffered from crucial and debilitating arthritis, disfiguring skin lesions, endless fatigue just to name a few, and seeing their evolution with the treatment was a unique and surreal experience.
I was falling in love with medicine again and living what I always wanted to live. Treating the disease for its CAUSES was central… the enormous therapeutic potential of correcting the level of vitamin D to normal values (within the range of normality) and more optimized provides the general population with the most varied benefits… from being free of flu, colds and other respiratory infections so common in the general population, to a safer pregnancy, with a reduction in pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, control and remission of immune disorders, such as asthma, rhinitis and dermatitis, as well as other conditions such as hypertension, diabetes mellitus, depression, anxiety, just to name a few… to avoiding more adverse effects of the COVID-19 disease and its complications. Countless studies have now shown these effects. I worked during all these “pandemic years” on the frontline (emergency care) and I have no doubt that having an immunity adjusted and proportional to my needs was decisive for having the shielding immune system needed to fight this challenging and pathogenic virus.
The ubiquity of vitamin D is impressive and astounding. Knowing that we are living in an era of solar phobia and the profound lack of dissemination of information among doctors themselves who mainly feed on information coming from the pharmaceutical industry is suffocating and bordering on naivety. Yes, I was also part of the large group of naive listeners.
This protocol was started in 2002 and has been improved over time until it returned thousands of patients worldwide to remission in autoimmune diseases safely and without unpredictable adverse effects. However, high doses of cholecalciferol without having the “contra -balance” are harmful because they provide hypercalcemia. To avoid this undesired effect, we recommend that the patient regularly hydrate with an intake of at least 2.5 liters per day (depending on weight) and follow a diet low in foods rich in calcium. The adjustment of dosages and the control of side effects are done through mandatory medical monitoring, associated with blood and urine tests essential for the correction and optimization of the treatment.
There are scientific studies that support the safety and efficacy of using high doses of vitamin D3, including one with the participation of emeritus Dr. Michael Holick, one of the greatest vitamin D researchers of all time. Some interesting scientific references on the use of high doses of vitamin D3 in patients with autoimmune diseases:
A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis
Safety Data in Patients with Autoimmune Diseases during Treatment with High Doses of Vitamin D3 According to the “Coimbra Protocol”
Vitamin D Resistance as a Possible Cause of Autoimmune Diseases: A Hypothesis Confirmed by a Therapeutic High-Dose Vitamin D Protocol
Myasthenia Gravis in Pregnancy Treated With Daily Massive Vitamin D Dose
Refractory immune thrombocytopenia successfully treated with high-dose vitamin D supplementation and hydroxychloroquine: two case reports
Remission of Severe Myasthenia Gravis After Massive-Dose Vitamin D Treatment
Daily oral vitamin D3 without concomitant therapy in the management of psoriasis: A case series
High dose vitamin D supplementation in Rheumatoid Arthritis patients
Upon my return to my city, after my immersion in new knowledge that very few people in the world of doctors possessed, I realized that my life had not only taken a definitive and different course in terms of autoimmune disease, but a path of no return…from that moment on, my whole way of seeing and experiencing medicine had changed at its roots and a window of opportunity had opened to create a new way of treating, focused on the causes and not just the consequences. With that, I would have the opportunity to support myself, family, friends and patients with a safe, sustained and definitive health status.
Satya L. Nahu, MD
*It is essential that individuals do not try to “self-treat” with this protocol. The specific treatment is tailored to each patient based on monitoring that includes several periodic lab tests and adjustments in dosing.
Q&A with Dr. Nahu
How much vitamin D do you take? How do you get it (sun or supplements)?
I take 150,000 IU/day.
Through capsules that carry vitamin D in its liquid form, (“liquid-caps”) similar to the well-known softgel. Each capsule contains 50,000 IU.
Through the sun it would be impossible to obtain this daily amount.
What is your vitamin D level now and what is your goal?
495 ng/ml (four hundred and ninety-five)
Maintaining my PTH at values close to the lower limit, with completely normal calcium and renal function (as it has always been since I started treatment).
What was your vitamin D level when you first tested it?
43 ng/ml (without supplement)
What other supplements do you take and/or dietary changes have you made to support your vitamin D status and overall health?
1-Chelated magnesium 4x a day (the higher the levels of Vitamin D3, the greater the need for magnesium).
2-Polyvitaminic (Containing zinc, vitamin A, B12, B9, P-5-P, Chromium, Silicon chelate among others)
The above refers to the treatment of the Coimbra Protocol, in addition to Vitamin D3.
The ones I would call extras, also used by me, would be Melatonin and Probiotics.
Diet that excludes foods rich in calcium, including dairy products and all their derivatives. Some tropical fruits that contain large amounts of calcium, green leaves in cooked form, oilseeds are some of the other foods that are also on the list of prohibited foods for patients who use high doses of vitamin D3.
I ingest 3,000 ml / day. We calculate Weight (kg) x 40 ml to know the average amount of liquid to be ingested. In my case, it would be around 2,600 ml, which I rounded up to 3,000 ml because I live in a place that is usually hot (tropical region).
What would you recommend to others who are in a similar situation?
Test your vitamin D3 and try to have blood levels of at least 60 ng/ml if you don’t have a professional looking after your health in this regard.
Look for health professionals who are committed to a more integrative and functional view of the human being.
Find out about ways you can get smart exposure to the sun.
Have more contact with nature whenever possible.
Eat in a varied way, avoid food monotony and industrialized foods as much as possible in your daily life.
Take care of your mental health. The illness process begins with situations that trigger anger, sadness, anxiety and fear, for acute or chronic periods that lead to awakening our bad genes (dirty genes).
Accept yourself, love yourself, forgive yourself, be nice to yourself and always be grateful for all the gifts in life!
For more information on the Coimbra Protocol, read here.
Only Under Doctor Supervision
This newsletter is in no way intended to encourage or push patients to begin high dose Vitamin D therapy without the opinion and supervision of a medical doctor. Health risks can be serious and may involve toxicity, other drug interactions, or organ damage.
Doses at the levels prescribed by the Coimbra Protocol, if not managed properly may cause irreversible damage of renal function or cause other medical complications.
It is important to understand that doses of vitamin D are specifically calculated by Dr. Coimbra based on individual patient parameters during the medical examination. Therefore, it is necessary to seek treatment with high dose vitamin D from an experienced medical doctor.
Getting Enough Vitamin D and Other Nutrients is Essential to Your Health
Measure your vitamin D levels at home as part of the D*action project! To know if you are getting enough, make sure you test today!
You can also measure your:
- Vitamin D
- Magnesium PLUS Essential and Toxic Elements
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Type 1 Diabetes Autoantibodies
Did you know that each of the above can be measured at home using a simple blood spot test? As part of our ongoing research project, you can order your home blood spot test kit to get your levels, followed by education and steps to take to help you reach your optimal target levels. Start by enrolling and ordering your kit to measure each of the above important markers, and make sure you are getting enough of each to support better mood and wellbeing!
Create your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. With measurement you can then determine how much is needed and steps to achieve your goals. You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.
How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?
Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!
STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health
STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study
STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there
STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)