Book Reviews — 12 December 2014

Kaiyum reviews Sally M. Pacholok and Jeffrey J. Stuart’s book.

B12 Book CoverImagine that the doctor tells your beloved – in her 40s – that she’s got Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s or MS or dementia. Imagine that your young child stops talking, becomes apathetic and no longer can sit up by itself. Imagine that your ageing mother’s doctor explains that her repeated falls are the result of ‘mini-strokes’. Imagine your best friend, still in his thirties, who starts wetting himself and can no longer walk steadily.

Wrong diagnosis
Imagine then that these and many more such recognisable situations are described in detail by experienced medical practitioners who also explain that the cause is most likely one and the same: an acute shortage of vitamin B12. This surprising yet shockingly simple diagnosis is the main theme of this compact book.

In the world of Western allopathic medicine it seems that the need to treat symptoms and follow established protocols leads to complex and extremely expensive treatment for diagnoses that may be incorrect. The authors present thorough and convincing statistics that something is definitely wrong with the current approach.


Pachalok and StuartPersonal experience
Pacholok and Stuart, together with decades of experience in the health system, describe a wide variety of cases, especially those from the ED (Emergency Department) as well as from their own practice.

Their growing awareness took off in leaps and bounds when Pacholok diagnosed herself with B12 deficiency in 1985. Her subsequent research, together with her physician partner, Stuart, led to the remarkably confronting conclusions in this book.

Since the publication of the book, they have continued to campaign vigorously for the introduction of more or less standard testing for B12 – but using additional methods than are currently usually applied.

Testing
As the authors repeatedly explain in their text, the standard procedure is a blood serum test against ‘normal’ values that are applied. Considerable evidence is presented indicating both that this norm is totally inadequate and as inaccurate a guide to true B12 values as the test itself. More accurate tests are most certainly available but, as the authors clarify, there are several significant reasons why those tests are seldom carried out: first of all, doctors are simply unaware of the inaccuracy of the primary test (and the value of the ancillary tests); secondly, the other tests are (slightly) more expensive and doctors are watchdogs for insurance companies’ expenses.

The most important tests, as is clearly stated many times, are a combination of the blood serum test, a urinary MMA (methylmalonic acid) and a test for Hcy (homocysteine) values.

These terms, and the chemistry behind them, are fully described in detail that may be too extensive for many readers to follow fully. Such passages can easily be skipped in the confidence that the explanations are correct.

Growing awareness
One very good reason for reading this book is to be able to take more responsibility for one’s own health. A striking example involves the use of nitrous oxide (commonly called ‘laughing gas’ – a reason for its recreational (ab)use) as an anaesthetic during surgery, both in hospitals and dental clinics.

It quickly becomes clear how risky this anaesthesia is for those who already have a B12 deficit or have borderline levels of this vital vitamin.

Read, too, about the statistical and proven connections between B12 deficit and various cancers, autism, dementia, AIDS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, MS and other neurological disorders, and difficulty in being able to conceive.

Gain insight into the risks for vegans and vegetarians as well as for all mothers who, with a possible B12 deficit, breast-feed their babies and initiate potentially catastrophic knock-on consequences for these children.

Get to understand more about the different forms and sources of cobalomin (B12) and the complex chain of biochemical reactions that is essential to useful assimilation of this vital constituent. Above all, how fragile the chain is and how malabsorption can result from just one link that functions below par.

Learn to recognise the areas of risk as well as to better recognise symptoms and the chance that you or someone you know and care for is suffering not from the diagnosed dementia (or whatever complicated and devastating disorder) but from an easily and cheaply corrected shortage of vitamin B12.

Nuggets of wisdom
Genetic paediatric researcher Dr. Piero Rinaldo states that “… you cannot diagnose what you don’t know, and unfortunately a large proportion of cases remain undiagnosed because these disorders are not yet included in mainstream medical practice.”

Dr. Paul Frankel is clear that “… diets sufficient in methyl enhancers folate, choline, and B12 have proved to prevent cancer not only in animals but in humans as well.”

The pages of this book abound with ‘quotable quotes’ from the authors, too, as well as numerous supportive citations from a wide range of medical experts and an even wider collection of source research papers.

Presentation
The text is generously laid out in a style that facilitates reading. Short paragraphs, varied sentence length, a relatively high quality of proofreading and an agreeable combination of typeface and paper tint all contribute to helping the reader take advantage of the valuable information provided here.

It is possible that some readers may become irritated by the frequent reiteration of details about the correct and effective forms of testing, yet others will treat this as a confirmation of the importance of this information.

Should the book be re-issued, it would benefit from yet another round of proofreading to catch and repair the remaining couple of dozen ‘typos’.

An important website for more information.


Personal notes

  1. While reading this book it became abundantly clear that I, too, have a history of a (severe and) chronic shortage of B12. The health patterns described confirmed my suspicions – I was already taking B12 shots and have increased their regularity. The authors also confirm the importance of additional supplementation with SAMe, folic acid, B6 and choline. These I test for; see my website. The authors do not mention P5P, a version of B6 that may, in individual cases, also be required or can better be used instead of or together with regular B6.
  2. Also while reading the book, my old friend Paul told me of an acquaintance of his, Matthew. In his 40s, Matthew has been given a diagnosis of ‘early onset Parkinson’s’. When I heard this, the part of me that’s a ‘medical intuitive’ knew that this was an incorrect diagnosis. Together we sent Matthew an e-mail suggesting that there may be other solutions.
    Silence ensued, which tends to confirm my awareness that the vast majority of people are so strongly conditioned by the ‘doctors’ that they cease searching and accept the potentially saddening conclusions as expressed by their medical practitioners.
  3. In the same period I had reason to consult both a general practitioner and a hospital specialist. I asked them if they were aware of people with ostensibly ‘healthy’ B12 blood values and yet with a chronic shortage of this vitamin. In both cases the response was, “Well, that’s still a matter of discussion.” End of conversation. No further interest. Draw your own conclusions!

Kaiyum

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