There have been new studies done and have shown that biotin may be able to be used as a treatment for progressive multiple sclerosis (MS). The treatment would be a high dose of biotin, which is in the “B vitamin” family. Over time, progressive MS damages nerve fibers which then cause your neurologic function to slowly but steadily worsen. MS affects about 1.3 million people around the world. Up until now, there have only been treatments to target relapsing-remitting MS and no finite treatments to stop the development of progressive multiple sclerosis. Biotin may be able to help.
In 2016, 154 people participated in a randomized controlled trial for a year. They either received the dosage of biotin or a placebo. 12.6% of the participants that took the biotin showed improvements by the end of the year while none did from the placebo group. That is only about 1 out of 8 people seeing improvements. It may be a small number but the researchers said that this was the first time they have seen a drug to have a reversing effect on the disease. For everyone else that didn’t show improvement, they also didn’t get worse, which means the drug can have stabilizing effects on patients in the early onset of MS.
How it’s Possible
When someone experiences disability in progressive MS, it is most likely caused by damage done around nerve fibers, specifically the loss of myelin. A researcher describes myelin as the insulation protecting nerve fibers like electrical wires. This insulation helps the signals from the brain to travel to different body parts quickly. Without myelin, the signal won’t be able to travel quickly which will cause tingling, numbness, and weakness. Consuming more biotin might be able to give a boost of energy to nerve cells since many enzymes that participate in the production of cellular energy need biotin to work. This boost of energy will hopefully be able to ignore the damaged myelin and still send fast signals. Another idea is that biotin may be able to increase the production rate of fats used to make myelin, which may give the opportunity for neurons to repair the necessary layer of myelin.
Risks and Benefits
There are currently no risks of taking this drug as MS treatment but more studies are planned on being done. Since it is just a clinical trial, the long-term effects won’t be known. New trials, in general, are risky, but researchers believe that the benefits of this trial outweigh any risks. Progressive MS is very hard to live with so it may be in your best interest to try something new. The current drug used in this trial can’t be purchased and even though you can purchase biotin supplements, doses and quality can vary. You should always consult with your doctor about any and all supplement options and definitely speak to them about high dose biotin product since it can affect blood test results.