Vitamin D and tuberculosis

A Stewart Truswell
Med J Aust 2013; 199 (10): . || doi: 10.5694/mja13.11121
Published online: 18 November 2013

There is little evidence to suggest that vitamin D has any therapeutic effect in treating tuberculosis

Before antimycobacterial medicines were introduced (around 1950), the best support for patients with tuberculosis (TB) appeared to be sunshine. For TB patients who needed bed rest, sun-facing balconies in sanatoria were considered to be more therapeutic than the usual dark hospital wards. In 1904, William Osler noted that rabbits inoculated with tubercle bacilli succumbed rapidly if kept in the dark, but not in the open air. He advised patients treated at home to have as many hours as possible in the sunshine. Cod liver oil was also used — a large controlled trial at the Brompton Hospital, London in 1848 showed clear benefit of cod liver oil in treating pulmonary consumption.1

  • A Stewart Truswell

  • University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW.

Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.


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